Articles from the Northern Whig, 1937

To get NW articles from 1936

7th This edition carries a major report on page 7 about the USA ban on arms for Spain and a second report of disputes over German and Italian activities. On page 8 there is a note about "several hundred men", Irish volunteers waiting to embark for Spain from Waterford, for O'Duffy.

12th:- Belfast Men wounded in Madrid fighting

Page 7. "Information was received in Belfast last night that 2 of the 20 Belfast volunteers serving with the Government forces near Madrid have been wounded. No details as to their names and the extent of their injuries have yet been received.

Shortly before the news arrived in Belfast last night that 2 of the Belfast volunteers with the Government forces in Spain had been wounded, a party of volunteers left the city for the free State, where they will embark for Spain to fight for General Franco.

"It is not known how many men were in the party, as they travelled individually to Dublin, but it is understood that further batches will follow within the next week or so."

Page 8. There is a short report on appeals for home assistance for dependants of Franco's forces being differed at the South Cork Board of Public Assistance.

14th: -Page 8. The ICF sent an ambulance to Spain, blessed by the right Rev. FJ Wall, Bishop of Thasos. It is the first of 8 ordered by the ICF, built from voluntary subscriptions and it "bears on its side the words, 'Irelands gift to Spain.' "

15th:- A Letter


Lord Londonderry, in his speech at Newtownards on Tuesday, said: "I am quite sure that the presence of German and Italian soldiers in Spain is for the purpose of standing up against that flow of Communism which has swept over Europe and which is now endeavouring to make a Communistic outpost in Spain."

I, for one, entirely disagree with this statement. His Lordship thinks that if the German and Italian soldiers can prevent Spain from becoming a Communistic outpost they will have "rendered good service to Spain and the world."

Is his Lordship sure that the German and Italian soldiers are fighting to overthrow Communism in Spain? Many are convinced that they are being used to re-establish the Roman Catholic Church in Spain.

At the last election on February 16th the issues at stake were put clearly and distinctly before the Spanish people. What was the real issue at that election? Let us hear the evidence of a Spaniard born and brought up in Spain and thoroughly aquatinted with the Spanish people and Spanish history. Dr. Juan Orts Gonzales, who was in Spain during the last election, wrote the following words before the revolution broke out: - "In the national election held on February 16th, 1936, there were several issues of great importance, such as amnesty for those imprisoned for participation in the revolution of October 1933, replacement of workers dismissed because of connection or sympathy with the revolution; and so on. But the main and the real issue of the election was whether Spain wanted the laicism of the Constitution of the Republic, with all its implications, or the restoration of the Roman Catholic Church, with the consequent curtailment of freedom to all other religious confessions."

Roman Catholic Appeals

"During the campaign Gil Robles (RC) frequently appealed to his voters in these words: ‘Give me a majority in Congress and I will restore the political life of Spain to what it was before the establishment of the laicism of the Republic."

"The meaning of the pastorals of the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops was: 'Vote for those who wish to re-establish the Roman Catholic Church with her traditional privileges, and vote for those candidates who will support the teaching of the nuns and friars in schools and colleges.' "On the other side (for the Spanish Government), the Left-hand Republicans made this declaration; 'If you wish to have restored the Republic of the last two years, with absolute religious freedom and supreme control by the civil Government in public education, vote for us.'

"Now then, such being plainly the issue in the recent election, are we not justified in stating that by repudiating the Right Hand (RC) parties and giving such an overwhelming and significant majority to the Left hand, Spain has committed herself to absolute religious freedom? "The verdict is not that of a mere group of Marxists, Socialists, and Communists, but of the majority and better informed Spaniards. "And if such us clearly the verdict of the people the present Government has no other honest way out except to carry through the mandate of the nation." - Christian Irishman, October 1936.

These words from a born Spaniard should be read carefully. If German and Italian soldiers had stayed in their own countries the Spanish war would scarcely ever had arisen. The Spanish people were tired of Roman Catholicism and wanted freedom from Romish tyranny. I do not say the young Spanish Government was perfect in any way, but it is the legal and constitutional Government elected by and for the people, and at least should be given a chance.

Lord Londonderry stated that "there was no civil war in Spain. A so-called Government of Spain was not the Government set up by the united suffrage of the people. It represented only the minority of the people." Will Lord Londonderry give us the figures at the last election in Spain on February 16th?

Lady Londonderry, at the same meeting, made a strong plea for an educated democracy and for people to think in a reasoned way for themselves. This is exactly what the Spanish people have been trying to do - think for themselves. Having done so, they want freedom from an autocratic priesthood that has enslaved them for centuries.

Yours etc,
A Reader
County Down.

19th:- Letters

Mr. Campbell overlooks entirely the clear issue put before the people of Spain at the General Election in February 1936. He omits to take notice of the Roman Catholic appeal, what it was and what it meant. Dr Juan Orts Gonzales speaks with profound knowledge of the whole situation, and when he says that the Spanish Government was returned by an overwhelming majority he knows fully the facts of the case.

We all know that atrocities have been committed on both sides, and Mr. Campbell's outburst does not alter the fact that Spain has been almost ruined, and this ruin has taken place when the Roman Catholic Church was established by law and was in supreme control. A theological professor in Belfast visited Spain twice in 1934. He heard much about the burning of churches and was told that six convents and seven conventual buildings had been burnt to the ground. Here is what he says: - 'I took a day and went round these churches and conventual buildings. Several of them had indeed been looted, the furniture smashed, and the altars broken down and indecently or profanely treated. But only one of them showed any signs of fire.'

