Friday, 15 November 2013

¡Alertas Milicianos!

Those of you who know of my comings and goings will be aware I have been involved in Spanish Civil War living history for over ten years. In fact I'm off to Spain in less than a week to take part in an event to mark the end of The Battle of The Ebro as well visiting La Ruta Orwell plus several other events: it will be a busy few days so mucha comida will be needed!

As well as studying the war; learning to speak Spanish; contacting and befriending numerous Spaniards and visiting Spain I have also collected quite a lot of kit. It used to be very cheap and plentiful but given the explosion of interest in Spain this is less so now. It is sometimes hard to believe that SCW living history in Spain has gone from nothing to this in about ten years.

Pictures of (some) of my kit:

POUM Pigskin Jacket
Qué chulada!

Spanish army blanket. 
Bought it in Madrid from El Rastro Market.

Italian army blanket. 
Excess stock from Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Capote front 
A capote is an army style poncho which goes over the head and shoulders.
Note the 'patch' at the front for putting your hands in.
Well darned too!

Capote back
Showing the belt which is used to tighten the garment up once it's on.

Capote collar detail.
Once on the soldier's leather webbing and cartridge boxes can be worn quite easily over the top.
A very warm garment.

Very popular with POUM militia.
Mine are made from 3 pairs of British army short puttees sewn together.
It's now much easier to buy full length sets.
Important to practice putting them on to avoid droopiness.

Repro Army gorillo cap with red (infantry) piping but without a tassle at the front. 
Note how the bottom of the cap curves slightly to sit more squarely on the head.
You can just see a red star at the front; true vintage in that it is stamped not cast.

Una cantimplora - repro

Cantimplora detail.
Note spring clip for attaching to a convenient point.

Eating Irons
The plate and cup are post-war but the design was the same.
The cup is a devil to drink hot coffee from. 
I usually unclip the leather strap, form it into a handle and sip from the narrow side.
The spoon fork combination is war vintage and very useful.

Leather Spanish army webbing.
3 pouches, 2 at the front one at the back.
Waist belt and shoulder straps.
Often worn with just the waist belt and pouches.
Sometimes the shoulder straps were criss-crossed over the chest.

Pouch detail
Pouches were either sewn or rivetted together.

Belt plate detail
The Infantry badge.
Other arms of service had different designs stamped.
As the war progressed plain belt plates appeared due to ease of manufacture.


  1. A nice collection James. We use electrical tape on the rim where you sip from on the cups canteen...But I do not suppose that had tape back then!

  2. Cheers, chumrade! Nice idea on the tape, I'll look into what was available back then. I'll do another post with pics about the upcoming Spanish trip.

  3. Hello there, I was wondering if you know whether La Columna are still active or not, and if you got around to starting the POUM reenactment group you mention on the WW2 forum? I've recently become quite interested in reenacting the SCW and I'd like to see what options there are in the UK currently.

    1. I've moved away from SCW re-enactment for the foreseeable future. However if you are on FaceBook then La Columna has a very active page plus links to Spain based SCW groups.

      Have a look here:

      All the best

    2. Thanks for the help mate, much appreciated. I'll give the facebook group a look-see.