Unveiling of the plaque to Harry Dobson in Tonypandy Library

Post date: 04/12/2023

IB Cymru Secretary Mary Greening reports from the commemoration in Tonypandy on 16 November

The cause that led an unemployed Rhondda miner to sacrifice his life in the Spanish Civil War remains as important now as when he died in 1938, a commemorative event has been told.

Harry Dobson from Tonypandy died in the Battle of the Ebro fighting for Republican Spain against fascist rebels led by General Francisco Franco, who won the war and went on to rule Spain as a dictator until his death in 1975.

A plaque in memory of Harry was put up in Tonypandy Library shortly after he was killed, but it got lost when the old library was demolished in the 1990s. After representations from historians and activists, a new plaque has been unveiled in the replacement Tonypandy Library.

The event was opened by Cllr Wendy Lewis, Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council.

Ray Gleeson Harry’s nephew unveiled the plaque and told those who attended the event: “Our family is very proud of Harry. He worked as a miner until 1931 when he was victimised for his activities. He was a member of the South Wales Miners Federation and in 1929 he joined the Rhondda branch of the Communist Party of Great Britain.

On his way to Spain, Harry survived the sinking of his ship which had been torpedoed by an Italian submarine off the coast of Malgrat de Mar, north of Barcelona.

On the day that Harry’s plaque was unveiled in Tonypandy, Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez won a vote in Parliament with the support of Catalan and Basque nationalists that will enable him to govern for another term.

The memorial plaque to Harry Dobson in Spain (photo: Nation.Cymru).

Speakers at the event were Alan Warren (Porta de la Historia), Peter Harris (Cymru Catalunya Association), Geoff Cowling (former Consul General in Barcelona) and Ray Gleeson. Mary Greening represented the IBMT and spoke briefly about the Trust's work.

Cor Cochin Caerdydd sang 'Jarama Valley' and 'The Internationale'. IB Cymru provided refreshments.

The IB Cymru Exhibition Wales and the Spanish Civil War was on display and will remain in the library for a month.

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