Aberdeen to honour the International Brigades

Post date: 13/10/2015

Aberdonians who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 will be remembered at a series of events in the city this coming weekend (16-18 October 2015).


Nineteen local men made the 1,600-mile journey to Spain. They joined the International Brigades and battled General Franco’s fascist-backed rebels. Five of them died in the conflict, which many historians regard as a prelude to the Second World War.


On Saturday (17 October) morning plaques will be unveiled to two of the local volunteers, Bob Cooney and John Londragon. 


Bob Cooney’s will be unveiled at 9.30am at the Castlehill Housing Association flats in the street already named after him, Bob Cooney Court, just off the Berryden Road. 


John Londragan’s plaque will be unveiled at 10.30am inside the Aberdeen Trades Union Council office at 22a Adelphi.  


This week also sees the launch of Bob Cooney’s previously unpublished Spanish Civil War memoir, ‘Proud Journey’. 


Written in 1944, the book describes how the author and his fellow anti-fascists campaigned against Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts on the streets of Aberdeen. Several of them, including the author, then travelled to Spain to defend the elected government of the Spanish Republic against a military revolt backed by Hitler and Mussolini.


On Saturday afternoon the Aberdeen Town House will host the annual general meeting of the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT), the charity that keeps alive the memory and spirit of the 2,500 volunteers from the British Isles who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War.


More than 500 of these International Brigaders were killed in Spain, including five Aberdonians: Tom Davidson (in the Battle of Jarama in February 1937), Archie Dewar (at Calaceite in March 1938), Charles McLeod and Kenneth Morrice (in the Battle of the Ebro in August 1938) and Ernest Sim (in September 1938 at the Ebro). 


From left, Aberdonians Archie Dewar, Bob Cooney and Tom Davidson in Spain.


Councillor Neil Cooney, deputising for the Lord Provost, will welcome IBMT delegates at a reception at the Town House on Friday evening (16 October) from 7.30pm to 9pm.  


Earlier in the day a group of cyclists from the National Clarion Cycling Club 1895 will arrive in the city after a three-day trip from Edinburgh. They will call at International Brigade memorials in Fife and Dundee along the way.


On Sunday (18 October) at 12.30pm there will be a march with International Brigade and trade union banners from the Kirk of St Nicholas to the Castlegate for a rally. It will be led by Grampian District Pipes and Drums.


Organisers of the weekend’s events say this is an opportunity for local people to celebrate this important part of the city’s heritage.


Unite the Union regional officer Tommy Campbell said: “We should be proud of these men who stood up to fascism while the British government preferred to appease the fascist dictators. The International Brigaders were proved right, though they never got the credit they deserved from the Government.


“However, they have been given and will continue to get the credit from the people of UK and around the world who recognise their bravery and commitment to peace and democracy.”


Jim Jump, secretary of the IBMT, pointed out that the volunteers from Aberdeen and elsewhere paid a heavy price for their foresight and bravery. “Though they suffered terrible casualties and lost the war in Spain, the International Brigades helped check the rise of fascism for nearly three years and alerted the world to coming world war”, he said. “Hitler’s defeat started in the battlefields of Spain.”


He added: “Their example continues to inspire people opposing fascism and standing up for true international solidarity.” 



The IBMT’s exhibition ‘Antifascistas: British and Irish Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War’ is on show at the Central Library, Rosemount Viaduct, until 31 October.


For more information contact:

Tommy Campbell: 07810 157 920

 Jim Jump: 07770 587 257


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