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.

31 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)

    • Tony Molina

      Dear Ricardo, I am Tony Esteban Molina. Esteban Molina was my father, Alfred & Robert are my half brothers. so i am your 2nd cousin, I have an older sister Betty, also your 2nd cousin. we were born in 1942 &1944 Our father split up from our mother in 1949. I know very little about my father and his Spanish family, I only found out recently the names of my spanish grandparents Jose Manuel and Josefa Nieto. If you are able to inform me I would love to know how many brothers and sisters my dad had. I think it was a note from you to a chat page for alfred years ago that made me realise my dad had passed away. I hope this note reaches you and that you will reply to it yours sincerely Tony Molina

  • Andre Marco

    My father, Silverio Marco, also served in the No 1 Spanish Company Pioneer Corp. He is in photo No 6, bottom row, 7th from the left. I have done much research into this company and having found his service number on his marriage certificate I submitted the appropriate forms to the ‘Army Personnel Centre, Support Division Historical Disclosures, Mail Point 555, Kentigern House, 65 Brown Street, Glasgow G2 8EX. For £30 they did a search and provided me with a full history of my father during his enlistment into this company from 1940 to his demobilisation in 1946.

    • carlos romero

      Hi Andre, Malcolm, and others who have shown an interest in this. I am wondering if – considering the historical importance of !st Spanish Coy.(I believe it was the first unit of the British forces -albeit an Auxiliary unit – entirely made up of personnel from a third country) whether some sort of reunion of descendants of this unit could be organized to highlight its formation. Several times I have mentioned it in conversation and the other party have been amazed about its existence! Best wishes, Carlos Romero

      • Andre Marco

        Hi Carlos, that is a very interesting idea and I for one would be very interested to do that. No1 Spanish Company were a very important part of the Allied Forces during WW2 and I would think that most of its 250 men have passed on. If there are enough descendants of these brave men interested in any sort of reunion to remember their war efforts I would certainly be one of the first to attend. It would be a big commitment though for those involved in organising it.

        • carlos romero

          How about we see how many other affirmative replies like yours we get. I would be willing to give it a go, but since I have never done anything like it I would probably require some guidance. I am retired so I do have the time to try

          • Andre Marco

            I am also retired so can offer some time. Lets see if there is any interest and take it from there.

          • carlos romero

            Whereabouts do you live? I live in Bournemouth. I ask this as if this does take off there will probably need to be lots of contact between us!

          • Andre Marco

            I live in Ferndown! I think that there are quite a few descendants of the men who served in No 1 Spanish Company living in this area.

  • Yo estoy investigando sobre otro español miembro de la compañía. He conseguido recuperar su historia.

    • Steven Thomas

      Translated … “I am investigating about another Spanish member of the company. I have managed to recover his story.”

  • Antony Martinez

    My father Jose Martinez Cervantes is second from right with the beret in fig 2.
    A reunion of descendants is a good idea I would certainly be interested. It would be good to share records, photos etc. somewhere in the south of England sounds great. Bournmouth?.

    • Andre Marco

      A reunion of descendants sounds great. Through research, I have a lot of information and photo’s. I live in Ferndown so Bournemouth would suit me very well.

  • Eileen Grenham

    That sounds interesting

  • Antonio Suarez

    Dear All

    This thread may no longer be in use, and I come late to the table. However, I am trying to research my grandfather who I know served in the British Armed Forces from 1940 to 1946 having served in the French Foreign Legion before that, and fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. I am starting my journey to try to trace his history, and note some of you on this Board have successfully tracked down details. My grandfather was called Francisco Ramon Martinez Gimenez. I have no details of service number or regiment, however, when I look at the last photo above Fig 6 – the individual on the top row on the right hand side with an arm around his shoulder very much looks like my grandfather, and I have a contemporaneous photo of him which looks similar.

    If anybody can provide any assistance or guidance whatsoever I would be most grateful, especially a list of all spaniards that served in this unit so I can see if he did in fact serve.

    Kind regards


    • Andre Marco

      Antonio, take a look at my thread dated 2nd Dec 2017. If your grandfather served in the British Army as you suspect they will definitely have a full record here. My father very much did exactly the same as your grandfather and I have been able over the past 14 months to uncover years of information, including much of his time in the French Foreign Legion, all of his time in the British Army 1940 – 1946 and a long lost Spanish family that we in the UK did not know existed. Feel free to e-mail me for any information you think I can provide.

    • Andre Marco

      My father, Silverio Marco Guillo, is also in photo No 6 so there is definitely much information I can pass on to you.

      • Antonio Suarez

        Dear Andre

        Thank you very much for your response. It would be great to connect, and understand how you were able to research so effectively. How can I find your email without you having to disclose it to the world? Best, Antonio

  • Manuel Fernandez

    Hi to all, my grandfather served in the N°1 spanish company during WW2 and landed in Normandy.
    He joined the british army after having been in the french foreign legion as many spanish guys.. He had been in Narvik in Norway with the legion.
    His name was Manuel Fernandez (I have the same name).
    Do not hesitate to contact me
    please follow the link below to see a picture

  • ricky

    Hi my name is Enrique Manuel romera (ricky) my fathers name was Francisco Romera Espinar.
    He served in the French foreign legion and then joined no1 Spanish corps and told us many stories over the years.
    I would love to be in contact with anyone who could give me more information. I also have a few pictures which might be of interest.

  • Silvino


    Can someone tell me if there is a list of the Spaniards that formed this company?

    Someone knows if there was in this company some Spanish born in Chinchilla (Albacete)

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