Exhibition poster by Sir Terry Frost Exhibition poster by Sir Terry FrostThe Spanish Civil War - Dreams and Nightmares
The Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 when General Franco led an uprising against the democratically elected Republican government and continued until his army's eventual victory in March 1939. Many foreigners saw the war as part of the general struggle against Fascism and journeyed to Spain to give support to the Republican Army. A small number also volunteered to fight with Franco's Nationalist Army. Under the non intervention agreement of February 1937, the governments of Britain and other European nations attempted to prevent men and women from their countries participating in the war in Spain. Despite this, an estimated 50,000 volunteers made the clandestine journey mostly through France and then by foot across the Pyrenees, to join the Republican brigades.

The majority of British Volunteers served with the International Brigade. They participated in major battles such as Jarama (Feb 1937), Brunete (July 1937), Teruel (Dec 1937- Feb 1938) and the Ebro (July-Nov 1938) until their withdrawal under the supervision of the League of Nations in October 1938. The experiences of British International Brigaders form the backbone of the Sound Archive's Oral History Collection on the Spanish Civil War. 

A selection of extracts from these interviews:

The conditions in Spain proved to be a challenge for volunteers and the popular front government found it immensely difficult to obtain
sufficient weaponry for its fighting forces.

Listen to the extract...  Walter Greenhalgh  served with Number 1 Company, Marseillaise Battalion, 14th International Brigade and later with the 15th International Brigade. Here he describes the assortment of antiquated weapons with which they were provided. (Ref: 11187/9)
text transcription

Listen to the extract...  John Longstaff , who served with the British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade, on conditions in the front line. (Ref: 9299/13)     text transcription 

Listen to the extract...  Bill Alexander served with the Anti-Tank battalion and as commander of the British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade. Here he recounts a botched attempt to occupy the Fascist trenches at Fuentes de Ebro in October 1937. (Ref: 802/5)
text transcription

Of the 2,300 Britons who served with the International Brigade between 1936 and 1939, an estimated 526 were killed and 1,200 were wounded. 

Listen to the extract...  Here Edwin Greening, who served with the British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade describes the death of his friend, Tom Howell Jones, in a mortar attack. (Ref: 9855/7)
text transcription

Listen to the extract...  Walter Greenhalgh  (text transcription) describes how he was wounded.

Some Britons were taken prisoner by the Nationalists:

Listen to the extract...  Maurice Levitas, who served with the British Battalion of the 15th International Brigade was imprisoned in San Sebastian and San Pedro de Cardenas. Here he recalls the camp authorities attempts to force the prisoners to read Fascist pamphlets. (Ref:16358/5text transcription

 

<< Back to Online Exhibitions                                                   top

Required...
Get RealPlayer 8 Basic...

Click thumbnails for a larger image

click for larger image
   

click for larger image
   

click for larger image
  

click for larger image
   

click for larger image
  

click for larger image
 

click for larger image