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The Royal British Legion


Spanish Civil War - Detailed information
Compiled and Copyright © Dundee Trades Union Council 2005

The memorial contains the name of sixteen volunteers who died during the Spanish Civill War 1936-1939, all members of the British Battalion. The bronze plaque, located in a small garden area to the east of McManus Galleries in Albert Square, was unveiled on 23rd February 1975 in a ceremony led by Dundee International Brigade veteran Arthur Nicoll. It bears the names of the 16 Dundonians who died during the Spanish Civil War.

It also bears an inscription from the Russian writer Nikolai Ostrovsky: "Man's dearest possession is life. It is given to him but once, and he must live it so as to feel no torturing regrets for wasted years, never know the burning shame of a mean and petty past; so live that, dying, he might say: all my life, all my strength were given to the finest cause in all the world - the fight for the liberation of mankind." This quote has been attributed to both his play "The Storm" of 1860 and to another of his works "How the Steel was Tempered".

An error on the plaque lists John McHugh instead of his brother James, who was killed in the Battle of Gandesa in March 1938.

Tom Clarke, another Dundee veteran who was at the unveiling, claimed in Ian Macdougall's book "Voices from the Spanish Civil War" that there were 17 Dundonians who died in Spain, but we don't know who the other person might be.

A report of the unveiling appeared in the Dundee Courier on 24th February 1975. It was a Civic ceremony, but was boycotted by the "Unionist and Progressive" group on the Council.

Dundee Spansih Civil War Memorial - Dundee Memorial unveiling

Photograph Copyright © Dundee Trades Union Council 2005


Died July 16th 1937 at Brunete. 13 Benvie Road, Dundee. Railway Labourer with LNER. Left Dundee in May 1937. Single. Obituary in Dundee Courier; Sept 6th 1937.
Died Jan 12th 1937 at Las Rozas: Born Dundee, 1911. Living in London, working as a Gas Fitter, when he enlisted. Arrived in Spain on Dec 3rd 1936. Fought with the Saklatvalas (the first British unit formed in the civil war. Named after Shapurji Saklatvala, born in India and one of Britain’s first Communist Party members to become an MP in 1922) in the No 1 Company of the XIV Brigade at Lopera. Died, reportedly from wounds received on December 28th 1936, helping to prevent the Fascists from encircling Madrid. Recorded as from London on the main British Brigade website.
COX Matthew
Died March 1938 at Aragon.
Died March 1938 at Belchite.
McCABE Frank
Died August 1937 at Quinto.
McEWAN John ‘Patsy’
Died 1937 at 30 Todburn Lane, off King Street, Dundee. Family lived at 28 Milton Street. Juvenile Footballer with Dundee team Derby United, then a Junior with Osborne and Downfield. Timber Yard Worker with Bell & Sime Ltd and a Young Communist League member, his name appeared in a list of those killed in Spain in the Daily Worker in the Spring of 1937. However this was revised in the same paper of Sept 3rd 1937, page 3, stating that the names of John McEwan and James Donald (Methil) had been listed as killed in error and that both were alive. Last words to his mother were; “If I don’t go and fight Fascism, I’ll just have to wait and fight it here”. Obituary appeared in Dundee Courier; August 20th 1937 (with photo), conflicting with the report of his being alive printed two weeks later in the Daily Worker.
McGUIRE William

Died February 28th 1937 at Jarama. Left Dundee for Spain in January 1937 with Tom Clarke. YCL member. One of 3 Dundee brigaders honoured at a memorial meeting in the Foresters Hall on April 4th 1937 (along with Stalker and Tadden), reported in the Dundee Courier the following day.

William McGuire's death is recorded in the minute of the March 1937 Executive Committee meeting of Dundee Trades & Labour Council, proposing a minute silence be held at the next full Trades & Labour Council meeting, and that a letter of sympathy and condolence be sent to his mother. At the full Council, the minute silence is observed and the letter read to the delegates. This recognition is not shown to Stalker and Tadden, the other two Dundonians who were killed shortly before McGuire, implying that McGuire had a close relationship with Dundee T&LC, possibly as a delegate.

