King's College London
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West of Suez: Britain and the Mediterranean, 1704-1967

The garrison on the Rock

The author of this book was attached to the 81st Regiment of Foot and garrisoned in Gibraltar between 1836 and 1845. He describes how, 

… wearied with the dull routine of garrison duty … the author availed himself of the many hours placed at his disposal, to explore the numerous, and in many instances, magnificent beauties which abound throughout and around the Rock.

Lithograph showing HRH Prince George of Cambridge's quarters and Trinity church in Gibraltar, with trees, soldiers and local inhabitants presentHRH Prince George of Cambridge's quarters and Trinity churchThese explorations are recounted and also woven into songs and three fictional tales: ‘The lost nun’, ‘The Spanish lancer’ and the ‘Moorish maid’, which offer a view of the territory away from the monotony of garrison life.

The accompanying illustrations, which are drawn by a fellow officer, reflect both the natural history of the Rock, the diverse influences on its history and its developing British culture.

The author and his companion encounter the famous Barbary macaques who live on the Rock, visit Martin’s Cave (said to have been discovered by an inebriated soldier in 1821) and witness the streets of the city crowded with ‘Moors, Jews, Greeks, Genoese, Africans and natives from every province in Spain’.

The book includes a dedication leaf to Queen Victoria and the illustration reproduced here is of her cousin Prince George’s Gibraltar quarters and Trinity Church. Prince George was attached to the Army staff in Gibraltar in 1838-9 and would later become a (much criticised) commander-in-chief of the British Army.

The Major’s experience of being garrisoned on the Rock was shared by thousands of British soldiers between 1704 and 1991, after which the home defence unit, the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, took over internal security duties.

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