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THE NEW FORTIFICATIONS AT GIBRALTAR

—^ — ♦— Cine "Times.") So muoh hasTbeen written and said about our rook fortress' of Gibraltar that It might seem almost an Impossibility to return to the subject without worthleas —or, at ail events, no longer Interesting— remtrks ; but it is not so, for during the last year or two the authorities seem to have suddenly awakened to the faot that Gibraltar as a strategic position li not to be despised. New guns have been, and are being, erected on the rock, and the old apathetic temperament that always seemed to exist there Is being qulokly oast on one side. The reason for the sudden movement on the part of the authorities is not difficult to dlsoover. Naval armament has during the last few years progressed' with inoh rapid strides that it has been found that continual and active work is necessary on shore to keep pace with what is going on afloat. The old theory, now scarcely credited, that Gibraltar is impregnable, will In the ooarse of some months be no longer a boast bat a reality, snob, »re the ohanaes that are taking plaoj To enumerate ihsse new fortifij-tlousln tura: first, thare ace the. two ICO-ton guns — one m the Alamedt., the other nearer Europe; bat m spite of the magnitude of these guns themselves and the ptojactiles they discharge, it is the general opinion among those whose opt n lons are worth listening to that these guns m actual warfare would be of little praotloal on. But since the erection of these monitor imple* ments of war there has bean another and far more useful change. This is tha fortifiying of the samrnit of the took, Aa Gibraltar at present exlitt, were an enemy able to land, there are no guns on tha rook whteh would m any way cover them when once on shore. This point seem* to have forolbly struck those who are responsible for the present alteration!, and orders were given early m this year to sink pits at three points on the summit of the rook — at what was formerly, until destroyed, O'Hara'a tower, at the signal station, and at the fUg-staff. These pita have now been sank to the depth of 30ft. The lower portions will be used as magazines, while nbove will revolve guns having a complete olronit of fire; and ever log not only the anchorage, which is at present well protected by the lower guos, but also the "Eastern Sea," or Mediterranean Bide, and also able from their elevation — averaging from 1200 ft to 1300ft— to command the town m oase of a landing being effected by the enemy. These guns are to be of the latest type, and are known generally as six-loon guns. But thin Is not all; there his just been completed, above Willis, a spot about one-third of the way op the north-western slopes of the rook, an extensive subterranean migazlne capable of oontalning an Immense amount of am< munition. Nor have the authorities rested satisfied with these radio il changes, but early m December an order was Issued to erect a 9'2ln gun* at some convenient and eligible spot above the road that at an elevation of about 60Oft runs almost the fall length of the rock, and Is known as the Qaeen'e road, and it la generally believed that this new gun is to be but one of a series that are to be placed the entire length of thla " Qaeen'a road." Should this be so, all that will be required is to render the road, by theereotion of a strong wall, a satisfactory infantry line But perhaps the most Important change of all is the sanction by the Government of the making of . a dook. At present Gibraltar, beyond being a ooallng station, is of little use to our fleet, and In warfare would be of little more use, as, were a ship m. any way disabled, the capabilities of the dook yard are so limited that only the most temporary repairs oould be oarried out* Of oourae m the bay, pro* teoted by the guns om shore, our fleet could lie m sife anchorage j but the ex* istenoe of thla proposed dook will be an Immense boon not only In time of war, but m times of peace as well. One other point that has been muoh disousssed is the superiority of Oeuta over Gibraltar. Now the faot of the matter fe this: Neither Gibraltar nor Oeuta can possible hold the straits singly, and even were both m tha possession of one power, thera can be no doubt that it would be with the greatest ease that the enemy's ships oould paas through untouohed by a single shot, provlded the atraita were not defended by tbe fleet. At night, without lights, any ship could pass In safety, and this without noise, as tbe currents antiV tides run sufficiently strong to float a vessel through without working her engtoes at more power than to give her steering way. Many people argue thai Oentais a far finer position than Gibraltar. Certainly m one respect 4t surpasses the "rook "^f nunely, m the ease with whioh provision* are obtained from the interior. <. Glbtaltar would be entirely dependent upon her stores and what could be Drought by sea In case of siege — provided, of oourse, Spain was not open to us— whereas In Oeuta food could be plentifully supplied by the Moors, who oould take no aotlve part oa either side In one of Its attack. But Oeuta has thla one fatal drawbaok— that it is commanded by the summits of the mountains that He to the east of Djebel Moußsa, or Apes Hill. Doubtless (| would be a task' of no 'ordinary magnitude! to drag even mountain guns into position ap those rooky slopes, but that once effeoted Oeuta would be doomed. As effdra at present exist at Gibraltar we have every reason to be satisfied, and no praise la too great for the offi his who have cast aside the oloak of lethargy to such good effect, and by their exertions are rendering Gibraltar— one of the most prfod jewels m England's crown—Joipregnable.

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THE NEW FORTIFICATIONS AT GIBRALTAR Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2104, 10 April 1889

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