They clung like burrs to the long express that lurch
Through the unjust lands, through the night, through the alpine tunnel.
They floated over the oceans;
They walked the passes; they came to present their lives.
W.H. Auden, Spain 1937
Perthshire and the Spanish Civil War
George Bisset, Edward Rae Brown, James Gillespie, [John] William Dieter Gilmour, John Gordon, Hugh MacKay, Robert Malcolm, James Moir, Ann Cargill Murray (Knight), George Murray, Tom Murray, and George Steele, all connected to Perthshire were members of that small but significant band of men and women who went to Spain during the Civil War between 1936-39. They came as anti-fascists and supporters of democracy and social reform.
On July 18 1936, fascist and right wing nationalist forces had attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government of Spain. This Popular Front government, which could rely on 260 of the 470 seats in the Spanish Parliament, had been pursuing a number of progressive reforms and widened political freedoms within what was still a very poor and feudal country. At the time many peasants earned less than a shilling a day for 14 hours labours, whilst half of Spain was owned by mere 50,000 feudal landowners. The changes introduced by the elected government to the political and economic make-up of the country fell foul of the landed aristocracy, big industrialists and army generals, who proceeded to organize a fascist-military adventure against the elected government.
The fascist-military revolt began on July 18 1936 in Morocco, a Spanish colonial area and, spread to Seville, Malaga, Burgos, Saragossa and Madrid. Led by Generals Sanjurjo, Franco and Mola and supported by the Church Hierarchy, the fascist army junta launched members of the Spanish military, Spanish Civil Guard, Spanish Foreign Legion, various fascist, religious fundamentalist and monarchist groups and 30,000 imported Moorish (Arab and Berber) mercenaries against the government and her supporters. In all 75,000 Moorish troops were employed in the Civil War.
On April 14, 1931, after a sweeping victory in the municipal elections and Alfonso’s (the Spanish King) flight, the Republican forces declared Spain a Republic. In July, elections to a ‘Constituent Cortes’ (Parliament) were held; they gave an overwhelming victory to the Republican parties, and a joint Republican and Socialist Government entered office.
In December 1931, the Constitution of the Republic was adopted: ‘henceforth Spain was to be a Republic of workers of all classes organized in a regime of liberty and justice.’
The new democratically elected government led by Manuel Azana put in place a number of social reforms that included reduced working hours, higher wages, and some minor land reform. The opponents of the government, the feudal aristocracy and sections of the peasantry mobilized and after a great deal of social unrest and splits within the government’s supporters over the pace of change, the Republican-Socialist Government was defeated in the elections of December 1933.
‘The new Government of the Right, under Lerroux began an open campaign of repression and encouraged the growth of Fascist forces. A series of strikes on industry and agriculture culminated in a great agricultural workers’ strike in the summer of 1934. The struggle with the Government grew bitterer; and when Lerroux announced, early in October 1934, that Fascists were to be brought into the Government, a general strike was declared which developed in some areas into an armed uprising. The defeat of the uprising was followed by butchery and torture of thousands of workers.’
However, out of this defeat many of the workers groups and political organizations that had previously been at loggerheads with each other over ideas and strategy came together to form an alliance.
‘Eventually the Workers’ Alliances were broadened into a People’s Front and under pressure the Government was compelled to hold elections in February 1935. The People’s Front was victorious. It won 147 seats, securing an absolute majority of 63. The aristocrats and the wealthy began to flee from Spain. The reactionary President was thrown out and his place was taken by Azana, the Republican leader.’
(Quotes from Spain by Emile Burns, written in 1936. This pamphlet sold 140,000 copies.)
From the outset of the conflict until its end both Britain and France refused to help the Spanish government citing their pact of non-intervention. The practical manifestation of this pact was the refusal to sell arms or food to the Spanish government and complicity from the British government of the time. This non-intervention pact was set in the context of the rise of Fascism in Europe, German and Italian expansionism, and the attack of a fellow democratic country. However, Germany and Italy despite being signatories to the non-intervention agreement provided the junta with planes, pilots, destroyers, submarines and men on the ground. It is a notable fact that the first British prisoners tortured and interrogated by the Gestapo were soldiers fighting for the Spanish Republic. In all the fascist-military uprising could call upon 5/6 Italian Legionary Divisions consisting of 8-10 thousand men, and, 15,000 Italian and 10,000 German technical troops. At anyone, time the fascist combatant force was five times that of the Republican forces. The terrible massacres of civilians by the fascist forces at Guernica and Madrid could not have taken place without German (Condor Legion) and Italian (Legionary Aviation) air power. The Republic received aid from Mexico (on a very small scale) and arms and supplies from the Soviet Union.
The bombing of the old Basque market town of Guernica on April 26th 1937 was one of the worst atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and a prelude to the type of bombing of civilian areas that defined World War 2. German Condor Legion squadrons lay total waste to Guernica killing 1600 civilians and injuring 900. Pablo Picasso records the attack in one of his most famous and important paintings – Guernica.
‘ An enormous weight of munitions has been thrown into the scale on the side of General Franco; heavy guns, up to date tanks and above all a huge reinforcement of the most modern and powerful aeroplanes have been sent to aid the fascists. The splendid spirit of the Republicans was overwhelmed by the sheer weight of metal … the plain fact is the British government acquiesces in aggression while pretending to support non-intervention.’
(Clement Attlee, then Leader of the Labour Party)
To support the Spanish people in their defence of their rights, democracy, freedoms and the Republic, volunteers came to Spain from many countries. In all nearly 45,000 men and women from all over the world – organized in the main by the Comintern agencies in Paris – came to Spain to form the International Brigades within the armies of the Republic. Some 2,200 volunteers arrived from Britain to eventually form the British Battalion (also known as the Storm Troop, because they were often first into battle), as part of the International Brigades. The majority came from industrial, construction, shipbuilding and mining industries, with political and trades union activity behind them. The average age of the British Battalion was 29. This brigade saw action in most of the major battles of the Spanish War and consisted of individuals from a myriad of countries including Ireland, Wales, England, New Zealand, Australia, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Egypt and Scotland.
These battles were bloody affairs in which the British Battalion performed as shock troops, despite some of its members having almost no training. One quarter of the British Battalion died during the war, some 526 killed and most everyone else wounded at least once. Prior to the British Battalion formation in early 1937 volunteers from Scotland and elsewhere fought initially with Spanish militia units and then created a 145-man militia called the Tom Mann Centuria. English speaking troops also saw action in the 86th Brigade at the Cordora front, the John Brown Artillery Brigade and within sections of the Thaelmann (German), Commune de Paris, La Marseillaise and Edgar Andre (French) Battalions. Others operated as part of the POUM (a left wing political party formally close to Leon Trotsky) and anarchist militias. A few saw service on Spanish government torpedo boats and destroyers, whilst others flew for the Republican Airforce.
