The War in Asturias — David

  • Neil MacMaster


When the coup d’état took place on 18 July word soon got about through the press and radio.1 Enrique and I didn’t know what to do because according to military instructions, which are read out to all soldiers, if something abnormal like that occurs you must rejoin your regiment as soon as possible. But I couldn’t go to Burgos because the trains were not running; we were completely cut off and couldn’t go anywhere. In that situation you were supposed to place yourself at the disposal of the nearest government authority, so Enrique and I went to report to the townhall of our commune at Santullano. ‘We are soldiers on leave.’ ‘Oh’, they said, ‘there’s nothing we can do about that, you’ll have to go to Trubia. You’ll find out there sure enough what to do.’


Socialist Party Merchant Ship Commanding Officer Peasant Woman Foreign Legion 
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  1. 3.
    One commentator has described this as the ‘picaresque stage’ of the Civil War: ‘The first scene provided by the Civil War was one of a large number of disparate columns, fighting on their own, carving out their operational sectors, where they lived, got their food supplies, and sometimes developed along independent lines.’ Jean-Richard Bloch quoted in P. Broué, E. Témime, The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain (London: Faber, 1970), p. 174.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    One of the most remarkable features of the Civil War was the rapid and spontaneous appearance of thousands of local revolutionary committees. Overnight the Republican state apparatus became virtually defunct and was replaced by a myriad network of Spanish ‘Soviets’ which exercised complete legislative and executive power, maintained law and order, controlled prices, expropriated the property of the clergy and fascists, requisitioned food supplies and buildings, organised education, propaganda and welfare and established communal kitchens. This has been described as the ‘greatest revolutionary upsurge’ in Europe since the Russian Revolution. R. Fraser, In Hiding, The Life of Manuel Cortes (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972). p. 230.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    On 19 October Aranda received a report that the Christopher Columbus had docked in Gijón with a consignment of Russian arms. In all, the Soviet Union was reported to have supplied to the North some 15 000 rifles, some ‘dating back to the Crimean War’. In addition the Asturians received Czech arms sent from Mexico and a consignment of old French rifles on the steamship Reina. Broué, Témime, The Revolution, pp. 392, 411. The Communist, Manuel Sanchez, reported the arrival of ‘ancient, single-loading Czech rifles’, in October. R. Fraser, The Blood of Spain: The Experience of Civil War, 1936–1939 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), p. 251.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Neil MacMaster 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil MacMaster
    • 1
  1. 1.University of East AngliaUK

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