Extracts from the Northern Whig
The Northern Whig was a daily paper published in Belfast throughout the period. Articles from 1937 can be found here.
18th Spain Cut Off
Reuter learns that, owing to what are believed to be serious political
reasons, Spain is cut off from telephonic communication with the rest of the
The police continued their raids on Fascist centres in Barcelona last night.
They found in one place 30 pistols, 3 sub-machine guns, and a quantity of
ammunition, and arrested the owner.
In the prison at Lorida are 40 reputed Fascists, including several women, and
fears of a Fascist rising have now subsided. - Press Association Foreign
The Revolt in Spain
[to be inserted]
The Navy to the Rescue
[to be inserted]
It also carries a report of fighting in Barcelona "loyal troops, assisted by armed civilians, fought hand to hand with the rebels, who
This issue carried reports of priests being beheaded. A revolt in the Madrid army barracks was suppressed with 316 soldiers getting killed.
The Spanish Civil War
[to be inserted]
27th - 28th
The paper carried a number of reports from Northern Ireland people who had been out in Spain on holiday. They all got out safely.
"General Franco, the dashing young army leader" has crossed into Spain to launch a big attack.
There are reports from Colm O'Kiersey, a Dublin school teacher who mentions "communists, armed to the teeth, were to be seen
wearing priests birettas, he said, and making the signs as of blessing their comrades." These reports also go on to talk of graves being disturbed and
people using corpses as footballs.
France announces it's neutrality and there are reports of an Italian plane having crashed. There are 3 dead in the crash that occurred as they were transporting arms to the insurgents in Morocco. It was one of a squadron of planes.
4th Editorial Storm centre in Spain
[to be inserted] This edition mentions 200 left wing volunteers going to Spain from France.
Reports of government claims of success in Madrid despite the insurgents using troops from Morocco and Italians.
Powers and the Spanish War
[to be inserted]
There is a brief report of O'Duffy's plans to help the anti-government forces. O'Duffy: "I believe that there are thousands of young men here who could cheerfully answer the call to join the crusade - that the response would be worthy of the cause. It may be that our Government, in order to avoid international complications may be unable to give official sanction, but I trust no obstacle will be placed in the way of anyone who desires to volunteer his services."
11th A letter on p8.
The Spanish Government was elected by constitutional means.
It is neither Socialist nor Communist, it is Republican. Here the Roman clergy
support Republicans. Any rebellion against a properly elected Government
deserves to be condemned, though such a Government may not have a large
The outlawing of the IRA (approved by the Roman Church) is
justified because it is armed opposition to the Governments of the Irish Free
State and Northern Ireland. The loyalists in Spain are the government party; the
rebels are the Roman Church and the Fascists. It is amusing to hear the
wailing's of the Roman Archbishops and others. What did they do to help the
helpless Abyssians? Their churches were bombed; they were killed in thousands.
The Pope referred to Mussolini as 'that Man of God,' and the Italian people as
'that great and good people.' Masses of thanksgiving were offered in Italian
churches for victory in Abyssinna.
Personally I would rather live under a Communist Government
than under a Government led by corrupt ecclesiastics. Russia allows religious
liberty. Liberty for evangelical people in Italy and Spain is not yet free from
annoying restrictions. I commend Roman Catholicism and Freedom, by Dr.
Cadoux. Better still, a visit to those countries will teach British people what
a 'pearl of great price' is their liberty. I frankly hope the Spanish Government
will defeat the rebels, though I am neither a Socialist, nor Communist, not even
Chaos in Spain
[to be inserted]
Lively Belfast Meeting
[to be inserted] This is approx. 15 column inches reporting a meeting held by Peadar O'Donnell on Spain.
p9 Report of the Ancient Order of Hibernian parades of the 15th.
"The lessons of Spain. Mr. Dillon's warning against Dictatorships.
"Speaking at Buncrana, Mr. J Dillon, T.D., referred to conditions in Spain, and said there were many democrats who so hated the thought
of violence that they believed it to be their duty to say that under no
circumstances whatsoever would they employ force.