Sam Wild a leader of the British Battalion describes his motivation towards the defence of the Republic:
‘ Well, to me it was elementary. Here was fascism spreading all over the world, the rape of Abyssinia, the rise of fascism in Germany and the persecution of the Jews there, and the rise of the Blackshirts in Britain with their anti-Semitism, and especially their anti-Irishism. I felt that somebody had to do something to try and stop it.’
Just a month after the start of the war medical convoys and personnel left Britain for Spain. During the three years of the conflict, some 200 medical personnel (men and women) operated in Spain saving many lives. An ‘Aid for Spain Campaign’ got under way in Britain as well as the National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief, sending supplies of dried milk, clothing, money and food. Taking this aid to Spain was very dangerous due to the operations of German submarines and Italian airplanes.
Scotland’s contribution to the British Battalion was 476 volunteers, who came mainly from Glasgow, the Clydeside and from Aberdeen. Nine either came from Perthshire or had strong connections to it. Of these Scottish volunteers, 134 were killed, 30 taken prisoner and 342 eventually returned home. As well as combatants, Scotland contributed medical staff and the Scottish Medical and Ambulance Units.
The International Brigades also included other Battalions made up of non-Spanish volunteers. The Dimitrovs came from Croatia, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania, Italy, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia. Two Brigades were American, the Lincoln and Washington Brigades. The MacKenzie-Papineau Brigade was Canadian and the Connolly Column, Irish.
There were many Spanish groups operating on the Republican side. These included the CNT (anarcho-syndicalists), UGT (General Union of Workers), Spanish Communist Party, PSUC (The Spanish Communist Party under another name), ESQUERRA (Left Republican Party of Catalonia) and the POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unity). The latter made famous by the Ken Loach film ‘Land and Freedom’. Unity did not always exist between these various organizations and at times disagreements, ideological difference and power struggles resulted in bitter infighting. Industrial workers, peasants in the north of the country, professional people, intellectuals and many village priests rallied to the Republican cause. As for the fascist side, their support came from the army officer class, the official Catholic Church, the rich and bourgeois members of Spanish society and much of the peasantry south of Madrid. The fascist forces had overwhelming superiority in equipment and resources.
‘Not one day has passed without the fascists intense bombing raids. They are right above now and I must admit they have got me more than a little on the jump. When the bombs begin to whistle down your heart beats against your chest so fast that you are made to feel if the bombs don’t get you your heart and lungs will burst under the terrible strain.’
(Ben Glazer, killed in action September 8th 1938)
The events of the war itself are well documented in a number of books. The ‘British Library Integrated On-line Catalogue’ lists 824 separate available entries, out of an estimated 15,000 books and pamphlets on the war. Some of the major battles of the war include, Jarama, the Ebro Offensive, Madrid, Brunete, and Cordoba.
In an attempt to influence world opinion to force the removal of German and Italian fascist forces from Spain, at the end of 1938 the Spanish Prime Minister Dr. Juan Negrin, ordered the withdrawal of the International Brigades fighting for the Republic. This was because of an agreement negotiated in Geneva. On November 15th, a farewell parade for the British Battalion preceded their arrival home in December 1938. Clement Attlee welcomed 305 returnees on December 7th, 1938. Shortly afterwards the Italian government sent in thousands more troops.
Upon their return large receptions were held in Edinburgh and Glasgow for the Scottish volunteers.
The Spanish Civil War ended with power struggles within the Republic as defeat drew near (a coup led by Colonel Casado, the Commander of the Republican Central Army within the Republican leadership) and eventually the surrender of Madrid to Franco on March 30th 1939. Franco entered the capital without firing a shot. Defeat at this stage was inevitable; Franco’s fascist forces had cut the country in two controlling the north, south and centre of Spain with by now overwhelming military strength. Catalonia was defeated and Barcelona taken.
Starvation and blockade added to the Republics’ misery and causes of defeat. European non-intervention had prevented the democratic government of Spain and the Spanish people from exercising their international rights to buy arms and resources and so defending itself from fascism and external invaders from Germany and Italy. Problems of unity, cantonization and infighting compounded the difficulties faced by the Republic. The Spanish Republic only eight years old lay in ruins. Franco was to inflict 35 years of fascist repression (based on Mussolini’s Italy), executions and imprisonment on the people of Spain. The post war attacks on Republican supporters were cruel and bloody. A state church replaced previously enjoyed religious freedoms.
The toll of the Spanish Civil War includes:
320,000 killed in action
250,000 imprisoned for up to 30 years or more
340,000 in exile
250,000 houses destroyed
150 towns severely damaged
One-third of total livestock lost
700 bridges destroyed
11 cathedrals destroyed
In July 1937, the British Battalion under the command of Fred Copeman was involved in an offensive to relieve pressure on Madrid and the northern front – later known as the Battle of Brunete. James Moir was killed in action during this battle. The entire 15th Brigade moved up from its base in the Tajuna valley and hid in woods near Torrelodones on the Madrid-El Escorial road. The Spanish 24th formed a second regiment. Alongside the British Battalion, the International Brigade contingent at Brunete consisted of six battalions including the Lincoln, Washington, Franco-Belge and Dimitrov Battalions. A British Anti-Tank battery under the command of a Malcolm Dunbar had recently been set up and was in support. At Midnight on the 6th of July, the British Battalion moved towards the heavily defended village of Villanueva de la Cañada, North West of Madrid – the village was highly fortified with trenches and machine gun nests. Machine gun fire initially pinned down the battalion, but by midnight, they had captured the village. When fascist troops attempted to breakout from the captured village using civilians as human shields a number of volunteers died in the ensuing battle. The following morning the battalion moved forward to the heights overlooking the Guadarrama River and the village of Boadilla del Monte. Temperatures during this attack reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bill Alexander a member of the British Battalion refers to this in his book on the Spanish Civil War as the ‘The Furnace of Brunete’. In all the British Battalion saw three weeks continuous action at Brunete. International Brigade Volunteer Sydney R. Steventon describes the battle thus:
‘The British offensive made an initial advance at heavy cost. Franco, by concentrating his artillery on the surrounding heights and dominating the skies with German and Italian planes, were able to check and then drive back the Republican forces to their starting point. The advance and then retreat meant that some casualties were left, while others were buried where they fell – made possible by the light sandy soil.’
Weakened by fatigue, thirst and constant bombardment from the air, they could not succeed and fascist forces re-grouped effectively. Large quantities of Franco’s best troops reinforced the fascist defenders, German and Italian air supremacy coupled with the power of artillery placed on the heights saw the Republican offensive crushed after nineteen days of fighting. Of the three hundred and thirty-one volunteers in the ranks of the British Battalion at the start of the Battle of Brunete only 42 returned to base. The casualty figures for this battle reached 25,000.
