Los otros internacionales.
Voluntarios extranjeros desconocidos en el Bando Nacional durante la Guerra Civil. by José Luis de Mesa. Ediciones Barbarroja. APDO. CORREOS 45.082 MADRID. ISBN 84-87446-24-8
LA BANDERA IRLANDESA
is a 30 pages chapter in above book, following Eoin O'Duffy Crusade in Spain, Seumas McKee I was a Franco Soldier
, and F. Mc Cullaghs In Francos Spain
as main sources. Also many Servicio Histórico Militar original documents.
[Note by Ciaran Crossey - I had forgotten to add that this is a rough translation by a Spanish associate - readers should be aware of this. The artilce gives a general indication of what was going on, but some of the spellings, names, etc. may be a bit erratic.
Following a short biography of O'Duffy as the Commander of the Independent Irish Police and the Army Comrades Association later National Guard, which were called the "Blue Shirts" and adopted the roman salute, JL Mesa goes through the different newspapers announcing Irish Green Shirts aid to Franco.
O'Duffy arrived to Pamplona, Spain 26th September 36, being welcome by the Junta de Guerra Carlista, and the following day he met General Mola in Burgos. But it wasn't before November that he convinced Franco signing an agreement at Salamanca as follows:
1. The Irish volunteers would sign as members of Banderas of the Tercio of the Legion Extranjera (Army of Africa).
2. Commanders would be Irish/spanish being both first commander and second in command fluent in english.
3. Also there would be spanish corporals and sergeants and even privates able to speak english.
4. Spanish members wold be extremely friendly and active catholic as yhey are both in a religious crusade.
5.Irish Banderas would operate together if possible, although might be split among columns and other wider units. It would be better if these units were not used against the separatist Nationalist Basque as they were catholic too.
6. If any professional army officer did volunteer his rank would be recognized. Seems that O'Duffy mentioned a 2nd HQ Army Staff Colonel.
7. Irish would have their own medical corps, chaplain and services
8.The expected forces to arrive would complete 8 Banderas (btn.) with 5000 men, although possibly this amount was to be increased.
9. A Spanish Officer would be in charge of paying private, nco, officers and special O'Duffy wages.
10 O'Duffy would be "General Inspector de las Banderas Irlandesas" as a Brigade General, with a mixed staff.
11. O'Duffy mentions also a time limit for campaign of up to six months.
By October the Dublin Bishop had already sent the amount of 1.5 million pesetas as aid to the Nationalist Army.
The Nationalist Army named Legión Lt. Noel Fitzpatrick as coordinator, who made several recommendations, and asked for some men as Brigada Enrique Katz who were bilingual.
On the paper the Irish bandera was to have 1 commander, 10 captains, 7 lieutenants., 14 Alfereces, 1 doctor, 53 sergeants, 1 weapons specialist, 2 corporals, and 590 volunteers. Weapons would be 463 rifles, 18 lmg, 8 medium mg, six 50mm mortars and two 81mm mortars.
Some interpreteurs were named sergeants as the spanish with Irish or British ancestors Charles William Hoke, Mulcham Sobraj, Walter Waller, Amaro and Antonio Duarte-Boydharvey, Adolfo Berthy, José Mascarenhas, Diego Azcona Granda, Juan Roca Lodo, Luis Morales Mejias, Lutgardo Macias Lopez, José Romero Muñoz, Jaime Juanal Danigno, and Curro Larios.
Officers were Commander Botana Rose, Lt., Noel Fitzpatrick, and Willian Neagle, Cavalry Ltnant. Jacobo Jordan de Urries, Alfereces P.J. Raventos, Pedro Bone, Alfonso Bustamante,and sergeant R. Martorell. As O'Duffy aide and liason officer Jose Fernandez de Villacencio y Crooke who was an aristocrat, and married to an Irish. The announcement was published in the Official Bulletin as "assignments to the catholic Banderas".