This is first hand evidence. In view of this direct evidence, Mr. Campbell's statement is left almost useless. The main thing for Mr. Campbell to realise is that Spain is ruined and that in this civil war Roman Catholics are killing Roman Catholics. Is this all that the Roman Church can do when she gets a free hand in any country - bring it almost to ruin? Further, the professor referred to came home just a fortnight afterwards. He received two letters from Spain. Here is the professor's own account:-

What Protestant Pastors Said.

"One is from Pastor X, a Protestant pastor in a town occupied by the insurgents: 'On a certain date in September a lieutenant of the insurgent army, with soldiers and lorries, came to the church, demanded the keys, carried out some of the furnishings of the church and put them on the lorries. They smashed up what they did not take away. Hey arrested me and told me that they would shot me in the morning if I did not flee. They have shot the Protestant pastor of Z. So my wife and I fled that night with not a single thing but the clothes we had on our back.

"The other letter is from a Protestant pastor in a town occupied by the Government forces. The writer says: - 'The Protestant services are being carried on here as usual.' (The Missionary Herald, November, 1936.)

This also is strong evidence to show that the Spanish Government is pledged to allow religious liberty for all." An eminent writer says: 'According to many observers the February election was the fairest ever held in Spain. Even Count Romances, the well-known monarchist, declared that the Government was perfectly legitimate and had the right to look for support to the masses. Viscount Churchill has also stated publicly the same thing.' (Christian Irishman, January 1937.) When the bloody Inquisition in Spain was set up it was the Roman Church that massacred and killed the Protestants. In this present struggle it is the Pope's own family that are destroying each other. The Spanish Government and the rebels were all brought up in the Roman Church. Mr. Campbell should carefully examine this aspect of the question.

Another fact also deserves attention, and that is of the 24,000,000 inhabitants of Spain it is stated that more of half of them could neither read nor write. Is it any wonder an oppressed people longed for deliverance?

Archbishop Temple's Words

The Archbishop of York, writing in the York Diocesan Leaflet said: "Efforts have been made to persuade us that the military rebels in Spain represent Christianity in its conflict with atheism. Of course, that is ridiculous. There was a constitutional Government in Spain, rather weak and ineffective, but legally established. The patriotic course would have been to rally to it and increase its authority, and especially to strengthen its control over its own turbulent extremists. Instead of this the military chiefs initiated an armed rebellion, thereby throwing the Government into the hands of the extreme factions. No result was from that time forward either possible or conceivable which is not purely disastrous. Either a Socialist faction, in which as a result of this rebellion anti-Christian forces are dominant, will impose a regime which multitudes will detest, or else the army will set up a dictatorship b alliance with a Church that has on the whole steadily resisted the development of popular education and will therefore owe its position of influence to the lawless exercise of armed force."

These are weighty words and Mr. Campbell should examine them carefully.

What Mr. Campbell must realise is that Spain was one of the most Roman Catholic countries in the world, and here is the result of Romanism. Romanism is Romanism, and Christianity is Christianity. The tow systems are as opposite as the poles. Romanism is largely a man-made religion and Christianity is the teaching of the new Testament. Spain has had three centuries of Romanism. England has had three centuries of Christianity. Which one would Mr. Campbell prefer?

What Spain wants and what she is entitled to is liberty to think for herself.

Spain has been for centuries brought up and fed on Romanism. Who will now be responsible for the massacred and slain in Spain? This is a vital question. Let Mr. Campbell go to the root of the matter and ask himself who is responsible for bringing Spain to such a sad and deplorable state. If he says the Communists, etc, well they were all brought up in Rome. If he says the rebels, well they say they are fighting for the Mother Church. That may be, but to fight for Christianity is a very different thing.

Mr. Campbell should be very careful and examine the facts before he bolsters up a system that has brought such ruin and desolation to the Spanish peninsula. Spain is the greatest object lesson in the world today of the complete failure of Romanism. Yours etc.

A Reader, Co. Down.

22nd:- Letter on p3.


Mr. Campbell made no attempt to answer the question, 'who will be responsible for the murdered and slain in Spain?' This is vital and deserves attention. According to Mr. Campbell the weighty statements of the Archbishop of York and the theological professor who know Spanish history from beginning to end, and who visited and lived in Spain for some time, count for little or nothing. He has also failed completely to quosh the stern fact that Spain is a ruined country and the Roman Catholic Church, which had a free rein for over three centuries, lies at the very heart of its ruin. Until Mr. Campbell realises this sad and vital aspect of the question it seems useless to continue the discussion.

Among so many wounded and dying in Spain at the present time could Mr. Campbell tell us anything about the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church in that land? The whole thing is too sad for words to explain.

Yours, etc,
A Reader, Co. Down."

23rd:- Editorial


However grave may have been the defects of the Spanish Government, which is now at death grips with its enemies, internal and external, it is impossible to escape the logic of much of President Azana's broadcast speech at Valencia. It is likewise impossible to view with anything but the deepest concern the transformation of the Spanish civil war into on international contest, waged ostensibly between the forces of Bolshevism and Fascism. The situation in Spain today is as ugly as it could possibly be, suggesting as it does the likelihood of its repetition in other countries whenever it suits the purpose of strong nations to fight their battles on the territory at the weak. The first fact to be noted is President Azana's declaration at war policy is that the present struggle is to be carried on, without compromise, to the bitter end. "The only way to stop the war," he said, " is to conquer the rebellion."

