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.”

Gull-billed terns near Barcelona


This video is about a little gull near a group of gull-billed terns.

Translated from the Catalan of the Delta del Llobregat account on Twitter today:

Up to 8 Sterna nilotica [gull-billed terns] in the Remolar marsh.

American killdeer plover in Spain


This video from the USA says about itself:

Unusual Wild Bird. This is How a Wild Killdeer protects her nest in busy parking Lot

When I was taking Princess Sugar Pie to visit Fort Sanders Sevier Senior Center in Sevierville, Tennessee, I took an unusual video of a wild female killdeer bird sitting on her nest in the center’s busy parking lot. Watch as the killdeer chirps when I get too close while making herself appear much bigger than she is. She even tries to lure me away from her nest eggs and acts wounded like she would do if a predator such as a fox or coyote approached them. This is one truly amazing video of a bird’s instincts to protect their young from harm’s way. I have visited her since I took the video and she doesn’t try to run from me any more because she knows that I won’t hurt her or her eggs.

From Rare Birds in Spain on Twitter:

7.4.2015 Charadrius vociferus 1 ind[ividual] Aldover, Tarragona

This means a killdeer plover, a North American species, rare in Europe. See also here for this observation.

Spanish exorcist priest accused of abusing girl


This video is called The Exorcist 1973 trailer.

In the 1973 horror movie The Exorcist, the villain is a teenage girl (or, rather, a demon possessing her); and the good guy is an exorcist priest.

However, in 2015 real life, things are a bit different.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Priest questioned over 13 exorcisms allegedly performed on anorexic teen

Court to investigate whether practice crossed line into abuse after girl’s parents sent her for exorcisms thinking she was possessed

Ashifa Kassam in Seville

Friday 20 March 2015 17.13 GMT

A priest has been summoned to court to answer questions about more than a dozen exorcisms he allegedly carried out on an teenage girl with anorexia.

The investigation began after the girl and members of her extended family complained to the Spanish authorities in August that she had been put through at least 13 exorcisms.

The girl, from the northern city of Burgos, told police that she began having problems with anorexia and anxiety when she was 16, which her parents saw as a “sign of her possession by the devil”.

She was undergoing psychiatric treatments at the time, in May 2012, but her parents, convinced that exorcisms would help, took her to a priest from Valladolid, who carried out several of them on her over a three-month period.

The girl told authorities she was forced to lie on the ground and tied up, with crosses placed over her head. Images of saints were put on her body during the ritual, which often lasted between one and two hours.

In her initial filings, the judge said that the practice of exorcisms on the girl may have crossed the line into “domestic violence, causing injury and abuse”, according to Diario de Burgos, a Spanish newspaper.

The archdiocese of Burgos said in a statement: “After the girl was admitted various times to hospitals in Burgos and Valladolid, her parents, distraught on seeing that she wasn’t recovering, brought her to the exorcist.” It added that the girl’s parents alone made the decision to treat her through exorcisms.

Defending the rituals, the archdiocese said: “Exorcisms are a religious practice that has been maintained as part of the church’s tradition, and is a right available to all of the faithful.”

The exorcist at the centre of the case, it added, had been legitimately appointed by a bishop.

The priest, who has not been formally charged, is expected to appear in court in the coming weeks.

Spain has an estimated 15 priests authorised to carry out exorcisms, eight of whom were added in 2013, by the then Archbishop of Madrid, Antonio María Rouco Varela, reportedly to meet increasing demand for the practice.

If not for horror films like The Exorcist, there would probably be less demand for exorcism.

Rare ring-necked duck in Spain


This video from the USA says about itself:

10 March 2011

A flock of Ring-necked ducks hung around the Palace Lagoon at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

From Rare Birds in Spain, on Twitter:

27.2.2015 Aythya collaris. 1 male La Massona, PN AIguamolls Empordà, Girona.

Aythya collaris means ring-necked duck. They are rare in Europe, not so rare in their northern North American homeland.