Meanwhile, O'Duffy men were enlisting and being sent to Spain by sea transport. First forces departured from Liverpool (UK) on the vessel Ladys Leister being the officers Commander Diarmuid O'Sullivan, Captain PJ Gallager, Quatermaster James Finnerty, former IRA member/Irish army/ British and US navy John F Mc Carthy ("jerry") , Captain David Torney, Captain Sean Garraham, and Sean B. Murphy, John C. Muldoon and Bernard J. Connolly. Argentina's newspaper "La nacion" mentioned a certain Carew, and that the vessel was the vanguard of 2000 men.
A week later a second group arrived. Among the officers: Colonel Patrick Dalton (who was commander of the Bandera), Captain Thomas Hyde, Commander Padraig Quinon (first leading a company and later the 2nd Bandera), Thomas Gunnig, Commander Sean Cunningham (commanded the mg company), Tom O'Riordan, Tom Smith (commanded the "B" company), Edward Murphy, Dennis Kelly,George Timlim and Peter Lawler all officers in Spain. Also James Clancy and Michael Cagney m.g. officers, a chaplain Father S. Gillian and Doctor Peter O'Higgins.
October 20 a couple of dozens volunteers arrived on the Avoceta vessel at Lisbon. The first flag given to the unit was emerald green with a red cross and the words "in hoc signo vinces". November 26 an Irish commander and 10 officers appeared in Caceres to create the Irish unit which was a surprise for the nationalist HQ. The following day a new vessel "Aguila" left Liverpool with 84 volunteers among them the officers: Charles Horgan, Thomas Cahill and Eamon Horan (all former IRA members) and chaplain Seamus Mulream and colonel Michael Coughilzagdt. By then there were 21 officers and 123 privates of Irish nationality.
A new vessel Dunn Aengus left Galway on December 15th. According the Argentinian "La prensa" newspaper there were "1000 men". Also Carlos Engel another SCW historian mentions that it was the Urundi vessel from Hamburg with 400 men. Following Peter Kemp, these men were only 650 and went to Vigo from Germany. Finally the forces were gathered at Salamanca where they parade under the Spanish royal flag, the Irish one, and the italian fascist and the german nazi one.
McKee mentions that they were sent to Caceres barracks December 22, being officially recorded as the 13 Bandera - later 15th-(Irish forces) with a Commander, 18 officers and 635 men. the unit had as support weapons two 77 mm. mine throwers. Uniform included the green shirt with an harp, lately changed by the blue green Tercio shirt still with the Irish national instrument. A new flag was awarded in green colour with a hound (wolf?)on it.
Command and ranks were: Major P. Dalton as "Jefe", "A" Co. Captain O'Sullivan, "B" Co. Captain Smith, "C" Co. Captain Quinon, and mg Co. to Captain Sean Cunnigham.
The Bandera had german instructors, who did not speak english, so Capt. O'Sullivan had to translate.This officer insisted that the national flag was saluted raising the hand (roman salute). At least one instructor Capt. Capablanca was Spanish.
During this training time there were several incidents as heavy drinking, fights and others. McKee mentions a big rumble against moorish troops using knifes and guns with a dead moor, being the Irish only fined. Other fights with spaniards resulted an arrest to a certain O'Dowell. Worth mention the private William Moran case who deserted, was arrested and was condemned to capital death, but as new volunteers were expected he was spared. Some British soldiers in the unit, Hugh Alapnourusos, M. Daniels, Jack Colley and Sergeant Mulchand Sobrajh were accused as spies, being the sergeant left without charges, and the other 3 expelled to Gibraltar.
Among the difficulties to handle the unit many authors mention the lack of proper officers as there are many doubts on the ranks self given by some of them, or were obtained along the Irish independence, but never in an ordnance army. Notwithstanding above, there were good officers as Walter Meade, Alferez Peter Lawler, and the Tercio Lt. Fitzpatrick (O'Duffy says his real name was Michael Skeffington Smith), and Nangle who had been at Sandhurst, India and in the French Foreign Legion.