"Let us be clear on this," declared Mr. Dillon, "that if this doctrine be universally adopted, by those who believe in
democratic institutions, it is only a matter of time until every democracy in
the world is overthrown by the dictators from one side or the other, who are
always prepared to use force, or any other weapon with which they think they
will be able to achieve their ends."
"I therefore suggest to those who believe that the preservation of democracy is essential to the presence of individual and
religious liberty, to say rather that they repudiate emphatically the use of
force for the purpose of imposing their beliefs upon their neighbours, and that
they fix a Rubicon now on which that are prepared to stand and, if necessary, to
lay down their lives, if any attempt be made by the forces of tyranny to cross
it, and I think that Rubicon can best be defined in domestic politics as the
right of the democratically elected Government of the people to make and enforce
the law, and I international politics as a rule of international law in so far
as it has been universally accepted at any given time."
Rev. Dr. James Little, Castlereagh, speaking at Castleton Temperance Royal Black Preceptory, 814, held at Richview Presbyterian Church, 16th
August 1936, he said about Spain. "There they saw the harvest of the Papal
system, not only in bloodshed, but in the overthrown of all religion, the
destruction of civilisation, and the growth of Communism, which defied God and
cursed humanity." CC, 21.4.00. So in these 2 quotes we get the opposing
religious arguments about Spain. The protestant view that all the trouble lies
at the feet of the RC church, while the Catholics view it as a war to defend
19th Page 6 Editorial
Powers and the Spanish atrocities
[To be inserted.]
On page 7 there is a piece that alleges that the government has used tear gas.
22nd page 7
Ulster Socialists and Spain
Trying to organise special medical units.
"Northern Ireland Socialists have decided to follow up their vocal support of the Spanish workers by endeavouring to raise funds to organise medical units for service in Spain. This action was decided on at a meeting of the party last night, and the appeal for funds was opened by a contribution of £100 by the party.
Last night's meeting had before it a letter from the Spanish
Ambassador in London thanking the Socialist Party in Northern Ireland 'for their
expression of sympathy, which he will be pleased to convey to his Government and
for their willingness to organise a fund for Spanish workers.'
The following statement was issued by the party last night:
'The Socialist Party of Northern Ireland has decided to launch an appeal for the
provision of medical units for service in Spain. In making this gesture of
assistance to the Spanish government the Socialist Party requests subscriptions
from the members, and they have headed the appeal with a donation of £100. The
party welcomes and seeks co-operation from all bodies in Ireland who are willing
to assist in this humanitarian work and take part in its administration. A
guarantee will be given to all subscribers that the funds will e used solely for
A member of the party stated last night that offers of help
had already been received from many parts of Ireland. It is proposed at a later
date to hold a meeting to which representatives from organisations willing to
co-operate will be invited.
The units, it is understood, will be composed of 4 doctors, 4
nurses, and 4 first aid assistants."
24th page 8
Irish Brigade for Spain.
[Approx. 12 column inches, to be inserted.]
26th Page 7
Recruiting reported to be brisk in Dublin
"Recruiting was brisk in Dublin yesterday for the Irish Volunteers Brigade, which General O'Duffy announced he is organising to go to Spain to fight for General Franco's forces. There was a constant stream of both young and middle-aged men filling in application forms at the headquarters of the National Corporate Party in Pearse Street, while clerks were busily engaged dealing with a stack of applications received over the weekend.
