Spanish Civil War Rededication-5

A memorial to the Welsh men who died during the Spanish Civil War has been rededicated at the Welsh Mining Experience, the Council’s popular family tourist attraction. 

During the 83rd anniversary year commemorating the start of the Spanish Civil War, a special ceremony has been being held at the Welsh Mining Experience to remember the Welsh volunteers who went to fight for the Spanish Republic, opposing fascism, between 1936 and 1939.

Councillor Maureen Webber, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Deputy Leader and Armed Forces Champion, said: “It is fitting that we remember the Welsh men who fought and died during the Spanish Civil War at the Welsh Mining Experience as many of these men were coal miners.

“There are many Spanish Civil War memorials scattered all across Wales, including the official International Brigades Association (Cymru) memorial at the South Wales Miners' Library, which is made of Welsh coal, slate and steel and was unveiled by Will Paynter in 1976.

“But the memorial here in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be a lasting reminder of those men who gave their lives for a cause they firmly believed in. They will never be forgotten.”

The Spanish Civil War attracted volunteers of all ages from all over Europe, including more than 200 from Wales. A total of 33 Welshmen were killed serving with International Brigades fighting to save the doomed democratically-elected Spanish Republic Government.

The response in Wales was largely provided by the South Wales Miners' Federation and the Communist Party, and eventually supported by a broad coalition including the Labour Party, Liberals, some Welsh writers, academics and teachers.

One of the first to recognise the growing threat of fascism was Labour MP Aneurin Bevan who, as early as 1933, formed an anti-fascist workers militia - the Tredegar Workers' Freedom Group.

The Welsh volunteers fighting in Spain represented the largest regional industrial grouping within the British Battalion of the International Brigades, largely from the South Wales valleys of the Rhondda, Cynon and Taff, although there were also volunteers from the north Wales coalfield and the coastal towns of the south and rural areas.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor, Councillor Linda De Vet, who also attended the rededication ceremony, said: “It is important to remind ourselves of the sacrifices of those who contributed to the struggle against fascism in Spain.

“The stories of these individuals who left their homes to fight for a greater cause is something that will resonate with us all, and it’s a part of our history that needs to be recognised in this way.”

Some of those who returned home after the Spanish Civil War became famous in later life, such as trade union leaders, notably Will Paynter. Those who fought were immortalised by political activist and singer Paul Robeson.

Speaking at a Miners’ Memorial Meeting in Mountain Ash in 1938, Paul Robeson said: “These fellows fought not only for Spain, but for me and the whole world."

The Spanish Civil War memorial is available for the public to view in the reception area of the Visitor Centre of the Welsh Mining Experience, alongside the new, FREE Discover Art exhibition.

The International Brigade Wales touring exhibition, featuring the Welsh Brigades who fought in the Spanish Civil War, is also at the Welsh Mining Experience until the end of June.

The Welsh Mining Experience is open Tuesday – Sunday.  For opening hours and more information visit www.rhonddaheritagepark.com

Posted on Tuesday 25th June 2019

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