Spanish Civil War veteran to unveil plaque on London’s South Bank

July 3, 2012
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A plaque honouring the volunteers from the British Isles who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 will be unveiled this Saturday (7 July) by one the last surviving British veterans of the war.

David Lomon, 93, will unveil the new plaque in Jubilee Gardens in London’s South Bank (access from Belvedere Road, SE1) at 1pm during the annual ceremony to commemorate the 2,500 members of the International Brigades from Britain and Ireland, 526 of whom died in Spain.

Measuring 40cm in diameter, the plaque is positioned in front of the park’s memorial to the International Brigades. It has been commissioned by the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT) to mark the relocation of the memorial as part of a £5 million redevelopment of Jubilee Gardens that was completed this May.

The wording on the plaque says:

The 2,500 International Brigade volunteers who left from Britain and Ireland were among 35,000 men and women from 53 countries who went to the aid of the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. They faced enormous odds. The treacherous generals who rose up against Spain’s elected government won the war with the help of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Those regimes were defeated in the Second World War that started, as the volunteers had predicted, a few months after the civil war ended. Democracy was restored in Spain in 1977 and in 2007 the Spanish parliament awarded Spanish citizenship to all surviving International Brigade veterans. This plaque was unveiled in 2012. International Brigade Memorial Trust.

David Lomon, from Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, is one of only three surviving veterans known to the IBMT. Originally from Manchester, he was living in Hackney, east London, when he decided to join the International Brigades. After travelling clandestinely through France, he crossed the Pyrenees in December 1937 and saw action in the following spring in Aragon, where he was captured with other members of the British Battalion. He then spent six months in prison camps in San Pedro de Cardeña, near Burgos, and Palencia before being freed in a prisoner exchange involving Italian troops.

At the ceremony on Saturday, wreaths will be laid by, among others, representatives of the Spanish embassy, Spanish exile and refugee groups and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of key battles in the Spanish Civil War – including Jarama, Brunete and Quinto –in which the British Battalion took part at the cost of some 260 lives.

The civil war began in July 1936 when General Francisco Franco and other army officers launched a fascist-backed coup against the Spanish Republic. Franco’s rebels received overwhelming help from Mussolini and Hitler in the form of troops, aircraft and armaments. Meanwhile, Britain and the other Western democracies enforced an arms embargo on the Spanish Republic, effectively condemning it to defeat. The war is regarded by many historians as a prelude to the Second World War.

Contact: IBMT Secretary Jim Jump; tel: 020-7228 6504 or email: secretary@international-brigades.org.uk

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