The Republican Army

It is a common, but erroneous, belief that the Spanish Army joined solidly with the insurgents, just as it is equally erroneous to state that the war was waged between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. Though in Morocco the troops were almos.t unanimous in supporting their leader, General Franco, this was far from being the case in metropolitan Spain.

On 17 July the mainland army consisted of eight infantry divisions centred on Corunna, Saragossa, Burgos, Valladolid, Sevilla, Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid, and one cavalry division, whose headquarters was also in Madrid. An infantry division was made up of two brigades (or regiments), each of two battalions.

Loyalties and ideals caused men of similar rank, from general to private soldier, to oppose each other, and the confusion and bloodshed of the first weekend was great. By the Monday, however, the situation had largely sorted itself out. It has since been estimated that—with the exception of the African Army—33,000 stood by the government, while 23,600 went over to the insurgents (Nationalists). On 17 July the officer corps totalled 8,500. By the 19th, some 3,500 had been killed or imprisoned by the Republicans, 2,000 had declared for the government, 3,000 for the Nationalists.

The para-military Guardia Civil, Asaltos and Carabineros, also split. The Nationalists were able to count on 14,000 Guardia Civil, 6,000 Carabineros and 500 Asaltos, while the Republic counted on nearly 20,000 Guardia Civil, 3,500 Asaltos, and 8,750 Carabineros.

Republicans could also muster groups of armed militia, men trained in urban and guerilla terrorist tactics who, by July 1936, had reached the impressive total of 15,000 Trotskyists and Anarchists, and 12,000 Communists. It did not help the Republic's cause, however, that the militia were usually at daggers drawn with the para-military forces, even when these latter were amalgamated and renamed the Guardia Republicana. After some months, warring factions were once more reorganized, this time into a single body, known as the Ejército Popular Republicana (People's Republican Army), but this was achieved only with great difficulty, clashes occurring between Anarchists, who bitterly resented any form of regimentation or rank privilege, and Communists, who based their concept of service on Russian standards of iron discipline.

When it eventually took shape, the E.P.R. had three units of command: the section consisting of thirty men, the centuria of a hundred men, and the column of six centurias. However, by the end of 1936, this clumsy organization was superseded by the classic formations of the battalion, brigade, division, and eventually corps, the one variation being the 'Mixed Brigade' of four infantry battalions, each battalion comprising three rifle companies and one medium machine-gun company, with its own artillery arm and supply and medical services.

Foreign aid for the Republicans came principally from Russia, from Mexico, and from Left-wing France. By October 1936 Russian freighters had unloaded nearly a hundred tanks (mainly T-26 nine-tonners with 45mm main armament, which were to dominate Nationalist armour till the end of the war), 400 trucks, and 50 fighter planes. Accompanying this material were a number of volunteers, mostly pilots and tank crews, as well as a batch of senior serving officers to play the role of 'advisers', among whom was the tank general Pavlov. France also sent heavy equipment, as well as Potez and Dewoitine planes which, if not ultramodern, were highly serviceable, especially when handled by the small group of 'anti-Fascist flyers', the most well known being the author André Malraux, later to become an ardent Gaul-list.

The ranks of fighters were swelled by the mass of non-Spanish and Communist sympathizers who flocked into Spain from almost every country in Europe and the United States as soon as fighting

Nationalist divisional insignia, occasionally worn on the upper left sleeve of tunics. (A) nth Division: red, black inner edge, black eagle, yellow disc and legend 'Franco', white crescent. Shield is red above yellow above red on left, green on right, with black 'i i' and 'D\ (B) ijth Division, serving with the Army Corps of Morocco and largely composed of native troops: red shield edged yellow, black hand, white '13' and Arabic script. (C) 105th Division, which also served in the Moroccan Army Corps: shield white above blue, yellow edge, yellow legend, yellow sword hilt, white blade, red lion.

Nationalist divisional insignia, occasionally worn on the upper left sleeve of tunics. (A) nth Division: red, black inner edge, black eagle, yellow disc and legend 'Franco', white crescent. Shield is red above yellow above red on left, green on right, with black 'i i' and 'D\ (B) ijth Division, serving with the Army Corps of Morocco and largely composed of native troops: red shield edged yellow, black hand, white '13' and Arabic script. (C) 105th Division, which also served in the Moroccan Army Corps: shield white above blue, yellow edge, yellow legend, yellow sword hilt, white blade, red lion.

broke out. Small foreign units, of which the British 'Tom Mann' Centuria was one, had been in action since August, but by October the number had increased so rapidly that it was decided they would be organized into two, three or four battalion formations, to be known as 'International Brigades', and incorporated into the Republican line; the first was designated the Xlth. By February 1937 five such brigades (Xlth-XVth) had been raised from a total of eighteen battalions; the first all-British battalion was the 2nd Battalion of the XVth Brigade—it was called the 'Saklatvala' after the Indian revolutionary. Of the other battalions, four were all French, three mixed French and Belgian, two German, two American, one Italian, oae Polish, one Scandinavian; the remainder were of mixed central and eastern European nationals, with Yugoslavs predominating.

Altogether some 40,000 men saw service in the ranks of the International Brigades, a quarter of whom were French. The British totalled 2,000 and suffered heavy casualties: 500 killed and 1,200 wounded. American losses were equally heavy: of 2,800 engaged, 900 were killed and 1,500 wounded.

Before supplies began to arrive regularly from abroad, arming the Internationals was almost as great a problem as arming the Home Guard was to be in the summer of 1940. Rifles issued included the French Lebel, the Canadian Ross 301, 1914 models, and even a 1907 Japanese Arisaka.

Neither side could claim an outstanding commander—the Spanish Civil War failed to produce a Slim, Guderian, Patlon or Yamashita— nevertheless many general officers displayed a high level of all-round competence. For the Republicans, the senior professional officers, General Miaja and Colonels (soon to be generals) Vicente Rojo and Hernandez Sarabia were towers of strength. Miaja, politically left of centre and a staunch freemason, was not young (lie had fought in the 1920-25 Rifr War) and did not possess the quick brain needed to direct a war of movement, but he was impervious to adversity and proved the ideal chief to animate a prolonged defence.

When 'Largo Caballero', fearing Madrid would fall, moved to Valencia, he appointed Miaja to hold the capital 'as long as possible" obviously foreseeing an early collapse. Miaja, however, had no intention of giving up. 1 lis first order 011 taking over was simply, 'Resist'. When asked where to retreat if necessary, he replied, 'To the cemetery.' Portly, bland-faced, bespectacled, he soon became the paternal figure symbolizing the 'family of the people' image of the Ejército Popular.

yRojo was a brilliant staff officer, playing Wey-gand to Miaja's Foch. Sound but imaginative plans came from Rojo's headquarters, only to fail because there was no one to carry them out— despite the emergence from the non-professional ranks of numbers of Wingate-type geniuses. Best known were Enrique Lister, who was a dedicated Communist; 'El Campesino', who had been a terrorist from the age of sixteen when he had blown up a country police post killing all four occupants; and José Modesto, ex-Tercio (Spanish Foreign Legion) sergeant. All three rose to be division and corps commanders, Lister in particular distinguish-

ni).', himself in all major battles of the war, though (hry were at their best as guerillas. They lacked the basic training and instruction necessary to make

I lie best use tactically of such complicated machinery as the modern corps or division. Moreover the Krlierai inefficiency of battalion and company

II mimanders was so marked that faulty leadership at .ill levels could be said to be the cause of the Republican defeat.

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