The last stand of the British Battalion in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 will be remembered on Tuesday 24 September 2013 with the unveiling of a memorial in the village close to where the final day’s action took place exactly 75 years ago.
The ceremony will be held at 12 noon in Corbera d’Ebre in southern Catalonia. The memorial stone and plaque (see attached image) in English, Spanish and Catalan will be unveiled by family members of International Brigade volunteers who took part in the fighting.
The new memorial is adjacent to the church in the old town of Corbera d’Ebre in the Sierra Caballs.
Twenty-three of the British Battalion’s volunteers were killed during those final three days of combat in the Battle of the Ebro and more than 150 were injured.
On 21 September 1938 the beleaguered Spanish Republic announced the repatriation of all foreign volunteers from its army. The move was a vain attempt to put international pressure on Hitler and Mussolini for the withdrawal of their troops and aircraft from General Franco’s rebel forces.
But the British Battalion elected to remain in its front-line positions until being stood down on 24 September.
Meanwhile, the British government’s policy of “non-intervention” in the Spanish Civil War gave the advantage to Franco’s rebellion against Spain’s democratic government.
The event in Corbera d’Ebre is being organised by the London-based International Brigade Memorial Trust. Its secretary, Jim Jump, said: “The Battle of the Ebro was the last great battle of the Spanish Civil War and has been called the first battle of the Second World War.”
He added: “Britain’s abject policy of appeasement encouraged the military aggression of the fascist powers and thus made world war inevitable. This is what the International Brigade volunteers predicted, and they were proved right.
“We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping to check the advance of fascism for nearly three years in Spain.”
Only one of the 2,500 volunteers from the British Isles who served in the Spanish Civil War is still alive. He is Stan Hilton, aged 95, from Newhaven, Sussex, who now lives in Yarrawonga, Australia.
Killed during the British Battalion’s final three days of action
Daniel Boyle (Belfast)
Norman Brookfield (Maidstone)
David Buffman (Leeds)
Alec Cummings (Cardiff)
Norman Drury-Fuller (Maidenhead)
Francis Durston (Wembley)
George Gorman (Folkestone)
George Green (Stockport)
James Harding (Stockton-on-Tees)
Ivor Hickman (Petersfield)
George Hobbs (Chelmsford)
Clifford Lacey (London)
John Lobban (Alexandria)
Henry McGrath (Belfast)
William McGregor (Dublin)
John McLennagan (Greenock)
Jack Nalty (Dublin)
Victor Robilliard (Dagenham)
Ernest Sim (Aberdeen)
Alwynne Skinner (Neath)
John Smith (Irvine)
Abraham Trauber (London)
Roy Watts (Leicester)