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Royal Engineers Gibraltar 1942
Royal Engineers Gibraltar 1942
My father, Harry Almond fourth from right, middle row

Gib during the War

by Phil Almond

My Dad, Harry Almond was born in Boundary Street, Halliwell in 1916. After the war he worked at Warburton's Bakery. His wife, Kathleen, worked at Mathers Weaving Shed and Crossleys Packaging Ltd.

The photograph shows the gun emplacements he helped to build. The guns have now been removed and are at the Duxford War Museum, Cambridgeshire. A hotel now stands on the gun site.

Just four weeks after his wedding, my father Henry Almond, was enlisted into the Royal Engineers on July 1940, and after his initial training was posted to Gibraltar.

My father recalled whilst on Gib, how the Rock was excavated to create a hospital and storage facilities for munitions. The excavated material was used to extend the airport runway. He assisted in the building of a gun emplacement which overlooked the straits, and had his photograph taken in front of the cannons. He told how they were used, which was to fire warning shots upon any ship trying to pass through the straits without British clearance. Indeed at night their sleep was often disturbed by the guns firing warning shots at ships trying to pass through the straits during the hours of darkness.

He also recalled hearing a plane crashing into the Med on the night of July 1943, and being told on board was Wladyslaw Sikorski, the Polish Prime Minister-in-exile, who was killed when his plane crashed shortly after take-off.

He fondly remembered, how each night a soothing piece of classical music, the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, was played over the barracks Tannoy system at lights-out.

From Gib., my father was involved in the second wave of the Normandy landings travelling through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany, as a motorbike dispatch rider. It was whilst going through Belgium they saw a young woman in the market square have her head shaved, because she had fraternised with the occupying Germans, and how the squaddies wanted to put a stop to this treatment only to be ordered not to get involved.

He went on to recall whilst going through Germany, how a strange smell blanketed the whole area, and told that Belsen concentration camp was near-by and ordered to visit the camp to emphasize to them, what they were fighting for.

He was finally demobbed in 1946 and died in 1999 at the age of 83 and at his funeral, had played his favourite piece of music - The Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana.

Gib remembered...