The Number One Company

The Number One Company, La Marseillaise Battalion, 14th International Brigade

No 1 Company
British members of Number One Company

By the end of 1936, volunteers were arriving from Britain in such numbers that they the creation of a British battalion, rather than attaching small groups to a German or French unit, was becoming a realistic possibility. The first step towards the establishment of a British Battalion came in December 1936 with the creation of an English speaking company, as part of the 14th International Brigade. The 145 strong British contingent comprised the No.1 Company of the French 14 (La Marseillaise) Battalion.

On Christmas Eve 1936, the English speaking company  was involved in an attempt to capture the town of Lopera, about 30 miles to the west of Córdoba in southern Spain. Though a number of the English speaking company had seen action before, many were completely inexperienced and the company was beaten back by the better armed and trained rebel forces. In the confusion John Cornford and Ralph Fox, the political commissar and talented Communist writer, were both killed.

Following the unsuccessful attempt to capture Lopera, in January 1937 Number One Company was transferred back to Madrid in an attempt to recapture the Madrid-La Corunna road at Las Rozas. For the poorly equipped and trained volunteers, it was to be a similarly fruitless exercise. As injuries mounted, the English speaking volunteers were withdrawn, and sent to Madrigueras, near Albacete, to join up with recent arrivals from Britain and Ireland.


John Lehmann, ed., Ralph Fox. A Writer in Arms, London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1937.

Maurice Levine, Cheetham to Cordova: Maurice Levine, A Manchester Man of the Thirties, Manchester: Privately Published, 1984

J. Monks, With the Reds in Andalusia, London: Privately Printed, 1985.

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