General O'Duffy declared himself well pleased with the
progress of this scheme. 'We have suspended our activities as a corporate
party,' he said. 'We are concentrating all our organisation on the crusade work
In Dublin there is speculation as to the attitude the
Government may adopt. At the information bureau in Merrion Street no statement
was available for Press representatives, but it is well known that Mr. De Valera
and his Ministers have been giving close attention to this latest move of
general O'Duffy's, and official cognisance is likely to be taken of this effort
to organise a military expeditionary force, if and when it reaches serious
27th page 8
General O'Duffy's Brigade
5,000 men stated to have volunteered. "It was stated in Dublin yesterday that over 5,000 men had volunteered in connection with general O'Duffy's plan to send an Irish
brigade to assist the insurgents, the statement was made by the Secretary of the
National Corporate Party. No information was given at the office of the party
when officials were asked whether the Free State Government's non-intervention
decision regarding Spain would affect general O'Duffy's plan. Asked if the
volunteers would carry arms to Spain, the Secretary of the party replied, 'No',
adding, 'Possibly the insurgent leaders will supply them with arms in Spain.'
Asked how and when the first detachment would leave Ireland
he said he could not answer.
In reply to a question whether arrangements had been made for
the reception of the brigade in Spain, he stated that General O'Duffy was in
touch with the insurgents."
28th page 6 Editorial.
[To be inserted]
On page 8 there was a piece reporting on the experiences of Miss Molly McCann of Beragh, a nurse with a titled family in Spain for 2 years. She reported that nun's coffins were taken out of vaults and the covers removed.
29th Page 6 Editorial
British Socialists and Spain
Page 7 O'Duffy [approx. 12 inches] [Both pieces to be inserted.]
Page 3 Substantial report of the NILP conference, to be inserted.
Page 7 Speaking at Bandon, County Cork, general O'Duffy stated that he had "6,000 men ready to proceed to Spain."
Page 7 Reports of the Royal Black Preceptory demonstrations.
Sir William Allen, Sovereign Grand Master was speaking at
"The trouble in Spain was merely a repetition of the lessons of history, but in their own country there was no danger of such trouble as long as they remained true to the faith of their forefathers."
The Rev. James Tolland, District Chaplain of Belfast:
"Alluding to Spain, Sir Knight Tolland said that for centuries Spain had
been under the absolute control of the popes, and they had a fair chance of
turning it into a paradise, but the Popes had failed miserably. Societies, no
less than individuals, reaped as they had sown, and in the convulsions and
revolutions of the present time Rome was reaping the fruit of ages of
superstition and despotism. The Papacy at the moment was fighting a great
battle, it had already fought two battles, and was now engaged in a third. Its
first was with Empire, in which it was victorious; its second was with
Christianity, and it slaughtered the saints of God by the thousand. And now, the
third battle, the great war in Spain, as with Socialism, they say 'Communism.'
'Whence has come this new and destructive principle?' demanded the speaker. 'It was,' he answered, 'the natural issue of bondage in
which human minds had so long been retained; of the violence done to reason and
faith - for superstition was the twin of atheism.' "
[THERE ARE ADDITIONAL PIECES FROM THE 31st STILL TO ADDED, cc 25.4.00]
General O'Duffy is now devoting his energies to forming an Irish Brigade with
some Protestants of the north. He has repeatedly stated that his army was going
to fight in Spain.
He also claimed that some Irishmen in Great Britain have
promised to join his brigade. He must be aware that France, Germany, Italy and
other European Powers have declared their neutrality. In face of that decision,
how can England allow any of her subjects to join his army? I do not suppose
there will be any objection to his brigade engaging in ambulance work - the
nursing of the wounded of both Government and rebel armies.
In the event of the general meeting with any success in Spain
he probably hopes to return to Ireland as a hero. The Irish people love a hero,
and General O'Duffy knows it. By his success he will probably have the support
of many Catholics in Ireland who may be opposed to the existing political
parties. Ireland has suffered enough from a number of political parties, and a
new party would simply make confusion worse confounded.
I have just seen by the Irish papers that the Government is
opposed to the formation of a fighting brigade, and has adopted the policy of
the Great Powers. It has declared that the brigade is to devote itself
exclusively to ambulance work. Such work will have the sympathy and support of
the whole of Ireland.
William O'Malley, ex-M.P.
19 Lennox Gardens,
2-3rd - Various large pieces reporting on the war.
Report of infighting at the Non-Intervention Committee between the Soviet and Italian representatives.
Further report that "Madrid will fall tomorrow".
