La Marcha – The Beginning of the Spanish Civil War – A Timeline

This is my timeline for the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. “La Marcha” (the march) is the term used for the Army of Africa’s march on Madrid (1 Aug – 23 Nov 1936). Although called a march initially the reality was convoys of trucks travelling at high speed down the nations highways, hence my preference for the term “Drive on Madrid”.

I like this period of the war for a couple of reasons:

  • Idealism was still high.
  • The war was still fairly mobile.
  • The full range of troops were deployed, from untrained Militias through the veteran Army of Africa.
  • Lots of scope for interesting scenarios.

Scenario Ideas – A General Note

Ideas for wargaming scenarios appear in boxes like this. I use a variant of Crossfire for wargaming this period called Fuego Cruzado.

17-18 Jul 1936: Revolt

The Nationalist rising was planned for 0500 hours on 18 Jul 1936 (Thomas, 1986). However the rising began early in Morocco. On 17 Jul 1936 the local military commander in Melilla, a Republican, heard of a pre-rising meeting amongst his officers. The rebels reacted quickly to the resulting confrontation in the afternoon and seized the city. Ceuta was in Nationalist hands by 2300 hours and Tetuan on the following evening. The uprising spread to the mainland on 18 Jul.

1 – 11 Aug 1936: Andalusia

1 Aug 1936

Gen. Franco issues an operational order for Nationalist forces now concentrated in Seville to march on Madrid (Scurr, 1985). This force is known as the “Madrid Column” and is formed from elements of the Army of Africa under Lt. Col. Yagüe. Initially the Madrid Column has two parts: Column Asensio and Column Castejón. The aim of the Madrid Column is the proceed north by the main highway through Extremadura, secure the Poruguese frontier and make contact with General Mola’s forces in the north.

2 Aug 1936: Column Asensio leaves Seville

Legion on march

Column Asensio (under Lt. Col. Asencio) departs Seville at 8 pm (Preston, 1995; Scurr, 1985; Turnball, 1978, says 3 Aug). It includes the 4th Bandera of the Spanish Foreign Legion, the 2nd Tabor of Regulares of Tetuán, half a field battery, and at least one armoured car of the Assault Guards (Turnball, 1978; Scurr, 1985). The column travels in commandeered trucks supplied by General Queipo de Llano.

The Nationalist strategy during the advance is to drive at full speed down the main highways until they encounter resistance at a town or village (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). If the locals fail to surrender when hailed, or if they fire on the rebels, the troops dismount to attack supported by artillery and aircraft. The worker militias show considerable collective bravery when defending the streets of their hometowns and villages, but fall to pieces when facing machineguns and artillery in the open field. This is compounded by their refusal to dig trenches.

3 Aug 1936: Column Castejón leaves Seville

Column Castejón (under Major Castejón) departs Seville (Scurr, 1985). The core of Castejón’s column is the 5th Bandera and the 2nd Tabor of Regulares of Ceuta. Column Castejón advances slightly to the east of Column Asensio.

6 Aug 1936

After a rapid advance the Ascencio Column finally meets organised resistance from republican militiamen (Turball, 1978). This, the first battle of the war, lasts 7 hours. There are heavy casualties on both sides before the republicans withdraw.

Militia in trench

7 Aug 1936: Almadralejo

Ascencio faces another republican stand at Almadralejo, 100 miles north of Seville (Turnball, 1978). The militiamen are forced out of the town by evening, but fall back to Mérida. Weakened by the initial conflicts Column Ascencio is ordered to wait for Castejón.

8 Aug 1936: Group Tella leaves Seville

Approximate date Group Tella – the third part of the Madrid Column departs Seville (Scurr, 1985). Amongst others, Tella leads the 1st Bandera and the 1st Tabor of Regulars of Tetuán.

10 Aug 1936: Assault on Mérida

200 miles from Seville and 4 miles south of Mérida the Republican militia attempt to defend the river Guadiana the first serious resistance offered to the advancing Nationalists (Beevor, 1982, H. Thomas, 1986; both Turnball, 1978, and Scurr, 1985, say 11 Aug). A thrust by Asensio captures first the bridge and then Mérida itself. Lt. Col. Yagüe arrives from Seville to take direct command of the Army of Africa.

