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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:
1 & 2. Atocha Massacre Monument
3. Harry in full flow - Tom, Gerry, Marie, Marty & Joe - all spellbound!
4 & 5. In AABI office - presentation of George Brown Plaque. I'll find out secretary's name from Harry.
6 & 7. Scars of battle - Faculty buildings in University City.
8. Monument to International Brigade Volunteers on University City Campus.
11. Displaying the flag of the Spanish Republic outside the municipal building in Villanueva de la Cañada - Joined by Amanda and Aidan
12. Municipal Building
13.Plaza Maior in the centre of old Madrid.
Visit to Madrid &
Villanueva de la Cañada
3 – 6 April 2019 by the
Inistioge George Brown
Members and friends of the Inistioge George Brown Memorial Committee on a recent visit to Spain went on a tour of areas of Madrid closely associated with the Spanish Civil War (1936-9) and the town of Villanueva de la Cañada where Inistioge-born George Brown was killed during the course of the Battle of Brunete on 7 July 1937. Harry Owens, Spanish Civil War historian, led the group on the tour of Madrid, the highlight of which was the visit to the campus of the University City of Madrid where some of the fiercest fighting between the Republican Forces of the Government of Spain and Nationalists under Franco took place. One is forcibly reminded of the intensity of this particular battle by the bullet and grenade-scarred exterior walls of many of the university faculty buildings. Nor is the sacrifice of the international Brigadistas forgotten. Fittingly, a monument to their commitment to the Second Spanish Republic, unveiled in October 2011, is prominently displayed on the campus.
In city-centre Madrid the group visited the monument to the Atocha massacre, occurring in 1977 during the Spanish transition to democracy, when five left-wing activists were killed in a neo-fascist terrorist attack on a trade union office on Atocha Street. On Gran Via the Telefónica building got the most attention. Construction started in 1926, and until 1940 it was the tallest sky-scraper in Europe. It figures in all accounts of the Battle for Madrid as it was used as an observation post by Republican forces and consequently was the target of regular bombing attacks. It was also the Office of the Foreign Press, with Ernest Hemingway sending his regular newspaper reports from here.
This part of the trip also included a visit to the head-quarters of the Friends of the International Brigades (Asociación de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales) where the members presented a plaque to the AABI Secretary commemorating the sacrifice of George Brown and highlighting his Inistioge roots.
The most poignant and moving element of the trip was the visit to Villanueva de la Cañada, a town less than an hour’s drive north-west of Madrid. In this area the Battle of Brunete was fought in July 1937, and on the journey the group had the opportunity to appreciate the rolling hilly terrain of the area where Republican and Nationalist forces engaged in one of the major conflicts of the war. George Brown was killed on the second day of the battle while lying wounded by the roadside. A photograph of the group outside the municipal offices in the town, not far from where George Brown died, provided a treasured memento of the visit.