7th An editorial [insert]
9th:-Report of the capture of Boyd and McMahon includes photo of Boyd.
Belfastmen Captured by Insurgents - Spanish Efforts to ensure SAfety of AMbulance Voluntters
The two Belfast men who left with the Scottish medical unit
for Spain about two months ago have been captured by the insurgents near Madrid.
The capture has been confirmed by Reuter’s correspondent on
the Madrid front.
They are Frederick A. McMahon (25), 30, Ravenhill Street, and Joseph Boyd (29), 94, Ulsterville Gardens, both of whom are single.
Telegrams have been dispatched by Alderman Harry Midgley, MP, on behalf of the Northern Ireland Socialist Party, to Mr. Anthony Eden, the
Foreign Secretary, and prominent Labour politicians requesting them to ensure the safety of the two men.
According to a "Times " Telegram from Madrid there are large gaps and open places, wide stretches of no man’s land. Through one
of these, near Carabanchel Military Hospital, one of the Scottish ambulances was
lost. It was motoring along a road at speed and failed to see signs made by an
outpost. Militiamen saw it stop as an insurgent detachment showed them-selves
some distance ahead. Then, it is believed, in response to signs from the
insurgents, it went on, but appears to have been fired on. It stopped, and one
of the two men in it, whose names were F. McMahon and J. Boyd, were seen running
across a field.
No Official News
Up to the moment no official intimation tans been received from the Scottish medical unit as to capture of the two men. Alderman Midgley in
a telephonic communication with Sir Daniel Stevenson, who was prominently
connected with the organising work prior to the departure of the unit, received
confirmation of the report which had reached Belfast.
The unit was being looked after by the British Charge d’Affaires,
Mr. Ogilvie Forbes. A message to that effect was received two days ago and since
then there has been no word from the unit or the British Embassy in Spain.
As the remainder of the unit is reported to be safe mystery surrounds the capture of the two Belfastmen. The theory is that they had gone
out to aid the wounded and had been taken by surprise by the insurgents, who,
during their march on Madrid, had cut them off along with Government troops.
The mothers of both men are widows, one of whom, Mrs.McMahon, has not yet been informed of the capture of her son.
Postcard to mother
The news that Boyd had been captured was the first received of him by his mother and brother since November 2, when a postcard, marked "Censurada," arrived from Paris. It was dated October 23 and began with the words: ‘‘We are all well and eating good, and safe."
Boyd added that he knew very little of what was happening in the war, except what was going on in his own small sector. He complained that he had at received no letters from home for some time.
Mrs. Boyd told a Northern Whig reporter who had interviewed her at her home at 94, Ulsterville Gardens last night, that she and her other son, had been writing regularly to Joseph twice a week.
With no news coming from Spain since November 2, Mrs. Boyd had been growing more anxious concerning her son's safety every day. Last night a load seemed to have been lifted off the minds of both her and her son, who were hopeful that Joseph, as a British subject, would be safe in the hands of the insurgents.
Mrs. Boyd recalled that in a newspaper report published on
October 31 her son’s name had been given as a source of an interview
concerning an air raid at Gestafe. That was the last indication they had
received as to his whereabouts.
TEXT OF TELEGRAMS
To Foreign Secretary and Labour Party Leaders In addition to sending a message to the Foreign Office in London Alderman Midgley last night sent telegrams to Major Attlee, leader of the Labour Party in the British House of Commons; Dr. Christopher Addison, MP, one of the organisers of the London medical unit acting in Spain; and Sir Walter Citrine, general secretary of the British Trades Union Congress.
The text of the message was: "Two Belfastmen, Fred McMahon and Joe Boyd, serving with the Scottish medical unit in Spain, have been captured by Franco’s troops in the region of Madrid. Request you use influence and make every effort to ensure their personal safety."
Earlier in the evening Alderman Midgley was in touch with the industrial side of line T.U.C. at Transport House, London asking for their intercession on behalf of the two Belfastmen.
