Joe Gibbons
Letter about a mountain trip and death in the Spanish Civil War

Dec. 27, 1937
Near Teruel

Dearest Flo:

As I told you before, we are in a very mountainous region. To get to the town we are now in, we had to a march of 18 kilometres, that I will never forget. As I have always told you, the things that happen in a war far surpass the most vivid imagination, even of Hollywood. I wonder if you remember some of the scenes from the 'Bengal Lancer', of troops moving thru the mountain passes etc. Well, this was a thousand times more impressive and beautiful. We started out, over 1,000 men, 3 abreast into the mountains.

Soon the road began to clink a narrow way, until we had to go in single file. Can you imagine how that looked? High up in the mountain pass, with a full moon, rifles gleaming, packs and blankets on backs, silhouettes like that ahead of you, the tramp of feet, and far below a rushing mountain torrent.

I wished so much that you were there to take it all in, as you would have loved it all.

When a battalion takes a rest while on the march, it looks like it would be impossible to ever regain order. The men flop down everywhere, on rocks on the road, on rabble (there is very little grass in Spain), packs, blankets, rifles seem all mixed up. But in two minutes, when the order is given, everybody is in place, ready to move off.

This while trek was so beautiful that I did not even fell tired when it was over.

Well, darling, once again we are getting ready to do battle, and thus my thoughts turn more intensely to you and home. Wondering if…? Tell Lois and Joan that I am also thinking of them, and that I will be thinking of them too. That I will be consciously be saying, as the opportunity arises, that this a 'burst' for Nate and Lois, and another for Ed and Joan, and another for my brother. [His brother Tommy Gibbons died in Spain in 1937.] And so even the though the big debt is to the Spanish people, their loss has strengthened my heart, my mind, to do the utmost that I can to repay that debt in the fashion I am now trained to repay it in.

So dearest, be of good heart, and of there is an interruption of mail, as of this date, you will know that I will be sending messages of another sort and have not time or opportunity to write.


So far, I have come thru alright.