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The flag made by the people of Gibraltar for the José Luis Díez SUR
Historic Spanish Republican warship flag goes on public display in Gibraltar

Historic Spanish Republican warship flag goes on public display in Gibraltar

HISTORY ·

The José Luis Díez was disguised as a British destroyer to get through the Strait during the Spanish Civil War, but suffered severe damage in a Nationalist attack and took refuge in Gibraltar

Debbie Bartlett

Gibraltar

Monday, 6 March 2023, 12:50

Opciones para compartir

The story of the José Luis Díez, a Republican warship which was disguised as a British destroyer to get through the Strait of Gibraltar during the Spanish Civil War, but suffered severe damage in a Nationalist attack and took refuge in Gibraltar, is little-known in general but a book has now been published in English and in Spanish to cast more light on this important episode in history.

While the bureaucratic row about what to do with the ship was raging between the UK and Gibraltar authorities, who were - in theory at least - subject to the Non-Intervention Agreement in the Civil War, dockyard workers took pity on the crew of the ship and repaired it themselves, secretly and without pay.

Red Ship and Red Tape, the English edition of the book, was launched in December 2021 in Gibraltar, and on Thursday 2 March the Spanish version, 'El José Luis Díez en Gibraltar: Burocracia pérfida y la política de no intervención de Londres' was presented at the Mancomunidad de Municipios del Campo de Gibraltar in Algeciras.

Personal connection

Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, on his first visit to the Mancomunidad, explained at the launch that he has a personal connection to this story as his maternal grandparents sewed and designed the emblem for a new flag which was presented to the captain and crew by the people of Gibraltar before the ship left.

Unfortunately, the José Luis Díez didn't get very far - alerted by spies on the Rock, the Nationalist ships waiting in the Bay attacked her as she left the harbour and she was forced to return, running aground at Catalan Bay.

Fabian Picardo also announced that to mark the launch of the Spanish version of the book, the Gibraltar National Museum will be putting that same flag on display until Monday 10 April, for all those who would like to see it. It is kept at the Museum but is not normally on view to the public.

Both copies of the book can be purchased online from Editorial Tréveris (www.treveris.es) at a price of 15 euros, from the Casa de la Memoria La Sauceda in Jimena de la Frontera or from the Gibraltar Heritage Trust shop.

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