McMahon and Boyd in response to an appeal by the Irish Committee volunteered for service with the Scottish unit.
A censored letter received from one of the men by a friend in Belfast last week stated that they had reached Paris and would be stopping there for the night. The letter added that they were working very hard owing to at big offensive, and in two days had treated about 300 cases.
No undue alarm - Sir Daniel Stevenson's Statement Sir Daniel Stevenson, Chancellor of Glasgow University stated in Glasgow last night that no undue alarm was felt at the capture by insurgents at Carabanchel of the two men. "No one will do them any harm," said Sir Daniel. "They will be quite as safe on that side as on the other. I
have as yet received no communication about them."
McMahon is one of four members of time unit who had lucky escapes when it was heavily bombarded on the Parla front at the end of October, an ambulance being destroyed and another badly damaged. The unit with a personnel of nineteen, including at woman, left Glasgow for Madrid in September.
10th:- More on Boyd and McMahon
Refugees and Hostages: Sidelights on the Spanish War.
It is to be regretted that when many other nations, irrespective of political outlook, have united in praise of the work done by the British Navy in evacuating refugees from Spain, it should be suggested from the Opposition benches in the House of Commons that partiality has been shown in this humanitarian work. There is no justification for such a slur, even though it be implied in a Parliamentary question. The Foreign Secretary assured the House yesterday that the Government is anxious to do whatever is possible to help both sides, whether it be in the matter of refugees or hostages. The services rendered by the Navy - at considerable cost to the taxpayer - in
evacuating British and other nationals from Spain are much more extensive than
has been commonly supposed. Figures quoted by Lord Stanley, Parliamentary
Secretary to the Admiralty, show that for the purpose of evacuating refugees His
Majesty’s ships made no fewer than 220 voyages, covering an aggregate distance
of 75,000 miles, and that the number of persons who were thus enabled to leave
Spain was more than eleven thousand. This is a record of which not only the Navy
but all Britons may well be proud.
More recently, as the civil war has approached its apparent climax, the British Government has been active in another commendable effort to prevent indiscriminate slaughter and needless suffering. Neither the Government of Senor Caballero nor the insurgent authorities at Burgos have seen fit to agree to the British proposals for an exchange of hostages and their removal to a place of safety. In view of the reports of the shooting of hostages - some of them circumstantial, though admittedly difficult to check - Britain set a praiseworthy example to the rest of the world for its initiative and
perseverance. The plea has been put forward that the hostages are really enemies
whom it would be dangerous to release. There may be ground for this contention
in some cases, but there is sufficient evidence to show that it is by no means
of general application. There seems to be little likelihood of the British gesture producing the desired result. Nevertheless it will remain as a witness to the fact that Britain, though maintaining neutrality, has served the cause of humanity in a manner befitting on enlightened leader of the nations.
5 line report on Patrick Belton arriving in Lisbon on the 14th [A leader of the Irish Christian Front] before heading for Spain.
[Insert. Large piece inc. more on McMahon and Boyd]
"RECOGNISING" THE FRANCO GOVERNMENT.
After the repeated evidences of German and Italian sympathy with the insurgent forces in Spain, the news that Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini have announced their recognition at General Franco’s regime will cause no surprise. Throughout the Spanish crisis Germany and Italy have obviously acted in concert, constituting themselves godparents of the Franco Government almost before it was born. The reason is not far to seek. The European dictators are waging war on Communism, both inside and outside their borders. And not on Communism only. They despise democracies and are doing their best to set up the strongest possible barrier against the further spread of democratic ideas and institutions. They are anxious to secure themselves and the systems they represent against the challenge of a resurgent Left Wing or even liberal movement, and one of the ways in which, they believe, they can do this is by encouraging Fascist tendencies in other States. Latterly there have been
reports of a dramatic development of this policy in Russia where, it is alleged, Fascist intrigue and agitation have been rife. It this be true it is a significant example of carrying the war into the enemy’s camp. There is nothing inherently improbable in the suggestion that the Fascist Powers would like to undermine the Soviet systems in its chief stronghold. Certainly they welcome the insurgent onslaught on the Spanish Government, which, whatever its faults, owed its existence to popular election. The rival Administration set up in Burgos derives its power not from a mandate of the people but from the force of arms. The Madrid Government, under the menace of insurgent aircraft and artillery, was compelled to leave the capital, where the opposing armies are now fighting furiously. The resistance of Madrid has been more stubborn than General Franco expected, and the siege has gone on far beyond his original timetable.
