No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in WW2

A few folk with relatives who served in the No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps have got in touch (see Spaniards in British Service during WW2). Brian Coles has even contributed some photos of this unit. So I thought this company deserves a page of its own.

Photos from Brian Coles

Brian Coles sent through a few photos.

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 1

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 1

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 2

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 2
Rafael Sanchez is top row 7th from the left, wearing the British army cap not a beret

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 4

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 4

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 5a

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 5a

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 5b

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 5b

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 6

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps Fig 6


Here are some individuals I know of.

Frank Cole

Brian Cole says:

When my father was conscripted (into the RASC), although he had excellent academic qualifications, he didn’t feel that he could afford to accept the offer of officer-training. However, when he realised that some of his work-colleagues had taken commissions, he felt that his employer might favour them for promotion after the war; so, he took a commission and because he had won prizes for Spanish speaking as a student, he was transferred into The Pioneer Corps and, in particular, the Spanish company.

In common with many of his generation, he didn’t speak much about his wartime experiences; however, I understand he was involved with the D-day landings and some of the photos show him with the company in Europe. Later, I believe he served in Africa and had reached the rank of acting Major when he was demobbed.

After the war, he returned to his previous employer (Littlewoods Mail Order Company) and, at the time of his retirement, he had become Managing Director. One of my own few claims to fame is that he named on of his companies Brian Mills after he purchased some derelict cotton mills in Lancashire. Some older readers might remember their catalogues in the fifties and sixties.

Rafael Sanchez

Eileen Grenham mentioned:

My dad was in the no1 Spanish company of the pioneer corps, Rafael Sanchez.

He was recruited in southern France in the internment camp into the 13th Demi brigade of the Foreign legion , after Narvik somehow ended up at Dunkirk. My brother managed to do some research a couple of years ago and threw up some interesting history, if you are able to share any photos that would be greatly appreciated.

My dad was is on the top row 7th from the left [in Fig 2], he is wearing the British army cap not a beret.

11 comments to No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in WW2

  • Francisco Haro

    Last photo. Father Corporal Rodrigo Haro back row 3rd from right holding cigarette. I have photos of the sawmill at Charfield where he was stationed. Where are the sawmill photos above taken, as he is not in them. Kind regards, Francisco Haro.

  • Begona

    Hi. In Fig 6 my father is in the top row , fourth from the left. His name is Jose Barberan. I am so delighted to see this photo

  • Malcolm Hardy

    Hello Steven
    This is very interesting. Have you any more info on Spanish men and women from the Republican side who may have fought with the British in any capacty against the Nazis or Italians? I live in Alicante province and a local Spanish organisation called the ‘Civic Commision for the Recovery of Historic Memory’ is holding an event this May to celebrate those Republican Spaniards who fought alongside the Allies [most I believe joined the Free French] and they want info on the British end. Can you help?
    Malcolm Hardy

  • Linda Pujol

    Just recently found out my father Alfonso Pujol was part on the number 1 Spanish pioneer corps. Would love to hear if anyone has either heard of him or any information that may relate to him.

  • Carlos Romero

    My niece has just sent me these photos. My father, Jose Romero was in this unit. By comparing the picture of him on his French Foreign Legion enlistment document with picture no. 1, I believe he is standing two from the left in the middle row that starts with what looks like two officers sitting next to the tree. To Malcolm Hardy. I am willing to share with the “Civic Commission for the recovery of Historic Memory” the information I have from the research I have obtained so far. So please – if you or they are still interested, facilitate communications. These will have to be in English as unfortunately my father did not teach me any Spanish!!

    • Malcolm Hardy

      Many thanks for that Carlos. Although it’s too late for the specific event I mentioned, the Civic Commission could still be interested in your material – I will ask them. I have already given them the address for this part of Balagan’s website.

  • Leonor Stjepic

    My late uncle, Agustin Roa Ventura, left me some papers in which he talks about joining the British Army Pioneer Corps when he was liberated from Djelfa concentration camp. I am looking for more details as I am writing a book about his experiences. I’d be grateful for any pointers as to where I can find documents or information about the liberation of Djelfa by the British or the Spanish soldiers that served in World War II. Thanks

  • Great find, my grandfathers brother: Esteban Molina was in the 1SC, I still remember some days when my grandfather (that fought in the Spanish Civil war) and my uncle told us stories about it, it was amazing to sit there and just listen to them …

    My father was named after him. Also he´s son, Alfredo is now an well known actor in UK and USA (Alfred Molina)

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