Replica of the first Jarama memorial to be unveiled

Post date: 27/04/2023

In 2022, researcher José María Olivera Marco was able to find the exact site of the battlefield memorial built by the 15th International Brigade in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Jarama.

After months of discussion with the Morata de Tajuña Town Council, it was finally decided that a replica of the original memorial will be installed on the site. The new memorial will serve once more as a tribute to those volunteers who came to Spain to defend democracy and fight fascism.

The inauguration will be held on Saturday 29 April, coinciding with the anniversary of its original placement in 1937. A group of family and friends of the British volunteers will be in attendance. The unveiling is also open to the public.

Olivera wrote an article about the background to the memorial and the project to discover the location of the memorial, in an article which originally appeared in ¡No Pasarán! 3-2022:

On the afternoon of 29 April 1937, Fred Copeman and George Aitken approached a stone monument in the shape of a five-pointed star. Standing in a line were the men of the British and Spanish companies that made up the British Battalion at the time. At each point of the stone star stood a soldier with his head bowed and his rifle turned downwards. Around this stone cairn were numerous graves carefully decorated with flowers. This was the memorial erected at the site of the Battle of Jarama by the British Battalion in honour of their fallen comrades.

A few weeks after this event, on 17 June, the British Battalion departed the Jarama front, leaving behind the bodies of numerous comrades who had fallen during the battle. The Spanish soil served as a shroud for these volunteers who came to Spain to fight for freedom and democracy.

The memorial remained standing and intact until the end of the war but was completely destroyed thereafter, as were the markers on the numerous graves around it. Time and oblivion erased all traces of it. Only a handful of anonymous photographs and a brief reference found in the Russian archives are the sole graphic and written evidence of its existence.

The full article is available to read here.

Posted on 27 April 2023.

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