New Zealanders who fought in the Spanish Civil War – research request

April 13, 2008

Mark Derby, a historian from Wellington, New Zealand is “currently in the final stages of editing the first and only book on the New Zealanders who fought in the Spanish Civil War”, and has contacted the journal with the following request:

“Since only a handful of NZers took part in the civl war, the book takes a micro-historical approach, giving individual biographical entries ranging in length from 4000 words to a few hundred, on each of them. Below is a list of their names plus some basic details of their war service, in case any of your readers can supply more information, photos or other material on them. (Note – one asterisk means we have no photo of this person. Two asterisks means no photo and no other information.)

* Bert Bryan, who entered the war in early 1938 and took part in the battle of the Ebro, leaving with the other IBs in October 1938.

Phillip Cross, the only identifiable New Zealander to have fought for Franco against the Spanish Republic, who took part in the December 1936 battle of Madrid and was captured and wounded, along with a party of Moorish soldiers, at an engagement at Boadilla del Monte.

** Edward Dighton, said to have served with the ‘4th Spanish militia, Madrid, 1937’

* Bernard Grey, who served as a motorcycle courier with the British Battalion, and also knocked out a tank. He later drove an ambulance for the military hospital at Benicassim.

Eric Griffiths, the sole NZ fighter pilot for Republican Spain’s air force who, while on patrol with the South African pilot Vincent Doherty, was wounded over the Toledo front in September 1936 and landed his plant at Getafe airfield with an injured shoulder

Jack Kent, who died when his ship, the Cuidad de Barcelona, was torpedoed off the coast of Barcelona in May 1937

William McDonald, who entered Spain in early 1937, was attached to the Abraham Lincoln Battalion and fought with them at Aragon, Jarama and Brunete, later driving trucks for the Garibaldi battalion, until withdrawn with all other IBs in late 1938.

Griffin MacLaurin, who was killed in action at University City, Madrid on 9 November 1936

* Alex McLure, who fought with the MacKenzie-Papineau Battalion and died in October 1937 at Fuentes del Ebro

William Madigan, who used the surname Martinez in Spain, where he fought from early 1938 with the Abraham Lincoln Battalion, and was killed in the battle of the Ebro

Charlie Riley, enlisted with a British unit of the XV IB, who fought in the battles of Teruel, Brunete and Ebro, where he was badly wounded and treated at a succession of hospitals including Mataro, until repatriated on a Red Cross train in late 1938.

Fred Robertson, assigned to the British Battalion and killed in action after three days at the front, at the battle of Jarama

Peter Russell, Christchurch-born academic who spied for British intelligence in Spain

Pedro de Treend, the last surviving NZ veteran of the civil war, who joined the POUM, then fought with a worker’s militia unit at Puerto de Escadin in the battle of Teruel, January 1938. He was captured by Moorish troops and held at Malaga, from where he escaped on a British ship.

Tom Spiller, who entered Spain in early 1937, took part in the battles of Jarama and Brunete, was wounded and left for NZ and Australian in late 1937 to try and recruit more volunteers

Bill Trussell, who used his NZ passport to enter Franco Spain in the 1950s as a covert courier for the Republican government exiled in Paris.

** Steve Yates, who died with Griffin McLaurin at University City, Madrid, on 9 November 1936.

Bill Belcher, who entered Spain in August 1936 as a driver with a British hospital unit and later joined the anarchist Batallo de la Muerte, taking part in the battles of Belchite and Teruel

* Bob Ford, who served in the Tom Mooney section of the Abraham Lincoln battalion from May 1937 until October 1938, apparently based at Madrid

Don Miles, British seaman whose ship carried industrial coal from North Africa to Barcelona to break the military blockade, and was bombed in an air raid

Werner Droescher and Greville Texidor, who at the outbreak of the civil war, fought together in the anarchist militia unit in La Zaida called Aguiluchos de las Corts, later joining an Italian anarchist unit at Huesca. From later 1937 until late 1938 they worked in Madrid for the Quaker relief agency.

Ron Hurd, who marched through Madrid in December 1936 with the first IBs and became a political commissar with the XV battalion, receiving wounds in the battles of Jarama and Brunete

Doctors Franz Bielchowsky and Marianne Angermann, who joined the Spanish Republican Army’s medical corps.

Dr Doug Jolly, a surgeon with the XI IB in Madrid 1936. He later served in the battles of Brunete, Aragon and the Ebro, until withdrawn with all other IBs in late 1938.

** Dr Gladys Montgomery, who worked with a British ambulance unit at Almeria in June 1937.

Dr Robert McIntosh, Timaru-born anaesthetist who worked for the pro-Franco Public Health Organisation in October-November 1937, at hospitals in Zaragoza, Vitoria, and San Sebastian

Nursing sisters Renee Shadbolt, Isobel Dodds and Millicent Sharples, who were recruited from throughout NZ by the Spanish Medical Aid Committee. They arrived in Spain in July 1937 and went to a hospital in Huete, in Cuence province. Sharples was later transferred elsewhere, to Toralba and other fronts, until wounded in an air raid and returned to NZ. Dodds and Shadbolt remained at Huete until April 1938 when the entire hospital was evacuated to Barcelona. They then spent some weeks at a small hospital in the foothills of the Pyrenees, mostly treating European IBs in transit. Then at Mataro hospital north of Barcelona, until withdrawn with all IBs in late 1938.

Nurse Una Wilson who entered Spain as part of four-person team headed by Sister Mary Lowson, sent by the Sydney Spanish Relief Committee. She served at Jarama, Brunete and Teruel.

* Nurse Dorothy Morris, who worked in Spain with the British Universities Ambulance Unit from February 1937, initially at Almeria on the Costa del Sol, then attached to the XIII IB in the Sierra Moreno, west of Madrid, during the battle of Brunete. Finally she ran a Quaker children’s hospital in Murcia, southern Spain.

Any information or further contacts your organisation can provide will be very gratefully received.

Mark Derby, Wellington, New Zealand [].”