Welsh captain rescued Spanish refugees from Franco’s butchers

This video says about itself:

Spanish families unearth their civil war dead

4 January 2012

Seventeen women, relatives of people on the Republican side, were shot by the forces of Francisco Franco at the height of Spain’s civil war 1n 1937 and tipped straight into a mass grave. Now, 74 years on, their bodies are being exhumed so that their descendants can bury them properly.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Alicante and Cardiff honour seafarer heroes

Thursday 16th April 2015

During the Spanish civil war Captain Archibald Dickson and the crew of a small frighter Stanbrook rescued 2,639 stranded republican fighters — a singular act of bravery that was commemorated in Cardiff last Sunday

ON SUNDAY, Labour International’s Costa Blanca branch delegation in Cardiff presented a memorial plaque to the city. The ceremony was hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Councillor Margaret Jones.

The plaque was dedicated to the memory of Cardiff-born Captain Archibald Dickson and the crew of the Stanbrook, which rescued nearly 3,000 republican supporters from Alicante Port and Franco’s troops at the end of the Spanish civil war on March 28 1939.

It was jointly unveiled by Pedro Olivares Martínez and the lord mayor at the Mansion House in Cardiff on Sunday April 12.

Also present at the unveiling were Arnold Dickson and Dorothy Richardson, Captain Dickson’s children, and David Lillystone and Sandra Robinson, the great grandchildren of the ship’s engineer Henry Lillystone.

They were joined by six members of Labour International Costa Blanca and members of the Welsh section of the International Brigades Memorial Trust.

The stainless steel plaque depicts an image of the Stanbrook taken at the time, together with an inscription in English, Spanish and Welsh.

Following the ceremony, the delegation and invited guests assembled at the Welsh headquarters of Unite the union.

There they watched short film Britain Expects, about the British blockade runners during the civil war.

Civic Commission historian Francisco Moreno Saez described their work in preserving the memory of those who suffered under the repression of the fascist Franco regime.

On Saturday the delegation had placed a wreath on the memorial, in Cathays Park, Cardiff, to the Welsh members of the International Brigades who fought and died fighting for the republican cause in the Spanish civil war.

Nautilus national secretary Jonathan Havard gave the following speech

“I am proud and honoured to be here. Nautilus history spans over 150 years and during that time thousands of merchant seafarers — despite being civilians — have lost their lives in the fight for freedom and against fascism.

As we pay tribute to the heroism of Captain Archibald Dickson, we should also remember the scale of the contribution made by British seafarers — and Welsh seafarers in particular — to the defence of the Spanish republic.

During the civil war, organisations like the Aid Spain movement and the Spanish Medical Aid Committee reflected widespread popular support for the anti-fascist cause.

Around £2 million was donated in Britain during the conflict and 30 ships were chartered by British campaigners between 1936 and 1939, which were then loaded with food and sailed through the naval blockade to Spain.

Almost 4,000 Spanish and Basque children — many of them orphans — were evacuated to Britain, where political parties, trade unions and church groups combined to provide accommodation and education.

It seems hard to believe, but there are still no definitive figures on the number of British ships that were lost and the number of British seafarers who died during the Spanish civil war.

British merchant ships accounted for around 70 per cent of the vessels attacked and it is estimated that as many as 29 British-registered ships were sunk and at least 40 seafarers — probably many more — were killed and over 50 seriously injured.

Ten British ships were sunk and 37 were damaged in May and June of 1938 alone, and during the three years of the civil war 10 Welsh ships were bombed sunk or badly damaged.

What we do know for sure, however, is that merchant vessels were having to run a gauntlet of aircraft, mines and torpedoes, warships and submarines — many of them sent by Franco’s fascist allies in Germany and Italy.

Many neutral merchant ships — nine of them Welsh — were seized and detained, and even ships sent to carry refugees to safety came under attack.

The statistics, shocking as they are, tell only part of the story.

They certainly do not convey some of the extraordinary heroism and sacrifice of the seafarers serving on the blockade runners — especially those who were carrying supplies for the republicans or evacuating refugees from beleaguered Bilbao.

Their stories deserve to be remembered, perhaps none more so than Captain Dickson’s.