Militia

11 Aug 1936: Counter-Attack on Mérida

Lt. Col. Tella and the 1st Bandera are left to defend Mérida while the remainder of the force (3,000 men) head for Badajoz astride the road to Portugal (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986; both Turnball, 1978, and Scurr, 1985, say 12 Aug). The bulk of the Mérida militia, who had fled at the initial assault the day before, plus 2000 assault guards and civil guards from Madrid, launch an unsuccessful counterattack on Tella.

13 – 14 Aug 1936: Assault On Badajoz

13 Aug 1936

At 3 pm the Army of Africa attacks Badajoz (Scurr, 1985). The Republicans under Colonel Puigdendolas have 8000 troops in the city – twice the number of the attackers – unfortunately the defenders are predominantly militia, and on top of this, the republicans have just had to deal with a mutiny by the civil guard. Group Asensio takes the San Roque district outside and to the east of the boundary wall. Group Castejón storms the Menacho barracks on the west side.

Machinegun

14 Aug 1936

The Nationalist attack recommences at dawn with an artillery bombardment (Scurr, 1985; H. Thomas, 1986). The 2nd Tabor of Tetuán moves northwards, and by 11 am has fought its way through the Los Carros gate. At 12 noon Lt. De Miguel demoralises the defenders of the La Bomba barracks by leading the 18th Company of the 5th Bandera in a wild charge across the bullet swept esplanade. The 4th Bandera spend the day under continuous mortar and machine gun fire close to a gap in the wall near the Trinity Gate. At 3 pm Captain Perez Caballero leads the 16th Company, across the dried up Rivillas river, against the machine guns defending the 11 yard gap in the wall. An armoured car of the assault guards under Capt. Fuentes leads the attack and manages to draw the enemy fire, leaving the legionaries to take the gap on their second charge. The 16th suffer 80 casualties in the attack, leaving Captain Perez with only a corporal and 14 legionaries by the time he reaches the town hall. The 10th and 11th companies follow Perez in support, and another column of legionnaires makes an easier entry near the Puerta del Pilar. Hand to hand combat continued until the night, including fighting within the Cathedral (Beevor, 1982). By the end of fighting Badajoz is litter with 1,000 corpses. The Madrid column has 285 casualties, 106 of which belong to the 4th Bandera.

17 – ?? Aug 1936: Advance through the Guadalupe mountains

Yagüe turns east and starts toward Madrid again – through the Guadalupe mountains (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). The government’s army of Extremadura awaits him under General Riquelme. Riquelme has 9,000 men, including 2,000 anarchist militia. The Republicans are no match for the legionaries and Moroccans who outmanoeuvre them, forcing them to retreat or risk being cut off. Riquelme’s men retreat, although the anarchists refuse to follow his orders and launch useless attacks in the San Vicente hills. The Republicans do have air superiority and a section of Asensio’s group is nearly destroyed in the town of Medellin by Malrqux’s squadron in its first serious engagement. Some guerrilla groups operate against the Nationalists.

17 Aug 1936

Having passed through Trujillo, Column Tella reaches the bridge across the Tagus at Almaraz (Preston, 1995).

21 Aug 1936

Column Castejón capture Guadalupe, their advance to the south of Column Tella (Preston, 1995).

23 Aug 1936

Tella occupies Navalmoral de la Mata (H. Thomas, 1986).

27 Aug 1936

Asensio and Castejn join Tella at Navalmoral de la Mata having followed a route along the southern shore of the Tagus (Beevor, 1982; Preston, 1995).

First Nationalist air raids over Madrid (??).

28 – 2 Sep 1936

The Army of Africa advances along the northern side of the Tagus valley, arriving at Talavera de la Reina on 2 Sep (H. Thomas, 1986). Resistance is rare.

3 Sep 1936: Assault on Talavera de la Reina

10,000 Republican militiamen with artillery and an armoured train await the Nationalists in strong positions on the slopes before Talavera de la Reina 60 miles from Madrid (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). Yagüe outflanks the republicans and by dawn his three columns occupy the isolated aerodrome and railway-station thus surrounding the town. As usual, the threat of encirclement causes large numbers of militiamen to flee, this time in buses (Preston, 1995). At midday the Nationalists launch an assault on the town. By the time the republicans withdraw at the end of the day, they have lost 500 dead, 1,000 prisoners and 42 guns (Turnball, 1978). Nationalist causalities are over 1,000.

