Telling the story of brave Span­ish Civil War vol­un­teers from N.Wales

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

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

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