POSTCARDS FROM SPAIN (10) – Tyneside volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

TYNESIDE VOLUNTEERS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR.

The International Brigade Memorial Trust keeps the spirit alive of men and women from around the world, who volunteered to fight fascism in Spain from 1936 to 1939.

But who were the volunteers ? Over 20 years, Archivist Jim Carmody and historian Richard Baxell worked on putting together a list of their names.

A list of over 2,000 volunteers are available from the International Brigades on the link at the bottom of the article.

For some young men it was more than a shock to the system to see the brutality of war. On arrival in Spain 19 year old American Frank Neary was shot in the head on the first day and died in a Madrid hospital. German Artist Stephen Pollock, was badly wounded at Brunete. From New Zealand came Doctor Douglas Jolly who was in charge of a mobile surgical team.

Angus MacLean travelled from Scotland but was ordered home after one month as ‘Since leaving Britain he spent most nights in brothels’.

There was a miner from Wales, Tim Harrington, who was withdrawn from battle as ‘he suffered with old lung injury after being gassed in WW1’.

Irishman Thomas Delaney volunteered in December 1936 but by February ’37 was ‘sent home, too young’.

Volunteers from the North East of England included Francesca Wilson born in Newcastle 1881. She was a Teacher who left England in 1939 and worked with refugees in Murcia where she founded a children’s hospital.

From Sunderland was NUWM officer Frank Graham, in Spain he served as a scout and intelligence officer, also Broadcaster on Radio Barcelona.

Included here is a detailed list of 10 volunteers from Tyneside:

1. Thomas Atherton, born Jarrow 1903. Seaman.

Arrival: 27 September 1937.  Departure: October 1938

Comments: Captured in Aragon. POW San Pedro de Cardea. Accused of being Russian for having a bushy beard and almost shot.

2. John Corby, born North Shields 1902. Painter.

Arrival: 16 January 1938.  Departure: December 1938

Comments: Assessment: ‘Disrupter and deserter’.

3. William Z Morrison, born Wallsend 1908. Radio Expert.

Political organisation: Communist Party.

Arrival: 5 November 1937. Departure: April 1938

Comments: In Hospital in Barcelona with suspected appendicitis from 25 March 1938.

4. William Tattam, born Whitburn 1907. Miner.

Political organisation: Communist Party.

Arrival: 21 December 1936. Death: 17 July 1937. Where killed: Brunete

Comments: Believed to have died when the lorry he was riding in overturned on the way to Brunete.

‘When the British Battalion was moving up to the front at Brunete, William Tattam was sitting at the back of one of the trucks. The truck hit an obstacle in the road and William was thrown out of the truck and fell under the wheels of the following truck, he died instantly. His body was probably buried near the roadside where he was killed’.

5. Eileen O’Shaughnessy, (George Orwell’s first wife) born South Shields 1905.

Arrival: 17 February 1937. Departure: June 1937

Comments: Worked in Independent Labour Party Office in Barcelona.

6. Stephen Codling, born South Shields 1907. Lorry Driver.

Political organisation: Communist Party.

Arrival: 13 May 1937. Death: 31 March 1938. Where killed: Calaceite

Comments: Acting commander of the British Battalion’s Communications Company. Captured at Calaceite on 31 March 1938.

7. Frank Antrim born South Shields 1904. Auto-electrician.

Political organisation: Communist Party.

Arrival: 2 October 1937.  Departure: December 1938

Comments: Worked in Auto-Park. Believed to have trained Lewis Clive’s company in shooting and was asked to be a political commissar (information from conversation with his son).

8. Arthur C P Teasdale, born South Shields 1913. Bricklayer.

Political organisation: Communist Party.

Arrival: 24 February 1937. Departure: 23 July 1938

Comments: Hands damaged by shrapnel. Deserted from 20th Battalion of mixed Brigade citing family difficulties. ‘Been in and out of jail in Spain. He was last arrested in Barcelona in May 1938. While in jail managed to get a bomb and set it off in the cell. He has become an enemy of the working class. He should be kept in mind as he was once a secretary of a branch in Communist Party Great Britain’. Repatriated.

9. Samuel Thompson, born South Shields 1916. Miner.

Political organisation: Communist Party.

Arrival: 13 May 1937. Departure: October 1938

Comments: A good report. ‘He was a good steady comrade, though not a brilliant brain.’ Originally believed killed, but actually taken prisoner. POW at San Pedro de Cardea

10. John Palzeard, born South Shields 1916.

Arrival: 14 December 1936. Death: February 1937. Where killed: Jarama

Comments: Company runner at Las Rozas in No 1 Company.

Information collated by IBMT archivist Jim Carmody and historian Richard Baxell between 1996 and 2016. The list drew upon a wide range of sources held in Britain, Spain and Russia, though principally those held in the International Brigade Archive in the Marx Memorial Library in London and the Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History in Moscow.

http://www.international-brigades.org.uk/.

Gary Alikivi  May 2020.