The offensive was not a success, but showed the Republic capable of putting a complex military plan into action. Writers and researchers have described the Battle of Brunete as the Republic’s first significant offensive.
‘ We fight to free Madrid as the first step to freeing Spain. We fight to free Spain as the first step towards freeing the world of fascism.’
(Orders of the Day 15th Brigade, July 5th 1937, before the Battle of Brunete)
A meeting took place in Perth at the Lower City Halls on May 17th 1938 organized by the Pro-Franco Friends of Nationalist Spain. The platform speakers included Colonel R.G. Dawson of Orchill, Bracon, Captain H.W. Luttman-Jones of Luncarty (previously a member of the Indian Cavalry, Luttman-Jones was an organizer for Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists in Perthshire), Sir Walter Maxwell-Scott, Arthur Loveday (Late President of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain) and Sir Nairne Stewart Sandeman M.P. as chair. Both within and outside the meeting counter-demonstrations and heckling occurred so that a lot of the meeting was disrupted. Nevertheless, a resolution with text below was passed:
‘This meeting records its heartfelt sympathy with fellow Christians who are suffering such prolonged martyrdom, declares its firm conviction that there will be no peace in Spain or the Western Mediterranean until the forces of anarchy, tyranny and Communism are crushed, and expresses its earnest hope and confidence that the great majority of Spaniards now supporting the Nationalist cause will gain an early triumph for unity, order, liberty and religious freedoms for which they are striving with such heroism.’
Katherine Marjory Murray (Kitty) later Duchess of Atholl was the first Scottish female to become a Member of Parliament, and, the first Conservative and the second British woman to gain the office of government minister. The Duchess of Atholl entered Parliament as a member of the opposition to Labour and Ramsay MacDonald, by a margin of only 150 votes in the 1923 election. However, when the October 1924 election was called, the Liberals failed to put up a candidate and the Duchess of Atholl achieved a large majority against the Socialist candidate J. MacDiarmid. She was to hold the seat of Kinross and West Perthshire for 15 years. By the end of 1924, she had become a parliamentary secretary at the Board of Education. She was one of very few Conservatives to oppose the government policy of non-intervention in relation to Spain.
Her relationship with Spain and the Republic is well documented and put her in touch with many people from who she would politically be expected to be distant. Jack Jones the Trade Unionist and TUC leader talks fondly in his memoirs of meeting her in Spain, where she also came across Ernest Hemingway, the Scottish Communist MP Willie Gallacher and members of the International Brigade. With Eleanor Rathbone as her deputy, she became Chair of a National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief in 1936. Her tour of Spain in 1937 was part of an all woman delegation (suggested by Ellen Wilkinson (1891-1947) the Labour MP and later first female minister of Education) which took in Barcelona, Catalonia, Valencia and Madrid. Just two weeks after the trip, the German Airforce committed the bombing massacre at Guernica. Katherine Murray wrote up these events and the trip in a book, Searchlight on Spain that sold 30,000 copies. Her stance on Spain and the work she did upon returning to Britain to help Spanish children, led to Katherine being accused of being a communist and an anarchist. The West Perthshire Constituency Party eventually removed her as its candidate and Katherine triggered a by-election by applying for the Chiltern Hundreds. Chamberlain was determined to win and threw all the resources of the Conservative Research Department and the Whips office into the fight, flooding the constituency with big name politicians. As for Kitty, she got messages of support from Winston Churchill and Sylvia Pankhurst. On a 67% turnout, the 21 December 1938 by-election vote was 11,800 to Sir William McNair Snadden and 10,495 to Katherine Murray. Despite losing, she was later adopted as an Independent candidate for the Scottish Universities, a position she gave up on upon the election of Winston Churchill in 1940.
The Perthshire Volunteers
James Moir of Perth was aged 20 when killed at the Battle of Brunete (1937). Previously employed as a ships electrician, and a member of the Communist Party, his family lived at Maybank, 46 Craigie Road, Perth. The family is listed at this address from 1931(having moved up from the Borders) to 1994. He was the son of John Steele Moir and Janet Thomson. Janet Smith Thomson died February 4 1944 at Perth Royal Infirmary (PRI). John a native of Perth and an elder of St. Leonard’s-in-the-Field Church was an estate agent connected with the firm of P. D. Malloch at 24 Scott Street for seventeen years. John Moir died October 23rd 1945 at PRI; three daughters (Margaret, Mary and Jenny) survived them.
It was illegal to go from Britain to fight in Spain and so James would have taken a clandestine route. The most common method of reaching Spain involved travelling to Paris on a weekend ticket that did not require a passport (28/6d for train and boat), dodging the French Police whilst going down to the Spanish border. James Moir entered the International Brigades at Albacete on the 1st of June 1937 (his Brigade Identification Number was 1145), having left London on May 14th 1937. Most probably, he arrived at Albacete having crossed the French border by a dangerous night hike across the Pyrenees and travelled through Catalonia. Arthur Nicol from Dundee, a lieutenant in the International Brigades describes the journey to Spain.
‘First, we had to slip out of England like criminals. We took a weekend ticket to Paris. Then we had to dodge the French police on our way down through France to the Spanish border. Then it was an all night hike over the Pyrenees into Spain. I must say that the French Communist Party did a marvellous job organizing our journey through France. Dodging from place to place sometimes taking two or three weeks to get through France.’
In Madrigueras, the nearby British Battalion base, new volunteers began their training. Below International Brigader Donald Renton describes his training:
‘I got six weeks training at Madrigueras in Albacete province. This began with essential weapons training, this being the result of Tom Wintringam’s influence. He was a most effective instructor, who believed the importance of co-ordinated foot drill would be clear to us once we could handle our weapons.’
The British Battalion were withdrawn from Jarama (the scene of a great battle in which the International Brigades distinguished themselves) on June 17th after 73 days in the line. James Moir would have joined these troops, after their return to their Albacete base to rest and prepare for the next offensive at Brunete.
Casualty reports issued by the Commissariat of War of the International Brigade for the period 6th to 12th July does not include James Moir. The casualty report for August 8th 1937 includes the following:
‘Missing Presumed Captured
8). 46 Craigie Road, Perth, Scotland. This entry is for James Moir.’