The revolt against the Government, as he pointed out, started in Morocco, and there is probably good ground for his argument that it would never have broken out if the insurgents had not received assurances of foreign support. Whether there had been any prior understanding between the Spanish Government and Soviet Russia, or any promise of Russian support with men or munitions in the event of an upheaval is a point on which the President was silent. He did, however, deny that the Government had "concluded a political compromise with anyone."

The precise meaning of this is not clear. It may have been intended as a rebuttal of allegations of a secret pact with Russia, or merely as a general assurance that the Government has not bartered away at Spain's political independence. That Spanish sovereignty has been compromised by General Franco is hardly us matter of controversy. In his campaign he is receiving help on a considerable scale from Germany and Italy - not from detachments of volunteers in the true sense of the term, but from the two Governments, who have pledged themselves to prevent the continuance in Spain of any Government tainted with Bolshevism. It in this official intervention on the part of the Fascist Powers that in the core of the Spanish war situation. President Azana puts the matter thus: ''We are confronted with a foreign invasion of Spain. What is at stake is not only a political regime but the independence of our country….Revolt against a Government is natural. What is unnatural is to facilitate the invasion of our country and to allow foreign armies to enter Spain." This is what the President means when he speaks of "the danger of the undeclared war " and the "rupture of the balance of the Western European system."

To admit the substantial truth of these comments does not imply condonation of much that the Spanish Government has done since it came into office. For whatever may be the strictly legal position created by the presence of foreign troops in Spain, it is incontrovertible that "respect for international law has been scandalously violated on Spanish territory." Britain, in collaboration with France, is continuing its efforts to undo, as far as possible, the mischief wrought by the flagrant breaches of the non-intervention pact. Many obstacles are being placed in the way of the British proposals for a six-Power ban on volunteers. The Powers that most eagerly desire to continue intervention are prolific in devices for wrecking the plan, and hopes for its success are already receding. While Britain has no desire to influence the people of Spain in their choice of Government, the maintenance of Spain's political independence and territorial integrity is a fundamental element in British policy. If, when the fighting has ceased, the Spanish Government should be the mere tool of any other Power, the sense of insecurity in Western Europe would be immensely increased. The chances of pacification on the Continent depend to no small extent on the establishment in Spain of a Government free from foreign influence and willing to play its part, as an independent entity, in any collective security system that the future may produce. President Azana declares that the Government of Spain, now functioning in Valencia, is fighting for "the rights of the Spanish people freely to dispose of their destiny." It is those rights which the presence of alien troops on Spanish soil assails. For that reason alone foreign intervention in the Spanish conflict is indefensible.

25th:- Page 8.

In a full column of news there is a point that Denis Coady, "a married man with a family" and Frank Edwards were killed. "Edwards was the central figure in a prominent public controversy some years ago. He was dismissed from the teaching staff of a well known college in Waterford run by a religious community, because of his attendance at a meeting of a Communist body in Dublin." [A premature report of his death!]

29th:- Page 9

Irishmen returning home

"Two Irish airmen, Messrs. HA McDaniel and J Colley arrived here today from Burgos and are leaving for England shortly.

They had been to Burgos with a view to joining the insurgent air force, but it is understood that they did not agree with the conditions offered by General Franco."

A Press association, Foreign Special, from Gibraltar, Thursday, [28.1.37]

29th:- Editorial


How many more Notes must be exchanged between Government and Government, how much more diplomatic manoeuvring must take place, before the flow of "volunteers" into Spain is stopped? Months hove gone by since this subtle form of foreign intervention began. The first small batches of real volunteers - individuals acting an their own initiative and responsibility, fired by partisan zeal or in quest of adventure - made little difference to the military situation and created no serious international problem. But their numbers were soon supplemented by trained troops, poured into Spain in thousands at the instance of Governments sympathetic to the insurgents. Simultaneously supplies of war material from foreign countries reached both belligerents. This situation continues, modified (or complicated) by naval activities around the Spanish coasts, with British, French, German and Italian warships maintaining a ceaseless watch on every development And the war drags on. General Franco's forces are still held up in their attack on Madrid, fighting is going on in the north and south, and the Valencia Government proclaims its determination to crush the revolt or perish in the attempt.

What now stands in the way of a general ban on volunteers by the six Powers concerned? The British proposal to five continental Governments that each should adopt prohibitory measures from a date to be agreed upon has produced a series of replies more or less sympathetic to this principle. But certain other points have been raised by Germany and Italy. They have proposed that the non-Spanish participants in the civil war, including political agitators, should be removed from Spain.

This raises a problem far more complex than the placing of a ban on further volunteers; indeed, it is difficult to see how such a scheme, even if agreed to in principle, could be carried out. It is not clear whether the German and Italian Governments will insist on the withdrawal of foreign fighters and agitators as a condition precedent to the imposition of a ban on further enlistment for service in Spain. If such an attitude were adopted it would destroy the whole plan that Britain has tried with such persistence to bring into effect. In a Note to the five Continental Powers the British Government expresses appreciation of the "measure of agreement" so far achieved, and agrees that the question of removing non-Spanish participants in the civil war from the country should be considered by the Non-Intervention Committee. The first task of the Committee at its next meeting will be to fix a date for the operation of the six-Power ban on volunteers. It is to be hoped that this will be treated as a separate and self-contained issue, and that when the date is determined the pact will be scrupulously observed all round. The way will then be cleared for the examination of other points affecting intervention - among them the supply of munitions, aeroplanes and other war material.

