Civil war veterans reunited
Clock turned back to 1937
A very rare and “fragile” 1937 Spanish Civil War calendar has travelled to Canada to be reunited with the last surviving member of the revolutionary POUM party.
William Krehm, who celebrated his 105th birthday in November, is the now caretaker of the museum piece and was once a worker for the Partido Obrero de Unificacion Marxista (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification).
Celebrated British author George Orwell fought with the POUM militia during the conflict, writing Homage to Catalonia as a record of his experiences.
And William, who was a publicist for the party in Barcelona, actually met Orwell during the civil war.
Javea resident Bill Daysh donated the calendar – illustrated by the renowned artist Sim - to the Across Madrid collection and its director Dr Alumdena Cros sent it to Canada after meeting William’s son Jonathan who had contacted her to take the Spanish Civil War tour.
The historian contacted Bill to say: “It has ended up in Canada in the hands of the last surviving member of the POUM, William Krehm, who turned 105.
“His son contacted me to take the Spanish Civil War tour and mentioned in passing that his dad was still alive...I could not believe it! And, the story gets better because William actually worked as a publicist for the POUM in Catalonia and met George Orwell. This is an incredible coincidence.
“His son knows that when William leaves us, the calendar is to be returned to Spain and we will think of a good museum that wants it. For the time being, it is in the best possible place.”
Bill said it was a mystery how the calendar came to his family in the UK. His father, Lieutenant Charles George Daysh served in the Royal Navy.
He said the calendar, ‘Almanaque de La Revolucion Espana’, was printed on parchment and had survived the Blitz on the naval base at Portsmouth during the Second World War “and my childhood” but how it came into his father’s possession remained a mystery – he took charge of it after the death of his father in 1960.
Bill, who also served in the senior service, told CBNews: “I hadn’t realise the Royal Navy was involved in cruising up and down the east coast of Spain at the time of the revolution – actually watching other navies firing shells at what other side it was but did not intervene.
“I think that’s what Dad was doing here in Spain, I have evidence of him being here again in 1938 but I cannot find on which ship. I don’t know whether the calendar came from Barcelona or if a Royal Navy ship put in there.”
The calendar was illustrated by Jose Luis Rey Vila who used the pseudonym Sim, apparently after his girlfriend Simona. He left Spain after the civil war and died in Paris in 1983.
Slogans on each month of the year are written in Spanish, English and French; perhaps aimed at international volunteers or an international audience.
William Krehm with his son Jonathan
Lieutenant Charles George Daysh
The calendar's cover