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Spanish Civil War - Overview

The Spanish Civil War started in 1936. Malta based ships were engaged in evacuating refugees & looking after British citizens. The 3rd destroyer flotilla did much of the work led by Codrington. This ship alone was at sea for 105 days & steamed 15,780 miles.
Later on the 2nd destroyer flotilla joined in & in 37 days steamed more miles than a destroyer would travel in 6 months in peacetime. Gipsy & Havock were bombed by insurgent aircraft on February 22nd 1937 despite showing white ensigns & union flags. Two attacks were made on the ships but no damage resulted.
On April 6th Gallant was also attacked by 2 - 3 engined Junkers (probably Ju 52's) without resulting damage. Havock was attacked by a torpedo which narrowly missed.

It's interesting that in an effort to show British neutrality ships were painted with large red & blue stripes on white 'B' turrets.
Following attacks on destroyers it was decided that minesweepers should replace them so 2 flotillas were brought in to replace them.

Hunter ( H 35 ) a British destroyer hit a mine off Almeria on May 15th 1937. The forward boiler burst, flooding the ship. The Spanish Government destroyer Lazaga stood by her. Repairs took 18 months before she rejoined the Mediterranean Fleet.

Photo courtesy of Cheryl Beasley

Canarias - flagship of the Nationalist Navy. Probably taken around the time of the Spanish Civil War.
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Beasley

Ships known to have been part of these operations

Battleships - Queen Elizabeth
Cruisers -
Galatea, Penelope (light), Delhi (D 47)(fired upon by the Nationalist Canarias. Wikipedia link).
Destroyers - Codrington, Escort (H 66), Gipsy, Havock, Gallant, Hardy, Hotspur, Hereward, Active, Hunter,
Kempenfelt (involved in the evacuation of the British Embassy staff from Santander)
Minesweepers - Town Class ( 2 flotillas).


The Cross & the Ensign - A Naval History of Malta 1798 - 1979 Book by Peter Elliott