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Charity number 1094928

1937: Jarama and Brunete

By January 1937 the English speaking contingent at Madrigueras numbered around 450, enough to form a battalion. However, plans received a setback when many of the Irish volunteers, who had an IRA background, unhappy about taking orders from ex-members of the British army as members of the 'British' Battalion, elected instead to fight with the American volunteers.

Very early in the morning of the 12th February, the British Battalion, and other members of the 15th International Brigade, were moved up to the heights overlooking the Jarama River at Arganda. Facing the rebels' crack troops from the Army of Africa, the battalion's lack of training and equipment took its toll, with the number of casualties growing at an alarming rate.

July 1937 saw the British Battalion, now under the command of Fred Copeman, thrown once more into battle as part of a major Republican offensive designed to relieve pressure on the northern front and break through the rebels at their weakest point to the west of Madrid.

In mid-August 1937 the 35th Division, including the British Battalion, was transferred to the Aragon front, as part of a Republican campaign aimed at capturing Saragossa, and diverting Franco's attention from the northern front where, following the bombing of Guernica and the capture of Bilbao, Santander was coming under threat from the Rebel forces.