Remembering at Trafalgar Cemetery

Every October, a remembrance service is held at Gibraltar’s Trafalgar Cemetery.

Photo By Jim Crone –

It contains the graves of just two casualties of the Battle of Trafalgar. Most of the rest were buried at sea, with one notable exception ending up in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Instead the graveyard holds many of the victims of a series of devastating yellow fever epidemics which spread through Gibraltar around the same time.

Gibraltar’s pivotal position made it a must-have for the Royal Navy, but it’s climate made it a breeding ground for yellow fever, which originated in Africa.

It also posed something of a mystery. The disease could decimate a ship’s crew but individual sailors who had caught the disease ashore, didn’t seem to pass it on. It wasn’t until the 1890’s that Aedes mosquitos were proven to be the transmitter.

Photo by James Gathany – CDC – PHI

In 1927 it became the first virus to be isolated and in 1937 a vaccine was developed which is still in use today making Max Theiler the first African-born Nobel Prize winner.

Perhaps in addition to the annual Trafalgar Day remembrance service held in the cemetery, it might be worth remembering the scientists as well?