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Report - Gibraltar Military Tunnels - March 2011

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by Wee-fishie, May 6, 2013.

  1. Wee-fishie

    Wee-fishie 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    May 3, 2013
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    Better late than never! Hi, this is my first report, using photos from a tour I was given of the Gibraltar military tunnels whilst in the forces a couple of years ago. Some parts of the tunnels are open to tourists but the section we visited was still owned by the MoD and was used at the time for munitions storage and training.

    The Wikipedia site has much more info on this fascinating trinket of WW2 than I could possibly remember. The bit about Op Tracer was especially macabre and worth a read. Military history of Gibraltar during World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I got the offer to join the tour late, after someone else was too bawbagged from the night before to get out of their bed. Didn't have the proper camera charged up so had to take a point and shoot, without tripod, and hope for the best - hence why some of the photos are badly focused (sorry for these!). Didn't help I'd been smashing it in the night before and had the shakes badly :sad

    I wish I could have got some better compositions but as the group was mostly a bit bored and hungover the pace of the tour was far more brisk than I would have liked. They were also not to clued up on the etiquette of photography and pop up in the middle of a couple of otherwise decent shots :(

    On with the tour. First we had to wait our turn while a group of Gurkhas finished up a training exercise within the tunnels, in prep for Afghan. Sneaky beaky! Before you think about trying, all entrances are enclosed and guarded by people with bangsticks, and trespassing on live MoD property is tantamount in danger to kicking a tiger up the backside.

    At this point I realised I'd stupidly neglected to bring a torch to a tunnel explore - luckily the guide, an RAF sergeant, handed out some - unluckily these were crappy poundland type things so anything that looks like a blueish lighting effect is actually these.

    In we went, and turned north. The tunnel going south held secret things I think, and at the far end of the south tunnel was the Op Tracer room previously mentioned. The large area was once used as parking for vehicles returning from outwith the tunnels in order to minimise the fumes from excessive vehicle travel within the complex. With over 30 miles of excavations, there was a lot of walking back in the day if you weren't important enough to be chauffeured about!

    Came across this entrance, which is as it says. It also accessed the elaborate 'The Rock' hotel overlooking Gibraltar Bay, which during the war was used as accommodation for high ranking officers and dignitaries. During attacks, said officials could escape safely into the tunnels. It also contained this Nissen hut, which was an office at one time. Most areas where people worked and lived were actually watertight buildings built within the tunnel, as the porous rock caused plenty of moisture to 'rain' within the complex. Gib still gets its water from within the rock, where rainwater has collected in an aquifer on the eastern slope.


    Further on we came across a smaller entrance from outside, used for personnel only. Beside it was a feeding station - there were no cooking facilities for men working outwith the tunnels, so at the end of their shift they would pick up something to eat on the way in. It also allowed the cooking smells and steam to be dissipated outside rather than further contaminate the already foul air within the rock. The photo shows the sparse cooking facilities that fed thousands of men a day, at the end are two large cooking pots, still with the Le Creuset motif attached to the front.

    Further on we were shown where Canadian miners blasted through into a natural void while drilling a new shaft during the war. The weird shape on the highest part of the void was stalagmite formation, until the blast sheared a large chunk of the bottom off.

    On and on, we saw 4 areas, each the size of half football pitch easily, cut into the rock at the side of the tunnel. These were formerly the ratings barracks and must have been astonishingly huge. Unfortunately couldn't get a decent photo of half a football pitches worth of pitch blackness, even with half a dozen poundland torches pointing into it, so you'll just have to trust me its there!

    We came to the jewel of the tour, the machinery space. Formerly designated a cold meat store, it was outfitted with two large diesel generators and all manner of switchgear and ancillary equipment. Judging by the only graffiti in the entire tunnel system, the diesels were planned to be sold off but this doesn't look likely. I don't think there's much chance of them being useful for anything but scrap! Cue mate getting in the way of the only well focused shot I could get.



    Next was the engine radiators, in a separate space with a huge exhaust shaft bored into the rock, and separated from the main passageway by a huge blast proof door to minimise the damage if Gerry managed to drop a bomb down it, Star Wars style. Someone ventured up the exhaust duct, and promptly slipped and fell back down it on his arse.


    Last visit was near the northernmost entrance, and was the old sickbay facilities. This had suffered damp the most and only a couple of large rooms remained. The one photographed below was the triage, and either side of this room were an operating theatre and a mortuary. Grim times, grim stuff. Annoyingly the camera decided enough was enough and died at that point, with no small irony lost on me.

    All done, we were ejected from the North entrance in the middle of nowhere and eventually found our way back to Casemates Square - well, feed a hangover and all that!

    Hope you enjoyed the report, sorry it went a couple of pictures over but it just wasn't possible to tell the story with any less I think! Apologies also for the dodgy camerawork, I would love to get back in there and do it all properly but as I've left the mod and got a real grown up job that isn't going to happen EVER again :( Hopefully this gives an insight to something that would otherwise be completely off limits to 28dl'ers!

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