The insurgents are slowly getting nearer the heart of the city, and though the
capture of Madrid may be further delayed its fall must be regarded as certain.
The Government forces may make a stand in other parts of the country, but it can
hardly affect the ultimate issue at the civil war.
It may be assumed that the British Government will not act precipitately in the matter of recognising the Burgos Government or its successor in Madrid. The considerations that prompted haste on the part of Germany and Italy do not apply to Britain, and therefore the proper course would be to await the organisation of an Administration that can speak in the name of the Spanish people as a whole. Sooner or later - and the sooner the better for Spain and for Europe - the work of reconstructing the political and economic life of Spain will have to be undertaken. When ordered conditions have been restored the question of diplomatic relations will almost settle itself. Some
anxiety has been expressed in Britain regarding the future at Gibraltar if a
Fascist Government should be permanently established in Spain. The question has
not escaped the notice of the Cabinet in its general survey of Mediterranean
policy, and new steps will almost certainly have to be taken to safeguard vital
British interests. The old idea that "the Rock" is impregnable belongs
to an era in which aerial warfare was unknown, and in which military strategy
was much less complex than it is to-day. It is extremely unlikely that even a
Fascist Government in Madrid would attempt to get Britain out of Gibraltar
unless it had the powerful backing of other States in the form of a military
alliance or understanding. Nevertheless the present position of the Spanish war
and the outlook for the near future illustrate the truth that a struggle in
which Britain has no direct concern may become of the first importance to its
Imperial interests. For the defence of those interests, if they should ever be
menaced, Britain must be prepared. There is much to be said for Sir Robert Horne’s
view that the aggressive and contemptuous attitude of certain foreign spokesmen
- towards Britain is due to their belief that British defences are weak, and
that the nation has not the spirit to assert and enforce its rights. It is for
the British Government and people to show that while they stand for world peace
and have no desire for aggression against any other nation, British security is
for them a matter of paramount concern. Weakness and insecurity go together.
Britain therefore must be strong enough to command the respect of other Powers
and to uphold its prestige against wanton challenge from any quarter.
Piece on 7 more Cork people going out to O'Duffy, includes Michael Cagney, from a leading Blueshirt family, whose brother was at an Italian military school.
21st More on McMahon and Boyd
Ulstermen Escape Death
Mistaken for Russians in Madrid War Zone - Prompt treatment of a Wounded Man saves their lives - Fighting less severe
Prince executed: another killed in air crash How the lives of two Belfast men, Mr. Frederick McMahon and Mr. Joseph A. Boyd, were saved by a Spanish insurgent who could speak English was revealed in dramatic fashion by Mr. McMahon when he and his colleague reached Lisbon yesterday.
Messrs. McMahon and Boyd, who were serving with the Scottish Ambulance Unit, were taken prisoners on November 8 when collecting wounded in "no man’s land" during the fierce fighting before Madrid. A man who was bleeding to death and whom Boyd promptly bandaged told the guards that McMahon and Boyd were not Russians but English Red Cross men.
They were released six days later following intervention by Mr. Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Secretary, and they are now waiting to hear whether they will be permitted to rejoin their unit or will have to return home.
Rain causes a lull. There was little activity in the fight for Madrid yesterday.
The Government forces are still holding the insurgents at bay. The lull is attributed to heavy rain. In Thursday’s bombardment 150 people were buried alive.
