Maxine Peake reads 'The Dead Have No Regrets' by Aileen Palmer

Post date: 03/08/2016

Recorded at the 2016 annual commemoration for the British and Irish volunteers who went to Spain between 1936 and 1939 on 2 July in Jubilee Gardens, the South Bank, London.


Running time: 2 minutes 57 seconds.

Aileen Palmer was an Australian who joined the first British Medical Unit to go to Spain in August 1936 as secretary and interpreter. She worked near the Aragon Front at the Grañén military hospital which had been established by the Spanish Medical Aid Committee (SMAC) in September 1936 and then served in the International Brigades until May 1938.

'The Dead Have No Regrets' was written in 1939 in the aftermath of Franco's 'victory' and under the impending threat of the Second World War. 

Dr Sylvia Martin – a speaker at the IBMT’s 2016 Len Crome Memorial Conference – has written the biography of Aileen Palmer 'Ink in Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer' published by UWAP, 2016.

The final verse of 'The Dead Have No Regrets' is engraved on the plaque alongside the stained glass window memorial in Belfast City Hall, unveiled in 2015. See 

"Having given all they had to give
To save from blood and fire and dust
At least a hope that we can trust
We must remember them - and live."

Kathie Herbert who speaks to the camera after the reading travelled all the way from Australia for the event on 2 July. ‘Aileen Palmer was a very brave woman… one of 70 Australians – nurses as well as Brigaders – who went to Spain.’ Kathie laid a wreath on behalf of the Australian volunteers.

The annual commemoration takes place by the national monument to the International Brigaders in Jubilee Gardens on London's South Bank. After the wreaths are laid it is the tradition to sing the Brigaders' song, 'The Valley of Jarama', this year led by IBMT friends the folk duo na-mara.

Maxine Peake is a Patron of the IBMT. Hear her read Cecil Day-Lewis's poem 'The Volunteer' 

Film and production Marshall Mateer. Thanks to Sylvia Martin and Kathie Herbert.

Posted 8 August 2016

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