Friday, January 10, 2014
Southall & Hayes and the Spanish Civil War
In July 1936 A.J. Murphy of Beresford Road, Southall wrote a very incisive letter to the Advertiser stating
“The Spanish people are defending democracy with their lives they are not doing it for Spain alone, they are doing it for the peoples of all democratic countries in Europe for who can doubt if Fascism triumphs in Spain that tomorrow the peoples front in France will equally be attacked”
January 1937 a meeting of the Southall Communist party had two speakers on Spain G.Y. Lothian of the TGWU and Isabel Brown Secretary of the Relief for Victims of War & Fascism. Showed film “Defence of Madrid” by Ivor Montagu, (with the aid of Norman McLaren - cameraman) filmed in November 1936 The collection raised £70,0s 5d, including £25 from the A.E.C. strike Committee
The film was in three parts
1)The assault on a people
2) The defence of Liberty
3) The World assists.
It showed air raids and air battles and scenes of great destruction at the office of Public works, newspaper, Church of San Sebastian, Palace of Duke of Alma and other Places…It shows a fire caused by a quarter ton bomb, still burning fire days later after the explosion. It showed the slain and injured victims. The second part dealt with the call to arms the building of barricades and air raid shelters the drilling and dispatch of troops to the front. It showed front line line scenes taken under fire in the University City. The third part showed the dispatch of food ships from the Soviet union the string of supplies to the capital, medical aid and hospital scenes and the work of the International Column (Brigade).
The column was shown in billets at the bunkhouse in the machine gun repair shop and in the front line trenches. There was also a picture of Ludwig Renn (b 22 april 1889-d21July 1979 famous German pacifist writer and one of Hans Beimler the German Communist MP who later died in the defence of Madrid in December 1936. I
Isabel Brown stated at the meeting “This fight was not between fascism and communism but between fascism and democracy” she went on to to speak about the “urgent need not only of arms but also of medical aid and warm clothing”
On Thursday 13th January 1937 a meeting of the “Aid to Spain” movement was held at Costons School, Oldfield Lane with D.F. Macauley in the Chair . A second meeting was held on 14th February with Michael Finn (AUBTW - Building union) and recent trade union delegation to Spain at Greenford.
In February 1937 it was reported by Mrs A. Grandjean (5 Brent Road,Southall)of the Communist Party, that Southall had three men in Spain, two in the International Brigade and one in the Medical unit as an Ambulance Driver The meeting was inaugurated as a result of rank & File Transport & General Workers bus section conference of all trade unionists in London to hold meeting for the sending of delegates to Spain said T. Duncan Greenford Aid to Spain was organising Thursday afternoon knitting sessions at 51 Rothesay Avenue.
T. Duncan in the International Brigade “Fascism must be crushed in Spain, the only thing he could do was go to Spain and fight for the workers” Mr M. Bromley a member of the International Brigade spoke to the Greenford Committee in March 1937 Ealing Spanish relief Committee held an inaugural meeting in the Lecture Room, Ealing Green, Congregational Church, The Secretary was Mr R.V. Procter of 24 Bradley Garens, West Ealing
Brothers Joe Coomes (Ealing) International Brigade Coomes (Ealing) Ambulance In
March 1937 a meeting was held at Southall Labour hall, the speaker was Dr C. Addison of the British Medical unit. Two resolutions were carried agreeing the setting up of a United Aid to Spain Committee which was charged with organising a campaign of solidarity and raising cash to assist the work of the Spanish Medical Aid unit and the heroic international brigade and to arouse the people of Southall and Hayes to the dangers of the non-intervention policy of the national government. The other resolution called upon the Trades Union Congress to call a Conference on Spain..
A committee representing twenty organisations was formed to get in touch with Churches, Chapels and other bodies regarding Spain. £5 for the Dr Addison Fund was raised In April a he Friends of Spain Uxbridge & Slough District Medical committee was established with the aim of raising £400-£500 for a medical unit. Mr W. Kuhlman of 17 Oakleigh Road, Hillingdon agreed to be the assistant District Secretary and Mrs L.Y. Morgan of 51 Swan Road, West Drayton was organiser for Yiewsley & west Drayton.
They organised house to house collections. The Friends of Spain held its first public meeting at St Andrews Parish hall, Uxbridge where the main speaker was Dr Milne, The Irish poet, the entrance fee was 6d and the meeting showed the film “Defence of Madrid” and News from Spain. On May 1st 1937 the Film Defence of Madrid was shown at the Methodist hall, long lane at 8pm Leaders Wilfred Roberts MP , Duchess of Atholl and Eleanor Rathbone
A society for the defence of political liberty Uxbridge April Speaker Miss Levatoff recently on delegation to Spain and Rex Irming London District Organiser “They were of the opinion that Franco would never capture Madrid, their spirits and morale was high” They were convinced that they were fighting not only for Freedom of Spain but for the overthrow of Fascism throughout Europe
Winston Churchill had stated in the Evening Standard 10th August 1936 that “The Spanish government had no legal or moral claim to support Spain, since it was being subverted and devowed by Communism” he was still supporting Franco as late as December 1938 (unlike Ted Heath future Conservative Prime Minister, who supoported the Republican cause)
British Unit left for Spain on August 23rd 1936
Captain W. B. Martin who fought in Spain in the 6th Artillery Battery of 1st Durutti Column spoke November 1937 Ruislip-Northwood Labour party speaking of the rebel troops stated “Over the top dressed in German field gray uniform there was the nucleus of world war in Spain and the English working Class should say it must stop since the beginning of the wars in Spain had been turned from a country of orange groves and vineyards into one of desolation and ruin by the rebel fascist forces who were backed up by dictators. Unless that was stopped in Spain it would happen to this country” William Martin a World War 1 veteran recognising the gravity of the situation immediately took command of an artillery section of sixty men In September 1936 ambulance Joaquin Maurin driven to Aragon front seen off from Clapham by Fenner Brockway special branch thought contained signaling equipment
In May 1936 J. Woodburn Secretary of the Uxbridge Trades Council stated
“That Hitler means War, there is no doubt and no matter what pacts he may sign they will not be worth the paper they are written on”
”We must make the workers understand that Hitler is a menace to Peace in Europe, make no mistake about it the first round has gone to Fascism and reaction, but we must see that now Unity has won in France, Spain and shown what can be done in Peckham the next round will also beat Fascism and reaction in this Country”
John Mansfield building motorbike with sidecar ambulances for Spain at Hayes Labour hall
Mrs A. Grandjean active in Southall Comunist party and Southall Peace Council (any information welcomed)
Picture Atlee speaking to International Brigade in Spain
Mrs A. Grandjean, (5 Brent Road, Southall) very active in local and national Comunist Party