We are part of the family not foreigners

Carmen Gomez

The last vestige of my childhood years in Gibraltar and for many others too, is soon to disappear from where it has stood since 1922. The Cross of Sacrifice, designed by Sir Reginald Bloomfield in 1917 to emphasize the military character of the cemetery, was originally located within North Front Cemetery. It was rebuilt and relocated after World War 11 in an area west of the North Front Cemetery. 

Other such monuments are present in numerous Commonwealth War cemeteries, where there are fifty or more interments. It was erected by the Royal Engineers and unveiled by the then Governor of Gibraltar, General Sir Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien, on Armistice Day 1922.

I remember well, every year standing by the roadside facing the Cross of Sacrifice together with my brothers and sister, as we paid our respects to those who died; holding onto my mother’s hand as father stood beside her, in total silence; on cold days when the wind would whistle through the air and make our little legs shiver; or in mornings bathed in sunshine, enjoying the solemnity of it all, as I looked up to that mighty cross and heard the bugler’s call. Curiously, the recording by British Pathe film on its inaugural dedication ceremony represents the first motion picture ever made in Gibraltar; “In the shadow of the Rock.”


I hear say that this move is meant to alleviate traffic congestion when the ceremony of Remembrance Day is held. Except that since 2009, the ceremony has actually taken place by the Gibraltar War memorial; the First World War Monument on Line Wall Road unveiled in 1923. Whilst we are at it, the bust of Queen Victoria; which was originally erected as a memorial in front of the Garrison Library, but was relegated to the northern side of the square to make room for extra parking and now stands in the middle of a terrace, could be also moved like another chess piece onto greener pastures. Traffic congestion on the sundial roundabout is a daily affair; with Winston Churchill Avenue being an arterial road; the only road in and out of the territory which connects it to Spain. As we well know by now, on any day when the Spanish frontier guards decide, the traffic comes to a standstill for miles around. Which begs the question why; due to the one day a year ceremony which we hold dear; should a monument that invokes such imagery be moved?


I suggest that the area is to be used for other purposes. It seems a shame that such a monument should suffer the arrows and slings of outrageous progress; from such a poignant site, to a place in some new gardens in the making. It will be missed by many when it’s gone from there, as it will have lost its relevance away from the cemetery. There will be those who like the war veteran my sister and I met recently who comes to Gibraltar on frequent visits, may even think that it is no more!

Every reminder of our military past is slowly disappearing, particularly from the way to and from the frontier. First it was the frontier guard which was removed from the Gibraltar border in 1986. An action which the Foreign Office led us to believe was meant as a goodwill gesture, in the hope that Madrid would reciprocate at the time. All their previous gestures backfired; they fell like dominoes as did the ones that followed! In the same way as Madrid continuously pocketed concessions without lifting any restrictions in the past, whilst asking for more! I mention this because frankly, it has become rather tiresome for Gibraltarians, to continue in the belief that such an intelligent body of people like those at Whitehall, ever really thought that Madrid could ever show any sign of gratitude, or the political will to try to find a middle ground between our aspirations and their unsubstantiated claim. Does it not feel like what they were doing all along was to try and please the Spaniards, by slowly stripping us of every vestige pertinent to British rule? In this way Madrid might think she was making headway.

Next came the removal of the military plane which stood for years on the side of the tarmac where our “Cradle of History” monument now lies; and now the Cross of Sacrifice. If the intention is to try and blend into the background; we might as well set up a line of Spanish tombola stands before and after the airstrip, and in this way look more like a Spanish landscape and less like the British nation that we are. This in keeping with the latest cruiser to dock in our shores, apparently displaying the image of the Rock painted in Spanish colours!

The more that time passes by, the more we may begin to feel like second class citizens in our own home. Things being what they are due to the brexit tornado in slow release that has wrecked havoc in the world of politics of our Mother Country, perhaps the time has come for change such as we dared not envisage.

In tatters

Will the UK Government now with its reputation in tatters, have the will to continue its overseas policies re its territories as before? Or will they radically change their outlook particularly in our case; their once key stronghold of the Empire; and make room for a more modern partnership? Making something more modern does not alter fundamentally its intrinsic nature or the crux of it.

It is the crux of it that has to come to an end once and for all. As Sir Joe Bossano once said “We do not want to be your “foreign affairs” anymore; we are part of the family not foreigners.