Speaker meeting 20th April 2015

On Monday 20th April Church Wilne Rotarian John Barrett gave the members of the Rotary Club of Church Wilne a plotted history of Gibraltar which spans over 2,900 years.

The first recorded history was around 950BC with the Phomecians and they became part of Hispania following the collapse of the Roman Empire. After several ownerships it became part of the United Kingdom of Spain in 1462 and remained under Spanish rule until 1704. Spain ceded the territory to Britain in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht.

Spain has tried during 3 long wars to gain control of Gibraltar and each time they were repulsed. The Naval base was built at the end of the 19th century and during the 2nd World War was attacked on several occasions by the Germans and Italians, but to no avail.

John continued by talking about Buster Crab who went missing in 1956 who was a naval diver and bomb mine clearance diver along with several accounts of Busters' time in Gibraltar.

In 1963 was John's first encounter with Gibraltar when he arrived on HMS Urchin and he described the sight of the Rock as awinspiring. The place was overrun by service personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy and totalled 40,000. After training to be part of a deep sea diving team he was posted back to Gibraltar and being very fit he then enjoyed being part of the Navy Rowing team.

In 1968 Ian Smith arrived for talks on Apartheid with PM Harold Wilson and John, who was fortunate to be situated in the room where the talks were held, gave the members an interesting and informative insight into what really happened.

In 1969 and until 1985 Spain closed the boarder to the Rock.  John was contacted in 1984 by a friend asking him to help put together a tender for street cleaning and refuse collection but on that occasion was unsuccessful.  In 1999 they retendered through Brussels and were successful and are still in charge after 16 years and employ 140.

John has been, over the years, an active member of the Rotary Club of Gibraltar and a major achievement as their Chairman of Social Services was when he formed "Childline" in Gibraltar.

With the loss of many of the service personal "GIB" had to replace this source of income and they are totally duty free and they are able to supply 80% of the cars bought into the UK by a National company with tobacco and gambling being big business.

Simon Beal thanked John for his informative and thought provoking talk to his follow members.

For more information on Rotary and our speaker evenings, please contact Rotarian John Astell at: rccw1220@gmail.com

For more information on the Rotary Club of Church Wilne visit the web site:   churchwilnerotary.org.uk

Ray Terry


13th April 2015

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