1936: Madrid

Volunteers with Spanish militia units
Amongst the first British volunteers to arrive in Spain were the sculptor and artist Felicia Browne, who was painting in Barcelona when the rising began, and the Marxist intellectual John Cornford, who arrived in Spain on 8 August 1936. Felicia Browne was eventually allowed to volunteer for a militia unit in Barcelona after attempts to dissuade her by both the Communist Party and the leader of the unit, and she was killed on 28 August 1936 in a mission to blow up a munitions train near Tardienta in Aragon. John Cornford arrived with a friend and fellow Trinity College student, Richard Bennett, a week before Britain’s decision to ban the selling of arms to Spain. Cornford briefly fought with the POUM militia units in Huesca in August on the Aragon front, before returning to Britain to help raise more recruits for the Republic.

A number of other British volunteers in Spain joined together in an English-speaking unit, the Tom Mann Centuria.

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