???

Colonel Asensio Torado (an africanista who stayed loyal to the government) takes command of the republican forces facing the Army of Africa (??). He brings order and discipline to the front, but can’t stem the retreat.

4 – 15 Sep 1936

Yagüe calls a 12 day halt after clearing Talavera de la Reina (Preston, 1995). Republican counter-attacks fail to recapture Talavera.

8 Sep 1936: Column Delgado meets Monasterio

A new Nationalist column (under Colonel Francisco Delgado Serrano) drives north to meet Monasterio’s Cavalry force coming south from Avila (??). They meet at Arenas de San Pedro in the Gredos mountains, thus cutting off a large portion of republican territory to the west.

14 Sep 1936

Yagüe promoted to Colonel Inspector of the Legion (??). The republican Gastone-Sozzi Centuria (Italian volunteers) and the Commune de Paris Centuria (French volunteers) are transferred to the Tagus.

20 Sep 1936

For the first time the militia are convinced to dig trenches – at Oropesa. Having dug them, they refuse to leave them even when Yagüe sent troops around each flank. (??) After a 7 hour battle the militia are forced to retreat and abandon Santa Olalla, opening up the way to the nearby Maqueda. In Oropesa the joint socialist youth lead by Andrés Martín fight to the end in the church.

Nationalist forces take Santa Olalla in the province of Toledo on the road to Madrid (Preston, 1995).

21 Sep 1936

Army of Africa capture Maqueda (Preston, 1995; Scurr, 1985). Maqueda is the crossroads where the road divides to go either east to Toledo or north to Madrid.

22 Sep 1936

Partly for health reasons, Yagüe relinquishes command of the Army of Africa to Lt. Col. Asensio (Preston, 1995).

24 Sep 1936

Asensio relinquishes command of the Army of Africa to General Varela (Preston, 1995).

25 Sep 1936

Following Franco’s decision to choose Toledo over Madrid, three columns of the Army of Africa cut the Madrid road north of Toledo (??). Column commanders are Asensio, Castejón, and Barrón.

26 Sep 1936

Asensio, Castejón, and Barrón move south on Toledo itself (Preston, 1995). The militia put up fierce resistance.

27 Sep 1936: Relief of the Acázar

Army of Africa relieve the Acázar of Toledo. 1st Tabor of Tetuán and 5th Bandera are the first troops to arrive (??). Republican resistance has been stiffening, as shown by the distances covered by the Nationalist columns. It took the Nationalist forces almost the same amount of time to travel the 80 km from Talavera to Toledo as it took to get from Sevilla to Talavera, a distance of nearly 400 km.

30 Sep 1936

The Republicans officially form the Popular Army, although it takes a while for all existing units to be merged into the new organisation (??). Following the Russian model, commissars are assigned to each unit.

6 Oct 1936

Army of Africa, now 10,000 strong, heads for Madrid again supported by large quantities of Italian artillery, light tanks and air support (Beevor, 1982; Preston, 1995; Scurr, 1985; Turball, 1978; H. Thomas, 1986). The five columns of Asensio, Castejón, Tella, Delgado Serrano, and Barrón advance in three main axis: northward from Toledo, north-eastward along the Mérida-Madrid road, and eastwards from San Martin de Valdigelsias in the Guadarramas (both Turball, 1978, and Scurr, 1985, say 4 columns, not 5). Yagüe returns to field command, but under Varela; Yagüe commands the two columns operating along the Toledo road. The left of the attack is supported by 10,000 falangists, Carlist requetés and regular soldiers, and by Monasterio’s Cavalry force. These troops are from the army of the north and are under General Valdes Cabanellas (Turnball, 1978, says Cabanelssa had 5,000 men and suggests they were the only nationalists operating in the Guadarramas). Although nominally the entire force is under General Mola, the field commander is General Varela.

?? Oct 1936

Captain Bayo, the Republican air force officer who led the ill-fated Majorcan expedition of August, leads somewhat unsuccessful guerrilla actions against the Nationalist army (??).

