Spanish Civil War records released to mark 75th anniversary
Records revealing the full extent of British involvement in the Spanish Civil War have been put online today by The National Archives to mark the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
They show that more volunteers than previously thought may have left Britain with the aim of joining the International Brigades fighting in Spain.
Despite the British government's official policy of non-intervention, thousands of men and women were inspired by their political beliefs to defend the Second Spanish Republic against a military uprising.
The Security Service (KV) files, which are available online today, list the names of more than 4,000 volunteers who left Britain on the way to the frontline in Spain as well as a roll of honour of those killed in action. They were among the first of their generation to take up arms in the fight against Fascism.
'In defence of democracy'
James Cronan, Diplomatic and Colonial Records Specialist at The National Archives, said: 'The International Brigades brought volunteers together from all over the world in defence of democracy, but few if any records exist of their service. That's why uncovering a document like this is so exciting.'
The 200-page list provides researchers and historians with a valuable new resource. It is a good starting point for anyone wishing to find out whether a relative fought in Spain and contains names and dates of the men and women who left British ports on the way to the frontline in Spain. The annotated list includes entries for the poet John Cornford, union leader Jack Jones and Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, whose book Homage to Catalonia detailed his experience of fighting in Spain.
A selection of index cards have also been digitised and put online for notable volunteers including the classicist Bernard Knox and Irish Brigade leader Frank Ryan as well as recently-deceased veterans such as Sam Lesser, Bob Doyle, Jack Edwards and Paddy Cochrane.
Find the Spanish Civil War British volunteers lists in DocumentsOnline.
Read more about the conflict with our bookshop's Spanish Civil War promotion.