Napier of Magdala Battery
Napier of Magdala Battery is a coastal battery
Coastal artillery
Coastal artillery is the branch of armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications....

 on the south-western cliffs of the British overseas territory
British overseas territories
The British Overseas Territories are fourteen territories of the United Kingdom which, although they do not form part of the United Kingdom itself, fall under its jurisdiction. They are remnants of the British Empire that have not acquired independence or have voted to remain British territories...

 of Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

, overlooking the Bay of Gibraltar
Bay of Gibraltar
The Bay of Gibraltar is a bay at the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula. It is around long by wide, covering an area of some , with a depth of up to in the centre of the bay...

 near Rosia Bay.


In 1883 the British Government installed a single RML 17.72 inch gun at the battery by Rosia Bay that they named Napier of Magdala Battery after Field Marshal
Field Marshal
Field Marshal is a military rank. Traditionally, it is the highest military rank in an army.-Etymology:The origin of the rank of field marshal dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses , from the time of the early Frankish kings.-Usage and hierarchical...

 Robert Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala
Robert Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala
Field Marshal Robert Cornelis Napier, 1st Baron Napier of Magdala, GCB, GCSI, CIE, FRS was a British soldier.-Early life:...

, who had served as Governor of Gibraltar
Governor of Gibraltar
The Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Gibraltar is the representative of the British monarch in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The Governor is appointed by the British Monarch on the advice of the British Government...

 from 1876 to 1883.

Earlier, in 1879, they had mounted another such gun in Gibraltar at Victoria Battery. These two batteries, together with two similar ones in Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

 at Cambridge Battery and Fort Rinella
Fort Rinella
Fort Rinella is a Victorian fortification on the island of Malta. It is also referred to as the Rinella Battery in some maps and publications.-History:...

, were a response to the Italians
Italian Army
The Italian Army is the ground defence force of the Italian Armed Forces. It is all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 108,355 in 2010. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft...

 having, in 1873, built the battleship
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns. Battleships were larger, better armed and armored than cruisers and destroyers. As the largest armed ships in a fleet, battleships were used to attain command of the sea and represented the apex of a...

Italian ironclad Caio Duilio
Caio Duilio was the lead ship in a class of two ironclad battleships built in Italy for the Regia Marina in the 1870s. A revolutionary design fitted with the largest guns available, 100-ton 450 mm calibre muzzle-loading guns, she and her sister ship were regarded as the most powerful warships...

, which was to receive four 100-ton Armstrong Gun
Armstrong Gun
The term Armstrong Gun was primarily used to describe the unique design of the rifled breech-loading field and heavy guns designed by Sir William Armstrong and manufactured in England from 1855 by the Elswick Ordnance Company and the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich...

s of the same design.

The gun at Napier of Magdala Battery was originally sited at Victoria Battery but the British moved it to Napier when the original gun there split during firing practice. The gun at Napier Battery received the nickname, "The Rockbuster".

During World War II
Military history of Gibraltar during World War II
The military history of Gibraltar during World War II exemplifies Gibraltar's position as a British fortress since the early 18th century and as a vital factor in British military strategy, both as a foothold on the continent of Europe, and as a bastion of British sea power...

, the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 stationed a battery of four 3.7" anti-aircraft guns
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 at the site. These never fired a shot in anger, though in 1945 they almost fired upon a Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 88
The Junkers Ju 88 was a World War II German Luftwaffe twin-engine, multi-role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junkers' company through the services of two American aviation engineers in the mid-1930s, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early...

 operated by Iberia Airlines
Iberia Airlines
Iberia Líneas Aéreas de España, S.A., commonly known as Iberia, is the flag carrier airline of Spain. Based in Madrid, it operates an international network of services from its main bases of Madrid-Barajas Airport and Barcelona El Prat Airport....

 that had wandered into Gibraltar's airspace while on a flight from Malaga
Málaga is a city and a municipality in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia, Spain. With a population of 568,507 in 2010, it is the second most populous city of Andalusia and the sixth largest in Spain. This is the southernmost large city in Europe...

 to Tetouan
Tetouan is a city in northern Morocco. The Berber name means literally "the eyes" and figuratively "the water springs". Tetouan is one of the two major ports of Morocco on the Mediterranean Sea. It lies a few miles south of the Strait of Gibraltar, and about 40 mi E.S.E. of Tangier...


The gun was last fired in 2002 (with a very small signaling charge) to mark the 2002 Calpe Conference between Gibraltar and Malta.

External links

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