15 Oct 1936

The Army of Africa drive the whole 20-mile front forward ten miles (H. Thomas, 1986).

17 Oct 1936

The Army of Africa capture Illescas, the road junction half way between Toledo and Madrid (Scurr, 1985; H. Thomas, 1986).

18 – 19 Oct 1936: Counterattack on Chapineria

6,000 militiamen launch a counterattack on Castejón at Chapineria (H. Thomas, 1986). The militia break Castejón’s lines and surround the town. By the morning (19th) the Republican militia surround Chapineria, however, Castejón leads a sally through the cemetery, and defeats the counterattack.

20 – 23 Oct 1936: Counterattack on Illescas

15,000 Republicans under General Torrado – promoted since his last appearance – counterattack Barrón at Illescas (H. Thomas, 1986). Barrón watches as the republican forces are up to the front in double decker buses from Madrid. Illescas is hammered by artillery and the town surrounded. Monasterio’s cavalry and Tella’s column from Toledo are sent to reinforce Barrón. The nationalists outflank the militiamen, driving them back beyond their start line by the 23Oct.

21 Oct 1936

Army of Africa capture Navalcarnero (Martínez Bande, 1966; Scurr, 1985; F. Thomas, 1998). 32 km south-west of Madrid, Navalcarnero is the largest village between Talavera and the capital, and the junction with the El Escorial road. The republican militia abandoned the heavily wired, and well-constructed trenches in front of Navalcanero upon sight of the advancing legionaries of the 6th Bandera.

24 Oct 1936

General Pozas replaces Torrado in command of the republican army of the centre (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986).

26 Oct 1936

During the night the Nationalists reach Móstoles, seven miles from the outskirts of Madrid (Del Vayo, 1940). A republican counterattack forces them to retire.

29 Oct 1936

T26

Counterattack on Seseña

At dawn the republican counterattack the nationalist right flank, from the direction of Aranjuez toward Seseña and Esquivias (Beevor, 1982; Martínez Bande, 1966; H. Thomas, 1986). This is the first venture of the new Popular Army with Russian equipment. 15 T-26 tanks, driven by Russians under Captain Arman (known as ‘Greisser’), spearhead the attack against Monasterio’s cavalry. Lister is in support with the first of the republican mixed brigades. (The first mixed brigades were formed with men from the 5th Regiment). The tanks quickly out distance their supporting infantry, scatter the enemy cavalry in the narrow streets of Sesea, and reach Parla on the Madrid-Toledo road. During the battle the Russians wipe out a squadron of Italian tankettes (Turball, 1978); one T-26 is said to have knocked out 11 Italian ones (H. Thomas, 1986). Although successful against both the nationalist cavalry and their supporting Italian tankettes, the T-26s are forced to retire when a detachment of Legionaries set several of them on fire with hastily improvised petrol bombs.

Capture of Brunette

Destroyed Pz1

The 6th Bandera march north from Navalcarnero 10 km to capture Sevilla la Nueva (F. Thomas, 1998). Not content with their mornings efforts, they then push on 5 km to Brunette, engaging in skirmishing with republican troops on the way. Having captured Brunette, and seen the defenders off, the 6th return to Navalcarnero.

30 Oct 1936

15 miles to the north-west of Madrid, Brunete falls to the nationalists (Martínez Bande, 1966). The militiamen, threatened by encirclement by Moroccan cavalry are forced to retreat (Del Vayo, 1940, although he says Brunette fells on 1 Nov).

31 Oct 1936

Army of Africa capture Valdemoro (Martínez Bande, 1966; Scurr, 1985).

2 Nov 1936

Army of Africa capture Móstoles, Fuenlabrada and Pinto (Martínez Bande, 1966; F. Thomas, 1998; although F. Thomas, 1998, gives 3 Nov as the date Móstoles was captured). The 6th Bandera, supported by two Tabor of Regulares, 11 light tanks, 10 light field guns, and some aircraft, march the 13 km to Mstoles. The republican militia and regulars abandon their defences on the Guadarrama when they realise they are facing the Army of Africa. By 11 am the Nationalists have travelled the final 6 km to Móstoles where the republicans make an attempt to defend the village, but abandon it as well when threatened by flanking movements.