(International Brigade Box 21/b/31 held in the Marx Memorial Library in London – this library holds many records for the International Brigade)
Most likely, the Moir family believed that James was missing presumed taken prisoner, for correspondence between James’ family and the Foreign Office existed for the period 1937-38. Foreign Office Records of Correspondence for 1937 (FO371 21302 original reference W17883, W19187, W19885/2/41) located at the Public Records Office in Kew, list a number of letters given the index title, James Moir: Prisoner of War in Spain: welfare. These letters no longer exist having been destroyed during a Foreign Office clear out of papers. In addition, in 1938 (FO371, original reference W13922/2340/41) with index title,James Moir: Enlistment with Spanish Government forces: welfare. Again, the letter no longer exists.
The Moir family has a plot and stone in the Jeanfield Cemetery (Parochial 1, section 1026) in Perth.
The inscription at the base of the stone says:
James Moir son of the above John and Janet Moir. Killed in action at Brunete Spain July 1937.
Aged 20 years
A search of Perth and Kinross Council records has revealed that James does not lie in this plot. It may be surmised that the Moir family after pursuing a search for James via the Foreign Office accepted at some point that he had been killed at the Battle of Brunete. He probably lies buried on the Brunete battlefield; covered up with loose stones or in a bomb crater. This was the fate of many of those killed at the battle. The International Brigades Roll of Honour lists his death at the Battle of Brunete.
Edward (Eddie) Rae Brown (Brigade Identification Number 1025) has a British Battalion record contact address given as 11 Commercial Street, Coupar Angus, Perthshire as well as 28 Whitefriars Street, Perth. The Leslie’s Directory (local address and trades book) and electoral register has him residing at this latter address in 1937-38, but no longer resident by 1939-40. In addition, a Mrs. Margaret Brown appears on the electoral register for 1937. A painter by profession, Edward Brown was a member of his trade union branch in Perth. Born January 1st 1906 in Coupar Angus, Edward Brown was raised in the town of his birth where his father had a small fishmonger’s business. He was a member of the Communist Party (initially a member of the Independent Labour Party, Edward joined the Communist Party whilst living in Perth) and saw service in Spain at the British Battalion base and as a member of the British Battalion Anti-Tank Battery. When in 1936 Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts organized a march in Perth, Edward Brown was a part of the large crowd that opposed the march.
He arrived in Spain on May 13th 1937 having travelled there in a conventional manner. He was wounded at the Battle of Brunete in July 1937 and hospitalized with a broken ankle at Tureul, January 1938 and wounded again (in the leg) during the Ebro offensive in July 1938 (Cota 481 – Gandesa) and repatriated December 7th 1938. A short stay at Perth Royal Infirmary preceded his return to his family in Coupar Angus.
In her book, Apprentices of Freedom (Quartet, 1979) Judith Cook quotes from interviews with Eddie Brown about the Ebro offensive:
‘I felt something and I rolled back and said to Jock, who I was with, “It’s coming from up there, you’d better come back. We’re high enough for the enemy to see us.” Then I said to him, “I’ve got wounded, Jock.” He says, “Where abouts?” and I said, “My ankle.” He opened my boot and said, “There’s bugger all there. You’re no wounded.” Then he said, “Oh, Christ, there’s blood here,” and I’d been wounded in the knee. I’d had a bad ankle since Brunete, and that’s where I felt the pain, not in my knee.’
During the Second World War Edward moved from working at the Clyde shipyards to soldiering with the Highland Light Infantry. He saw action in the Middle East and as part of the D-Day landing forces at Normandy. After the Second World War, he returned to house painting, but hindered by his Civil War wounds moved into road painting for Dunbartonshire Council.
There is an interview with him in Ian McDougall, Voices from the Spanish Civil War (Polygon, 2001).
Repatriated 8 April (or 28) 1938 (and arriving in England 25 April) John Gordon is listed within British Battalion records as aged 23 and with a contact address at 5 Berrell Square, Crieff. A motor cycle assembler who arrived in Spain 2 December 1937, John Gordon in common with a number of other young men found the reality of war too difficult and he deserted soon after. This resulted in arrest and imprisonment at Valencia before repatriation home.
British Battalion records list Hugh (Henry) MacKay with a contact address in London, 41 Sydney Street, Chelsea, London, SW3, but he was born in Perth on 14 November 1914. Hugh MacKay served in the French Foreign Legion from which he deserted in 1934. It was because he made his own way to Spain in 1936 that he was initially imprisoned as a spy. Peter Elstrob mentions him in several places in the book Spanish Prisoner (London: Macmillan, 1939). One of these appearances is shown below:
“Turning I saw another dirty, bedraggled, bearded specimen.
‘Hello,’ I said. ‘Are you English?’ ‘No, I’m Scotch,’ he said carefully. ‘My name is Henry Mackay. Have ye got any money?’
Hugh MacKay was released in 1937, served in No. 2 Company of the British Battalion, and fought at Ebro. He was later wounded on the Gandesa Front (1938). He was later part of a group of volunteers that left Spain for the UK via Cerebere (December 18th 1938) having previously been in October 1938 nursed at the Military Hospital at Vich (Catalonia, Spain). The Foreign Office Correspondence Index (K176/133/241 – FO 369 2541) records enquiry about his repatriation. The British Consulate General, Caldetas, Barcelona, 22 December 1938 reports the following:
‘The train arrived from Spain about midday and the volunteers, who were in groups of more than a dozen nationalities, and numbered about 260, were all wounded and sick men in different stages of convalescence, some of them transported on stretchers. Of these 69 were British subjects (including nursing staff): eight of these were stretcher cases and one was ordered by the French doctor to be removed from the train at Perpignan and to be placed in the St. Jean Hospital there, as his condition was too grave to permit his continuing the journey. The hospital on the 21st reported his condition as improving.’
This volunteer is Hugh MacKay.
Hugh MacKay would go onto recover from his wounds. On 7 May 1991, he gave an interview to researchers at the Imperial War Museum as part of its on-going sound archive project. This interview reference 12025/5 is available for public use.
The British Battalion records list a contact address for a Robert Malcolm as 2 Hunters Terrace, Perth, Scotland. The Leslies’ Directory for 1937 and 1948 records a Mrs. Jeannie Malcolm at 2C Hunters Terrace. Robert Malcolm (Brigade Identification Number 859) was recorded as aged 37 in these Battalion records and, as a member of the Communist Party. Repatriated 24 July 1937. Robert like some 80% of British Battalion volunteers was a member of the British Communist Party. At the time of his volunteering, he was an unemployed labourer. His arrival date in Spain is 24 February 1937 and he saw service within the 2nd Company, 20th Battalion, 86th Brigade. Between April and May 1937, Robert was active at the Cordoba Front.
