Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Royal Engineers - Freedom of Gibraltar

The Corps of Royal Engineers celebrated their freedom of Gibraltar at the weekend.

On Saturday they assembled in Casemates Square, with the Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers and the former serving members of the Royal Engineers who are now in the Royal British Legion, Gibraltar branch.

The band had performed a concert the previous night in St Michael's Caves. After listening to them in Casemates I regretted not having made the effort to go to the concert.

I used to like military bands, but as I grew up and associated the music with war, I distanced myself from it.

But they were very good and played a great range of music in Casemates - for free - while the Chief Engineer inspected current serving REs and RBL members.

The Royal Engineers were granted the Freedom of Gibraltar in 1972. They have a long history of involvement with Gibraltar, from raising the first corps in 1772 to digging out many of the 30 miles of tunnels within the Rock.

They celebrate their freedom every two years. This year they were inspected by Chief Royal Engineer, General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue.

After the inspection finished, the band marched up Main Street, followed by the Corps of Royal Engineers, and then the Royal British Legion, who were applauded as they marched around the corner to the final destination in Cathedral Square.

Partner spoke to one of the RBL members in the pub on Sunday. We were surprised he had been in the parade as he is in his late 70s. He admitted he was finding the marching a bit hard as he got older. So very well done to him and all his colleagues who turned out for the parade. You all deserve our respect.

And here are two vids. In the first one the police officer half way through is saying "Avoid them". To me. I was so busy trying to get the rest of the band going round the corner I didn't realise the Royal Engineers complete with bayonets were rapidly bearing down on me.

Finally, the Royal British Legion finishing the parade in Cathedral Square to well-deserved applause from all the bystanders.


Kaiser Chef said...

Thank you for taking the videos and showing us. (was a bit worried when the camera went shaky - thought you were being mown down by oncoming marching band!)

That was very interesting.


Anonymous said...

Just caught up with this. Thanks for posting the pics. I was on the original parade on 6 March 1972.I had been posted to 1st Fortress Sqn the previous year. Other RE units with detachments on parade were 60 Field Sqn from Maidstone, and I think 52 Construction Sqn from Waterbeach, who were principally involved in building the Europa by-pass, with a bit of help from the Fortress Sqn of course.

We all received bronze commemorative medals from the Gibraltar Government.

Terry Reeves

Katherine and Pippa said...

Thank you for your comment Terry.

That is really interesting and very thoughtful of you to add to the post.

Do you live in Gib or do you ever come back here? We know quite a few ex Royal Engineers. :)

Joseph said...

I was also on the original parade though normally a shift engr in Calpe Hole Power Stn. The stn was "mothballed" before I left Gib in Aug 72. I now live in Spain & usually visit Gib once a week. I have revisited the stn in the Gt North Rd and its now in a very sad state. Still, fond memories remain.

Katherine and Pippa said...

Thanks for your interest Joseph.

When you visit Gib, do you ever get to the Angry Friar as there a few ex Royal Engineers who go in there regularly? My partner goes in there and chats to them at least once or twice a week.

I am very saddened with the state of the military heritage, there is so much, but so little that is well preserved. Perhaps one day.

It would be good to bump into you.

Anthony said...

I to was on the original parade in 72, Terry,who was a diver if I recall should remember me. Had two enjoyable years in Gib, been back once in 2002 I think it was, Governors Cottage camp was still there then, doubt if it is now, wonder if the old 1772 club is still there?

Terry Reeves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terry Reeves said...


I take it you are Tony Jordan who used to work at the boat sheds. Good to hear from you. I will be in Gib from 10th July for a few days.

alan (rocky) hudson. said...

hallo terry,its rocky hudson here,remember our whaler pulling days,in the bay,? i have some pics with you recieving a trophy,ill get around to scanning them when i get time,im busy on the PMC circuit at the moment,happy days!

Unknown said...

Just found this site. I was ACC attached to 1st field Sqdn form 71 to73. still have my medalion from the Freedom Parade, Great times..

roughseasinthemed said...

Alan and Paul, thanks for your comments. Hope you and everyone else have enjoyed reading about the REs parade a few years ago. I'll try and take some photos of the parade next year for an update.

Terry, hope you had a good few days when you visited gib in July.

Terry Reeves said...

Alan good to hear from you. The whaler racing was good fun and I think we saw of the opposition is some style.

Paul Leherle, good to hear from you after all this time. The cookhouse is long gone I'm afraid, along with most of the rest of Governors Cottage.

Keep in touch all please through