3 Nov 1936

Army of Africa are within sight of the Capital (Scurr, 1985), and now comprises 15,000 men and includes the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Banderas. Madrid has 25,000 men of the new Republican Popular Army defending it (??). The Popular Army is a mix of regular army, trade union (UGT and CNT) militia units, and the Communist 5th Regiment under Enrique Lister. The Russian tanks that made their appearance on 29 Oct are handed over to Spanish drivers, who baffled by their complexity, have little success in attacks over the next few days.

4 – 6 Nov 1936

Nationalist general staff debate how to capture Madrid (Preston, 1995). Yagüe and Varela propose blitzkrieg attacks through the weakly defended suburbs, while Mola recommends a broad frontal assault through the Casa del Campo to the north-west of Madrid, across the River Manzanares, and through the University City. Franco opts for Mola’s solution.

4 Nov 1936

Getafe (8.5 miles to the south of Madrid on the Toledo road) and its aerodrome fall to the nationalists, as do Alcorcón and Legans (Beevor, 1983, Martínez Bande, 1966; although Del Mayo, 1940 says Getafe fell on 5 Nov).

6 Nov 1936

Army of Africa capture Villaviciosa de Odn (Del Mayo, 1940), Campamento, Carabanchel Alto and Villaverde (Martínez Bande, 1966).

7 – 23 Nov 1936: Battle for Madrid

7 Nov 1936

Madrid

Two Nationalist columns take the south-western suburbs of Madrid, Carabanchel and Usera (Scurr, 1985).

Tankette

Republican militia find Varela’s plans for the next day’s attack in a knocked out Italian tank (Beevor, 1982; Preston, 1995; H. Thomas, 1986). The plan was to “occupy the zone between, and including, the University City and the Plaza de España, which will constitute the base of departure for further advances into the interior of Madrid”. The republican general staff (effectively the chief-of-staff Lt. Col. Vincente Rojo) switch the bulk of their troops to the Casa de Campo and prepared defensive positions for the next morning. 28,000 men are assigned to the Casa de Campo sector, and 12,000 remain in Carabanchel.

Cerro de los Angeles

Nationalists take Cerro de los Angeles near the Madrid-Toledo road (Martínez Bande, 1966).

8 Nov 1936

Casa de Campo Sector (Madrid)

At dawn the Army of Africa launches an attack on a 1 km front across the old royal hunting ground to the west of Madrid called the Casa de Campo (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). Asensio in the centre aims for the Model Prison and the Don Juan Barracks. Castejn is to his left, and is aiming for a student residence called the Fundación del Amo, on the Madrid side of the University City. Delgado Serrano is to Asensio’s right, aiming for the Montaña barracks and north station. About 20 Italian tankettes under Captain Fortuna (technically part of the Spanish Foreign Legion), plus three companies of tanks of the German Condor Legion under Colonel Thoma (2 heavy company, 1 light), are supporting the legionaries and Moroccans in their attacks on Madrid. Facing the main nationalist force are the 3rd and 4th Mixed Brigades under Colonel Galán and Colonel Romero respectively; the 3rd are stiffened by ex-carabineers. The republicans put up a strong defence and check the Nationalist advance with artillery and machine gun fire, stopping them at the high ground known as Mount Garabitas.

Carabanchel Sector (Madrid)

Militia

Meanwhile Tella and Barrón conduct a diversionary attack through the suburb of Carabanchel (Beevor, 1982). Antonio Coll, a republican sailor fighting in the Usera suburb, invents a new anti-tank technique known as “echando cojones al asunto” (basically “with balls”). Coll threw himself on the ground in the path of three enemy tanks, let them nearly reach him and then threw his bombs. Two were blown up; the third turned tail and fled. Coll was killed, but tanks were no longer seen as invincible.

Madrid Central

Two battalions of non-communist volunteers under Major Palacios force their way past communist troops attempting to stop them entering Madrid (Beevor, 1982). Palacios’ men join the defenders in the Casa de Campo.

Internationals march

The first of the International Brigades (the 11th) join the defence of Madrid (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). The 11th under General Kleber includes the Edgar André, Commune de Paris, and Dombrowski Battalions. During the evening the Commune de Paris and Edgar André Battalions are sent to Casa del Campo, whereas, the Dombrowski Battalion joins Lister and the 5th Regiment at Villaverde to the south of Madrid.

