Let’s make February International Brigade memorial month

Post date: 15/01/2016

Charles Jepson urges IBMT supporters and groups to organise commemorations, however modest, at their local International Brigade memorial in February…


In the preface of the International Brigade Association’s book “Memorials of the Spanish Civil War’, published in 1996, Bill Alexander wrote: “There are fifty-five memorials dedicated to the men and women who left their homes in 1936-39 to help the Spanish people defend their liberty against fascism.” 


Today, as we approach the 8oth anniversary of the outbreak of that tragic war, it is pleasing to report that there are over 130 such memorials, with others in the pipeline. 


The IBMT holds an annual commemoration at the national memorial on the South Bank in London on the first Saturday in July. A number of towns and cities also hold annual ceremonies at their memorials on other days of the year. Such ceremonies of remembrance and rededication are extremely important to furthering the work of the Trust, as they help to raise awareness of this too easily ignored war, generate the sale of merchandise and increase membership.


Commencing this year, the 80th anniversary of the start of the war in Spain, the Trust would like to encourage every village, town and city which has a memorial to the volunteers of the International Brigade to hold some form of ceremony, and more importantly make a pledge to continue it each and every year. 


The size and format of the ceremony is not particularly important; the main thing is to ensure that these memorials are used and used on a regular basis. Just one person placing a bunch of flowers will be a most valuable contribution to helping to keep alive the memory of those who gave so much.


Where communities already hold an annual ceremony we would not ask them to change the date. Where no commemoration takes place we would ask our members and our supporters in the labour and trade union movement to organise some form of commemoration during the month of February. This would coincide with the bloody Battle of Jarama, where so many of the volunteers fell repulsing the fascist attack on Madrid in 1937. 


Members should forward a photographs of any such events to the Trust for posting on our website and possibly for use in the IBMT Newsletter. If only one or two groups or individuals make a start, we believe these commemorations will grow quite rapidly. 

Memorials must be seen as crucial weapons in the on-going struggle against the ever present dangers of fascism. To hold any ceremony no matter how small will help to raise awareness of what was a glorious chapter in the history of the labour and trade union movement.


Charles Jepson ( is an IBMT Trustee. 

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