It’s said that every county in Britain sent volunteers to join the International Brigades, no matter how remote or difficult the journey to Spain must have seemed and proved to be.

It’s no surprise therefore that the Islands of the Firth of Clyde, historically part of Buteshire, and the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis, once part of Ross-shire, also have their International Brigade heroes.

We learn more about the three volunteers in question thanks to the investigations of Liam Turbett, who himself grew up on the Isle of Arran, the largest of the isles in the Firth of Clyde. 

He has written ‘Island Brigaders: Hebridean & Clyde Solidarity’* to tell the story of the men.

‘It is a tale,’ says Liam, ‘which straddles air, land and sea, parliaments and poets, fiestas, fierce battles, and a legacy of internationalism that is rightly remembered in Spain, Scotland and across the world to this day.’

Author Liam Turbett with an International Brigade flag by the grave of Robert Milton in Brodick.

Robert ‘Bertie’ Milton was born in Brodick, Arran’s main village, in 1917. Twenty years later he disappeared from his job as a postman in Kilmarnock and arrived in Spain.

From Millport on Great Cumbrae, came William Bamborough, who was born in 1914. As an avid young aviator he signed up to pilot planes for the threatened Spanish Republic soon after the war began. 

He later returned as a merchant navy blockade runner. When his ship was sunk by a Nazi bomber, Bamborough and his crew had to row to the Catalan coast.

The Lewis man was George McLeod, of Stornoway, who had left the Outer Hebrides for Canada in the 1920s, and fought in Spain as part of an artillery unit.

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