Although born in Aberdeenshire in 1906, Annie Murray was raised in Perthshire. A nurse by training and a member of the Communist Party she along with her two brothers Tom (he spent six months in the International Brigade as a political commissar) and George went to Spain during the Civil War. Upon completing her training at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Annie Murray now a fully trained nurse set off in through France to Spain (organized by the British Medical Aid Association). Initially she worked in a small Spanish hospital at Huete near Barcelona. From there she spent the majority of her wartime at a large hospital in Barcelona as a theatre nurse. She describes her experiences in Ian MacDougall’s Voices from the Spanish Civil War:
‘And then from the hospital in Barcelona we used to go out in the hospital trains all around the area, behind offensive, and when there was more work to do outside the hospital than inside. In the hospital train, it was gruelling, you know. On one occasion we went under a bridge to operate when bombs were falling.’
After two and a half years service in the Civil War, Annie returned to Britain and worked at Dulwich Hospital in London, before finishing her career as a children’s nurse in Stepney. During the Second World War, she took an active role in the Civil Defence of London.
In 1983, Anne Murray gave an interview to researchers at the Imperial War Museum as part of its on-going sound archive project. This interview reference 13787/1 is available for public use. Of her service in Spain, it was said that she was, “a real asset to Spain and the revolutionary movement.” (Winifred Bates in Moscow archives 545/6/88)
Like his sister Annie, George Murray was born in Aberdeenshire and moved with his family to Perthshire. Born on Hogmany in 1909 George was a printer (Scottish Typographical Association) by trade and firstly a member of the Independent Labour Party before joining the Communist Party. He saw two years service within the Servicio de Investigacion Militar (Military Investigation Service) charged with routing out enemy agents and the Anti-Tank Battery. He was shot in the chest, recovered and returned to the front. Here he describes his time in Spain as recorded in Ian MacDougall’s aforementioned book:
‘I was all through the campaign of the North, and eventually we were pushed back of course … I took part in the last march of the International Brigade through Barcelona. It was a very emotional sort of thing.’
After returning to Scotland George took up his profession as a printer once more, apart from an interlude working in the Clyde shipyards during the Second World War.
Checks of British Battalion records reveals contact addresses for George Steele as 14 Union Street Lane, Bridgend in Perth and 35 Brown Street in Dundee. The use of the Perth address may have been related to trade union membership. A Physical Training instructor he arrived in Spain in May 1937. George was wounded at the Battle of Brunete in July 1937 and later in January 1938; George Steele was repatriated in January 1938.
The last Perthshire volunteer is [John] William Gilmour- always known as William Gilmour his gravestone describes him as John William Gilmour – who resided at (St. Andrews Cottage), 21 James Street in Blairgowrie. He is also listed with an address of 25 Queen Street. Born 10th October 1903 at 71 Stewart Street, Glasgow (Milton), Gilmour was a commercial traveller and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He arrived in Spain on 30 January 1937 and entered the British Battalion (Identification Number 517). During the Battle of Jarama, Gilmour served as a Sergeant/Group Leader in Number 2 Company. After that he was sent to Benicasim Hospital to recover from fatigue – he was there for 20 days. For refusing to carry out an order, Gilmour was demoted from Sergeant and sent to the Labour Battalion (6 June 1937). He was next assigned to the Auto Park as ‘Assistant’. In September of 1937, he was at Ripoll and by the 14 October 1938, was awaiting repatriation on Health/Domestic grounds. William Gilmour arrived at Newhaven on 24 October 1938.
William Gilmour returned to Perthshire. He died 8 February 1972 at Blairgowrie Cottage Hospital; the cause of death is given as Cerebro Vascualr Accident and Influenza. He was buried at Blairgowrie Cemetery on the 11th of that month. William Gilmour’s father of the same name had been a seaman in the Merchant Navy. His mother was a Catherine Gilmour (maiden name Dieter/William). Both were from Glasgow and were married 13 November 1888 in Glasgow.
‘They went because their open eyes could see no other way.
Yet Freedom! Yet thy banner, torn, but flying, streams like the thunderstorm against the wind.’
(Inscription carved on the sides of the plinth of the International Brigade Memorial at South Bank, London)
‘Not to a fanfare of trumpets,
Nor even the skirl o’ the pipes.
Not for the offer oe a shilling,
Nor to see their names up in lights.
Their call was a cry of anguish,
From the hearts of the people of Spain.
Some paid with their lives it is true,
Their sacrifice was not in vain.’
(Inscription carved on the Kirkcaldy Memorial to its volunteers who went to Spain)
‘Even as blossoms fall
Circling about a tree
Our deeds within a world
Define our world’
Memorial commemorating the volunteers from Perthshire who served in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-9. The memorial is carved from Forest of Dean sandstone by local sculptor and stone-carver Gillian Forbes. It The plaque was unveiled by Provost John Hulbert in June 2010 and is located on the North Inch by the old Perth Bridge and Charlotte Street.
In his Homage to Caledonia (Edinburgh: Luath Press Limited, 2009) Daniel Gray mentions several of the Perthshire volunteers. The following quotes are taken from that book:
James Moir: “For the first time today I saw a Russian aeroplane in flight. It seemed to be of advanced design and had two engines which propelled it at great speed. Chaps at the front say that our bombers are faster then the enemy fighters.”
William Gilmour: “My heart throbs at the sight of those graves and as the memory of those boys comes back to me, with all their gestures, jokes and good humour, their political understanding between one another, I can’t help but shed a silent tear. Often I think of them when alone in my dug-out or on guard at night by my machine-gun. If Britain only knew what they owed to those dead heroes, they would give them as much room in their sentiments as they give to the Unknown Soldiers of the Great War.”
Additional Information sourced from the archives of the National Library for Scotland
28/10/37 Letter from Lily to Agnes “I have just heard that the Moirs have got definite word that Jimmy was killed at Brunete on 23rd July. Poor brave lad – he was one of the very best.” 28/12/37 Letter from George Murray to Lily 28/12/37 “I am glad that Jimmy’s people have reacted as they have. Do you ever see his sister now? When I was in hospital I opened a letter addressed to Jimmy to see if the writer had any news of him. It was from his mother who was, she said ‘perplexed and hurt’ that he should have been leading a life of which she knew nothing and that he had gone far away to fight in a war which could have nothing to do with him! She seems to have very limited vision.”
