Telling the story of brave Spanish Civil War volunteers from N.Wales
ANEW book to mark the 80th anniversary of the end of the Spanish Civil War praises brave volunteers from North Wales who went to fight fascism in Spain.
Written by Graham Davies, the book, called ‘ You Are Legend’, includes 10 men who returned home on December 7, 1939, after going to fight for Spain’s democraticallyelected Republican Government against Franco’s army.
It is the first book to fully document all of the Welsh volunteers who served in the war.
Almost 200 Welshmen and women volunteered to join the International Brigade, with more than 150 returning home, but at least 35 died during the brutal conflict.
Among them was John Hughes, a former journalist, broadcaster and ambulance driver from Marian Glas on Anglesey. He volunteered with the Welsh Ambulance Unit in Spain, motivated by humanitarian concerns.
He helped raise money for two ambulances to go out to Spain before leading the Welsh Ambulance Unit, in Valencia and Madrid.
He also sent broadcasts on the progress of the war from Madrid, in English and Welsh.
Harry Parry Thomas was from Carreglefn on Anglsey and fought in World War I as a soldier with the King’s Liverpool Regiment in World War I.
During the Spanish Civil War he fought with the POUM (The Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification) and was wounded and hospitalised at Ermita Salas.
Charles Humphreys was a trained motor mechanic with Ford from Caernarfon, who had also served seven years with the Royal Tank Corps.
He is mentioned by a comrade as fighting in a gun unit overlooking the Ebro, almost blind due to his broken glasses. Humphreys was wounded at the Battle of the Ebro on July 7, 1938.
Thomas Jones, a miner from Rhosllanerchrugog in Wrexham, was a member of the Anti-tank Battery and mistakenly reported killed.
Badly injured in the right arm at the Ebro, he was taken prisoner and interned in San Pedro Concentration Camp, and wasn’t released until March 1940 after a government deal.
A seaman from Dyserth, George Milbourn worked as a navigation officer on a 3,000-ton ship and was 27 years of age when he volunteered, stating that he wanted to go to Spain to use his skills.
Charles Palmer, a painter from Llandudno, served as a soldier, cook and armourer in Spain.
He was wounded twice, in the knee and elbow, while stretcher-bearing and in combat, and spent two months in hospital.
A sincere anti-fascist, he eventually requested repatriation because of the health of his wife.
William Rogers was a plasterer and lorry driver from Wrexham.
He arrived in Spain much later on, having been praised locally for his political activity in North Wales, with people describing him as steady and enthusiastic.
A mechanic from Tremadoc, little is known of Richard Priestly except that he was wounded and repatriated in 1938.
Author Mr Davies said: “My book outlines the motives, values and actions of the volunteers from Wales, by exploring the social, cultural, religious and political context of Wales during the 1930s.
“It also provides a fascinating insight into who they were, their political backgrounds, and follows their journeys to Spain, their experiences in a series of key battles fought by the British Battalion, before documenting their deaths or safe return to Wales.
“When the Welsh volunteers returned home they were greeted in their communities as heroes, but many felt betrayed by the British government and were at first unwilling to share their experiences.
“However, as time went on, plaques were erected, memoirs and biographies were written and historians began to carefully curate the individual pieces of this fascinating jigsaw, which I’ve assembled into one remarkable story of idealism and bravery.” ill-
Thomas Jones was held in a concentration camp until 1940