Roland Lloyd Parry writes for Mysinchew.com, Morata de Tajuna, Spain (AFP) — Through the mud and olive trees, Scotsman Andy Crawford trudges over the Spanish fields where eight decades ago his grandfather William fought and died. A Communist pipe-fitter from Glasgow, William was among tens of thousands of foreigners who fought in Spain’s 1936-1939 civil war as part of the International Brigades. Fearing the spread of fascism in Europe, they tried in vain to help Spain’s Republican army fend off Francisco Franco’s Nationalist uprising. “There were no medals to be won, no wages to be earned and they were frowned on by half the world,” said Andy, 66, standing on a hilltop near a stone monument to the brigades.
Along with 300 relatives and friends of the former “brigaders”, Andy marched on February 21 with flags waving to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Jarama, named after a river southeast of Madrid. In that three-week bloodbath in February, 1937, the International Brigades helped block Franco’s drive to cut off the strategic road linking two Republican strongholds, Madrid and Valencia. “People gave up everything just to come here and help,” said Andy. “You’ve got to hope you can instil them principles into your own family.”
Here and there among the olive trees stand crumbling stone enclosures — machine gun emplacements used by Franco’s forces. But there are no signposts and these spots are hard to find without a local guide. “We would like the battlefields to be maintained, just as they are in other European countries and in the United States,” said Daniel Loriente, a member of a local preservation society. “We want them to be places of remembrance so that all this tremendous barbarity that happened in Spain never happens again.” Forty years since Franco’s death, remembrance remains a raw topic in Spain.
Read more on Mysinchew.com: Spain’s International Brigades Live On