English newspapers reach Gibraltar by P & O four days late. Local English daily Gibraltar Chronicle & Official Gazette, 8 pages of which about 21/2 pages advertisements, ld. Current number 31, 251. More or less pro-Fascist. Local Spanish papers El Annunciador and El Campanse, each four pages largely adverts, ld. Daily. No very definite standpoint politically, perhaps slightly pro-Franco. Ten or eleven Franco papers sold here, also three Government papers including Solidaridad Obrera. The latter at least six days old when obtainable here, and much less on evidence. Also two pro-Government Spanish papers published in Tangiers, El Porvenir and Democracia. Prices of these stated in Franco exchange.
Impossible to discover sentiments of local Spanish population. Only signs on walls are Viva Franco and Phalangist symbol, but very few of these.
Population of town about 20,000, largely Italian origin but nearly all bilingual English-Spanish. Many Spaniards work here and return into Spain every night. At least 3000 refugees from Franco territory. Authorities now trying to get rid of these on pretext of overcrowding. Impossible to discover wages and food prices. Standard of living apparently not very low, no barefooted adults and few children. Fruit and vegetables cheap, wine and tobacco evidently untaxed or taxed very little (English cigarettes 3/- a hundred, Spanish 10d. a hundred), silk very cheap. No English sugar or matches, all Belgian. Cows’ milk 6d. a pint. Some of the shopkeepers are Indians and Parsees.
Spanish destroyer Jose Luis Diez lying in harbour. A huge shell-hole, probably four or five feet across, in her side, just above water-level, on port side about fifteen to twenty feet behind bow. Flying Spanish Republican flag. The men were at first apparently prevented from going ashore, now allowed at certain hours to naval recreational ground (i.e. not to mix with local population). No attempt being made to mend the ship.
Overheard local English resident: “It’s coming right enough. Hitler’s going to have Czecho-Slovakia all right. If he doesn’t get it now he’ll go on and on till he does. Better let him have it at once. We shall be ready by 1941.”

*To see a P&O guide to Gibraltar taken from the SS Stratheden, click here.

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39 Responses to GIBRALTAR 7.9.38

  1. Mark says:

    Does this shake it up enough for you, fellow readers?

  2. David Woodman says:

    The two references to “ld” in the first paragraph refer to the price of the paper and should be 1d = one penny in old money.

  3. Pingback: Airminded · Wednesday, 7 September 1938

  4. Mark Pesce says:

    Bad luck, then, that the war started 2 years before the British were ready to fight it…

  5. Scott says:


  6. vanderleun says:

    Well, it is about time. I was nodding off and hovering over the unsubscribe button in Google Reader.

  7. Oskar says:

    I’ve been a little bored with the diary for a little while, but this part was fascinating! The Munich Agreement was in the end of September ’38, no? The Englishmen got what he wanted, “Peace in our time” is just days away. Very interesting to hear comments about Hitler pre-WWII.

  8. Crocan says:

    finally some exciting reading, thx:)
    I have to ask though, what does “(English cigarettes 3/- a hundred, Spanish 10d. a hundred)” mean, I have no idea what these prices are:))

    btw Hitler took Czechoslovakia over on 30th September 1938, see

  9. Pingback: The Ambrosini Critique » Blog Archive » Living on The Rock

  10. sander says:

    Aha, politics! At last! I like.

  11. Hachi says:

    Sander knows where it’s at!

  12. Dave Taylor says:

    This makes it more complicated than I first thought, with the Spaniards (who have always had a relatively hign level of resources of wealth) contributing to the Axis powers (a term re-used for a more recent American campaign) however 10’s of thousands of Spaniards contributing to the allies.

  13. Toiski says:

    I have to admit that understanding what was going on in here required some Wikipedia reading for me. I previously had the impression that the Spanish Civil War was much shorter and already over at this point in time… Well, reading this journal alongside relearning the historical situation will surely prove an enlightening experience.

  14. anilg says:

    politics at last!

  15. anilg says:

    no more of the trees and the weather please. Orwell would have made a terrible blogger.

  16. Ian says:

    As Toiski wrote, this is showing up large gaps in my 20th century history knowledge. Wonderful reading; thank you.

