POSTCARDS FROM SPAIN (10)

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, born 1914, 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There was a miner from Wales, Tim Harrington, who was withdrawn from battle as ‘he suffered with old lung injury after being gassed in WW1’.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 volunteers from Tyneside:

Name: Thomas Atherton

Place of birth: Jarrow 1903

Political organisation: None

Occupation: Seaman

Date of arrival: 27 September 1937

Brigade ID: 1312

Date of departure: October 1938

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

Name: John Corby

Place of birth: North Shields 1902

Political organisation: None

Occupation: Painter

Date of arrival: 16 January 1938

Brigade ID: 1576

Date of departure: December 1938

Comments: Assessment: ‘Disrupter and deserter’.

First name: William Z Morrison

Birth: Wallsend on Tyne 1908

Political organisation: Communist Party

Occupation: Radio Expert

Date of arrival: 5 November 1937

Brigade ID: 1421

Date of departure: April 1938

Comments: In transmissions unit of the XV IB at Teruel. In Hospital in Barcelona with suspected appendicitis from 25 March 1938. ‘Deserted? Former Comintern radio operator in house in Wimbledon?’ 

Name: William Tattam

Place of birth: Whitburn 1907

Political organisation: Communist Party

Occupation: Miner

Date of arrival: 21 December 1936

Brigade ID: 339

Date of 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’.

Name: Eileen O’Shaughnessy

Place of birth: South Shields 1905

Date of arrival: 17 February 1937

Date of departure: June 1937

Comments: Worked in Independent Labour Party Office in Barcelona.

Name: Stephen Codling

Place of birth: South Shields 1907

Political organisation: Communist Party

Occupation: Lorry Driver

Date of arrival: 13 May 1937

Brigade ID: 1028

Date of death: 31 March 1938

Where killed: Calaceite

Comments: Acting commander of the British Battalion’s Communications Company. Captured at Calaceite on 31 March 1938. ‘Rumoured to have been seen in Barcelona in civilian clothes’.

 Name: Frank Antrim

Place of birth: South Shields 1904

Political organisation: Communist Party

Occupation: Auto-electrician

Date of arrival: 2 October 1937

Brigade ID: 1351

Date of 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).

First name: John Richardson

Place of birth: South Shields 1919

Occupation: Metal Polisher

Date of arrival: 21 May 1938

Date of departure: December 1938

Comments: Stretcher bearer. Wounded 28 July 1938. In Vich hospital 14 October. Repatriated.

Name: Arthur C P Teasdale

Place of birth: South Shields 1913

Political organisation: Communist Party

Occupation: Bricklayer

Date of arrival: 24 February 1937

Brigade ID: 872

Date of 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.

Name: Samuel Thompson

Place of birth: South Shields 1916

Political organisation: Communist Party

Occupation: Miner

Date of arrival: 13 May 1937

Brigade ID: 1052

Date of 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

Name: John Palzeard

Place of birth: South Shields 1916

Date of arrival: 14 December 1936

Brigade ID: 625

Date of death: February 1937

Where killed: Jarama

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

This information was 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.

 

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