People’s Journal 11 September 1937 ‘Perth Men Wounded in Spanish Civil War’: “Of the contingent of half a dozen members of the International brigade fighting for the Government in the Spanish Civil War three have been wounded and another is posted as missing. The wounded are George Murray, who resided in Friar Street, Craigie, after leaving his native Glenfarg; Eddie Brown, Whitefriar Street, Perth, whose family belongs to Couper Angus; and George Steele, Union Lane, Bridgend, Perth. Reported as missing is a Craigie youth, James Moir, an 18-year-old volunteer, who has made remarkable progress since reaching Spain. Moir, a quiet, studious youth who insisted on going to Spain though under age, became a company commander in the International Brigade. Like his three Perth colleagues, he was involved in fighting on the Cordova Front. In the defeat of the Government forces the International Brigade suffered heavily, and after the engagement Moir was missing. It is possible he may have taken prisoner, but the only information available in Perth is that he has been posted missing. Murray has been seriously wounded, and is now convalescent. Steele is in the same convalescent camp. Like the others of the Perth party, Steele has been away since the early part of May. When a soldier with the Black Watch, Steele won a great reputation as a boxer, and he is widely known in the city. It is understood that Brown has been laid low by leg wounds. Brown’s father and brother reside in Couper-Angus, but he has been in Perth for some time past. He is a painter to trade. Murray has a sister working in Spain as a nurse. The information received in Perth from Spain is scant. The facts are assured, but meanwhile details are anxiously awaited. Brown and Steele have both been married for a comparatively short time. Their respective wives are residing in the city. Indications are that the men will not be coming home for full convalescence.”
National Library of Scotland
Thomas Murray Papers
Thomas Murray, letters from Spain or concerning the Civil War, 1937-8.
Letters to Thomas Murray from Janet Murray, with one letter to Annie Murray, 1938. “my wife and comrade”
Letters from Annie Murray, nursing in Spain, to her family, 1936-9.
Letter from Annie Murray to Lily Murray 3 April 1937 “How is Perth? Your youth movements etc seem to be very active always. You are doing good work there.”
Letter from Annie Murray to Davie 9 June 1937 “I think the plain food agrees with me and we get plenty of it. Fruit in the form of oranges, peaches, cherries, pears and apples are to be had cheaply … the weather gets noticeably hotter as the weeks pass and it is now impossible to do anything in the early afternoon … yesterday we enjoyed a shower bath, that’s being the first time we have used hot water since entering this country … the Spanish people are very attractive and not to squalid as I expected. They are friendly and happy whenever they have the least excuse. The children are very pretty and the girls are ditto!” “ Jimmy, whose company we only had for one day, told me about some sort of trouble he had with his arm. I hope he is fully recovered by now.”
Letter from Annie and George Murray 18 September 1937 “We had Lily’s letters too and it seems that they have not had any definite word of Jimmy Moir yet. I am afraid he is lost for ever. His people will be very worried”.
Letter from Annie Murray to Lily Murray 10 October 1937 “Eddie Brown is still with us. He is able to go about and his leg is almost healed up. Eddie is doing some wonderful banners for decorating the patients recreation room. He is painting the most beautiful slogans on red cloth, they look very effective. Eddie is inclined to have an inferiority complex but everyone is making such a fuss of his work that he is becoming much brighter and feels he is of some real worth.” “It seems that nothing can be found out about Jimmy Moir. I am so sorry for his people and all his friends.”
Letters from George Murray in Spain, 1937-8.
Letter from George Murray to Lily Murray 24 May 1937 “The three of us, John, Eddie and myself are all here together now … The news here is a bit scarce, especially as regards British internal occurrences. The service is improving however as we get English news sometimes on Café wireless sets … Has Jimmy got over his disappointment”
Letter from George Murray to All 23 July 1937“Regarding big Jim M. I have no news at all.” “I wouldn’t mind a glimpse of Perth just now if only for the green colour of the Inches and hills that are bare and white for lack of water. Now I understand people who come from hot climates and marvel at the green landscape of Scotland.”
Letter from George Murray to Davie 9 August 1937 “How about Jimmy? I have not heard no word from or of him since I saw him for one day when he arrived in Spain. He has apparently heard about me, however, as he wrote to London and told them I had been wounded. Have you had any recent word of him?”
Letter from George Murray to Tom and Janet Moir 21 November 1937 “Has Lily spoken to the Moirs since they heard of Jimmy’s death? A fine, intelligent lad like him is a great loss. The Fascists have a lot to answer for and, believe me, they are going to answer.”
Letter from George Murray to Lily Murray 28 December 1937 “I am glad that Jimmy’s people have reacted as they have. Do you ever see his sister now? When I was in hospital I opened a letter addressed to Jimmy to see if the writer had any news of him. It was from his mother who was, she said ‘perplexed and hurt’ that he should fight in a war which could have nothing to do with him! She seems to have a very limited vision.”
Letters of various members of the Murray family concerning Spain, 1936-38. Letter from Lily Murray to Tom Murray 12 December 1936 “There is a Bye-election in the Town Council here due to Ex-Bailie Baxter’s death, so the Party are putting up Forbes.”
Letter from Lily Murray to Agnes Murray 8 January 1937 “Here, as in London and elsewhere, we have had a dreadful epidemic of ‘flu. In every household there are cases and in some the whole lot are down. The staff in the Office here is sadly depleted and in every shop, works etc in the town it is the same.”
Letter from Lily Murray to Margaret and all 6 March 1937 “Ida we are getting more and more into our way of thinking and I think we will soon have her ‘one of the fold’. They have had her to YCL meetings and J. Moir has also had his sister, who is progressing favourably!!” Correspondence from Lily Murray 9 June 1937 “I had another P.C. from Jim about 10 days ago. I wonder if he is across the border yet, and how George is faring.”Letter from Lily Murray to Agnes Murray 19 June 1937 “Well, the Moirs have at last heard from Jim who is safely in Spain and has met George and Eddie.”
Letter from Lily Murray to Tom and Jen 7 July 1937 “I also enclose letter which Jim Moir sent via Harry P.” “The weather has been ghastly – rain, rain, rain and as this is Perth Midsummer holiday week, it is also too bad for the poor souls who have looked forward so much to their well-earned vacation.”
Letter from Lily Murray to Tom Murray 6 October 1937 “There has been some news received through the Duchess of Atholl to the effect that they are given to understand that Jim Moir was taken prisoner along with eight comrades in July and Eddie Brown mentions in a letter to his wife that he understands that Jim was severely wounded before being captured.” “The Playhouse have refused to give us their place for our film for Spanish medical Aid although the Town Council had given us permission to run it.”
Letters of various persons, 1937-8, on the Spanish Civil War.
Letter from Eddie Brown 10 May 1937 Figueras to Friends “I expected to be shifted from here at any time and may run across R. Malcolm … George Murray is here too, so far we have never been separated. He is asking for all the Perth comrades and hopes they are working as hard as usual.”
Letter from Eddie Brown 17 May 1937 Albacete to Davie “Are you still visiting Whitefriars Street for your game of Ping-Pong? Are you still attending classes yet? How is everybody keeping in our circle. I suppose if they drank as much good beer as you they will be keeping OK, That’s the one thing I would like just now, a pint of beer. We cannot get beer out here. We were never Boozers, but we liked our pint … How is the Loud-Speaker doing. I hope it is taking a trick outside and you are getting the message across.”
