GEORGE Orwell and Ernest Hemingway had much in common with my father, Patrick. The three fought in the same war in the frontlines and in the case of the latter were good friends. So, I suppose all three were qualified to comment on conflicts that occur between men.
The American war correspondent held the view that “No one man nor group of men incapable of fighting or exempt from fighting should in any way be given the power to put this country or any country into war.”
It is difficult to disagree with fellow Republican the English journalist George Orwell. “Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac. One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.”
Such were my thoughts when my wife and I spent Remembrance Sunday in Albacete. In this lovely Spanish city was situated the headquarters of the International Brigades during Spain’s Civil War.
My Irish-American father fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The attrition rate was high; of 2,800 Americans 681 lost their lives. The band of brothers comment was; “They gave me a gun and 100 bullets and sent me to fight.”
Used as shock troops the Brigade suffered a 22.5% loss. During the Battle of Jarama, February 27, 1937, the unit lost two-thirds of its strength. Of the 600 men who fought hand-to-hand to secure Suicide Hill only 160 survived.
Today, the Legions’ Albacete headquarters has gone but here and there are the places familiar to my father. The staff at Historico Archivo was friendly and fascinated by father’s letters, photos, documents. The mementos included a postcard to my mother from the firebrand premier Dolores Ibarruri.
Had Spain fallen to the Stalin-backed Republicans no doubt it would be today free and on a par with other post-Soviet countries. Hence my own thoughts
THEY’RE ALL TOGETHER NOW
And now they’re all together,
Their differences are gone,
No longer does it matter,
If they lost or if they won;
Such foolishness is easy led,
They believed when they had read,
The lies of wicked men.
They now share soil, for which they fought,
Once foes now sleep in peace,
I hope they’re as they were to me,
Before these lambs to fleece,
Were sent to meet their youthful end,
Once enemies but now they’re friends,
They’re all together now.