Orwell Diaries 1938-1942

GIBRALTAR 7.9.38

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.