One scheme for "controlling" Spanish coasts and frontiers and preventing acts of foreign intervention is that Britain, France, Germany and Italy should collaborate in patrol work in Spanish waters. This, again, is a matter that has to be considered by the Non-Intervention Committee. A sub-committee is at present engaged on details of these and other plans, and specific proposals may be laid before the full Committee at an early date.

When Herr Hitler addresses the Reichstag tomorrow he will probably include the Spanish situation in his review of international problems. Those who profess to have their ears "close to the ground" in Berlin are convinced that there is no real change in German or Italian policy - General Goering's talks with Signor Mussolini are believed to have assured this.

In that event it is suggested, some way will have found of delaying for a further period the application of a ban on volunteers for Spain. On the other hand, Herr Hitler may devote himself primarily to a reiteration of his anti-Bolshevist policy, though he will preserve a discreet silence with reference to the alleged, German intrigues that have figured in the evidence given at the mass trial just concluded in Moscow. Herr Hitler's most effective card just now is the Bolshevist menace. It is a card that can be played with considerable effect in connection with the situation in Spain, and for this reason Herr Hitler will probably find the temptation irresistible.

February 3rd

A brief report on p8 about questions being asked in the House of Commons over free State volunteers for Spain. Basically the answer was that everyone will be notified of the role of the Non-Intervention Committee.

5th P8

O'Duffy's Brigade. Home Secretary again questioned.

"Mr. Wilfred Roberts (Labour, Cumberland North) in the Imperial House of Commons, yesterday asked the Home Secretary to state on what date he learnt that there was being organised within the Free State by General O'Duffy and expedition to fight against the government in Spain - whether and when he also learnt that appeals were being made in Ireland contrary to the Foreign Enlistment Act, 1870, as interpreted by her Majesty's Government in Great Britain - what steps he tool to prevent this expedition or any men in it using the territory or ports of Great Britain as a base for departure to Spain, and in particular were steps taken to prevent General O'Duffy and certain of his adherents from sailing from Liverpool?

"Sir John Simon said the Home Office had no previous information on the matters referred to in the first part of the question, As to the reminded, he referred the Member to a reply given to a similar question on January 21st.

"Sir Nairne Sandeman (Conservative, Middleton and Prestwich) asked what action was going to be taken to prevent folks from this island going out to help the Reds? Sir Ronald Ross (Unionist, Londonderry) asked whether there were other members of the IRA (showing impartiality if the Free State) fighting on the other side. There was no further reply."

8th There is a large report on pages 7-8 on the capture of Malaga by the rebels and a "Massacre in Streets". The paper also carries a full column report of the Catholic bishop's Lenten message, a denunciation of communism.

9th p10.

Approx. 12 inch story on attempts to stop volunteers going out to both sides.

10th A large report on the Franco advance which cut the Republican land in two pieces.

11th An editorial. To be inserted.

13th:- Editorial


Notwithstanding the absence of official endorsement, there is no reason to question the accuracy of the report that a thousand troops have been landed at Malaga from an Italian battleship, and that the men are to be used to help General Franco’s forces in the contemplated attack an Almeria.

This blatant form of intervention in the Spanish civil war is quite in keeping with the activities of foreign warships - believed to be Italian - which assisted the insurgents in their capture of Malaga after a combined attack by sea, land and air forces. The non-appearance of the Spanish warships dispatched to Malaga to engage the bombarding vessels was something of a mystery at the time. It is not to be supposed that they deliberately shirked an engagement. It is far more likely that as a Government statement suggested, they were cleverly manoeuvred away in another direction by Italian vessels acting as a cover for the attacking ships. However that may be, the use of Italian warships and troops in collaboration with General Franco is established beyond reasonable doubt. The assertion in Rome that Italian intervention is confined to the presence in Spain of ‘‘unofficial volunteers", impelled by an ‘‘ardent and adventurous" spirit, places too great a strain on the credulity of other peoples. The facts are too patent to be explained away in this airy fashion.

There is sufficient evidence to establish the fact that German troops have also been sent to Spain in considerable numbers, not as "unofficial volunteers" but as trained soldiers placed officially at their disposal of the insurgents. On the other hand, there has been no denial of the insurgent allegation that in the fighting of the last few days some of the guns captured from the Government forces were of Russian origin.

All this serves to drive home the lesson that no real attempt is being made to support the British and French Governments in their efforts to secure the application of a non-intervention agreement, with an effective system of control. The pro-Franco Powers are playing fast and loose with the Non-Intervention Committee. Their policy is to keep the Committee talking, or adjourning, or setting up new sub-committees for the purpose of wasting time, in the hope that action will be delayed until an insurgent victory in Spain is fully assured. It is now the turn of Portugal to play the procrastination card in this gigantic game of bluff. The Non-Intervention Committee finds itself unable to make any further progress with the formulation of a system of supervision because the necessary instructions have not been received by the Portuguese representatives from his Government. There is something pathetically heroic in the perseverance of British representative on the Non-Intervention Committee. It is no fault of theirs that Spain has become an international cockpit or that some of the Powers represented on the Committee are employing "double crossing" tactics. A genuine effort to secure international co-operation can always be thwarted by the duplicity of even two or three Powers. For this reason it becomes more and more unlikely every day that the Non-Intervention Committee can now achieve the object for which it was brought into bring. The scales are weighed too heavily against neutrality to make its realisation possible. The latest illustration of the fact is that the German Charge d'Affaires accredited to the insurgent Administration has just been appointed Ambassador. Thus has Herr Hitler re-emphasised Germany's recognition of General Franco.