Also to be mentioned Sgt. Joseph-Doyle C. Coy, and "C" Company Sgt. Joseph A. Cunningham who wrote a memoirs book.
February 15 1937 the unit was sent by train to Navalmoral de la Mata and later Valdemoro (Madrid area) and then walked to Ciempozuelos. Deployed, the "A" Co. notice that there are falangist forces towards them, although identified as Irish Bandera of the Tercio, both troops fired and there were some casualties in the unit, spanish and Irish (among the latter ltnant Hyde, and privates Dan Chute, and John Hoey...).
Being on duty in Ciempozuelos, they suffered some air bombing (known casualty: Tom Mc Mullen who lost a leg). As the unit occuppied a former moorish position which was in an unhealthy stus, many soldiers suffered illness, even Dalton himself. During this time the french origin Alferez Marcelo Gaya Delrue meets the unit writing in his memoirs "Combatre pour Madrid" that the Irish had a low discipline, and that having received whisky before an attack they began to shoot other nationalist troops. There are also references to alcohol problems among the Irish in General Cabanellas memoirs "La guerra de los mil días".
March 13th the unit is used against Titulcia, but is rejected with casualties due to fierce enemy fire. McKee says it finished with a general flee. Among casualties Sgt. Gabriel (aka Gab) Lee, and privates John Mc Sweeney, Bernard Horan, and Tom Foley, also wounded Sgt Lawlor, Corporal Donnelly, and privates Mick O'Connor, F. Gilbert, Tom Mc Grath and Mark Price. The medical services and the "Irish Christian Front" ambulance were mentioned (Bergin, Roche, Bophy, McGee, Mulvaney and Mc Closkey) for their brave attitude.
March 18th the unit deployed in La Marañosa heights, being an Irish company aggregated to the Carlist Tercio de Requetés El Alcazar.
There were new casualties (- John Noochs by accident), and up to 150 suffered diseases, some dying as Sgt. Tom Troy, and privates John Walsh, Eunan McDermott, and Thomas Doyle. Also died once evacuated to Ireland from disease caught in Spain John McGrath, Mat Barlow, Jack Cross, and E. Dwyer. The Irish medical services also included Colonel Doctor McCabe and nurses McGorisk and Mulvaney in Caceres Hospital.
A Depot Irish Company was created in Caceres under the command of Capt.
Patrick Hughes, being in charge of new volunteers (among them chaplain O'Daly in the 2nd Bandera, this unit never taking place).
Meanwhile the Irish government was hardly pressing to abort new recruiting and asked that minor 21 years old Irish were sent back (more than a hundred). Accordingly, some of those claimed by their parents are sent back to the rearguard: John O'Connor, William McMorran, William Fogarty, Joseph Rogers, and Christy O'Connalle, Joseph Doyle, Martin Kennella, Jeremiah Cassey, and Mathew Curtiss.
There were problems with discipline, alcoholism, and fights even among officers; O'Duffy had introduced censorship not allowing volunteers to write back home. All these circumstances introduced doubts in the nationalist HQ relating the feasibility of the Irish Bandera, and March 28 General Yagüe himself asked to disband it. Among many other facts he said that an Irish officer had fired against spanish officers Botana and Marques de Vallecerrato, that Captain Peter O'Higgins and unit chaplain didn't dare to go with the volunteers following a reprimand. The chaplain even asked to be assigned to another unit, and he was finally sent back home.
O'Duffy complained about the disbandment request and blamed the spanish officers, an specially the British members of the Bandera. Followinf a discussion between Yagüe an O'Duffy, the former dismissed O'Sullivan as commander of the Bandera, sending him to Caceres.
Finally the decision is taken, and the unit is disbanded. All the volunteers but nine decided to go back to Eire, which was done through train to Lisbon and then by the "Mozambique" vessel arriving to Dublin June 22 1937
Other material on the Bandera can be found here