POSTCARDS FROM SPAIN (8)

Another article came in from International Brigades Memorial member Tony Fox. He talks about the campaign for a Stockton Memorial to volunteers who fought during the Spanish Civil War 1936-39…..John Christie, the landlord of the award-winning pub, The Golden Smog, is leading a campaign to raise money for a memorial commemorating the Stockton Brigaders. It will be erected just off Stockton High Street. The memorial will include names of the eight Stockton volunteers who were employed when they left for Spain.

When researching about the volunteers the picture that emerges is that of conscientious activists, with experience in a number of campaigns for justice, and anti-fascist activity. There was John Longstaff who had fought the British Union of Fascists at Cable Street, London. I found William Carson, Joe Harding, John Longstaff, Wilfred Cowan and Bert Overton, who had been in the Welsh Guards and was put in command of No.4 Company at Jarama.

Otto Estensen was commissar and commanded the Anti-Tank Battery in 1938. There was Patrick Maroney who was a member of the Irish Republican Congress, a pro-communist grouping of the IRA.

Described as ‘an uncompromising fighter for Trade Unionism’, George Bright was a NUWM activist and Communist Party member. At 60 he was the oldest Brigader in the British Battalion. George and Phyllis Short, Bert Overton, and George Bright had organised the September 1933 anti-fascist protest known as the Battle of Stockton.

Sadly, George Bright was killed at Jarama, Bert Overton was killed at Brunete and Joe Harding was killed on 23rd September 1938 at the Ebro River. This on the same day Juan Negrin, head of the Republican government, announced that the International Brigades would be unilaterally withdrawn from Spain.

If you would like to know more I will be producing a booklet to accompany the memorial, or have any information you can contact me at foxy.foxburg@gmail.com

More research will be done when the Local History libraries open, but for now in Postcards from Spain, the search goes on for North East stories from the Spanish Civil War. If you have any information please get in touch at garyalikivi@yahoo.com

Gary Alikivi  April 2020.