The insurgent leader's immediate plan of campaign appears to be to capture Valencia, which as already been shelled from a warship, and to isolate Madrid in order to starve the city into surrender. The claim that the insurgent forces had actually cut the Madrid-Valencia road was premature. The attack on this vital line of communication, the loss of which would probably seal Madrid's fate, will be renewed and stubbornly resisted. It is here that the most sanguinary fighting is imminent. No quarter is being given or will be given on either side. Meanwhile intensified efforts are being made in Madrid to strengthen the defence of the city. The failure of the insurgents to capture Madrid by assault is one of the big surprises of the war, but if General Franco could definitely cut Madrid's "lifeline" and retain possession of the Valencia road the days of the capital's defenders would be numbered.


A report on page 7 states that the Non-Intervention Committee was banning all volunteers from the following weekend.

20th:- Page 7

carries a piece talking about a "last minute rush into Spain" by volunteers to beat the ban by the Non-Intervention Committee.

22nd Page 7:-

Report on "Madrid's Grim resolve" to fight to the death against the fascists.



Alderman Midgley on the Spanish War.

There was a large attendance at the City Y.M.C.A. Literary and Debating Society’s meeting last night to hear Alderman Harry Midgley, MP, on the history of the Spanish rebellion. Mr. J. Herbert Ireland presided. Alderman Midgley dealt with the history of the Government of Spain from 1931, and speaking of the Civil War said that 250,000 people had lost their lives. It was a war deliberately conducted to break the morale of the Spanish working people. The present Civil War was the bloodiest war of all time, and Franco was backed by grafters, bankers, and millionaires with vested interests. Hitler and Mussolini had carried the war on, and at the present time little children and women were being butchered - yet they claimed they were fighting for righteousness and Christianity.

Alderman Midgley claimed that when the Civil War broke out according to international law all the civilised Governments in the world who believed in collective security should have allowed the legitimate Government of Spain to purchase arms and equipment necessary to uphold their authority. But the democratic Governments refused this. Just as Britain failed four and a half-year’s ago in China and just as they betrayed the Abyssinians so now were they betraying the Spaniards. The present expenditure on arms was perhaps ultimately to be directed against Fascism, and yet they were allowing the Fascists to go ahead in Spain.

If Franco wins in Spain then Germany will receive the necessary raw materials, without which Germany cannot wage war," said Alderman Midgley. "Germany requires materials to wage war and she will have them if Franco wins." Germany, too, would get territory on which she would make naval bases on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.

In conclusion Alderman Midgley said that people with vested interests would rather "put up" with Franco than risk an advanced Left Wing Government established in Spain.


There is a report on the death of Thomas Hyde who was "one of the best known Blue Shirt leaders in County Cork and one of the first to volunteer for service in Spain."


Page 7 report of the Dail debate about prohibiting transport of volunteers and material to Spain. It was passed by 77 to 50. A protest by O'Duffy was read out.

March 4th

P7 "Toledo occupied: Dramatic News for Madrid" This was a 2-column piece detailing the occupation of Toledo by Franco's troops.


p7. A large piece on plans to enforce non-intervention.


A 2-column piece on the sinking of a Spanish steamboat. There is also the report of the ban on O'Donnell speaking, see other piece.

18th P9

2 column, banner headline, with this quote in there:

"This government will never be a Soviet. It is, and will remain, a democratic republic." So declared Senor del Vayo, the Spanish Foreign Minister, in an interview received by Reuters in London.

p10 2 column story, headline "Land and Sea Watch on the Frontiers of Spain", an account of debates over implementing non-intervention.


A substantial report on a defeat inflicted on the Italians, see attached editorial. Sizeable reports continued over this battle for 2 days.

31st 2 column, banner headline

At the bottom of these reports there is a small piece: "Irish Ambulances. Lisbon, Tuesday [30/3/37] Two fully equipped ambulances, with the inscription offered by Ireland to the Spanish nationalists painted on their bodies left Lisbon for Spain today." Reuter



An editorial on control of the sea passages. A 2-column story on p7, with a banner headline "Fierce Spanish Fighting", which continued onto p8.

5th - P7. "Scuffles at Dublin Meeting"

This piece reports that 10,000 attended an ICF meeting, called for the repression of communism in Ireland and for recognition of the Franco government. It also expressed dissatisfaction with the economic and social policies of de Valera.

There was a 2-minute silence for the dead of the Irish Brigade.

"There were frequent scuffles, though none of a particularly serious nature." "There were repeated interruptions from apparently organised bodies of young men, some of whom were moved by the police from the neighbourhood of the platform."

14th through to the 24th

Substantial reports on the blockade of Bilbao. On the 18th this included details about the Independent Labour Party plan to send a food ship to Bilbao. This would cost £40,000.

19th Page 7

These reports on plans to block supplies included the detail that the Independent Labour Party in Britain was planning to send a food-ship to Bilbao, at a cost of £40,000, despite the blockade.

20th Editorial


Now that the international scheme for the control of the Spanish ports has come into force it should be impossible - in theory - for any more war material to enter the country. It is necessary to say "in theory" because the history of the last few years is so thickly strewn with the debris of broken pacts that public faith in the permanence of new agreements has been severely shaken. Britain will keep watch on the north coast of Spain and on the south coast on either side of Gibraltar; France will be responsible for the northwest coast of Spain and for Spanish Morocco; Germany and Italy will keep observation on the eastern side of the peninsula. Under the control scheme ships about to enter Spanish parts will be required to pick up observers, whose duty it will be to ascertain whether arms or other forbidden material are being carried. The observers will have power to examine the cargo and to watch its unloading. But they will not have the right to prevent or forbid the landing of the cargo: their duty will be to report any breach of the Non-Intervention Agreement to the Control Committee in London. This is a circuitous arrangement which may involve long delays before it is possible to stop up any loophole that may be discovered. Such a weakness in the scheme may prove to be its undoing.