Note: both the Nationalists and Communists, for their own particular reasons emphasised the involvement of the international Brigades in the defence of Madrid. Both claimed the 11th Brigade arrived on the 7 Nov hence was present on the fighting of the 8Nov. For example, Martínez Bande (1966) takes this position when writing for the Franco Regime.

9 Nov 1936

Carabanchel Sector (Madrid)

Republican barricade

Varela swaps his main attack to the Carabanchel sector, but suffers heavy casualties and makes no progress (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). Varela’s Moroccans are baffled by street fighting in an unfamiliar city, whereas for the militiamen the opposite is true.

The battle continues in Carabanchel for several days (at least until 13 Nov) where hand-to-hand fighting occurs in the Military Hospital (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986).

Casa de Campo Sector (Madrid)

Major Palacios’ volunteers counterattack over the San Fernando bridge on the nationalist left flank (Beevor, 1982). He loses half his men, but retakes the north-eastern part of the park.

International Brigade in the Casa del Campo

That night the 11th International Brigade attacks through the mist in the centre of the Casa de Campo (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). The Brigadiers drive the nationalists back several hundred metres but suffer severe casualties in the process; one third are dead by morning.

11 Nov

In their push through the Casa de Campo during the period 6 – 11 Nov the Nationalists suffered 2,369 casualties, some 45% of the total muster (F. Thomas, 1998).

Durruti

12 Nov

The 12th International Brigade (Thaelmann, André Marty, and Garibaldi Battalions under General Lukács) arrives on the Madrid front (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986). The anarchist Durruti also arrives in Madrid with a column of 4,000 Catalan volunteers and is assigned the Casa de Campo.

13 Nov 1936: Cerro de los Angeles

The 12th International Brigade, supported by four Spanish Brigades and the Russian tank detachment, attacks the hill called the Cerro de los Angeles near the Madrid-Toledo highway south of Madrid (Martínez Bande, 1966; although Beevor, 1982, says 12 Nov). Fighting continues all day, but the attack fails due to command confusion (partially linguistic), the tanks failing to make adequate contact with the infantry, inadequate artillery support, and the fact the men had to march 10 miles before the attack.

14 Nov 1936: Casa de Campo Sector (Madrid)

University City

With most of his colleagues faltering in the face of horrific casualties, Asensio announces his resolution to cross the Manzanares on the following day (F. Thomas, 1998).

15 – 23 Nov 1936: Battle for the University City (Madrid)

On 15 Nov Varela launches an attack in the Casa de Campo supported by heavy artillery (Del Vayo, 1940; Preston, 1995; F. Thomas, 1998; although Beevor, 1982, and H. Thomas, 1986, say 19 Nov). The Asensio column (including Regulares of Tetuán and the 6th Bandera) reaches the Manzanares on the east side of the Casa del Campo three times, only to be driven back each time. Around 4 pm, taking advantage of failing light, a tabor from Tetuán (now less than 200 men) forded the river and stormed the higher ground beyond. They discovered the defenders militia of the Libertad column of Catalan socialists – had been withdrawn without being replaced (F. Thomas, 1998, believes this a case of Moorish psychosis – ‘el psicosis moruna’). Three companies of the 6th Bandera followed quickly, fanning out to occupy nearby buildings in the unfinished University City on Madrid’s northwest edge. The 11th International Brigade moves from the Casa de Campo to defend the Hall of Philosophy and Letters, but can’t stop more and more of the Army of Africa crossing into the University City. An advance guard of Moroccan’s drive Durutti’s anarchists back to the Plaza de la Moncloa inside Madrid, and some Moors even reach the Plaza de España before being killed. During the night the remainder of Asensio’s column cross the river. During the day, casualty rates among the Regulares reach 86%.

None of the fixed bridges over the Manzanares were captured intact, so the nationalists improvise a crude bridge over the collapsed structure of one of the originals. This structure became known as the ‘passageway of death’ (‘pasarela de la puerte’), as during daylight hours this bridge was open to fire from enemy machinegun nests 300 m away in the University. It was open the first night to men and ammunition. Some days later the bridge and the trenches leading to and from it were widened to allow the passage of trucks.

