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The Invasion That Never Came

You will probably have seen the bunkers on the beach of Es Trenc, strange and somewhat brutal reinforced dugouts made of concrete. They are a bit of an eyesore. The shelters were built in the Forties on behest of General Franco who was somewhat paranoid about an imminent invasion by the allied troops. Although Spain had officially not taken any sides in the military conflict of World War 2, España was clearly on Hitler’s and Mussolini’s side. The two Fascist leaders had come to Franco’s help during the Spanish Civil War and there had always been a latent alliance between the three nations all led by totalitarian autocrats even if no joint military action was carried out between 1938 and 1945.

As Hitler’s grasp in the occupied territories diminished, Franco feared for some military retribution by France, Britain, USA and the USSR. For some reason he was convinced that an invasion was imminent and he expected it here, in the Balearic Isles. He assembled a relatively large fleet of submarines, based in the North of the island, in Port de Pollença, and he reinforced some of Mallorca’s defense installations, such as Cap Enderrocat, Cabo Blanco, Sa Fortalesa, Muleta and Aucanada. I think there were about twenty coastal defense fortifications here in Mallorca, all equipped with heavy cannons and other such artillery array. Some of these are still intact even though mostly abandoned; some such installations have now been re-constituted for coastal surveillance by radar.

The much anticipated invasion of course never came. Franco survived when Hitler and Mussolini didn’t. The Spanish dictator died in office in 1975. The rest is history.

The photo (top) was chosen from my archive. It was taken near Colònia de Sant Jordi, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 12th, 2008. The time was 16:05:26. The photo (bottom) was taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 30th, 2012. The time was 17:12:17.

9 replies »

  1. Fascinating. This is completely new to me and reminds me of the paranoia of Hoxha, the former dictator of Albania; he had hundreds of pillboxes built along the coast. Like Franco, Hoxha feared invasion by non-existent enemies. Fear can have terrifying reprecussions.

    • thanks for sharing that information about enver hoxha and albania. i did not know that. there’s lots more interesting facts about franco and his reign that most people – should i say most foreigners – don’t know about even though we walk past some of the evidence almost on a daily basis.

      • mallorcaphotoblog, Spain is not only Franco… as UK is not only Margaret Thatcher or Brexit… By focusing on this specific point, you do not see the rest, and sadly, it is obviuos reading your blog.

  2. Thank you for an interesting blog. I am a novelist, currently on holiday in Mallorca and am very interested in finding out more about the island and its people during World War 2. I’d also like to know what might have happened if a young British woman had been on the island when war was declared. Would she have been trapped here? Also, would she have been sent to an internment camp, or been allowed to live freely among the people? Any help you can give me will be much appreciated, and acknowledged in my book when it is eventually published.

    • hello Alison,
      I cannot really answer your question; I cannot think that anybody really can. I believe that a number of foreigners happened to be in Mallorca at the outbreak of and during World War 2 but I have no knowledge that any of these would have been interned. Internment here in Mallorca occurred during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). I would suggest that you perhaps contact the British Consul in Palma for further information.
      Robert Graves, the author and poet, lived in Deià when the Civil War broke out in 1936. He was contacted by the British Consul and advised to leave the island. He and his family left the very next day and only came back after ten years which also happened to be after the end of World War 2.
      Good luck with your book.

    • Alison, I do not think that she would have been “trapped” or sent in an internment camp, if this person was not part of secret services or doing politics… Now, like any stranger in a foreign country in this period, she would have needed oficial document permiting her staying there… What a strange image you have about the history of Spain… When ignorance talks…
      Just for information: 300000 Brits live in Spain currently, to be compared to the 30000 spanish citizens living in UK, and this (too) strong presence is not recent and was already a reality during WW2.

  3. Your post clearly lacks objectivity. These bunkers were not the consequence of a paranoia (nothing in common with Albania) and Franco was not particularly paranoid. The strategical location of Spain and its islands made necessary to protect the territory. Franco was not “clearly” on Hitler and Mussolini side… There is a very interesting article written by Churchill for the british press, after the war, congratulating Franco for its help during WW2: no attacking Gibraltar, prohibing the access of the peninsula to German troops, prohibing the establishing of a German base in Canari’s Islands in spite of the pression of Hitler and most of all, for not having transmited to the Germans the information concerning the preparation of the allied landing in Africa in 1942; the surprise being one of the decisive elements of the success of this operation. Fortifications were built to protect Spain’s neutrality… Just like Switzerland did during the same period. More than ten military operations were planned by the allied and the germans during WW2 concerning the invasion of Spain and its islands.
    So, a little bit less politics, and a better knowledge of history please. And personally, as a French living and enjoying this fantastic country, I do not understand when foreigners come in a country and make pejorative comments without any solid background. They should better stay at home…

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