Wednesday 29 January 2020

Rededication of plaque to brave Aberdeen International Brigaders

Dozens of people gathered in Aberdeen for the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the north-east men who fought fascism in the Spanish civil war.

A total of 19 men from the area volunteered with the International Brigades during the conflict in the 1930s.

The plaque was previously on display in the Aberdeen Music Hall, but was removed during the recent £9million renovation work.

But now, thanks to lobbying by, amongst others, Tommy Campbell of the ATUC and the International Brigade Memorial Trust, it has gained pride of place again in front of a crowd including representatives of the International Bridge Memorial Trust and the families of those who went to fight.

The north-east men were among 2,500 volunteers from the British Isles who joined the voluntary effort to contest fascist General Franco.

Provost Barney Crockett, ATUC's Tommy Campbell
and Maureen Sanders

Among those gathered was the great-granddaughter of one of those from Aberdeen who joined the cause, Maureen Saunders.

She shared letters which Archie Dewar had sent from the front and told the audience of her experiences in tracing her ancestor’s steps to where he was killed. Mr Dewar died, aged just 28, at the battle of Ebro on March 17, 1938.

But Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Barney Crockett, said the youngster’s death was deserving of a bravery medal.

He added: “If it had been in the British Army rather than the volunteers in Spain he would have got a very significant honour for what he did.

“While wounded, he kept firing his machine gun to allow others to retreat.

“He really sacrificed himself to save other people.”

Mr Crockett praised Aberdeen’s effort in the Spanish civil war. He said: “Proportionately, we had more volunteers than nearly anywhere else.

“The city did so much to support the republic and it was a movement about fighting for democracy.
These men were pioneers, they were men who started that whole movement to hold back fascism.”

For more photos go to ATUC Facebook page 

All photos courtesy of Aberdeen City Council photographer Norman Adams.