This is the more likely seeing that the Control Committee, on receiving a report from an observer, will not be able to initiate any direct action against the offending vessel, its captain or its owners. The agreed procedure is that in such circumstances the observer’s report shall be sent to the Government of the nation to which the ship belongs, and it will be for that Government to take appropriate measures to stop the contraband traffic. The control plan would have held out much greater promise of success if it had provided machinery for preventing the landing of war material, either by authorising observers to call upon the services of a warship of one of the participating Powers or by some alternative method equally effective. That efforts will be made to circumvent the observers there is little doubt. Control evasion will have its attractions (if not its victories) no less tempting than blockade running. Much will depend upon the spirit in which the Governments taking part in the control scheme carry out their respective tasks. If there is no duplicity the value of the plan will be apparent in a month or two. Both sides are in need of all the war material they can get, and the stoppage of supplies from abroad will be an important factor in shortening the war.

In regard to food supplies, of which so much has been heard in connection with the blockade of Bilbao, it does not appear that they come "within the meaning of" the term "war material." The British Government’s attitude towards the situation at Bilbao is based on the assertion that the approaches to the harbour have been mined by both sets of belligerents. Merchant shipping proceeding to that port will therefore do so at its own risk, seeing that naval protection will not be given inside Spanish territorial waters. Leaders of the Independent Labour Party, who are trying to raise £40,000 to purchase a ship for conveying food and medical supplies to Bilbao, declare that according to their information "the blockade is bluff."

This contention evidently lay behind some of the questions put to Ministers in the British House of Commons yesterday. From the replies of the Foreign Secretary and the President of the Board of Trade these facts emerged - that an intimation has been received from the Spanish insurgents that mining has been intensified in territorial waters in "certain parts of the bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean," and that four British vessels left Bilbao during the past week (presumably without damage). The insurgents may, of course, be bluffing, but it would be dangerous to rely upon such an assumption. Moreover the fact that four of our merchant ships left Bilbao is not conclusive evidence of the absence of mines in the vicinity. If the British government has decided to intervene in the Spanish war - a course which has not yet been advocated on Opposition benches - the question of the presence or absence of mines in Spanish territorial waters would soon be answered by sending a fleet of minesweepers to ensure a safe passage for our cargo vessels. But as long as the policy of non-intervention remains in force the Government is not legally entitled to carry on naval operations or to convoy merchant ships within the three miles territorial limit.

An English legal authority has publicly stated his view of the situation. No warship, he says, has the right in international law to carry out police measures within the territorial waters of another country. It follows, therefore, that "British, ships of war have no right to use force to protect their national shipping within territorial waters from any measures which may be taken by the Government, whether de facto or de jure, to whom the territorial waters belong.’ Applying this doctrine to the Spanish situation, it is clear that "H.M.S. Hood has no right to exercise force within the three-mile limit; but if any British ship should be injured the British Government can demand redress from the person who does the injurious act, and, if such redress be not made, can, if it be thought as a matter of policy wise, declare war upon the aggressor." All the talk about running up the white flag, and all the insinuations that the British Government is afraid of General Franco, are nonsense. There are only two courses open to the British Government - to maintain non-intervention and observe international law, or to abandon non-intervention and become the ally of one of the parties to the conflict. It is time that the British Government’s critics in Parliament ceased to sit on the fence. Sooner or later they must come down on one side or the other.

28th 2-column story

"Massacre from the air. German planes shower bombs on Guernica." "For over three hours high explosives and incendiary bombs were dropped on the town, many hundreds of people being killed and wounded. Churches were destroyed…"

29th Editorial


From the guarded nature of the replies given by Mr. Anthony Eden to Parliamentary questions on the Guernica massacre it would be foolish and unjust to infer that the British Government views with less abhorrence than every humane citizen the bombing of civilian communities in war areas. The circumstantial and well authenticated reports of the ruthless aerial attack on the ancient capital oh the Basque country leave no room for doubt that the motive behind it was indiscriminate slaughter and a savage determination to strike terror into the hearts of the entire population. The air raid, carried out by a large number of German machines forming part of the force commanded by General Franco, achieved no military objective. It was sheer barbarism. Incidentally, it revealed the lengths to which the insurgent commander is prepared to go, with German and Italian aid, in order to achieve a victory which is already many months overdue. An observation made at Westminster by the Foreign Secretary suggested that the bombing of open towns has been carried out by Spanish Government forces as well as by the insurgents. This gives added significance to his observation that "the Government deplores the bombardment of civilian populations, wherever it may occur and whoever may be responsible." If it be a fact that both sets of combatants have been guilty of this reprehensible practice, something more than a collective protest to General Franco and Herr Hitler - a course suggested by Mr. Attlee - is needed. Strong representations should be made to both sides by Britain and other Powers, acting together, in order to secure assurances that these "methods of frightfulness." shall cease. Only by international action can such a result be achieved. If the rival commanders are soldiers and not monsters it ought to be possible to exert such pressure of world opinion that the horrors of Guernica will not be repeated, however long the war may last. Some encouragement can be derived from the fact that at an earlier stage of the conflict an undertaking was secured from the leaders of the Government and insurgent forces that they would not resort to the use of gas. That pledge, so far, has been kept. Unless, by combined action, the rival commanders can be induced to abandon the policy of bombarding open towns and slaying helpless men, women, and children without compunction and without pity, Spain may yet witness a dreadful competition in cold-blooded massacre that will arouse the indignation and resentment of the whole world.