The 6th Bandera captures the Asilo Santa Cristina Hospital on 17 Nov.

During the morning of 17 Nov the Durruti column frontally attack from the University City into the Casa de Campo (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986, says Durruti received the orders to attack on 15 Nov). Lacking the promised artillery and aircraft support the Catalans falter in the face Moroccan machine guns and artillery, and break back to their start line.

University City (1936)

Between 19 and 23 Nov first the 6th Bandera (until 21 Nov) then the 4th Bandera fight the Republican militia and 11th International Brigade for the seven floors of the Clinical Hospital (Hospital Clínico) at the eastern end of the University City (F. Thomas, 1998; H. Thomas, 1986; although Scurr, 1985, gives the dates 17 23 Nov). The fighting is with grenade and bayonet; room by room and floor by floor. Once captured the Hospital constituted the final extent of the Nationalist salient.

Republicans in University City

On 21 Nov the 6th Bandera make an abortive attack on the Model Prison and Don Juan Barracks (F. Thomas, 1998, although he gives 20 Nov and 22 Nov as alternative dates). Using the Asilo Santa Cristina Hospital and Dr Rubio Research Institute as launching points, they advance across the Parque del Oeste but stall when their own supporting aircraft bomb them.

Durruti is mortally wounded on 19 Nov in front of the Model Prison, dying on 20 Nov.

The Commune de Paris Battalion go on an unsuccessful flank attack at Aravaca to the north-west of the University City (Bradley, 1994). On their return to the University city they are posted to the recaptured Philosophy and Letters Building, where they use books to block windows and shell holes from Nationalist fire.

Outskirts of Madrid (1936)

With the ground attack staled, Madrid is subjected to intensive Nationalist air raids from 19 – 23 Nov (Beevor, 1982; H. Thomas, 1986).

23 Nov 1936

4th Bandera finally secure the Clinical Hospital after suffering a total of 250 casualties (Scurr, 1985).

Franco halts the frontal attack on Madrid (H. Thomas, 1986; Scurr, 1985). Three quarters of the University City is in nationalist hands, including the Clinical and Santa Cristina Hospitals and the Institutes of Hygiene and Cancer. The republicans retain the Hall of Philosophy and Letters. Total casualties on both sides are approximately 10,000 out of the 40,000 participating.

References

Beevor, A. (1982). The Spanish Civil War. Cassell & Co.

Bradley, K. (1994). International Brigades in Spain 1936-39. Osprey.

Bueno, J. M. (1971). Uniformes Militares en color de la Guerra Civil Espaola. Madrid: Libreria Editorial San Martin.

Cockburn, C. (1986). Cockburn in Spain: Despatches from the Spanish Civil War [J. Pettifer Ed.]. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Cordery, B. (1993). La Ultima Cruzada: A Wargamers guide to the Spanish Civil War (2nd ed.). Partizan Press.

Del Vayo, A. J. (1940). Freedom’s Battle. William Heinemann.

Henry, C. (1999). The Ebro 1938: Death Knell of the Republic. Osprey Campaign Series 60.

Hills, George. (1976). The Battle For Madrid. London.

Martínez Bande, J. M. (1966). Communist intervention in the Spanish war. Spanish Information Service: historical documents, no. 4.

Martinez Bande, Jose Manuel (1968). La marcha sobre Madrid. Madrid.

Preston, P. (1995). Franco: A biography. London: Fontana (first published 1993).

Romilly, E. (1937). Boadilla: A Personal Record of the English Group of the Thaelman Battalion of the International Brigade in Spain. London.

Scurr, J. (1985). The Spanish Foreign Legion. Osprey.

Thomas, F. (1998). Brother against Brother: Experiences of a British Volunteer in the Spanish Civil War (R. Stradling, Ed.). Sutton.

Thomas, H. (1986). The Spanish Civil War. Simon & Schuster.

Toynbee, P. (ed.) (1976). The Distant Drum: Reflections on the Spanish Civil War. London.

Turnball, P. (1978). The Spanish Civil War 1936-39. Osprey.

Willoughby, C. A. (1992). The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939: An American military perspective [P. Condray Ed.]. Editions Brokaw.

Wilson, J. (1989). Tanks & Trucks of the Spanish Civil War. Partizan Press.

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