Monthly Archives: September 2011

Local International Brigadistas

This year marks 75 years since the Spanish Civil War began. Up to 35,000 people from around the world volunteered to fight against Franco and his fascist forces, with many joining the ‘International Brigades.’ Alongside Spanish anarchists, communists, socialists, trade unionists and freedom-loving people, the International Brigades played an important role in the war. Amongst them were 2,000 British people, 500 of whom gave their lives.

Here we remember the volunteers from the Three Counties who left to fight fascism.

Lewis Clive was a volunteer associated with Hereford. Born on 8th September 1910, he was the son of Herefordian, Percy Clive, a Conservative MP and Lieutenant-Colonel killed in the First World War. Lewis was a keen rower, winning a gold medal at the LA Summer Olympics in 1932. He was also a socialist, a member of the Labour Party and the Fabian Society.

He volunteered for the International Brigades early on in the war, and became a Company Commander in the British Battalion. He was killed in action on August 2nd 1938 at Hill 481, Gandesa, during the Battle of Ebro, the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. Speaking of Lewis after his death, his comrades said this; “This big, cheerful, and sincere man had performed his duties as Company Commander with distinction. Well liked and respected in the battalion, this was a great loss to us all.”

There is a plaque commemorating Lewis Clive at Wormbridge Church, Herefordshire. It reads “In memory of Lewis Clive. Born September 8th 1910. Killed at Battle of Ebro, August 4th 1938, Fighting with The Spanish Republican Forces.”

Laurie Lee MBE was a poet, novelist, screenwriter and also an International Brigade volunteer. Born on 26th June 1914 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, Lee left school at 16 and began working at an accountants in Stroud. However he quickly became bored and decided to embark on an adventure, walking to London. He settled in Putney and began work as a builder’s labourer. During this time his interest in poetry blossomed, with his writings appearing in The Gloucester Citizen as well as other newspapers.

Laurie Lee had previously visited Spain, and in December 1937 he decided to return to help in the fight against Franco. He said he “owed it to the Spain he knew” and the friends he had made there. After realising he wasn’t going to get any help in reaching his destination, he decided to cross the Pyrenees by himself. He was initially captured by Republican forces, with them mistaking him for an enemy spy. He was saved from an almost certain fate, and went on to join and fight with the International Brigades. His time fighting during the Spanish Civil War was cut short due to epilepsy, and he left Spain in February 1938. Lee recalls the time he spent in Spain during the war in his book, ‘A Moment of War,’ published in 1991.

Laurie Lee died on 13th May, 1997. He is buried at Holy Trinity Churchyard, Slad, Gloucestershire.

Jack Watson was a volunteer from Worcester.  He was killed in action at the Battle of Jamara on 27th February 1937. The Battle of Jamara was one of the main battles in which the British Battalion of the International Brigades took part. It took place in the Jamara Valley, to the east of Madrid. The battle began on 12th February 1937, when Franco’s crack troops from the Army of Africa advanced to the Republican lines to try and dislodge their hold on the valley. After a few days and nights of heavy fighting, the ill-equipped and outnumbered International Brigade volunteers held out. Both sides dug in and a stalemate ensued which lasted for most of the war.

We salute the bravery and selflessness of the anti-fascists from this region and from around the world, who put their lives on hold to join the fight against the advancing tide of fascism across Europe. Despite eventually losing the war in 1939, the Brigadistas and Spanish anti-fascists gave a noble example of the strength of international solidarity. That year was to see the start of another brutal war, and was followed by some of the darkest days in history.

It is vital that we learn lessons from the past. The struggle against fascism across Europe is as relevant today as it ever has been. Let’s remember and put into practise the phrase used by anti-fascists in the 1930’s, ¡No pasarán! – They shall not pass!

If you have any additional information on the International Brigade volunteers listed above, or any other locals who fought in the Spanish Civil War, then please get in touch. For more information on the British Battalion visit; International Brigades Memorial Trust. To learn more about the Spanish Civil War go to the brilliant Spartacus Educational website. 

EDL fail in Tower Hamlets

They came. They saw. They failed. And now they’re coming up with the usual bullshit to save face…

Saturday saw the long awaited EDL outing to London. For them, it was nothing short of a failure. Despite planning this one for months and claiming it was to be ‘the big one,’ they only managed to muster around 1,000 infidel, ray gun fighting warriors. Many groups struggled to fill coaches and some bottled it all together.

Locally they were poorly represented- the only group to turn up from the area were the Bristol & Gloucestershire division.

The Hereford EDL ‘division’ (if it can be called that) failed to get anybody there at all. Sad act and self-appointed leader, Darren Poland, has been doing his nut on Facebook since. He’s now calling for an ‘emergency meeting’ this coming weekend. We doubt its worth the effort mate, you’ll only end up getting two of you along like the last one.

