Welsh sea captain who rescued thousands in final days of Spanish Civil War

Post date: 08/04/2015

The “Welsh Schindler” of the Spanish Civil War, who rescued thousands of Spaniards from advancing fascist troops, is to be remembered in Cardiff this weekend (11/12 April 2015).


A group of Spaniards will travel from Alicante to Cardiff and join local groups in honouring Cardiff sea captain Archibald Dickson.


Dickson was the master of the British cargoship Stanbrook, the last ship to leave the port of Alicante before it fell to General Franco’s forces in March 1939 during the last days of the civil war.


On board were 2,638 civilian refugees, who were taken to safety in Algeria.


Thousands more remained in Alicante, the last major port still not to have fallen to the fascists. 


Afterwards they were rounded up by Franco’s and Mussolini’s troops and taken to a notorious concentration camp at the Campo de Los Almendros. Many were executed or died in appalling conditions in the brutal reign of terror described by historian Paul Preston in his 2012 book “The Spanish Holocaust”.


This weekend a delegation from the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory in Alicante will bring with them a memorial plaque for Archibald Dickson and his crew, which they would like to see installed in Cardiff next year.


Their initiative is being supported by the International Brigade Memorial Trust and local trade unions, who are hosting the visitors from Spain this weekend.


In Alicante last year a memorial to Dickson and the Stanbrook crew was unveiled on 30 March 2014 – almost exactly 75 years since the ship set sail from the port on 28 March 1939.


Tragically Capt Dickson would lose his life later in 1939, as would all his crew, when the Stanbrook was torpedoed by a German U-boat in November of that year in the early months of the Second World War.



Provisional programme

– Flowers laid at the International Brigade memorial in Cathays Park, Cardiff, at 4.30pm on Saturday 11 April, followed by a visit to Cardiff Bay.  

– Display of memorial plaque for Archibald Dickson and the crew of the Stanbrook at Mansion House, Richmond Rd, Cardiff CF24 3UN at 11am on Sunday 12 April. 

– At Unite the Union offices, 1 Cathedral Rd, Cardiff CF11 9SD, on the Sunday afternoon there will be a screening of 1938 film "Britain Expects" (16 minutes) about attacks on British seafarers and ships during the Spanish Civil War. 

– The Red Choir will perform at the Gatekeeper pub, 9-10 Westgate St, Cardiff CF10 1DD, on Sunday evening, between 7pm to 10.30pm.


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