Died March 1938 at Gandesa. The plaque lists him mistakenly as John McHugh.
Died April 1937 at Jarama. 17 North Wellington Street, Dundee. Age 36. Unemployed. His wife of 7 years said he left for Spain on New Years Day 1937. Obituary in Dundee Courier; May 7th 1937.
Died March 1938 at Caspe.
Died March 1938 at Caspe.
NESS John Bruce
Died July 26th 1938, Ebro. 11 Robertson Street, Dundee. Age 33. Unemployed, single. Attended Glebelands School and served his apprenticeship as a mechanic at Larchfield Works, Walton Street (James Prain & Sons Ltd). Left for Spain in October 1937.Obituary (with photo) in Dundee Courier; August 27th 1938.
Died July 1937 at Brunete. Imperial War Museum document 'Lists of the Dead' dated August 8th 1937, Box 21/B/3L gives his address as c/o Lindsay, 116 Rosebank Street, Dundee.
SMITH Malcolm

Died August 19th 1938, Sierra Pandols. 157 South Road, Dundee. 27 years old. Pupil at Liff Road School. Baker who served his time with Martin Simpson of 141 Princes Street. Left for Spain on Sept 23rd 1937. Quote from Ian MacDougall's 'Voices from the Spanish Civil War' (Polygon, ISBN 0 948275 19 7), page 318; Tom Murray's memoir;

"It was a nasty situation. Well, I got up and here I found George Jackson lying stretched out. George came from Cowdenbeath and I think he was one of the recruits that I got to go with me when I went out there. Charlie McLeod of Aberdeen was lying with his head on George Jackson's chest. And Malcolm Smith of Dundee was lying about a yard or so away. All were dead by the blast of this anti-tank shell.  This event took place either on Hill 481 or Hill 666, Sierra Pandols above the Ebro River. Obituary (with photo) in Dundee Courier on Aug 27th 1938, but giving date killed as July 26th 1938."

STALKER Alexander Kenneth

Died Feb 12th 1937, Jarama. Was born in Dundee, son of Professor A. M. Stalker. Attended Dundee High School. Age 40 on enlisting in the Brigades in December 1936. He was an Engineer and Draughtsman who attended University College, London from where he went to Spain. He lived in the Balham/Putney area of London and is recorded as from London on the main British Brigade website. He was a member of the Associated Engineers & Shipbuilding Union. He served in the Army in the Great War and had worked in the Far East & India. Member of the CPGB. Went into action at Lopera in late December 1936 with the No 1 Company (Anglo /Irish) of the French XIV Brigade and later in January at Las Rozas. Returned to Albacete and joined up with the British Battalion of the XV Brigade.

Went to Jarama on Feb 12th 1937 as Political Commissar. Took command of the No 3 Company when its Commander Bill Briskey was killed. Kit Conway was another commander whose heroism at Jarama has been widely acknowledged. Following the deaths of some of his fellow officers, he commanded three separate companies at a particularly crucial juncture on February 12th 1937. It was on this day, soon after 12 noon, that he was fatally wounded. One of his comrades, James Prendergast, described his passing:

"I reach the hill-crest where Kit is directing fire. He is using a rifle himself and pausing every while to give instructions. Suddenly he shouts, his rifle spins out of his hand, and he falls back. He is placed on a blanket. No stretchers left now. His voice is broken with agony. 'Do your best boys, hold on.' Tears glisten in our eyes. Many are from other companies. But all remember Kit at Cordoba and Madrid. His gallant leadership then and today won them all. Kit is taken away. I see Ken Stalker. He is the only experienced man left. I run to him and he takes command. In the ambulance I meet Kit. He is in terrible agony and can talk little. 'How are the rest?' is his constant question. Next morning they told me our great leader was dead. Ken Stalker was killed soon afterwards, shot in the head later the same day, defending the Madrid-Valencia road."

Obituary in Dundee Courier; March 10th 1937. One of 3 Dundee brigaders honoured at a memorial meeting in the Foresters Hall on April 4th 1937, reported in the Dundee Courier the following day.

[Listed in some sources as William John TADDEN] Died Feb 27th 1937 at Jarama. Resident of 38 Elizabeth Street, Dundee. Aged 36. Served for 7 years in 1st Battalion, Black Watch including in India. Unemployed when he left for Spain. Obituary (with photo) in Dundee Courier; March 19th 1937. One of 3 Dundee brigaders honoured at a memorial meeting in the Foresters Hall on April 4th 1937, reported in the Dundee Courier the following day. Brother of William, Donald and Walter and Mary.


Some Useful Links

Wiki-Pedia; International Brigades
European Virtual History Project; Spanish Civil War
La Cucaracha Pictorial History of Spanish Civil War
British International Brigade Site
With the Reds in Andalusia
Bibliography on Spanish Civil War; IT Scotland
Spanish Civil War Posters
Basque Children's Colony, Montrose
Dundee TUC Website
Spanish Civil War; HowlingPixel
Spanish Civil War; American Writers & Poets

Last updated 27 October, 2022

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