Brigader names added to Catalonia memorial

Post date: 29/11/2022

Nancy Phillips, member of the IBMT and the Friends and Family of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (FFALB), provides a report and statement about the recent additions to the Les Camposines Memorial near the municipality of La Fatarella, Catalonia. 

Dedicated to those killed at the Battle of the Ebro, the memorial plaques are updated annually as more remains of Republican fighters and International Brigaders are found and identified. The memorial currently lists the names of the following British and Irish volunteers: Gordon Alexander Bennett (Birmingham), Albert George Hobbs (Birmingham), Sidney George James (Tonypandy), William McGregor (Dublin), Jack Nalty (Galway), Jack Straney (Belfast). Originally posted to the FFALB Google Group.

On Sunday 20 November, at noon Catalonia time, additional names of those who were killed or disappeared during the Battle of the Ebro were inscribed on plaques housed at the Les Camposines Memorial near La Fatarella, Catalonia. One of the names added was that of my cousin, Paul Wendorf, a member of the Lincoln Battalion killed during the Ebro offensive on 18 August 1938 on Hill 666 in the Sierra Pandols.

Les Camposines Memorial was built on an old trench dug during the Ebro battle. It was conceived by the Generalitat of Catalonia as a monument to all those who participated in the battle, without distinction as to sides. Of those named on the plaques, the vast majority participated on the Republican side. To pay tribute to the people who lost their lives in this battle, every year the names of the people added to a Missing Persons Register are inscribed on the plaques in a ceremony at the memorial.

I was unable to attend this year’s events, but I was told that I could submit a statement. I wanted to be very clear about why Paul had come to Spain, so I wrote the following, which I’m told was read at the ceremony:

Dear Friends,

In February 1937, my cousin Paul Wendorf came to Spain from New York City with the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. There was nothing in his life that had prepared him to be a soldier, and, yet, here he was in Spain in support of a democratically elected government that was fighting for its life against a fascist insurgency.

What brought Paul to Spain? It was the deep anti-fascist beliefs that were central to his life. From Spain he wrote ‘that life could be worth living to me only if I came to Spain – to stay behind would have been to deny myself the life I wanted.’ He was killed not far from here on Hill 666 of the Sierra Pandols in August 1938.

It is my hope that when people see Paul's name inscribed here, they will understand that this man, like so many others, came from very far away to support the Spanish in their struggle against fascism. My deepest thanks to the government of Catalonia for allowing us to remember Paul and those like him who died here in that heroic effort.

Posted on 29 November 2022.

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