25. Sep, 2021


SATURDAY 25-09-21

Well we found out when they were having the concert at the Roman Theatre - last night. It must have been a 'Queen' tribute band playing, and they sounded ok, even when we were trying to get to sleep.

This morning we were heading for Huelva on the 'South Coast'. The easiest and most obvious route was to head south on the E803/A66 motorway and then west on the E49 motorway from Seville. But we had all day to get there as this was a Spanish weekend, so I thought it would be a more enjoyable experience to drive west to Badajoz on the E90 motorway and then south on the '435' taking us through the countryside and mountains, about another 180 miles I would guess.

First we stopped off at a Carrefour supermarket to top up with food and bottled water and then we were away. Things went really well and I was very much enjoying driving at a steady speed as the route south had a speed limit of 80kph, about 50mph. However the road surface deteriorated as we approached the Sierra Morena mountains, I assume caused by freezing conditions during the winter. To be fair they had made some effort to patch it up in parts but not nearly enough. The ups and downs and sharp bends didn't bother me at all, it was the constant need to dodge the worst of the road surface which did.

Eventually after a number of hours driving, with a break for lunch we arrived at Huelva. In my defence we were originally going to be passing through Huelva from the Portuguese south coast on our way to Seville. But having redrafted the Travelscript we now find ourselves making a special journey.

We were making for a Camperstop on the outskirts of town (N37.21333° W6.93972°). It appears in the Camperstop 2019 book which I have been using. However when we arrived it was nothing of the sort. In the picture in the Camperstop book there is a small campervan in the foreground and so I assume the owner of that vehicle put the location forward as a potential new Camperstop. But it is nothing of the sort, it is a small parking area for car-size vehicles. That really wasn't helpful. We'd had a long journey, it was hot, and we had no air-conditioning. Add to that the parking area was surrounded on three sides by industry, much of it looked and smelt as if it was refining petroleum - lovely.

Having wound up the laptop and going on to Google Maps all I could find were sandy-looking parking areas down by the beaches and we were in no doubt that they would be crammed full of Spanish families, and so we probably wouldn't have got a space, and if we had then we probably wouldn't be allowed to park overnight.

So a little bit about Huelva:

Huelva is a port city in south-western Spain, at the mouth of the Odiel and Tinto rivers. North of the centre is whitewashed Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Cinta C hapel, dating from the 15th century. Huelva Museum hosts an extensive archaeological collection. La Merced Cathedral features a striking baroque facade. A statue of explorer Christopher Columbus overlooks the palm-flanked square of Plaza de las Monjas.

There was only one thing for it - we would have to head for the cemetary!

The only reason for my wanting to stop off here was to visit the grave of Glyndwr Michael 'The Man Who Never Was'. I wanted to pay my respects as he lies a long way from home and I guess he doesn't get many people visit his grave.

So here is the story:

In 1943 during WWII the Allies wanted to trick the Germans in to not defending Sicily too heavily prior to their invasion of the island. Operation ‘Mincemeat’ involved British Intelligence, with the help of a pathologist, obtain an unclaimed body from a mortuary in London. It was that of Glyndwr Michael, a tramp who died having eaten rat poison. He was then dressed as an officer of the Royal Marines, items were placed on him identifying him as the fictitious Major William Martin. To add further credibility ‘wallet fillers’ were placed on the body including a photograph of a fictitious girlfriend, love letters and a receipt for an engagement ring. In a briefcase, handcuffed to his wrist was correspondence between two British generals which suggested that the Allies planned to invade Greece and Sardinia, with Sicily as merely the target of a feint, or misleading manoeuvre. He was also dressed in a lifejacket to give the impression of having been a victim in a plane crash at sea.

The plan was approved by the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and the military commander in the Mediterranean; General Dwight D. Eisenhower. It began by transporting the body, stored in a special container, to the southern coast of Spain by submarine and releasing it close to shore, where it was picked up the following morning by a Spanish fisherman. The ‘nominally neutral’ Spanish government shared copies of the documents with German military intelligence before returning the originals to the British. Forensic examination showed they had been read and Ultra decrypts of German messages showed that the Germans fell for the ruse. As a result German reinforcements were shifted to Greece and Sardinia before and during the invasion of Sicily; Sicily received none, thus saving many allied lives in the battle to take the island.

'Major Martin' was buried with full military honours.

After the British Government revealed Michael’s true identity in 1998, his gravestone was amended to read: “Glyndwr Michael; Served as Major Martin, RM”

This story is told in the 1956 film’ The Man Who Never Was’.

Plot: San Marcos Section, Grave 14. Located in the last row before the wall.

So as I type this we are sat outside the gates of the cemetery (GPS: N37.290716 W6.932446) having visited Glyndwr's grave. It's due to close soon and unless we get moved on I think, out of respect to the locals we'll move the vehicle just to one side of the car park on a piece of land I assume is used as an overspill car park.

Tomorrow we'll be back on the road again, though quite where I'm not sure, and I'll also start up a new 'Chapter'.