It was revealed yesterday that Prince Alonso of Orleans-Bourbon, 24-year-old son of the Infante Allonso, first cousin of ex-King Alfonso, was killed when fighting in the air force for the insurgents, and that Prince Alfonso of Bourbon, Marquis of Squilache, has been executed in the Model Prison in Madrid.
Senor Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, Spanish Fascist leader, and son of the late dictator of Spain, was executed at Alicante for complicity in the insurrection.
The full story of the capture and experiences in the hands of the insurgents of the two Belfast men was told by Mr. McMahon when the two men arrived here today.
"Our unit, composed of nine men and one woman, arrived at Madrid on October 1. We had worked all sections of the front from Toledo, and had attended 1,400 wounded, 1,000 of these being combatants and the remainder women and children.
"We were arrested when driving an ambulance in No Man’s land to collect wounded after a fierce engagement. We went too near the insurgent lines and they fired on us, puncturing our tyres.
We were unarmed, but were immediately surrounded and marched with our hands up to the insurgent lines. There was tremendous excitement, and we were convinced that our lives were about to end."
A Courteous Colonel
"Our escort roughly pushed us to the rear of the lines and ordered us to stand against a wall. We believed we were about to be executed. Our captors evidently mistook us for Russians, and as we could not speak Spanish and they did not understand English, it was impossible to make ourselves understood.
"Just at that moment a number of wounded men were brought in on stretchers. One man was bleeding to death, and Boyd promptly opened his kit and rapidly bandaged up the wound. The deed saved our lives. The wounded man spoke English well, and told our guards that we were not Russians but were English Red Cross men.
"After being thoroughly searched we were taken further behind the lines, where we were questioned by a courteous colonel through two interpreters. He asked us why we had gone to Madrid instead of Seville, and wanted us to give him information about the positions and strength of the government forces. This we refused to give."
Placed in Cell - Kindly treated by Fierce-looking Moors
"After the interrogation we were escorted to Toledo in the evening, hungry and tired. but were put into an underground cell without food, and left there until the next morning when we were taken to an hotel and again questioned.
"On coming out of the commander's room closely guarded we saw a man who looked English. We attempted to speak to him, but were pushed forward with bayonets touching our backs. Boyd shouted our names over his shoulder with the words, 'Please tell the consul to see us.'
" Our first meal since our capture was on the following morning (Tuesday), when some kind-hearted soldiers gave us some coffee through the bars of our prison. When later an escort of Moors came to fetch us we again thought we were going to be stood against a wall. Much to our relief, however, we were put in a car and driven to Salamanca."
Allowed to cable
"There we were asked whether we would be willing to work for the insurgents. We agreed on condition that we should be allowed to speak to the British Consul and to cable our chairman, Sir Daniel Stevenson. Our request to see the Consul was refused, but we were allowed to cable. We were kept in prison at Salamanca until the Friday, but were excellently treated. On Friday
night we were given the option of leaving Spain either through Portugal or
France, and we choose Portugal as the nearest way. We are now awaiting
Mr. McMahon added that they had been kindly assisted by the British Consul.
P8. Brief mention that 40 men had gone to join O'Duffy from Liverpool. They are quoted as saying "We will be back before Christmas." [echoes of WW1]
P6. Editorial on ban of arms exports to Spain [insert]. It includes the line, "For Britain non-intervention is the right policy."
P7. A 16-line report that the 40 members of the O'Duffy group had arrived in Lisbon.
P7. Brief mention of the differences among the Blueshirts in that Cronin was attempting to organise a rival brigade, creating "a possibility that there will be two distinct Irish 'brigades' fighting for the Spanish insurgents."
28th P6 Editorial
P8 Reports on the Dail debates over recognition and of 80 more, led by Col. Michael Coughlin of Cork, going out to join O'Duffy.
"General Franco, leader of the insurgents, has sent a message of thanks to the ICF". It further reports that Belton criticised the sending off troops to Spain.
There was a substantial piece supportive of non-intervention,
supported by this editorial.
