Miners Against Fascism:
Wales and the Spanish civil war
miners made up one of the largest contingents within the British Battalion
of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Coming from the valleys
all across South Wales, they brought with them a political tradition unique
in Britain in its combination of trade union militancy, radical extra-parliamentary
activity and internationalism. Hywel Francis draws on a wide variety of contemporary
sources to paint a vivid picture of the tumultuous politics of South Wales
in the 1920s and 1930s - the context for the decision made by so many to volunteer.
The book describes the process of volunteering, the militant role played by
the Welsh volunteers, and the mass movements of political solidarity with
Spain within Wales. It also includes many illustrations, and reproduces letters
written by volunteers to their relatives and friends back in Wales.
updated 2012 edition includes a new preface and a newly compiled complete
list of all Welsh volunteers.
||Welshmen in the International Brigades, Brunette, August 1937
||Will Jones, Communist candidate in the local election campaign in Bedlinog,
June 1936, with youthful supporters
||Spanish immigrant workers on board ship en route to South Wales, 1907
||Madrid workers at the Puerto del Sol en route for the front at the outbreak
of the Civil War, July 1936
from a letter from Bob Condon to the Aberdare Leader, published in 1937:
are all fairly happy out here - that is as happy as men who hate war and who
are doing an unpleasant but necessary job can be.
Most of our fighting has been against German and Italian trained troops with
superior arms to ourselves, but we possessed something they did not, and with
all their bombing of women and children and using of dum-dum and explosive
bullets against us, they cannot pass or break out morale ...
One day we were in Madrid, and were a little surprised to see all the people
going about their work quite ordinarily. Some old men were hard at work building
barricades at strategical points. That day British workers met Spanish workers,
and although we did not understand each other's language, we both sides understood
the comradeship and the brotherhood of man. The city was ours for the asking,
but we came to give and not to take.'
fascinating study … pays homage to Cambria rather than Catalonia, and memorably
Kenneth O Morgan, TLS
'Succeeds brilliantly in restoring the humanity of his true subjects, the
volunteers … men formed by their time and place who consciously chose to express
their commitment to a cause in the bravest way possible.'
Dai Smith, Guardian
Francis has been Labour MP for Aberavon since 2001. An expert on South
Wales labour movement history, and former Professor of Continuing Education
at Swansea University, he was the founder of the South Wales Miners' Library
and co-author of The Fed, the definitive history of the South Wales
miners. He is also author of History on our side: Wales and the 1984/5
Miners' strike and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Review of Miners Against Fascism:
‘Some books should be republished every 15 years or so in order that each generation can learn and draw inspiration from them.’
Rob Griffiths, Morning Star
All rights L&W.
Publication date: 31 May 2012