Gibraltar: Recovery and Memorialisation of the First World War in the 21st Century
The centenary of the First World War has served to draw attention to a period in Gibraltar’s history of which limited memories remain. Little has been documented of life in Gibraltar during the War years or indeed, of the support given towards the War effort. At the same time, we know that during these years Gibraltar was managed as a Crown Colony, with a fair portion of its land dedicated to military installations and a key strategic naval base monitoring both the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Such activities have been recorded and have found their way into authoritative accounts of the Great War, ones which contains the Gibraltar story yet renders it liminal if not invisible, submerged as it is beneath the weight of a history articulated solely from the metropolis. This chapter aims at recovering a Gibraltar-centred narrative through the prism of the centenary commemorations, which have functioned as a catalyst for Gibraltarians to enquire into their past. to uncover details of their fallen of which few memories remain, and to reconstruct, albeit from fragments and mediated stories, a history that aspire towards a whole. The disentangling of a local non-hierarchical story from the hierarchical is informed by a recurrent grappling which aims at prioritising a Gibraltarian historical perspective as opposed to one which conceives of Gibraltar only through its relationship to Britain. Underpinned here is a process of historical recovery triggered through Acts of Remembrance that resonate at two levels. commemorations for the First World War, and alongside this, a remembrance of Gibraltar’s own story.
Jennifer Ballantine Perera Gibraltar Garrison Library and University of Gibraltar