His ship, the Stanbrook, was the last to leave Spain before Franco’s victory and instead of departing with his planned cargo of tobacco, oranges and saffron, he left with a total of 2,639 republicans onboard.

Although the captain had been given orders not to take refugees unless they were in real need, he told how that after seeing the condition which many of them were in, he had decided from a humanitarian point of view to allow them aboard.

His desperately overloaded ship dodged U-boats and enemy aircraft to take them to Algeria, although their ordeal didn’t end with their arrival there.

Captain Dickson had to threaten to crash his ship into the dock before the French authorities allowed the passengers to disembark.

Sadly, the ship — and Captain Dickson and his crew — were to fall victims to the nazis only six months later during a U-boat attack in the North Sea.

Stories like this, though tragically neglected, remain relevant today in the face of immense geopolitical instability and at a time when merchant seafarers are once again in the forefront of humanitarian work to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean.”

‘Remove Franco’s corpse from its mausoleum’: here.

12 thoughts on “Welsh captain rescued Spanish refugees from Franco’s butchers

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  9. Wednesday 13th September 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Features

    PAUL SHAW explains why RMT Glasgow shipping branch is asking for your donations to finish a monument to the blockade runners

    S OME 15 years ago, Ronnie Moran, then RMT Glasgow shipping branch secretary, was approached by renowned sculptor Frank Casey looking to honour the seafarers who formed the blockade runners to Spain during the Spanish civil war.

    The branch (including its then chair and former secretary Stuart Hyslop) and the RMT Scottish regional council then formulated a plan to construct a memorial incorporating the sculpture that Casey would build to create a lasting memory to the seafarers dispatched to Spain to overthrow Francisco Franco’s fascist regime.

    Casey stresses the importance of a lasting memorial, saying: “The ships that were part of the struggle to preserve the democratically elected Spanish republic in the face of Francoist aggression has largely gone unremarked.”

    These small ships not only had the threat from insurgent Spanish warships to deal with but also Franco’s well-armed German and Italian allies.

    In total 27 British-registered vessels were lost between 1936 and 1939 and are recognised by a plaque placed on the memorial.

    Within the plaque is a merchant navy badge superimposed over a map of Spain. “This symbolises a description of the ships’ mission in taking much-needed supplies to the Spanish republican government and bringing back refugees, many of them orphans, along with a list of ships lost,” explains Moran.

    The sculpture itself, called The Warning Shout, is “open to interpretation,” he says.

    After many years of discussions and Moran’s chance meeting with Nina Baker, a former Scottish Greens councillor in Glasgow, the city council has identified a site for the memorial on the Clyde Walkway on the west side of the Glasgow Bridge — a stone’s throw away from English sculptor Arthur Dooley’s memorial to the International Brigades, La Pasionaria, which is also, coincidentally, across the road from the site of the old Glasgow Pool building from which the Merchant Navy operated.

    The sculpture and plaque have been completed and now we are looking to build a plinth to host it. Both the sculptor and branch have agreed on a design. Planning permission has been submitted and approval is pending.

    Moran says: “All that is required now is the building of a plinth to house the memorial and to do this we need to raise some funds.

    “Therefore, we are asking if you are able to donate to this worthy cause. Once all this is done we can look forward to the unveiling ceremony.”

    We are looking forward to the unveiling and are so proud of Moran’s tireless commitment to the memorial, Casey’s excellent work and the determination of everyone within the branch to get the project to this stage.

    As a branch, we have raised a substantial amount of money with the help of other RMT branches and regional councils, as well as the Scottish regional council.

    However the money we have raised so far is not quite enough to finish the project.

    The RMT’s executive has agreed to cover the planning permission’s costs. We are grateful to them as we are to Nautilus International, which has given a sizeable donation to the project.

    We as a branch are seeking assistance from the trade union and labour movement as a whole to get us across the final hurdle.

    Hopefully, we will be able to have a memorial to commemorate the ultimate sacrifice made by these brave seafarers and that it should rightfully have it place on the Clyde.

    No Pasaran!

    Paul Shaw is an RMT executive member. For more information on the International Blockade Runners Memorial contact us via: Glasgow shipping@rmt.org.uk or call 07557 671-481.
    If you would like to donate to our project and help us complete the plinth, please send a cheque made payable to RMT Glasgow Shipping Branch, 180 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 2UE.



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