An all-Wales group, IB Cymru (International Brigade Wales), has been launched in the 80th anniversary year to commemorate the Welshman and women who went to Spain to serve the Republic in the Spanish Civil War.
The group is the brainchild of Mary Greening, whose father, Edwin, was one of more than 200 Welsh people who joined the I5th International Brigade in the fight against Franco.
Addressing the launch, which was held at Barocco in Cardiff on 10 April, she said it was important to remember the contribution Wales had made to the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.
“IB Cymru aims to coordinate efforts to bring what is often a hidden part of our history to a wider audience,” she said.
“We are setting up this group now as we are planning to hold the all-UK annual gathering of the International Brigade Memorial Trust [IBMT] in Cardiff next year.”
Guest speaker Dr Hywel Francis said it was important to remind ourselves of the sacrifices of those who contributed to the struggle against Fascism in Spain.
Dr Francis, a leading historian on the Spanish Civil War and former MP for Aberavon, said we should remember the generation who led the struggle in Britain against fascism.
“The men who went to fight in Spain were working-class heroes from the Welsh socialist, radical and internationalist tradition and we should honour what they did in the fight for democracy in Spain,” he said.
Cardiff Council Deputy Leader Sue Lent spoke of the links between Cardiff and Alicante in Spain, which she had visited recently. She said it was hoped to site a memorial in Cardiff Bay to commemorate the SS Stanbrook, captained by Archie Dickson from Cardiff, who evacuated over 2,600 Republican refugees as Alicante fell to Franco in March 1939.
The event was followed by a social evening at Dempseys, which featured folk singer David Campbell, poet Patrick Jones, singer Frankie Armstrong and Cor Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Red Choir).
There was also a special song from Adrian Roper, of Penarth, which he’d written himself, about former miners’ leader Will Paynter, who fought with the International Brigade in Spain.
Ms Greening said later: “The event was a big success and we aim to build on this and organise other events in the run-up to the IBMT’s annual gathering next year.”
“Anyone wanting to help us organise next year’s event or further information in general is welcome to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Pictured: Hywel Francis and Mary Greening.