Luis González de Ubieta y González del Campillo is today’s glorious and magnificent failure

Luis González de Ubieta (1899-1950) was the son of a forestry engineer, who joined the Spanish Republican Navy at some point after the end of the monarchy, and remained loyal to the Republic when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, resulting in him being rapidly promoted upwards, seeing as a significant amount of naval officers joined Franco’s Falangists.

Not the best picture, but it’s the 1930’s in a country in chaos

In September 1938, after the disastrous Battle of Cape Cherchell in which the Republican Navy lost a strategically important convoy, he was promoted to Captain-General of the Republican Navy, the equivalent of a full Admiral of the Fleet, commanding officer and all.

Why? Because early that year, in march, Ubieta had successfully commanded his taskforce against Nationalist ships during the Battle of Cape Palos, using the torpedoes of his force, he successfully sank the Heavy Cruiser Baleares, unfortunately, it was to little, to late.

At the time he assumed command the Second Spanish Republic was already losing ground, his victory would mean little, beyond receiving the Laureate Plate of Madrid, the highest military honour of the Republic he so bravely served.

Spanish destroyer José Luis Díez

In January 1939, Ubieta was given command of Minorca, which surrendered in February, under massive pressure from the Nationalists and the locals on the island, hope was lost at this point, resistance was sadly futile.

He fled to France, until the invasion by Germany in 1940, forced him to Mexico, later he would settle in Venezuela.

He the tale could end, but it doesn’t.

At the start of the 1950’s, Ubieta, once in command of a navy, found himself in command of a Panamanian-flagged cattle transport named Chiriqui, sailing the waters of South America.

Franco’s power in Spain was now absolute, he had kept his nose out of World War Two and was awarded by not being invaded and obliterated by the Allies, a smaller Western Betrayal compared to the much larger Eastern Betrayal of the now Soviet Satellites states of the later Warsaw pact.

Luis González de Ubieta, an admiral without a fleet, a sailor without a nation, must have been devastated, knowing that he couldn’t return to Spain without the threat of almost certain execution, knowing that his beloved homeland was suffering under the tyranny of Franco, knowing that the Republic was dead.

I couldn’t actually find a picture of the Chiriqui, but it would have looked fairly similar to this ship.

On the 30th of December 1950, the Chiriqui sunk near the mouth of the river Magdalena in Colombian waters, having ensured the safety of the crew, Ubieta refused rescue.

The Captain goes down with his ship, in his last moments, he seized his destiny and went out as a proper naval officer, it wasn’t under fire, but it would have to do.

And thus Glorious Failure was had.

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