Hywel Frances examines primary sources to explore the reasons that led many Welsh miners to volunteer for the International Brigades and thus to fight in the Spanish Civil War.
Welsh miners made up one of the largest contingents within the British Battalion of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Coming from the valleys all across South Wales, they brought with them a political tradition unique in Britain, with a in its combination of trade union militancy, radical extra-parliamentary activity and internationalism. Hywel Francis draws on a wide variety of contemporary sources to paint a vivid picture of the tumultuous politics of South Wales in the 1920s and 1930s -– the context for the decision made by so many to volunteer.
The book describes the process of volunteering, the militant role played by the Welsh volunteers, and the mass movements of political solidarity with Spain within Wales. It also includes many illustrations, and reproduces letters written by volunteers to their relatives and friends back in Wales.
This updated 2012 edition includes a new preface and a newly compiled complete list of all Welsh volunteers.
Preface to 2012 edition
Preface to 2004 edition
Foreword by Will Paynter
Preface to 1984 edition
1. Internationalism: a Welsh tradition?
2. Militants in a defeated coalfield
3. ‘Down with Hitler Justice!’ 1933-36
4. ‘Mosley’s travelling circus’
5. An intellectual’s war?
6. Spanish in Wales 1936-9
7. The Fed and the Spanish War
8. Volunteering: a party decision?
9. Crusaders and outcasts?
10. An army of comrades
11. Home to other fronts
12. A final irony
Letters from Welsh miners in Spain
Appendix: Welsh International Brigades Volunteers
‘A fascinating study … pays homage to Cambria rather than Catalonia, and memorably so’
Kenneth O Morgan, TLS
‘Succeeds brilliantly in restoring the humanity of his true subjects, the volunteers … men formed by their time and place who consciously chose to express their commitment to a cause in the bravest way possible.’
Dai Smith, Guardian
“Some books should be republished every 15 years or so in order that each generation can learn and draw inspiration from them.”
Rob Griffiths, Morning Star