A British veteran of the International Brigades is alive and well and living in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.
He is Geoffrey Servante, a former mechanic in the merchant navy who enlisted with the International Brigades in June 1937, a few weeks after his 18th birthday. He was assigned to the Anglo-American 14th Battery of the 2nd Group of Heavy Artillery, based in Almansa, between Albacete and Alicante.
The official records say he was a good and disciplined comrade, who returned to Britain early in 1939.
The IBMT found out about Servante’s existence via a reporter on The Forester, a local newspaper in the Forest of Dean. Carmelo García contacted the IBMT after interviewing the 98-year-old, wondering whether we knew that he was still alive.
In fact, we had heard of Geoffrey Servante in 2011 when it emerged that he had taken up the Spanish government’s offer to grant Spanish citizenship to surviving veterans of the International Brigades. Efforts were then made to make contact with him, but they came to nothing.
With the passage of time, the IBMT assumed that the last survivor among the British volunteers was Stan Hilton, from Newhaven, Sussex, also a former merchant seaman, who died in Australia in October last year.
We learnt from Carmelo García – who announced his discovery in an article in The Times today – that Geoffrey Servante has used his Spanish nationality to register to vote in forthcoming elections in Catalonia in December – a sign that he still takes an interest in Spanish affairs.
Posted on 18 November 2017.