The Worcester division were quiet for this one as well…London is a bit further from home than Telford is after all. Too much effort, Dave?

Before the day even arrived the EDL were finding it hard; members were left confused after the ban and were relying on the leadership to put the plans on the internet the night before. Pubs that were due to be hosting them pulled out one after another, following pressure from anti-fascist campaigners. The night before, RMT activists threatened to close the tube stations where the EDL were meant to gather, adding a further headache to their plans.

On the morning of the 3rd, RMT activists followed through with their plans and offered some great practical solidarity to anti-fascists. Tube stations were closed, and emergency alarms in stations and trains were set off, leaving some groups of EDL stranded in various parts of London, delayed from getting to their meeting points.

The usual mixture of unions, left-wing organisations, community and faith groups assembled on Whitechapel Road throughout the morning and early afternoon, bulked up by large groups of locals. We have to admit that this was also a pretty poor turnout, with only around 1,500 on the streets. However, larger numbers of locals were also in surrounding areas, awaiting the arrival of the EDL…

But they never came. The closest they got to the ‘lions den of militant Islam,’ (Tower Hamlets) was Aldgate tube station. They could do with touching up on their local geography though, because that’s in the City of London. Doh!

Groups of militant anti-fascists and anarchists, as well as large groups of local youth made spirited efforts to reach the EDL all day. Whilst this wasn’t possible due to the area resembling a police state, it was very encouraging to see links made between them, and a lot of people seeking to confront the EDL and not simply being led by the UAF and their ‘official’ counter demonstration.

So after pulling around 1,000 troops and managing to get as close as they would to their intended destination, the usual spectacle began. They chanted three letters over and over. Out came the beer bellies and shit tattoos. Scuffles began and a few arrests were made.

Then Steven Lennon took to the stage. Disguised as a Rabbi, he gave a speech. He was also breaking his bail conditions, which he publicly stated, goading police officers to arrest him. He was surprised when they did. He’s currently on ‘hunger strike’ in police custody. This situation will have one of two conclusions; this noble freedom fighter will fast until death, putting his beliefs first and giving his life to the cause. Or he will fail miserably and be back on the chips and pies diet before you can say ‘you fat bastard.’ As much as the former would be a fun spectacle, we think it’s likely to be the second option that comes through.

And after all of that, they finally got their march… back to their coaches via Tower Bridge.

Shortly afterwards a group of locals gave a heartfelt ‘farewell’ message to some EDL members. In a move of sheer idiocy, a coach full of the numpties made its way down Whitechapel Road, with it’s occupants goading local young muslims. Within seconds the mob charged and the coach came under sustained artillery fire, with its oh-so-brave occupants now cowering inside. The bus was left with some new ventilation, and the 40 EDL members inside left with their tails between their legs, behind the protection of about 200 police officers in full riot gear, who rushed to their rescue.

To top the day off nicely, hacking group ‘Team Poison’ kindly released dozens of phone numbers, internal emails and forum usernames/passwords for a load of EDL members, including some of the leadership. Bostin!

The response since to the 3rd has been almost as interesting as the day itself. The EDL haven’t even released an official statement or report on the day yet, with a few comments on Facebook apparently enough to keep the rabble happy. ‘EDL 1 – Tower Hamlets 0’ they claimed. A strange choice of words we feel, after all they were going there to oppose militant Islam, and highlight the problems of sexism and homophobia in the area, right? Evidently not, they’ve declared the entire borough and it’s population as their enemy… This façade really is wearing thin now guys! I doubt even the blindest of EDL supporters will follow this line without question for much longer.

The illiterate fools over at the Casuals United blog have an interesting take on the day too. According to them the day was a ‘massive victory’ for the EDL, with us ‘Commies’ in despair over the low turnout on the counter demonstration. The tools behind Redwatch have also made us chuckle. They’ve put up a couple of pictures of an anti-fascist block on a Gaza solidarity demo in 2009 and claimed they’re from Saturday… Silly twats.

So to round off; they didn’t have the march through Tower Hamlets that they wanted, they had a shit turnout, their leader got arrested and a bunch of them went home with stained pants and their tails between their legs. And they consider this a ‘massive victory.’ As they try to keep grassroots support and hold the image of the organisation together, they are reliant on half-truths, misinformation and outright lies. We can only wonder how long they can keep this going…but until then, lets “paint some white sheets” for our brave martyr Tommy, as they have cleverly suggested.

3CAFA would like to thank ALARM and the other anti-fascists we met on the weekend, for the hospitality and all of the great work they did both beforehand and on the day itself. We look forward to working with you again in the future. Until next time…

‘No fucking sandwiches ever’

3 Counties Anti-Fascist Alliance

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