THEY went to fight in the Spanish Civil War almost 80 years ago.
And now there are plans for a permanent memorial to remember the volunteers from Oxford who went into battle.
A fundraising appeal has been launched to raise money for the memorial to International Brigade volunteers from the city who fought in the war from 1936 to 1939.
The initiative is being supported by Oxford City Council and the Oxford and District Trades Union Council and the council is now considering locations for the memorial, including Bonn Square.
So far, more than £1,500 has been collected in donations, and a minimum target of £5,000 has been set.
The campaign is being led by the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT), which keeps alive the memory of the 2,500 volunteers from the UK who joined the International Brigades. Of these, 526 were killed.
The IBMT knows of 26 volunteers with links to Oxford and the surrounding area, seven of whom died in Spain.
Colin Carritt, 69, who worked as area engineer for the county council before he retired in 2004, welcomed plans for a memorial.
His father, Noel Carritt, was injured in the Spanish Civil War, and his uncle, Anthony Carritt, died in the conflict.
Father-of-one Mr Carritt, who lives in Woodstock with wife Lesley and who is a former town mayor of Woodstock, said: “I am very much in favour of a memorial and think Bonn Square would be a good location.
“My father was a teacher at a school in Sheffield and one morning he disappeared to go to Spain.
“My uncle was driving an ambulance with a Red Cross marking on the roof when he died after fighting at Brunete.
“There are quite a few memorials in other cities, including Reading and Bristol, and some are quite grand while others are more modest. The city council has been very supportive and, in principle, has agreed to a memorial in Bonn Square.”
IBMT secretary Jim Jump, from London, above, whose father James Jump, fought in the civil war, said there were already more than 100 memorials to the International Brigades in towns and cities throughout the UK.
He added: “The Spanish Civil War is the forgotten war, largely eclipsed by the Second World War.
“We would like to see a memorial in Oxford in a prominent city centre site.
“It will be a reminder of the considerable impact the war in Spain had on many people from Oxford and of the extraordinary sacrifice and example set by the International Brigades.”
The IBMT hopes to organise a series of events linked to the memorial’s unveiling.
These could include an exhibition about the International Brigades, a public meeting with guest speakers, and a booklet telling the story of the Oxford volunteers.
s People can make donations to the Oxford Memorial Appeal by writing to: IBMT, 6, Stonells Road, London, SW11 6HQ.
THE STORY BEHIND THE CONFLICT
- Regarded by many historians as an important prelude to the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War began in July 1936 when army generals rebelled against the elected government of the Spanish Republic.
- General Franco declared victory for the rebels 75 years ago on April 1, 1939, and remained Spain’s dictator until his death in 1975.
- The volunteers fought Franco, Hitler and Mussolini on the battlefields of Spain, warning that appeasement of European fascism would lead to another world war.
- One of the best known volunteers was writer George Orwell, who is buried
at the village church in Sutton Courtenay.
ROLL OF HONOUR
THE International Brigade Memorial Trust’s list of volunteers from Oxford:
- John Birrell – Engine driver. Lived at 13 Paradise Square, Oxford. Arrived in Spain in December 1936. Saw action at Lopera and Jarama. Returned home June 1937.
Jim Brewer – South Wales miner. Studied at Ruskin College, Oxford. Left for Spain in 1937. Quartermaster with the British Anti-Tank Battery. Returned with the rest of the British Battalion in December 1938.
- Edward Burke – Actor (real name Edmund Cooper). Lived at The Grange, Dunston; also in London. Went to Spain in October 1936 and joined the Commune de Paris Battalion. Saw action in and around Madrid and at Lopera, where he was wounded and died in hospital on February 12, 1937.
- Anthony Carritt – Farm manager, Boars Hill. Arrived in Spain with British Medical Unit in April 1937. Served as ambulance driver. Badly wounded at Brunete in July 1937 and died in hospital on or soon after July 13, 1937.
- Noel Carritt, above – From Boars Hill. Attended Oriel College, Oxford. Worked as a teacher in Sheffield. Arrived in Spain in December 1936. Wounded with British Battalion at Jarama in February 1937. Served as a medic during the Battle of Brunete and later at Valdegana Hospital. Returned home in November 1937.
- Victor Claridge – Builder’s labourer of 4 James Street, Oxford. Arrived in Spain by early January 1937. Wounded while fighting with the British Battalion at Jarama in February 1937. He was also at Brunete in July, but was taken out of the line due to severe illness. Repatriated in October 1937.
- Nathan Clark – From Street, Somerset, location of family firm, Clark Shoes. Was undergraduate at Queen’s College, Oxford, but after two years went to Spain to serve as an ambulance driver. Left England in May 1937 and returned in September 1938. Was head of transport at the International Brigade hospital at Huete. Later designed the Desert Boot for Clark Shoes.
Lewis Clive – From London. Went to Christ Church College, Oxford, was a rowing blue in 1930-31 and won a gold medal in rowing in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Was a Labour councillor in Kensington & Chelsea. Arrived in Spain in February 1938. Commander of No.2 Company of the British Battalion. Killed at Gandesa between July 28 - August 1, 1938, in the Battle of the Ebro.
- Dorothy Collier – Surgeon. Studied in Oxford before graduating at University College Hospital, London, in 1922. Travelled to Barcelona in 1938. Worked at San Pablo Hospital with renowned Catalan surgeon Josep Trueta, and was instrumental in arranging his subsequent exile in Oxford, where he was part of the team that developed penicillin as an antibiotic.
