Dublin Boys – Amazing Escape

Chance remark saves one. The other thought goat was a fascist – and fired. Remarkable exploits.

Dublin Evening Mail, 5th October 1937, Valencia (by Mail) Tuesday.

Two young natives of Dublin, Patrick Cochrane and Patrick Blake, are, thanks to the luck of the Irish, convalescing in Valencia today after being wounded during the capture of Belchite a few weeks ago.

Both are members of the British Medical Unit which does ambulance work on the Spanish battle fronts, and both had a very narrow escape from death in Belchite. Fortunately they are now practically well again except for some scratches and scars.

This is the vivid story of their experiences as told to Reuter’s correspondent.

The night before the Insurgents in Belchite finally surrendered the two Patricks were in the town looking for an abandoned enemy lorries., ambulances or other motor vehicles which might be used, when an Insurgent standing in a nearby house hurled a hand grenade at the, The grenade dropped right between them, exploded and sprayed them with shrapnel. Cochrane was the more seriously injured and had a painful wound in the leg.

Empty House

Together they managed to get into an empty house nearby and Blake, who was able to walk while Cochrane was not, later elected to set out to get help for his comrade. Leaving his companion in the house he climbed over a wall, but in doing so fell a considerable distance into a deep hole on the other of the wall. Picking himself up he called to Paddy Cochrane but got no reply and so set off to see if he could find some of the Government soldiers.

Suddenly as he was crossing an open and unprotected space he spotted a line of soldiers moving in single file only a few yards from him and all carrying rifles.

Not sure whether they were Government men or the enemy, and unable to distinguish them clearly in the darkness, he lat still on the ground, hoping that they would pass. All the men but the last in the file went by without seeing him, but the last one caught sight of him and shouted, “Who are you?”

For several moments Patrick lay without answering and then the other soldiers, having joined their companion. He saw rifles being raised in the darkness.

“I thought I was going to get it, “he told Reuter. “They fired at me but the bullets went over my head. Then I shouted the name of the brigade to which I was attached, there being nothing else to do.

“Actually the men turned out to be Government soldiers, ceased firing and he accompanied them to a safer place than where we were.”

Meanwhile Cochrane was having his own troubles. “After Patrick left me, “ he said, “ I lay in the house with my revolver ready in case anyone should come at me through the front door. Suddenly I heard a noise to my rear and turning I challenged the intruder, first in English and then in Spanish for I thought that he might be one of the Fascist’s who were hidden in various houses.

“There was no reply, and I heard another noise and was conscious of something coming towards me in the darkness.

Only a goat

“I fired, and there was a thud of a body falling to the ground. I groped my way to put out my hand and get it. And what do you think it was? My Fascist intruder was nothing more than an old goat, who had taken refuge in the house and I had shot him dead as a door nail.”

Meanwhile a Government soldier who heard Paddy’s shot came to investigate, found the young Irishman and helped him to a place of safety.

Later Paddy was taken to hospital where shrapnel was removed from various parts of his body. But he still has a couple of pieces imbedded in his side, which are to be removed later on.

A full list of Irish medics in the SCW