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February 07, 2010


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It would have affected the negotiations between Hitler and Franco in 1940-1; Hitler would have been much less interested in Spanish help to attack Ceuta than to attack Gibraltar.

Franco controlling Gibraltar. Oh,that could make 1940 interesting. Would Hitler be nuts enough to attack Spain if Franco refused to close the Strait to Allied shipping?

For that mater, suppose Franco offers La Reggia Marina basing rights at The Rock in exchange for even more Italian help in the SCW. THAT would push some British buttons for sure.

But Franco controlling Gibraltar would have achieved very little if the UK controlled Ceuta - there are two Pillars of Hercules, and the RN can dominate the strait just as easily from Ceuta as from Gibraltar.

The difference is that an assault force would need to attack from Spanish Morocco / Er Rif instead of from Metropolitan Spain, and it would be much harder to transport an assault force across the straits (or march one from a port in effective Axis control, e.g. Tunis) than to cross Spain by land - even given the theoretical ability to do so.

Steven's point about the SCW is well-taken, however. Franco would certainly have controlled Gibraltar from the beginning of the war, and might well have done things that upset the Brits with the Rock. On the other hand, don't forget that the Brits control Ceuta (the "other Rock") and could certainly make use of the port.

Question: what could Franco do with the Gibraltar that he couldn't have done with Ceuta? He could have easily offered the Italians basing rights in North Africa, had he wanted to, no?

Basing in North Africa, meh. Basing at The Rock, now that is way imperial cool. Benny the Moose might put quite a lot on the table in order to do that.

A lot depends on what kind of idea Hitler gets in his head concerning a Fascist Spain Gibralter. If Hitler decides to go for the gusto and bribe Franco into joining he Axis, then the western Med could be a no-go zone for the RN.

Hmmph. I haven't done any Alt-hist timelines in years, but this makes me want to dust off my notes for "Mare Nostrum"

Of course, things could swing the other way: Italian ships basing at The Rock might upset the British and French enough to actually, you know, give some support to Fascist opposition.

Franco didn't need (or, more importantly, want) any more open Fascist help during the war than he actually received.

Nor will swapping Gibraltar for Ceuta have an effect on WW2, assuming Franco is in control of the Spanish government. Adolf Hitler is not going to invade Spain; Francisco Franco is not going to join the Axis; the Royal Navy is not going to have any trouble controlling the Med.

There is one place where the swap might have made a difference: the airlift of Nationalist troops from Tetuán. Britain might have been more tetchy about had they been in North Africa.

But I kind of doubt it.

In short, I don't see the swap making any kind of significant difference until the 1960s, where Britain would be more likely than Spain to be willing to return the enclaves.

Or would they?


As to the enclaves, maybe they would be more likely to return them. They don't have the imperial coolness factor of The Rock of Gibralter. I mean, just look at the damn thing!

If memory serves, "The Big Damn Book of Sheer Masculinity" devoted a two page spread to it. I doubt the authors would have bothred with mere enclaves.

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