Archive for August 2nd, 2017
Brits Are Canon Fodder In Santa Cruz

Blood coursed red, white, and blue through my veins as some jolly jack tars sang Rule Britannia, I even managed to avoid singing the rude version. A bit of decorum was definately called for as Admiral Nelsons British forces tried to storm Santa Cruz, 220 years on from the original failed assault. It´s such an important event in the history of the Tenerife capital, La Gesta is commemorated every year as near as possible to 25 July.

The great man Horatio Nelson wasn´t part of the recreation near the Castilla Negra (black castle) by the ultra modern Auditorium with it´s distinctive wave shaped roof. On the fateful day he came ashore from his ship in a rowing boat with some of his men but was shot in the right arm as he stepped onto dry land by the black castle. Nelson was always against the assault but had orders from on high to take the strategic port, he lost his arm, the locals stood firm and repelled the invaders with 250 Brits killed wounded or drowned. Despite that it was a very polite surrender due to the mutual respect between the forces and the help and hospitality offered afterwards by the Spanish governor, Juan Antonio Gutierrez.

Local enthusiasts keep the memory of the defeated invasion alive and perform as the red coated Brits and their white coated rivals. A good crowd was gathered for one of several events throughout the city over a three day spell. It wasn´t a full scale battle this year, just some well coordinated posturing and symbolic surrender. Two canons shattered roared and smoke billowed as a flock of startled seagulls took flight pretty quick and a couple of small children got a little tearful but it was all very enjoyable and safe to watch.The canons were called El Miserable, and El Gato (the cat) but the big canon that did so much to save Santa Cruz is called El Tigre (the tiger) and lives in a special museum under the Plaza de España. The commemoration is a big deal to Tenerife so it was fitting that the President of the Canary Islands Fernando Clavijo was on hand to inspect both sets of soldiers.

There was a lot of extra detail added to the show, an outbreak of sea shanty´s and some rifle polishing showed the plucky spirit of the British forces, I did spot one making sneaky use of his mobile phone, maybe to pre order the beers, they do like a hearty celebration after their hot, thirsty work. It was the third defeated attack on Santa Cruz from sea based forces and they are rightfully proud of their stubborn resistance. It was a great way to educate and entertain at the same time, hopefully it will encourage visitors to look out for the commemorative plaques at key points around the city where smaller skirmishes took place. Down by the port, near the old, small, lighthouse, there is an impact mark on a wall from a canon among the British fleet.

So the bad run continues, Nelson´s boys will carry on trying in future years to rewrite history but they aren´t going to get any joy. Hopefully when all the upgrade work is finished on the port, the large sculpture that used to stand in a glass case will be restored. It shows the agreement signed by Nelson and Gutierrez, the deal was also sealed with several barrels of Canarian wine that were loaded aboard Nelson´s flagship. No wonder they were signing that song about the drunken sailor.