I am sorry to report the British war memorial in the Sierra Pandols has recently been vandalised. I was in Catalonia this month and this photo shows where a plaque above Gandesa memorialising 91 members of the British battaltion has been taken and the pediment painted with the slogan “the Falange – still in struggle.” The missing plaque included the name of my kinsman Morris Miller. There are intentions to repair and replace it but difficult to know how to prevent further attacks.
The vandalisation of civil war sites continues on both sides. With Catalonia amidst a plain economic expansion, many ancient antipathies have been put aside in the pursuit of prosperity, but the fault lines remain.
General Franco’s memorial south of Gandesa (below) is thoroughly trashed and painted with anarchist and anti-Nazi symbols. This was the site of Franco’s command post during the battle of the Ebro. Now it is a bit of an embarrassment and no attempt seems to be made to maintain or protect it or even demolish it. Perhaps this was its destiny to finish as an eyesore.
I was walking around the museum of the Ebro battle in Gandesa and fell into conversation with an elderly Spanish man who was only a young teen during the war. I asked if he was a comrade and he put his hand up in a fascist salute. I told him my relative was killed fighting for the comrades. He put his hand on me and shook his head sadly, saying, in English – “it was terrible, terrible.” We agree on that much.
One of the rare places where the dead are remembered in peace is the nearby old village of Corbera which was destroyed by Franco and left in ruins.
Above is a Joan Miró sculpture in the village, one of an “alphabet of freedom” put into the ruins by artists and poets. The site and its art are extraordinary but little visited.
This is the memorial to the British dead in Feb 2006. Below is a facsimile of the plaque. Thanks to Alan Warren for the image. Click to enlarge it to legibility!
Me, at the Memorial to the fallen of Hill 666 including Morris Miller. Alan Warren photo.