Letter from Eddie Brown 18 June 1937 Albacete to Davie (Perth) “The heat is terrific, it’s a job trying to keep oneself cool. … I met a Dundee fellow. You might know him, Gilbin by name. He has been badly wounded but is on the way to recovery. The bullet passed through one side of his head and out the other. He is blind in one eye and can only open his mouth a wee bit. I think he will be home soon … How is things progressing in Perth? I hear you had to chase the Fascists again. I hope they got a good reception as the North Inch incident. You will excuse this scrawl as I am writing it in the dug-out and being pestered by flies.”
Letter from James Moir 15 June 1937 Albacete to Susan Murray
Soccorro Rojo Internacional
Plaza del Altazana
20 G.P. Albacete
15 June 37
It was exactly a month ago this morning that I landed on your doorstep and to celebrate the occasion it is fitting that I should write my good comrades in London a letter.
Perhaps you have heard that I met George and Eddie here, together with two other comrades I know by sight. Strangely enough, on the walls of the first house I entered in Spain, I saw their names scrawled and then I knew I was hot on their heels. However I’m still chasing after them yet, for they had to move off the next day. Eddie was not at all well when I saw him, was troubled with his stomach and had been in hospital for six days. His face had grown terribly thin. George was quite up to the mark, and I have never been feeling better in my life. The climate seems to be suiting me. Hope you are getting a little of the sun in London: perhaps you are even getting your holiday soon? What about coming out to Spain as a Tourist – the exchange is very favourable in London.
I find it very difficult to get material to write upon as I know absolutely nothing about the present military and political situation.
This afternoon I am going to the first of a series of First-Aid Lectures by the local army Doc. He is a great card and saw his first revolution in China in 1911. He stressed the importance of knowing how to stop bleeding. After the Teruel battles he said that 400 of the 2000 dead could have been saved had their comrades known how to apply a few simple field-dressings.
Last night I went with several of our chaps to the one and only cinema in the village. A Russian Talkie was being shown and not even the Spaniards could understand anything of it at all. The film was about four pieces and there were intervals of five minutes in which a new piece could be wound on. The news reel showed demonstrations in Barcelona and May Day in Paris and Moscow. Whenever Stalin appeared on the screen the Spaniards got and shouted Red slogans. It reminded me of the silent films of 10 years ago when the audience shouted advice to the hero when he was in danger, and cheered the downfall of the villain of the piece.
For the first time today I saw a Russian aeroplane in flight. It seemed to be of advanced design and had two engines which propelled it at a great speed. Chaps from the front say that our bombers are faster than the enemy fighters.
It seems as if I am getting near the end of the last page and have written a great deal about nothing at all. When I get back home I’ll try for a job with the Daily Mail or the Times.
There is just enough room left to say that I am looking forward to a letter from you in a few weeks time.
Give my greetings to all at 50 Fellows Road and carry on the Battle on the Home Front.
Letter from James Moir (address as above) Albacete to Susan Murray 50 Fellows Road Hampstead NW3 London
Harry Pollitt has arrived here suddenly and I am writing down a few lines for him to take back.
Have got no replys yet to any of my letters so don’t know if they have got home. I am OK here.
Pass this note on to Lily please.
Hope to get a note from you soon.
Letter from James Moir 6 July 1937 Albacete to Lily Murray
“Address as above
Have just received a letter from Eddie who is at the front. I was very glad when I saw the outside of the letter as it was the first I’ve received from anyone since I came out here.
I was upset at the contents but I am sure you will take the news bravely. Eddie writes that George has been wounded, and is in hospital now. You must not worry because I understand its just a bullet wound which the doctors will easily cure. I shall try and find out where George is, and go and see him if possible. You can trust me to do all I can for him, and I am writing to him this afternoon.
For five weeks I’ve been at the base and don’t know how much longer I’m going to stay. I’m in charge of the company now and will have to wait for it to move.
Please excuse me for not writing more.
P.S. Send your reply Registered and by AIR MAIL.”
Miscellaneous personal papers of Thomas Murray, including his discharge papers from the International Brigade.
Newspaper cuttings relating to the Murray family’s activities in Spain.
Perthshire Advertiser, 10 November 1937 “A Nurse in Spain Perthshire Girl’s Experience of Hospital Work Happy Despite Constant Strain Miss Annie C. Murray, once resident in Glenfarg and now a fully trained nurse from Edinburgh Infirmary, has been doing hospital work in Spain for the past year … Miss Murray, who is well-known in Perth, where her brother, Mr Tom Murray was formerly Temperance organiser.”
Unknown Location in Box 1
Letter from Lily Murray to Agnes Murray 28 October 1937 “I have just heard that the Moirs have got definite word that Jimmy was killed at Brunete 23rd July. Poor rave lad – he was one of the very best.”
Letter from Lily Murray to Agnes Murray 19 June 1937 “Well, the Moirs have at last heard from Jim who is safely in Spain and has met George and Eddie. Jim’s mother and father were overjoyed to get word from him.”
Letter from Lily Murray to Tom and Janet Murray 23 September 1937 “The Moirs have heard from Paynter that Jim was actually alive and well till the 23rd July; but on that day he disappeared and no trace whatever can they find of him though extensive enquiries have been and are being made.”
Letter 12 October 1937 “We have heard officially that Jim Moir was lost on the 23rd of July when a big offensive was on and the members of the Brigade were asked to retreat. Some dozen or twenty, however, had ran on ahead and could not be told in time with the result that they were either mowed down or captured. They say it was impossible to manage to get near their own dead or wounded on that occasion, so that they hold out really no hope of Jim’s being alive – except on the very, very frail chance of his being a prisoner.”
Letter from Violet Murray to Lily Murray 19 September 1937 – still uncertain as to the whereabouts of James Moir.
Profiles of three Scots who served in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Published 1987.
“Annie Murray Born in Aberdeenshire in 1906 but spent her girlhood in Perthshire.”
Lily Murray – 18 Marshall Place (General Buildings).
Davie – Perth political activist – affair with Mrs Eddie Brown “Mrs B. certainly put herself about to land Davie where he is now.” Ran off to London with Mrs Brown October 1937 as she was heavily pregnant by this stage.
