Wednesday, 31 July 2013

British Voices On The Hills Part 1

This is an article I wrote for La Columna after a visit to the Jarama battlefield in February 2005. The La Columna web site is being closed down and replaced with a blog so I thought it would be a good idea to save this article from the archive.

El Grupo Inglés Con Sus Camaradas

British Voices on The Hills
Sunday morning saw us being transported by a convoy of cars to Morata de Tajuña along the Valencia road. The driver of the car I was in was Jesús Gonzalez, a member of the AABI. A man whom I met for the first time that morning but within a short space felt like I’d known him for years! On the way Jesús pointed out sites of Spanish Civil War interest including the Arganda bridge and the site of the Lincoln Battalion's HQ.

On arrival in Morata de Tajuna Jesús took us to the Museo El Cid a small agricultural museum behind the restaurant Mesón El Cid. The museum has a large room dedicated to The Battle of Jarama and The Spanish Civil War. The museum has an excellent display with many photographs and many artifacts from the battlefield. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

A Selection of Artifacts in The Museum

If you're not familiar with the area this map may help you. From Morata de Tajuña we moved up the San Martin road and then onto 'The Sunken Road', famous for being mentioned so often in accounts of the British Battalion's time at Jarama. We traveled along this for some distance, past Pingarron Hill, to the area held by Enrique Lister’s division. From here we headed back on ourselves to a Republican held hill opposite Pingarron. This is studded with prepared positions and the remains of chabola-type dug-outs. All of these post-date the Battle of Jarama but are of the Civil War.

Me at the entrance to a dug-out

Remains of a concrete pill-box

On top of the pill box

Remains of a prepared artillery position

There was also a curious tunnel that linked an artillery position with safe ground on the other side of the hill which was out of range of the fascist lines. Inside there was the remains of graffiti from the war carved into the soft walls. This tunnel was remarkably intact, and very dark!

Tunnel entrance

In the tunnel

Examining the tunnel walls

Republican grafitti

In Part 2 we travel to the battlefield of Jarama.

PS Welcome to new follower Grigork; I hope you enjoy the voyage!

All the best!

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