Lance Corporal George F. Staples,REME.


To:- George's

National Service Posting to Gibraltar, his work, experiences and travels.




The key to the right hand side of our Badge is the Key for Gibraltar, this was worn on the sleeve of our uniforms.

GIB - KEY the key to the Mediterranean 

Departure was from Southampton.

On arrival I was collected at Southampton Station, taken to the Dockyard to board a ship. This ship sailed a couple of days later. We later learned that it would be a slow trip, since we would be on exercise past the straights. Well, we saw Gib from the distance, went past and up the North African coastline. There were many ships out there, we were bobbing up and down on the swell for some two weeks or more before finally heading into Gib. Many of the chaps were very ill including the MO who was hanging over the side himself!!  

When we neared Gib, a ships pilot came out to take us into the Harbour, as we entered the Harbour a big cheer went up. We were leaving this horrible ship at last.


Gibraltar from the Air


Gibraltar from the Straights


Disembarked, we were met by a REME truck which took us to 

REME Barracks, Governor's Cottage Camp 

Road leading to Governor's Cottage,which can be seen just above the 'drive in' on left of picture, and the Camp further up the road, and the Camp seen from above.


Picture of Governor's Cottage submitted by Jeff Wilson from his uncles collection brought back from 1914/18 war. "An LAD, four stroke engine can be seen passing the cottage on the way back to camp"

 Gibraltar the (gateway to the Mediterranean)  Our REME workshops maintained the fortress guns, all the vehicles, instruments, optical range finders, clocks and service watches and associated equipment which was used and operated in the extensive tunneling complex on the Rock. One of these tunnels, excavated over many years was equipped as a major workshop.

A REME truck took us to Governor's Cottage Camp passing Europa Point lighthouse on the way, (which can be seen in the picture taken from the Gibraltar Straights above on the right hand side) The REME Barracks Camp was on the Eastern face of the rock, (not far from the water catchment which can be  seen in the aerial picture above) we checked in and were designated billets, mine was a bit further up the road and built in a Cave.

Called: Monkey's Cave (below) This was REME Headquarters.


  Me in KD outside REME Headquarters


The following day I learned that the instrument workshop that I would be attached to was a little further on along the tunnel you can just see the entrance to the tunnel outside REME headquarters (just below) to the right of where the motor bike is situated.

In the left hand picture where you can see the balcony jutting out from the building, to the right hand side was our living room/billet 

(see the balcony below Me in KD left picture, right hand side, I'm relaxed sitting down ordering watch parts that will be sent to us from London )




As a "Qualified" engineer, with all of six months Drawing Office experience, Trevor was put in charge of the REME Drawing Office, situated at REME Headquarters, his office being in the jutting out section (seen over the motor bike with it's windows open.) It was a large office, with two draughtsman, together with a technical library and no less complete with a librarian.   

Trevor designed a Train Set featuring the Rock of Gibraltar, with a little help from his friends. It was presented to HRH Prince Charles (age six) by the people of Gibraltar, to commemorate his visit there in May 1954.

 You can read all about Trevor playing with HRH Prince Charles and HRH Princess Anne in REME Links.


(view of workshop below) my workbench was situated at the furthest end near the clocks that can be seen on the wall.



I became responsible for most of the timepieces in various areas of the Rock.

Cleaning and overhauling them as required, there were also many service watches, mainly Omega 30's and Bulova  that needed repairing, there were also watches issued to various officers etc. 

I had already been responsible for cleaning and overhauling these types of watches at Garrards the Crown Jewellers and submitting them to the Royal Observatory, at Hurstmonceaux for final Certificate to be issued

My bench plaque that was made for me at REME workshops Fazackerly, this was sent on to me in Gibraltar. 

I joined the Calpe Institute as a friend Eric Chiffy a well known photographer was also a member, he introduced me to William (Bill)Serfaty who owned the well known shop in Main Street:- Serfaty's they sold the best in camera's and photographic equipment.

My Blazer Jacket badge

of Montis Insigna Calpe as it is, 50 years later.


We found in workshops a pair of white overalls, the lads thought who could these fit since there was no one in the camp of that size and certainly they would not fit any of the Spanish workers so we tried a padding test. Well as you can see with plenty of padding they filled out. There was enough room in the sleeves, for two peoples arms. Who they were for, remains a mystery!!!


Keith and Myself


Colleagues on the Beach at Sandy Bay            

 Out for a Stroll below

The town,  Gibraltar Main Street was a very busy street in the evenings with all the shops open selling everything from expensive cameras. Silk stockings were then very fashionable and sold in vast quantities by Mr Dialdas, expensive watches by Longines, Omega and Rolex, Silks, Ivory pieces and perfumes.

When the American Aircraft Carriers moored up in the Bay, the town would be thronged by US sailors, buying all sorts of merchandise, and drinking in the bars. The SP's from the carrier also unloaded their own Jeeps to tour the town, rowdy sailors were rounded up and taken back aboard the Carrier.

There were also dancing drink bars like the "Suizo" where Spanish girls would perform 'Flamenco' dancing. Flamenco is an individualistic, yet structured folk art from Andalusia, which is often improvised and spontaneous. The song, dance and guitar are blended together by the passionate rhythms of southern Spain which is flamenco's geographical birthplace. Flamenco  is the traditional dance performed by the 'Gitanos' throughout Andalucia, especially fiesta time at the Feria in Sevilla.


Casemates                            Gibel Tarik                                             Catalan Bay

Scenes from the 50's in Gibraltar with the Church in Catalan Bay, Catalan Bay, and the

ship - The GIBEL-TARIK this took passengers over to Tangier.

Two of the Lads and our Spanish worker from Instrument workshops

Many of us will have passed through these gates

(My Spanish girl friend is just on the right of Pic)


Catalan Bay around 1916

Submitted by Jeff Wilson from his uncles collection brought back from 1914/18 war. 

Military Hospital around 1916



Gibraltar at Sunrise from the Spanish Coastline


Back home to Demob, transport on the Runway. 


La Linea de la Concepcion


If you were in Gibraltar- Stationed at Monkey's Cave 

or Governor's Cottage Camp  in 1953

Please email me: