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Friday, 28 February 2020

[11thCW] A SEXTANT WITH HISTORY (2)


This is a sextant with history. It belonged to my grandfather and was given to him by Jacobo F. J. Stuart y Falcó, XVII Duke of Alba & Count of Andrade, Ambassador of Spain in London in 1942.

These photos show the sextant, the box that contains it, its original certificate and a page from a Spanish newspaper from 1954, on the first anniversary of the Ambassador's death, telling the story of the sextant and the meeting between the ambassador and my grandfather Félix Neira back in June 1942.

Below is the translation into English of the story. On the previous blog-post you can see what a sextant is used for when sailing a boat (HERE).















"To the first class coastal fishing skipper Mr Felix Neira Neira souvenir from the Ambassador of Spain in London Duke of Alba & Count of Andrade. London June 1942."


[Spanish newspaper, 1954. A year after the Ambassador's death]
"[...] Being today the first anniversary of the death of his excelency Mr Jacobo F.J. Stuart y Falcó, XVII Duke of Alba, an event which occurred during his stay in London as Spanish ambassador becomes relevant.
During the last world war, a small Galician fishing boat was fishing in front of the French coast in a place called inappropriately "the great sun" ("le grand solle"). Suddenly an English destroyer, which was trying to escape from a German torpedo plane's persuit, invaded the fishing area. The destructor's prow headed towards the small fishing boat that without being able to change direction collided and sunk. All the fishing crew were safe and went on board the destructor. Scarcely after an hour on the English ship, the planes hit it and the fishermen were in a shipwreck a second time, but luckily again, they were collected by another ship which took them to England.
Once in Great Britain, the Galician castaways were taken care of by our Embassy and met the ambassador, who held a long interview with the skipper of the fishing boat. The Duke of Alba was interested in the details of the adventure and the skipper's life, who had lived mostly in Pontedeume. They also talked about the loss of all the crew's belonging on board and the skipper also regretted having lost a sextant, which he had bought very recently. It was the most heartfelt loss for him.
Having spent the necessary time to organize their trip back to Spain, the skipper went to the Embassy to say goodbye and he received a parcel containing an excellent sextant, together with a singular card, which said: 'Duke of Alba & Count of Andrade".
The Duke of Alba's present to the Galician skipper was a delicate summary of what they had been talking about in their conversation. The sextant would take up the place of the one lost in the wreckage and as the Duke had chosen, among his thirty two titles, the one of Andrade, it was an elegant souvenir to the place where the skipper had lived many years: Pontedeume."
In men's lives, pure emotions are almost always disguised with intimacy and simplicity. Knowing about these intimate acts is necessary to know about the person. [...]"
Jose María Basanta Barro

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