A curious little hagiography

Good Catholic girls here wept bitter tears in the 40s and 50s at the tale of the final conversation between Luis Moscardó and his father. The following obituary, published in ABC on November 25 1951, is not as impressive (although probably a great deal nearer the truth than the Moscardó saga), but that the Brits let Guerra Civil traffic into Gibraltar was news to me:


Barcelona, 24th. Honorary Lieutenant in the Navy, D. Juan Díaz González, has passed away at the age of forty-nine, port pilot and the only merchant seaman ever to possess the Distinguished Cross of San Fernando, which he won during the Liberation Crusade. The deceased was a native of the province of Lugo, and the deed for which he received the highest honour was as follows:

On August 14th 1936 as captain of the merchant ship “El Montecillo”, he left Bilbao to sail for Alicante with a highly valuable shipment of military material much needed by ground forces. When the ship was off Gibraltar, Captain Díaz, who wished to join the Movement but was unable to do so openly, the boat’s crew being Reds, ordered it into the English stronghold, feigning a lack of fuel. While the ship was taking on coal, Captain Díaz went to Algeciras, where he made contact with the garrison commander, Colonel Coco, and made the necessary arrangements for the ship to go to Ceuta instead of proceeding to Alicante. On August 26th, “El Montecillo” set course for the Straits, which was full of Red ships. The crew–numerous and armed–threatened the captain when he made his aspirations clear, and he requested by “radio” the national authorities that they bombard the ship before it was handed over to the Reds. Several hydroplanes from the African bases machine-gunned the boat in raseado flight, while the captain showed integrity and remained on the bridge. Great confusion then ensued among the crew, of which Captain Díaz took advantage in order to dominate the situation until he managed to bring the ship into Ceuta with its shipment intact, as promised. The crew suffered no punishment as a result of its behaviour. Captain Díaz subsequently added to his deeds in other episodes of the Crusade, fighting valiantly everywhere.

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