Apart from the Guernica atrocity, for which there was even less cause than for the hideous affair in Addis Ababa, the plight of the Basque Government forces becomes increasingly desperate. The loss of Durango and Eibar, which have been captured by the insurgents was a severe blow, and General Franco’s troops will utilise their victory as the basis of a crucial attack on Bilbao. It is now evident that the attempt to starve out Bilbao by a naval blockade has failed. Unless the insurgents can make their plan effective by further mining or by a concentration of war-ships, they will have to acknowledge that a few mercantile captains with sufficient courage and resource to runt the blockade have made them look ridiculous. The efforts that are being made to convict the British Navy of a breach of neutrality in the operations off the northern coast of Spain iron tire puerile. The captains of the British war vessels engaged in protecting merchant shipping have acted throughout in conformity with international law, and they have refused to be bluffed by insurgent commanders into conceding a six miles territorial limit. In Britain’s adherence to a policy of strict non-intervention there has been no "wobbling." The principle itself is clear-cut, and its application has been consistent from the beginning. When the time comes to view the Spanish war in retrospect it will be seen that British policy has been honourable and firm, and that it has saved Europe from an ordeal far more terrible than that through which Spain is now passing.


1st Editorial

Evacuating Spanish Refugees

Bilbao’s hour of crisis is evidently at hand. The Basque forces on the Bilbao front are all but defenceless against such intensive air bombardment as was carried out by Germans at Guernica, though the sinking of the battleship Espana disproves the report that the Government is altogether without aircraft in the north. The insurgents are pressing steadily on towards Bilbao, and, in view of General Mola’s threat to raze the town to the ground failing its surrender, a reproduction of the Guernica massacre is riot unlikely. A large-scale air raid on Bilbao as a preparation for the entry of the rebel forces would probably mean the almost immediate fall of the town and the collapse of the Basque resistance. Plans are already being made for evacuating non-combatants - women children and old people - and the assistance of the British Navy is being sought by the Basque Government.

The statement made a day or two ago that the Navy was ready to co-operate in this task may have been slightly in advance of the event, but it is now learned that the British Government is prepared to give naval protection outside territorial waters to ships carrying refugees. In England a voluntary committee is making arrangements to receive a limited number of Basque children from Bilbao and to maintain them out of privately subscribed funds until conditions in Spain are sufficiently settled to permit of their repatriation. Subject to these conditions Sir John Simon, the Home Secretary, has given his sanction to the plan, which will have its counter part in France and Belgium. Amid the horrors and brutalities of war humanitarian work of this kind stands out in bold and noble relief, It is a reminder that while war may turn men into wild beasts - the atrocities of the Spanish war being witness - it can also evoke acts of heroism, mercy and self-sacrifice. These cannot obliterate the evil consequences of war, most of which are irremediable, but they can at least mitigate suffering and give a measure of protection to the innocent and helpless.

Separately from the editorial there was other reports carried of a rebel ship getting sunk.

4th Editorial


Public opinion will be solidly behind the British Government in its intention to co-operate in. evacuating non-combatants from Bilbao in spite of the hostile altitude taken up by General Franco. There was a time when even war was carried on (except by the most savage and barbaric tribes) with some regard for humanitarian conventions. To fire on the Red Cross, to launch murderous at tacks on defenceless populations, amid to obstruct the withdrawal of non-combatants from battle areas were looked upon as criminal acts of which no civilised commander would be guilty. Nowadays all these things are done in a pursuance of a policy of terrorism, and in accordance with the vicious principle that "war knows no law." This is the mentality of General Franco, as revealed in the reply of the insurgent authorities to the Note communicating the British Government’s intentions regarding the evacuation of civilians from Bilbao. While the reply recognises Britain’s humanitarian and impartial attitude, General Franco puts forward the fantastic objection that the evacuation plan is "a ruse of the Russians commanding in Bilbao," who wish to get rid of the non-combatant population so that they can "destroy national wealth" in that and other towns. The allegation apparently is that the defenders of Bilbao wish to have a freer hand to destroy the city rather than abandon it to the insurgents. Curiously enough, that very threat has been used by an insurgent commander as a means of hastening the town’s surrender.

The British Government is neither impressed by General Franco’s plea nor deterred try his assertion that ‘‘the safety of operations in the port cannot be guaranteed, in view of the necessity of taking air action against traffic there and the military objectives." Not withstanding this warning - if it be not a veiled threat of aerial attack on ships carrying refugees-the arrangements for evacuation are going forward, and the British Government stands by its decision to give naval protection on the high seas to ships co-operating in the work. The women, children and old people who are about to leave Bilbao under friendly protection are not likely to prefer General Franco’s alternative offer of a place of refuge in territory occupied by the insurgents.

Mr. Eden’s statement on the matter in the House of Commons confirms previous assurances that the evacuation scheme will apply to persons of all political creeds. The British Consul in Bilbao will keep in close touch with the arrangements, and will thus be able to see that impartiality, is "strictly observed in the spirit and the letter." General Franco’s attempt to deflect the British Government from its decision, which is in strict accord with its attitude of neutrality towards the Spanish conflict, has failed. A piece of bluff of the weakest kind has been promptly called.

