The Rock of Gibraltar is a unique rock located in the British territory of Gibraltar, near the southwestern tip of Europe on the Iberian Peninsula, and near the entrance to the Mediterranean. It is a huge monolithic limestone promontory that stands high above the water, although it actually sits on the edge of the land. During World War II, the rock was actually a war tool, and an amazing one at that. The British Army dug a maze of defensive tunnels inside the rock during the war, and the massive cliff is famous for the more than 30 miles of cleared space that served as a housing area for guns, ammunition, barracks, and even hospitals for wounded soldiers.

Recently, it was discovered that the rock held another, previously unknown secret use. Hidden in the famous rock is a secret chamber, known as the “Stay Behind Cave.” The cave measures 45 x 16 x 8 feet, and it has long been the site of a top-secret World War II plot called Operation Tracer. British Intelligence found out in 1940, that Hitler was planning to invade Gibraltar and cut off Great Britain from the rest of the British Empire. It was another part of their evil plan to take over the world, and they needed Britain out of the way to accomplish their objective. Once the British knew about this plot, the British Admirals suggested that a secret room be constructed within the Rock of Gibraltar, where six men would hide and observe from two small openings any movement they could see on the harbor.

Six men were selected. One of the men even agreed to Operation Tracer before he was even told what it was. That fact doesn’t shock me as much as the other men knowing about it and still being willing to participate. The plan was to seal the six men inside the secret chamber with enough supplies to last them a year (some say the food stores could have actually carried the men for 7 years) was put into action. The plan had to take in any eventuality, so it was said that if one of the men were to die, they would be buried in the brick floor. The only way the men could escape back into the outside world would be if Germany was defeated before the year’s-worth of supplies ran out. Construction on the chamber began in 1941 and ended in 1942. It featured a radio room, 10,000 gallons of water, power generators, and other necessities.

The men were rigorously trained for the upcoming mission, but just before Operation Tracer could officially begin, Hitler changed course and started to focus more on the Eastern Front. The men were never required to begin their mission. The mission aborted, the equipment was removed and the section of the rock leading to the secret chamber was blocked off. The chamber was to be kept top secret. I suppose in case it was ever needed in a future war, but persistent rumors floated around about a secret chamber, and people continued to search for it. To me it is encouraging to know that it took people until December 26, 1996, to locate what they thought might be the chamber. That tells me that had the men been required to live in the room, they would probably have done so in absolute secrecy and safety. The suspicion about the room would persist for another decade, until finally, one of the six men who was supposed to partake in Operation Tracer confirmed that the room the explorers found in 1996, was indeed the room that was built for their top-secret operation all those years ago. It may be one of the best-kept secrets of World War II.

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