Monday, 6 February 2017

Remembering the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War : The 80th anniversary of the Battle of Jarama

Today in history: marks the 80th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, the Battle of Jarama,in the Spanish Civil War, which   was an attempt by General Franco's fascist forces to dislodge the anti-fascist lines along the river Jarama, just east of Madrid. Franco's troops forced back the anti-fascists, including the International Brigades, but after days of fierce fighting no breakthrough was achieved. Anti-fascist counterattacks along the captured ground likewise failed, resulting in heavy casualties to both sides. Many American anti-fascist volunteers from the Abraham Lincoln Brigades fought and died in this battle to stop the spread of fascism. 
 Jarama marked the beginning of a bruising and often dispirited campaign. By the end of the first day of battle, the British batallion found itself with less than half the number they had set out with, the next few days were a bloody brutal ordeal.On February 12th the British, deployed in the hills on the east bank of the river Jarama, in a place that became known as 'Suicide Valley",  the fascists were able to virtually surround the British Batallion  but even though they were outnumbered, they still  managed to keep the fascists at bay, but suffered  heavy losses.
On February the 18th the brigadiers lauched a counter attack, but this was stopped by the fascists. Despite the poor conditons, the brigadiers managed to stand firm , which resulted in a stalemate situation that would carry on until the end of the war.  Of the 500 brave men only 140 survived, the memory of this battle haunting them for many years later. But the vital road that Franco needed to have cut remained open.  I remember those who throughout this conflict their faith and ideals remained intact,with their bravery, sacrifice and committment to their noble cause. Comrades that stood together and fought for good against  the evils of fascism.
We should never forget this heroic struggle against the forces of fascism that remains today, the struggle continues, they shall continue to not pass. No pasaron. Remember the Internationale unites the human race.’

Battle of Jarama - John Lepper.

The sun warmed the valley
But no birds sang
The sky was rent with shrapnel
And metallic clang

Death stalked the olive trees
Picking his men
His leaden finger beckoned
Again and again

Dust rose from the roadside
A stifling cloud
Ambulances tore past
Klaxoning loud

Men torn by shell-shards lay
Still on the ground
The living sought shelter
Not to be found

Holding their hot rifles
Flushed with the fight
Sweat-streaked survivors
Willed for the night

With the coming  of darkness
Deep in the wood
A fox  howled to heaven
Smelling the blood.

Jarama Valley - Woody Guthrie

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