Thursday, 9 January 2014

I have been to ... the Regional Military Museum, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The Regional Military Museum, Santa Cruz de Tenerife is situated in an old D-shaped artillery fort and former barracks near the seafront.

The entrance is in the centre of the flat face of the 'D'.

The main cased exhibits are in the former casemates of the fort, and are situated on the top floor.

Larger exhibits are on show in the small courtyard that forms the centre of the 'D'.

Nelson and Tenerife
In 22nd July 1797 Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson led an amphibious assault on Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This attack was a failure, and the British forces lost 250 dead, 128 wounded, and approximately 300 captured, whilst the Spanish defenders lost 30 dead and 40 wounded. Amongst the British wounded was Nelson, part of whose arm was amputated as a result on injuries caused by Spanish grapeshot.

The people of Santa Cruz de Tenerife are very proud of the way in which their forefathers defended their city, and the story of the British attack and its defeat form part a number of large exhibits in the museum. These include a large painting that is on show at the top of the main staircase, ...

... a large diorama (and recorded Spanish commentary) that shows the course of the battle, ...

... and models of each of the Royal Navy ships that took part.

Ship Models
The museum contains a large number of model ships that cover the period from 1492 to 1940.

Of particular interest is the model of SNS Canarias. This was one of two heavy cruisers built in Spain during the 1930s (the other was the SNS Baleares) to a design based upon that of the Royal navy's County-class. They were originally designed to have two funnels, but they were completed with one large funnel.

SNS Baleares was sunk during the Spanish Civil War, but SNS Canarias served in the Spanish Navy until she was decommisioned in 1975. By then she had been rebuilt and modernised ... and had reverted to her original two-funnel layout.

The Spanish Army in Africa
One section of the museum is made over to a number of exhibits that cover the Spanish Army's campaigns in Africa, especially Ifni.

The exhibits included a uniform from the late nineteenth century made from rayadillo material, ...

... the flag carried by the Punishment Battalion of Morocco, ...

... cloaks worn by locally recruited troops, ...

... uniforms worn by Spanish officers and men in Ifni, ...

... and flags carried by various locally-recruited units.

The flags were displayed in a case that had a mirror in its base. This enabled viewers to see both sides.

Small Arms
A side gallery is used to display a large range of different small arms.

The Courtyard
The courtyard of the artillery fort contains examples of artillery used by the Spanish Army.

100mm Skoda M1914 Field Howitzer

57mm Maxim-Nordenfelt Quick-Firing Gun

75mm Deport Field Gun

There are a large number of exhibits outside the artillery fort.

88mm Flak 18 Anti-aircraft Gun

75mm Vickers Anti-aircraft Gun

5.5-inch Vickers Coastal Defence Gun
This was essentially the same gun that was used as the secondary armament aboard HMS Hood.

75mm M1941 Mountain Gun

105mm Vickers Field Gun
The original version of this field gun had a shorter barrel and wooden wheels. This is an example of a modernised version that has a longer barrel and that has been modified for towage by motorised transport.

The original Vickers design influenced the development of the famous British 25-pounder Field Gun/Howitzer.

57mm Anti-tank Gun

M41 Walker Bulldog Tank

There are numerous other exhibits in the outside part of the museum, some of which were either not identified or identifiable. These include a pair of smooth-bore cannons (one of which may or may not have been El Tigre, the cannon that fired the grapeshot that wounded Nelson), ...

... a 37mm Hotchkiss Quick-Firing Gun, ...

... a number of vintage and reasonably new military vehicles, ...

... two helicopters (a Bell 47G and a Huey), ...

... a 40mm Bofors Anti-aircraft Gun and its fire control system, ...

... some examples of horse-drawn transport, ...

... and a 20mm Anti-aircraft Gun.

One corner of the former parade ground has been turned into a memorial to all fallen Spanish soldiers.

The Re-enactors
Whilst we were at the museum a number of World War II re-enactors were present, and appeared to be making a film or video.


  1. That looks great. I never knew it was there.

  2. Bob

    Interesting stuff. I think there's wargames potential for Nelson at Tenerife.
    Thanks for the pics and story.


  3. Zzzzzz,

    I have been to Santa Cruz de Tenerife quite a few times and never realised that this museum existed. My wife spotted a reference to it in a guidebook, and once we realised how easy it was to get to from where the cruise ship docked, we went.

    All the best,


  4. Peter Douglas,

    The story of the attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife is very interesting, and although the Royal Navy was forced to withdraw, a Spanish victory was not a foregone conclusion.

    All the best,


  5. As a resident in mainland Spain I should add that we have here a heap of really great and under-promoted historical sites and museums. Wherever you go in Spain (even the heaviest tourist areas) ask the locals about museums. there is sure to be a hidden gem somewhere near you.


  6. Robert De Angelis,

    Excellent advice. Wherever one visits, far too many supposed 'guidebooks' concentrate on non-cultural attractions.

    All the best,