Recent activity on the Basque front has largely overshadowed the operations near Madrid, which, according to the insurgents’ original timetable, ought to have fallen months ago. If Bilbao should be captured and the Basque resistance crushed, General Franco will have rid himself of an extremely troublesome "war within a war." From the Government point of view the situation is grave, if not desperate. Much may depend on the extent to which the insurgents resort to intensive air bombardment such as that which destroyed Guernica and massacred so many of its inhabitants. The concentration of British and French warships off the north coast of Spain suggests that the fall of Bilbao is expected at any time. If the amount of merchant shipping in the port is sufficient to cope with the exodus of refugees, their temporary transfer to Britain, France and Belgium will present little difficulty. But it is feared that the number of vessels in time harbour is far from sufficient. If this should be so, the women, children and aged people who are about to flee from their homes will inevitably be subjected to much hardship and suffering. Some of them may even share the fate of their unhappy compatriots who perished at Guernica.

The fate of Bilbao may be sealed within the next few days. What ever may lie the course of events there, the British people will have the satisfaction of knowing that their Government has done everything possible to mitigate the worst horrors of a ruthless war and to give protection to some of its helpless victims.

5th - 7th

Headline on the 5th. "Anarchist ‘coup’ in Barcelona" A report on the developments in Barcelona. This story was also mentioned in the next few days. On the 7th the NW said that Britain was demanding an enquiry into the bombing of Guernica.

14th A large report on the damage inflicted on the Hunter, a British naval destroyer.

15th More reports and an editorial, to be inserted, about the damage to the Hunter.

18th- 21st Reports of severe bombing of the Basque defences at Lemona and Amorebieta.


1st:- Page 7. A major piece on the German response to the attach on the ship, the Deutschland. There had been agitation between the Spanish government forces and the Germans since the 24th because of the threats to execute 2 German pilots. Almeria was bombed, 19 dead, 89 wounded.

Various substantial reports were carried in the next two weeks, but no references to Irish involvement.

14th Page 7-8.

A report on 630 leaving for Dublin from Lisbon, "presumably members of General O'Duffy's Irish Brigade who went to Spain to assist General Franco."

17th report of the encirclement of Bilbao.

19th Page 7. Carries an appeal to "Abstain from destroying Open towns" There is another piece on the arrest of "200 agents of Franco in Madrid. They worked in close co-operation with the leaders of the POUM." [BT quoting someone]

21st Bilbao is occupied.

28th Page 8 Report

"Irishwoman killed in Bilbao - Murdered by red Militia, say Insurgents."

"Mrs. Brebie Boland Lyons, a native of Youghal (Co. Cork) was killed in Bilbao on June 16th, Reuter learns from insurgent sources in London. It is alleged that she was murdered by the Red militia with members of a Spanish family to which she had been governess when the city was evacuated in the face of General Franco's advance. Mrs. Boland Lyons was 57.

"The following account of her death is contained in an official report from Salamanca:

The dead woman lied in 8 Muelle las Arenas, near Bilbao. She was protected during the revolution under the English flag. She had been governess to the family of the Count of Zubiria. When the revolution began on July 18 last the Zubiria family took refuge in this lady's house. On June 16, when the transporter bridge across the Nervion was blown up, everyone had to leave her home and go back to the Zubiria family's home.

The Red militia arrested them all, and expressed their satisfaction at knowing they were the Zubiria family.

Mrs. Boland Lyons informed them that she was British, but in spite of this she suffered the same fate as her companions, being murdered on the same staircase, in spite of her repeated protests of her British nationality.

She showed her passport and stated her wish to leave for England. - Reuter."


2nd Page 6

Editorial Non-Intervention on its deathbed.

[To be inserted]

This editorial is supported by a 2 column, full-page piece on Britain and France standing firm on non-intervention.


There is a reference to Manny Shinwell speaking at a Belfast meeting. Sir Joseph McConnell, Bart, MP, said that "all he had to say to Mr. Shinwell was that of he came over to lay a magpie's egg in the Ulster nest it would be the egg that would be kicked out and not the occupants of the nest." This comment was made at the unveiling of a new banner for Hillhall Golden Star Royal Black Preceptory No. 1074 in Lisburn Orange Hall.

13th:- Page 8 A reference is made by Brother Rev. John Glass, Deputy Grand Chaplain speaking to the Newcastle, County Down, 12th of July Orange Order demonstration. "He referred to the raising of a fund in the Free State for the building of Roman Catholic chapels which was taken by General Franco to purchase armaments to mow down the Basques, who were Roman Catholics."

Page 14. Speaking at Banbridge, the Dean of Belfast said:

"Romanism has to find freedom for its existence among the protestant nations. There it enjoys the privileges denied it in the countries that through the centuries it had supreme control of. Why cannot our Roman friends see that Protestantism is necessary to their being allowed to practice their religion? If there had been flourishing Orange Lodges and 12th July demonstrations in Spain and Mexico the horrible anti-religious slaughter and destruction would not have taken place."


Page 3 A report on the Corbetas, a Spanish steamship lying in the York dock, Belfast. The Compania Naviera Vascom Ganda, of Bilbao, is claiming it back after the Basque Government had nationalised it. The boat was 'arrested' by Mr. W H Niall Nelson, on behalf of the Admiralty Marshall until the issue is resolved.

19th Page 8 carries a large report on the celebrations held in Nationalist Spain to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the insurgent revolt.

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