  17. eric says:

    But, but, how are the blackberries in Gibraltar? Are there no unusual birds that bear mention?

  18. Ivana K. says:

    Good to bear in mind for further reading…

    ‘ Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:
    1. Sheer egoism […]
    2. Aesthetic enthusiasm […]
    3. Historical impulse […]
    4. Political purpose […]
    […] By nature — taking your “nature” to be the state you have attained when you are first adult — I am a person in whom the first three motives would outweigh the fourth. In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties. As it is I have been forced into becoming a sort of pamphleteer.’

    (George Orwell, Why I write, 1947.)

  19. The Axis alliance (Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan) itself came into existence two years later.

    President George W. Bush did not use the analogous phrase “axis of evil” in any campaigns.

  20. So he recuperates from tuberculosis by picking blackberries at the sanitorium for six months, and then decides to get a bit of fresh air by sailing right into the middle of the Battle of the Ebro. I give him 11 years to live, tops.

  21. when did it say he has tb?

  22. From before the first entry in this blog he was in a sanatorium which was pinpointed on a map.

    The reason for this for his trip to Morocco we are reading about? Further recuperation.

    I don’t think “it” has mentioned his poor health at all (“it” might have, but I’m not going to look), to this point, which I suspect was the result of the sniper’s bullet that went through his neck.

  23. I did not mean to imply the TB was the result of the bullet wound, rather that it was exasperated by it or, perhaps, was contracted in the hospital.

  24. The ultimate causes of Orwell’s tuberculosis were his congenitally-weak lungs and the many months he spent tramping around England in the early 1930s. Fighting and taking a bullet in the Spanish Civil War were undoubtedly proximate causes of the outbreak that sent him to the sanitarium in 1938.

    As of September 1938, the Spanish Civil War still had several months to run, though the writing was on the wall for the Republican (anti-Franco) side. Anthony Beevor’s SPANISH CIVIL WAR (Penguin, 1982) is a very good, if rather pro-Anarchist, account of the conflict.

  25. Pingback: John Myles White: Die Sudelbücher » Blog Archive » Orwell on Gibraltar

  26. Dave Taylor says:

    “President George W. Bush did not use the analogous phrase “axis of evil” in any campaigns”

    Admittedly it was first created by one David Frum and I didn’t actually say Bush used the term but I used the name “American” which is unfair as that refers to two entire continents however that said Bush used the term in the “State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002” for the Campaign known as “The war on terror” or more specifically the invasion of Iraq.

    Incidentally being a Brit I am in no position to criticise the invasion as we participated although had their been a referendum (not always possible with military campaigns) I would have voted against.

  27. Well, in that case, I’ll attribute the use of the phrase to the British campaign.

  28. One of the many, many British campaigns in the last 1,000 years.

  29. Carl Johnson says:

    Enter politics. Enter primitivism. Interesting.

  30. wcraighead says:

    Touche Carl…Touche :)

  31. Exactly.

    Primitivism. Thank you for nudging my perspective.

    I wonder, George, what did you think of Paul Gauguin, Igor Stravinsky and Fritz Lang?

  32. Withering says:

    Yes, yes all very well but what about the blackberries.

  33. eric:p says:

    How about an extra line between paragraphs?

  34. Overheard local English resident: “It’s coming right enough. Hitler’s going to have Czecho-Slovakia all right. If he doesn’t get it now he’ll go on and on till he does. Better let him have it at once. We shall be ready by 1941.”

    So far, this is my favorite excerpt of (what appears to be) George’s stream of consciousness blog.

    I fell into Gordon’s head before the end of the first chapter of Keep the Aspidistra Flying; it’s great fun to look through the eyeholes of others, no doubt, but I think it may be a wee bit dangerous to overindulge in such extreme adventurousness; it’s eerily claustrophobic and it’s in black and white—Burgess Meredith, the last man on Earth, sitting on the steps of a great library with his mangled eyeglasses in his hand.

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  36. Hieronymus says:

    Weeks of admiring the garden, and boom, it’s suddenly politics and close observation. Great stuff!

  37. Pingback: George Orwell en Gibraltar el 7 de septiembre de 1938 | Un Argentino en Eslovenia

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