Robert Doyle in Irish Freedom, Feb. 1944
The 12th of February is the anniversary of the great battle of Jarama of the Spanish War. At that time, seven years ago, the Spanish Republican Forces, with insufficient arms succeeded by almost super-human efforts in holding up the advance of the mechanised legionnaires of Franco converging on Madrid.
At this great moment in the history of en, the moment of impending climax in the world struggle against Fascism, let us recall to memory the names of those heroes who gave their lives in the early days of this gigantic struggle which started in Spain.
Ireland, as was expected, contributed its share. From the early days there was an Irish section led by Kit Conway, who was later killed at Cordoba. Others who gave their lives at Jarama were the Rev. M Hilliard, the 'Boxing Parson' form Killarney. He was the sole survivor of a party of four who held up the Fascist tanks during the retreat on February 14th. He died in hospital a few days later.
With him was Charles Donnelly who fell at Jarama on February 27th 1937. Twenty-six years old, he gave up a University career to fight in the ranks of the working class. He left an unfinished biography of James Connolly. Others who fell were Eamon McGrotty, University Graduate, William Henry, Belfast Socialist. Jack Nalty, Liam Tumilson, Belfast Communist, Hugh Bonar, Tirchonaill IRA veteran, Jim Foley and many others who realised that their struggle against Fascism was an extension of the Irish struggle against imperialism and for freedom.
Finally there was Frank Ryan who commanded the Irish section and who played a heroic part in the campaign - continuing his resistance even after capture by the Fascists. Let us remember this anniversary by renewing our demand for a straightforward answer to the whereabouts of this great Irish fighter.
What a contrast between that time, seven years ago, and today! Seven years ago these men went to Spain, knowing what the struggle meant. They got sympathy and support form a handful of friends at home. They died unmourned, except by their friends, because the Irish were deceived by the lies of the governing class and their press, who told them that those who fought for Franco were the Saviours of Christianity, and that those who fought against Fascist tyranny were against the Church.
Money was raised to equip these misguided remnants of O'Duffy's men who later learned to their horror, that Franco's Moors were murdering Catholics and destroying all symbols of the Church. They revolted and had to be sent home.
Dare these lies be told to the Irish people today? The people now see through the cloak of deception. The cry 'Death to Fascism' is now echoed by hundreds of millions throughout the world.
But in Ireland? Will those recently deceived by these propagandists of Franco be deceived anew by the more spicily presented propaganda of the Salazarian dictatorship under the guise of Vocationalism?
Irish Freedom note:
Robert Doyle joined the International Brigade in 1937 and served as a light machine gunner in Spain. He was captured with Frank Ryan on the Aragon Front on March 31st 1938. After spending eleven months in a Franco concentration camp, he was exchanged with others for Italians. He later joined the Merchant Navy at the outbreak of war and was recently invalided out as 'unfit for further service.'
More articles by/about Bob Doyle