- Francis Dewhurst – Musician and composer, living in Dulwich, south London. Had lived and studied in Oxford. Arrived in Spain in January 1937. Injured with British Battalion at the Battle of Jarama the following month. Killed on July 11, 1937, in the Battle of Brunete.
- Herbert Fisher – Born in London. Attended Dragon School, Oxford, from 1920-24. Ceramics factory manager in the Potteries. Entered Spain in December 1937 and served as a medic. Died in hospital at Vich in October 1938 as a result of wounds received in the Ebro offensive in July that year. Uncle Hal (Herbert) Fisher was warden of New College, Oxford, from 1926-1940.
- Ralph Fox – Graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford. Born in Halifax. Journalist, living in London. Studied at Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow from 1930 to 1932. Wrote regular column for the Daily Worker. A founder of Left Review. Author of The Novel and the People, on Marxist literary theory, published posthumously in 1937. Arrived in Spain early in December 1936. Joined the Commune de Paris Battalion. Killed in action at Lopera on December 28, 1936.
- Murray Fuhrman – American doctor from Brooklyn, New York. Was working in the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, in February 1937 when he enlisted with the Spanish Medical Aid Committee. Worked as a surgeon in Spain, first with SMAC and later in hospitals in Catalonia. Left Spain in January 1938.
- Peter Harrisson, above – From Sandalands, Boars Hill. Won a scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford, where he read history and modern languages. Arrived in Spain in May 1937 as an ambulance driver and organiser for the Spanish Medical Aid Committee. Served at hospitals at Guadalajara, Huete, El Escorial and Valdegana. Repatriated some time in 1938.
- Gavin Henderson – From Buscot Park, Faringdon. Graduate of Christ Church College, Oxford, and was the second Lord Faringdon, a Labour peer. Went to Spain as an ambulance driver, where he served on the Aragon front in 1936. In 1937 gave over a lodge on his estate to accommodate a group of 40 refugee children from the Basque region of northern Spain.
- Kathleen McColgan – Irish nurse and Oxford graduate. Went to Spain in February 1937 with the London University Ambulance Unit. Served in hospitals in Murcia and later in the International Brigades medical section. Remained in Spain until February 1939.
- John Montgomery – Originally from Glasgow. Lived in Oxford. Served in British Battalion. Repatriated in December 1938.
- Phillip Norman – Born in Bampton, but living in Clapham, south London, when he went to Spain in the autumn of 1936. Served in the Ernst Thälmann Battalion. Returned to England
at the end of November of that year.
- Wogan Phillips – Born in Brentwood, Essex. Educated at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford. Left without a degree. Joined the Spanish Medical Aid Committee and, with Stephen Spender, drove a van with medical supplies to Spain in February 1937. Served as an ambulance driver and in an operating theatre during the Battle of Jarama later that month, where he was wounded by shellfire. Went home but returned to Spain with more supplies of medical aid. Subsequently received father’s title of Lord Milford.
- John Rickman – Born in Powerstock, Dorset, son of a vicar. Studied at Oxford. Lived in London, took part in the Battle of Cable Street in October 1936 and worked with Spanish Youth Foodship Committee. Arrived at Albacete in December 1936 and joined the British Battalion. Killed on the Jarama front line on May 4 1937.
- Thora Silverthorne, above – Born in Abertillery, daughter of Welsh miner. Employed as nanny for Somerville Hastings, Labour MP for Reading and president of the Socialist Medical Association. Trained as a nurse at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford. Worked as volunteer nurse for hunger marchers who passed through Oxford. Travelled to Spain with Spanish Medical Aid Committee in August 1936. Returned in September 1937. Later founded National Association of Nurses and was secretary of the Socialist Medical Association.
- Alfred Smith – Born in Leicester. Had address at 65 High Street, St Thomas, Oxford. Worked at Morris Motors, Cowley. Arrived in Spain, December 1936. Was with the Commune de Paris Battalion at Lopera later that month and at Jarama. Returned home in July 1937.
- Christopher Thornycroft – Engineering student at Brasenose College, Oxford. Arrived in Spain in October 1936. Initially volunteered as a pilot. Was with the Ernst Thälmann Battalion during the fighting in and around Madrid that year. Later transferred to the British Medical Unit. Provided a generator for operating rooms. Repatriated in March or April 1938.
- Alec Wainman – From Shipton-under-Wychwood. Arrived in Spain in August/September 1937 with the Spanish Medical Aid Committee. Served as a driver and photographer. Had previously worked for a year as a driver at the British embassy in Moscow.
- Mike Wilton – Served in British section of the militia of the revolutionary communist party POUM. Had lived in Oxford. Took part in ill-fated attempt to recapture Majorca. Later joined POUM’s 26th Lenin Division, in the same section as George Orwell and other British volunteers. Saw action in Aragon. Arrived home in London in September 1937.
- Tom Wintringham, above, – Journalist and writer. Born in Grimsby. Founder member of the Communist Party. Jailed for sedition in 1925. Studied chemical engineering at Balliol College, Oxford. Went to Spain in August 1936. Member of the Tom Mann Centuria in Barcelona. Joined International Brigades in November that year. Commanded the British Battalion at the Battle of Jarama in February 1937 until being wounded. Went up to the front again at Quinto in August 1937 and was again wounded. Repatriated in November 1937.