By Marshall Mateer (IBMT Film Coordinator)
There was a great gathering for the annual commemoration in Hull for the eight men from the city who went to Spain between 1936 and 1939 and those who supported them. The group came together on 4 April 2017 in the City Hall around the plaque with their names.
The four who died in Spain were: Jack Atkinson, Jim Bentley, Morris Miller and Robert Wardle; and the four who returned: Joe Latus, Richard Mortimer, Sam Walters and Leslie Wilson.
In his speech, the Lord Mayor of Hull, Sean Chaytor, said: ‘These men from Hull, like thousands from all over the UK, believed it was worth the risk, and potentially their lives, to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Spanish people who had seen their democratically elected government overthrown by brute force.
‘Four of the eight gave their lives for the cause and they died resisting the spread of an evil that went on to threaten the whole world and every democracy. It must be emphasised that those who went to fight came from all backgrounds, all political beliefs and the one thing that united them was a belief in justice, equality, democracy and freedom. It is this belief in freedom that makes it so poignant to be here today in the city of freedom, our city, Hull.’
Wreaths were laid, a minute’s silence held and 'The Internationale' was sung.
Afterwards there were songs by Geoff Lawes and members of the Hillbilly Troupe.
A 'round the circle' session, led by chair of the Hull group, Joe Francis, gave everyone present the opportunity to say why they had come and to introduce themselves – old friends and new.
Members of Brigaders’ families swapped stories and shared photographs. There was a film about IBMT activity, and a banner from Rotherham. Everyone agreed, in the words of the Mayor, that ‘we should be rightly proud of them and must keep this story alive. Evil still exists and must always be fought.’ The words on a Brigader's medal that someone brought along with them summed up the feeling, ‘Unidos venceremos (united we'll win).
The Hull International Brigades Memorial Group (HIBMG) campaign and fundraising effort to create a prominent memorial in a public place in the city centre was initiated at the commemoration last year. Follow the group's progress and forthcoming events on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/1082563345098032
Photographs of the commemoration: www.facebook.com/groups/1082563345098032/permalink/1421268477894182
Posted on 4 May 2017