Our Family A Fill-In Book Of Traditions Memories And Stories Captain George Rooke – Military Hero From Saint Laurence, Canterbury

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Captain George Rooke – Military Hero From Saint Laurence, Canterbury

The other day when I wanted to reference how we conquered Gibraltar, as my understanding had been that an English Navy Captain, who had missed a battle in the Mediterranean Sea, decided to capture Gibraltar on his way back home, as he didn’t want to disappoint Queen Ann.

Anyway, when I did research Wikipedia my understanding of events was almost right, but one thing that really stood out to me, was the fact that Captain George Rooke was from what is today Canterbury, in an area called Saint Lawrence.

I was actually born the St Stephens area of Canterbury, but I have spent the last 26 years battling with the Spanish from the inside around the area of Alicante, but I guess that would make for another article or two.

Anyway back to the main character of this article, our own Captain Rooke, who was born in 1672, and after many successes in the Dutch wars, was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1650. He was later posthumously awarded with a Knighthood after destroying 12 ships of the French enemy fleet. He was eventually made admiral in 1696, and just one year later began a period of peace, that would last just three years, while Rooke continued to serve in the English Channel and the Mediterranean sea.

Great sea battles recommenced again in 1700, with Captain Rooke leading the Anglo-Dutch Squadron into attack at Copenhagen, and following England declaring war on France on 15th May 1702, Rooke was once again in battle at the commencement of the War of the Spanish Succession.

Anyway, the story about how Gibraltar was captured begins with Rooke commanding an unsuccessful Allied attack against Cádiz in 1702, and then on his passage home he destroyed the Spanish treasure fleet at the Battle of Vigo Bay. This action was rewarded with gratitude from Parliament, and he subsequently commanded the allied naval forces for the eventual capture of Gibraltar in July 1704.

Rooke later retired from service in February 1705 due to poor health, and returned as the prodigal son to his estate at St Lawrence, Canterbury, where he finally passed away in 1709. Just 9 years ago in 2004, a statue of Captain Rooke was erected in his memory at Gibraltar, while the Gibraltarians celebrated the 300th anniversary of the capture of the Rock.

Gibraltar today has become a Political Pawn for the Spanish government, and there always seems to be a sporadic problem there, which helps to fill up TV news time, instead of us having to see how politically corrupt the successive Spanish governments have been. I have actually been to Gibraltar a couple of times myself, and have stayed with family in the Spanish border town of “La Linea De La Concepcion”. The local people spoke very highly of the Gibraltarians for what they did to help the starving Spaniards during Franco’s reign, though have never received any mention of their bravery on the news.

Just a lighter tone to conclude this article, and on one trip I made to see our family, I had forgotten my passport. At the border crossing point, the Guardia Civil waved me through, just with my Residents Permit, which stated my nationality as British. Unfortunately I was turned back by the Gibraltarian border police, which at least gave the Guardia Civil something to smile about.

About Captain George Rooke: Wikipedia

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