The Medical Services

The Medical Services

Advanced dressing station at Brunete, July 1937
Advanced dressing station at Brunete, July 1937

Within a month of the outbreak of war in July 1937, supporters of the Spanish Republic in Britain has established the Spanish Medical Aid Committee. The committee collected money for the Republic and established a hospital at Granen, near Huesca. During early 1937, the mdeical unit was incorporated into the Republican 35th division, which also included the British Battalion.

Working in extremely basic conditions, and under tremendous pressure, the volunteers in the medical unit were able to save countless lives, though a number of the unit sacrificed theirs in the process. Techniques developed in the war, particularly the storage of blood for transfusions, conceived by the Canadian doctor Norman Bethune and helped by Reggie Saxton from Reading, and methods of dealing with fractures and associated wounds after surgery developed by Dr. Alex Tudor-Hart, continued to save lives in the Second World war.


Bill Alexander, British Volunteers for Liberty, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1982

Jim Fyrth, The Signal Was Spain, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1986.

-- ‘The Aid for Spain Movement in Britain’, in Joyce M. Bellamy and John Saville eds, Dictionary of Labour Biography, London: Macmillan, 1993, pp.25-32.
-- ‘The Aid Spain Movement in Britain 1936-1939’, History Workshop Journal, 35, 1993 pp.153-164.

Gusti Jirku, We Fight Death: The Work of the Medical Service of the International Brigades in Spain, Madrid: Date unknown.

IBMT logo

Support our work

You can support the IBMT by joining us or affiliating your union branch – see details and membership forms here:
menuchevron-up linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram