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Oxfordshire symposium on the Spanish Civil War

On 4th June I joined Edward Ayers and Colin Carritt at St. Giles’ College to talk about the involvement of men and women from Oxfordshire in the Spanish Civil War. The event was held as part of a campaign to erect a new memorial in Bonn Square, a prestigious site in the city centre.

The men of the British Machine-Gun Company, captured at Jarama. Ed Ayres’ great-uncle, George Leeson, is fifth from right
The men of the British Machine-Gun Company, captured at Jarama. Ed Ayres’ great-uncle, George Leeson, is fifth from right

As Colin and Edward explained, they both had relatives who volunteered for Spain. Colin’s father, Noel Carritt fought and was wounded at the battle of Jarama in February 1937, before joining the medical services at Huete hospital. His uncle, Tony, served as an ambulance driver. He was badly injured during the Brunete offensive of July 1937 and later died of his wounds in hospital.

Ed’s great uncle, George Leeson, fought alongside Noel Carritt at Jarama and was taken prisoner on 13 February 1937. He spend three months in a Francoist prisoner-of-war camp, before being released and repatriated back to Britain.

A Republican Advanced Dressing Station at the Battle of Brunete in July 1937. Colin’s father, Noel, is on the left of the picture
A Republican Advanced Dressing Station at the Battle of Brunete in July 1937. Colin’s father, Noel, is on the left of the picture

In the Q&A following the talks the audience, primarily undergraduates, demonstrated a wide knowledge not just of the civil war, but of the situation in contemporary Spain. Speaking personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I did the event itself.

There is a review of the symposium by Connal Parr on the IBMT’s blog.

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