2011 Released National Archive Secret Service Files:
Margaret (nee Tosh) Crichton formerly of MacDonald Park, Balbeggie Silverburn, Kirkmichael and Burrelton died at Glasgow Victoria Royal Infirmary 7 November 1985. An ex-Crieff District Nurse, Margaret Crichton served in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, probably as a nurse in a refugee camp or children’s unit as she is not mentioned in any International Brigade documents. British Secret Service documents (KV file ref. V.22 568c) list her as leaving the UK for Spain with a medical unit on 12 February 1937. She is mentioned in the Dundee Courier of 17 February 1937, which makes account of three British women arriving in Perpignan on the French-Spanish border with an ambulance unit organised by Sir George Young for the Spanish Government. The three nurses include a qualified nurse from Perth, Margaret Crichton. The London Gazette of 26 February 1943 (p. 973) notes her commission as Sister in Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service Reserve (awarded 4 January 1943). Her death is recorded in the Dundee Courier 11 November 1985 (p. 16) and 12 November 1985 (p.20). She is buried at Cargill Cemetery.
Additional Information April 2015:
Article Dundee Courier, 4 November 1938. ‘Perth Man, “Killed in Spain”, Is Home Safe and Sound”. Reunited with his wife and eight-year old child. James Gillespie of 4b Ruthven Place, Perth – formerly a well-know Junior footballer. Two years and three months in Spain. One of the first British members of the IB. Wounded on the Jarama Front, reported dead 12 February 1937. Eight months in hospital he sent letters but not got through. Bullet and shrapnel wounds – wounded three times seriously. ‘His narrowest escape was when a bullet entered his mouth and passed out behind his ear, in its passage fracturing his lower jaw. “I had opened my mouth to shout “Attack”, he said, “and never got the word out.” On the Jarama front, under fire, he carried a wounded comrade 3½ miles to a dressing station.’ And one point he recalls alongside 20 comrades being trapped behind enemy lines surrounded by hundreds of Moors. After 3½ they managed to sneak past the sleeping enemy. Former Black Watch soldier – seven years. Served on all fronts ‘and at one stage had the task of training American and Canadian recruits.’ ‘He was in both the relief and the fall of Teruel. he met and shook hands with General Miaja, the defender of Madrid; Dr Negrin, the Prime Minister; and the Duchess of Atholl. Gillespie maintains he is not a Communist but fought as an Anti-Fascist. A tall young man, he formerly played for St Leonard’s FC Perth. During the period he was in Spain his mother died in Perth.’
Occupation – Rigger. According to Secret Service Files he sailed Dover to Dunkirk on 31 December 1936. Wounded at Belchite September 1937.
Address: 25 Sligo Street, Lumphinanns, Fife.
Repatriation Date: 7 October 1938.
Served in British Anti-Tank Battery.
Ann Cargill Murray (Knight)
Born 10/4/1906, Newton of Tornaveen, Aberdeenshire. Family later moving to Perth. CPGB. Nurse. Sister of George and Tom who both fought in Spain. Volunteered to work in Spain throught the British Medical Aid Association. Arrived in Barcelona in September 1936, and was sent to work in the Primere Unidad Ingles Hospital in Granen near Huesca on the Aragon front. After a year she was moved to Huete and appointed head nurse. Annie also worked in Polenino turning a private house into a working hospital. In late May 1938 she was nursing on a hospital train just behind the front lines at the Ebro. Annie said of her time in Spain that is was the “most important thing in my life.” died 4/11/1996 RGASPI Moscow Archives, Fond: 545, Op: 6, Delo:
Born 2/08/1900, Newton of Tornaveen, Aberdeenshire. Enlistment Address: 6 Belgrove Place, Edinburgh, Lothian. Brother of George and Ann. ILP (1920) CPGB (1931) Edinburgh Labour Councillor. Recruited 12 volunteers and travelled to Spain arriving in january 1938. CPS (Spanish Communist Party.) Machine-Gun Company Political Commissar. MG Company Commander was Irishman Jack Nalty. Took part in the Republican Army’s Ebro offensive in July 1938, taking part in action’s at Hill 481 and Hill 666. Repatriated 9/9/1938. Known affectionately as ‘Machine-gun Murray’
Enlistment Address: 4b Ruthven Place, Perth. Married with one child. Age: 35. Former junior footballer with St Leonard’s FC. Served with Black Watch for seven years. Occupation: Rigger. Sailed Dover to Dunkirk 31/12/1936 (V15 445b) Wounded three times during his time in Spain, including during an action in the Jarama Valley. Wounded by shrapnel in the leg’s and Chest. A newspaper report (Dundee Courier 4/11/1938) also states that a bullet entered his mouth and passed out behind his ear, fracturing his jaw. Also in action at Teruel. Reported as being dead in error on 12/2/1937. Also and address at 25 Sligo Street, Lumphinnans, Fife. Served with the British Anti-Tank Battery (Battery formed in May 1937) Wounded at Belchite in September 1937. Almansa 1rst Aid? repatriated 7/10/1938. Battalion No. 423.
William Dieter Gilmour
Born 10/10/1903 at 71 Stewart Street, Milton, Glasgow. Enlistment Address: St Andrews Cottage, 21 James Street, Blairgowrie, Perth. also 25 Queen Street. CPGB. Age: 34. Occupation: Commercial Traveler/Salesman. Sailed Newhaven to Dieppe 23/1/1937. Arrived in Spain 27/1/1937. Enlisted in Battalion 30/1/1937. Member of No. 2 Company at Jarama. Machine-gun crew. Rank: Sergeant/Group leader. Treated at Benicasim Hospital to recover from fatigue (20 days) Demoted from Sergeant for refusing to carry out an order. Sent to a Labor Battalion 6/6/1937. Auto Park. (Transport). Awaiting repatriation on Health/Domestic grounds, arriving back at Newhaven 24/10/1937. Battalion No. 517. died 8/2/1972. Picture courtesy of Maria Perera. The above Information obtained from www.madeinperth.org, Mike Arnott and my own research.
2 Hunters Terrace, Perth. WW1 Veteran. Age: 37. CPGB (1934) Occupation; Unemployed labourer. Sailed Dover to Calais 13/2/1937. Arrived in Spain 24/2/1937. Fought with No.2 Company, Anglo-US 20th Battalion, 86th Brigade, Cordoba Front, April-May 1937. Arrived back in the UK 28/7/1937. Battalion No. 859. (V22 571a).
Edward Rae Brown
28 Whitefriars Street, Perth (also address at 11 Commercial St, Coupar Angus). Aged 31. Occupation: Painter. Arrived 10/05/1937. Enlisted with Battalion 13/05/1937. Served with British Anti-Tank Battery. Wounded at Brunete in July 1937. Returned to UK 07/12/1938. Perth Branch, National Society of Painters (joined in Edinburgh in 1927) RGASPI Moscow Archives, Fond: 545, Op: 6, Delo:
Enlisted from 47 Old Road, Huntley, Aberdeenshire. He was a painter, was wounded at Jarama on 27th Feb. 37 and ended up having an arm amputated. He died in 1960. Place of birth: Tenandry, Perthshire, (near Killiecrankie), on 17th April 1915.