Shipment of Arms to Spain
Logic and sentiment came into sharp conflict in the Westminster debate on the Bill prohibiting the carriage of munitions to Spain in British ships. Mr. Runciman, who moved the second reading, and Mr. Eden, the
Foreign Secretary, who replied to the critics, made out a case which, in its
essentials, was evaded by the Opposition. Most of those who hurled their
maledictions at the bill confessed or betrayed strong sympathy with the Spanish
Government forces. One of them frankly said: "I want them to win."
Another alleged that the aim of the Bill was to prevent munitions from Russia
from reaching Spain for use against the insurgents. Such considerations are
besides the mark. The Bill arises out of Britain's declared policy of
non-intervention in the Spanish civil war.
That policy was adopted not out of sympathy for one side or
the other, but as a means of localising the struggle. If the conflict had
extended beyond the borders of Spain most of the nations of Europe -
particularly Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia - might now have been at
war. Mr. Eden put the matter in a nutshell when he said: "This is the first
time in recent history that a civil war in Europe has become
a definite danger of becoming a European war. That being the justification of
our non-intervention policy, it is also the justification for this Bill."
What is the basis for this proposition?
Belfast Ambulance men back - Story of Capture and Imprisonment
Frederick McMahon, Ravenhill Street, and Joseph Boyd, Ulsterville Gardens, the two Belfast members of the Scottish ambulance unit who were captured by General Franco's troops at Carabanchel, near Madrid, arrived home yesterday from Lisbon.
In an interview they explained how when out to aid two men they were captured and added: "There was a temporary truce during our capture, for the loyalist troops ceased firing in case we would be hit."
They made no complaints regarding their Moorish guards and
told of numerous occasions on which they were interrogated before reaching
Toledo, where they were informed that they were to be released by order of
General Franco. During the three days they were prisoners all they had to eat
were scraps given to them by Franco's troops.
When in Spain they treated 1,400 wounded, 400 of them women
and children. The ambulance also helped hundreds of refugees out of the danger
It is McMahon's intention to return to Spain if possible.
P7 "General declines pay" a 15-line report that O'Duffy had been made "a major-general in the Spanish insurgent army - without pay". The decision to take no pay was O'Duffy's. This piece also mentions Sean Cunningham of Belfast serving as a company officer for the Franco forces.
Ranks Split - IRA extinct in Dublin
80 men of the Irish Republican Congress left Dublin last night to join some of their colleagues in the Spanish Government forces, and so may be opposed in battle to their countrymen, who are in the Blue Shirt forces fighting for General Franco.
The decision to send a force to Spain has caused a split among Republicans, and it can be said that for the first time since 1913 Dublin is without a secret military force opposed to the Government.
With the departure of the.... comes the information that the IRA has become extinct in Dublin since the capture of Maurice Towmey.
The men of the IRA have become incorporated in the Irish Citizen Army, which is a trade union organisation.
George Gilmore, a colleague of Frank Ryan, one of the founders of the republican Congress Party, has decided to withdraw from leadership and has condemned the sending of volunteers to fight with the Spanish Government. Ryan is at present in Spain. Michael Price, one of the founders of the Republican Congress, is stated to have carried with him a large body of men from the IRA and the Congress into the Irish Citizen Army.
There is also another small report on 170 O'Duffy supporters leaving Lisbon for Spain
This edition carries a large piece entitled, "O'Duffy Column leaves for front lines" and it mentions that the squad is called "Catholic Moors" by the Government militia.
There is a large piece on the war including the propaganda that the "celebration of Christmas has been banned throughout the territory controlled by the Spanish Government" while the insurgent troops are supplied with "huge quantities of food and drink" arriving at Avila on a "huge fleet of lorries". These details came from insurgent radio broadcasts.
Short piece reporting that Cronin had returned to Cork, having been blocked from entering Spain by O'Duffy.
Substantial reports on a clash between Germany and the Spanish Government following the seizure of a German boat. The reports also alleged that 5,000 priests had been killed by the Government.
Return to the start of the newspapers section
Read more Northern Whig articles from 1937
GO TO TOP OF PAGE