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.

SpanCo-1 - No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-1 – No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-2 - No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-2 – No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-4 - No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-4 – No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-5a - No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-5a – No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps

SpanCo-6 - No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps
SpanCo-6 – No 1 Spanish Company of the Pioneer Corps


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.

José Luque

Joseph Luque shared photos of his father José Luque (laying down) and his close friend Socorro. They were serving in the 13th demi brigade of the Foreign Legion at Narvik.

José Luque - 13th demi brigade of the Foreign Legion - Narvik 1940
José Luque – 13th demi brigade of the Foreign Legion – Narvik 1940
Socorro - 13th demi brigade of the Foreign Legion - Narvik 1940
Socorro – 13th demi brigade of the Foreign Legion – Narvik 1940

Rafael Tresserras

Michael Rafael Tresserras sent in a photo of No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in a forest in Belgium. Michael’s father (Rafael) is first on right hand side with his back to the camera with hat on.

No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in a forest in Belgium - Michael's father (Rafael) is first on right hand side with his back to the camera with hat on
No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in a forest in Belgium – Michael’s father (Rafael) is first on right hand side with his back to the camera with hat on

134 thoughts on “No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in WW2”

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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

    • Hi Bernard,
      Would love any info you might have, on my late grandfather Ricardo Lopez
      He was born in Madrid
      We have a picture of him for Norway. We believe after being recruited into the French Foreign Legion he then enlisted into the Pioneer corps of the British Army.

      Kind regards

      Louise Tangi

      • Hola Louise.

        I can certainly help. Currently coming to the end of writing a book on Spaniards in the British Army. Two chapters on the No. 1 Spanish Coy. Drop me an email. Hasta entonces. Séan Scullion

      • Hello. My name is Rosa Carreras. My father also went into the French foriegn legion went to Norvic. He cones from Barcelona. He came to England to westward Hoe and joined the British Army the pioneer company. He was sent down to Thame in Oxfordshire but we cannot find anything else about them. They were known as the Mexicons.

        • Hola. Drop me an email and we can speak more. I am coming to the end of writing a book on Spaniards in the British Army. Gracias. Séan Scullion

          • Thank you for your reply. We as a family have tried to find out more but we come across a brick wall. We have his papers he got from the Army but that’s it. We know he was at Oxford because that’s where he met my Mum.

          • Dear Sean, You. may have noticed that several of the photos at start of this thread were presented by me. So, I’m super happy. about your book. Feel free to use some/any of the photos. So, when will it become avaILable?

          • Rosa & Brian – More than happy to help where I can. I have managed to interview several families who have all been very helpful and generous. Must be touching a hundred or son families contacted now and over 500 photos. Now getting to the final chapter of the book and hand all in to the publisher in April. The book will be out next summer by Helion Casemate and entitled “Churchill’s Spaniards: Continuing the Fight in the British Army 1936-46”. If you are able to send me any photos of good quality I would love to integrate them. The publisher has decided to go with photo quality paper so I will be placing as many of them in as possible. Email is sfscullion12 at gmail dot com. Nobody has been able to get all of this information together so I hope it will be of some use. I also plan to do a few book launch events to which families will be invited. More to follow.

          • Dear Sean,

            I’m sorry to trouble you. You seem to be a busy man. However, I’m curious to know if your book might contain the names of British officers who worked with the Spaniards; and, in particular, my father S.F.Cole, who appears in the photos I sent. Obviously, if that were to be the case, I would be interested in acquiring a copy.

  4. 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.

    • Linda hola. It would be great to speak to you and chat if at all possible. Alfonso comes up a few times. Hasta pronto. Séan

  5. 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!!

    • 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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)

    • 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

  8. 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.

    • 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

      • 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.

        • 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

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

          • 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!

          • 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.

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

  9. 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?.

    • 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.

  10. 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


    • 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.

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

      • 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

  11. 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

  12. 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.

  13. Hello!

    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)

  14. Serendipitous,. I have just finished writing Blowing up Iberia and Blowing up the Rock, accounts of British, German, Italian and Spanish sabotage operations during WW2. The former, Blowing up Iberia, include the stories of many Spanish Republicans recruited from the No. 1 Spanish Pioneer Corps to be trained for special operations in Spain should the Germans invade.

    • Hi Bernard,
      Would love any info you might have, my father was Francisco Romera (Espinar)
      I have some pictures in the wood etc
      And remember talk of special op bombing, also French foreign legion
      Kind regards
      Ricky Romera

      • Extracts from Blowing up Iberia:
        The first problems amongst the Sconces

        In the H Section journal for early 1941 it was reported that:

        30 Jan 41. Squads 1 and 2 have come down from Arisaig and are now stationed at Beaulieu. One of the SCONCE boys has proved unruly and unsatisfactory. The difficulty is that he cannot be sent back to the A.M.F Company from which he was extracted from the point of view of security and also from the point of view of the influence he might have when he got back. On the other hand, his conduct has not been sufficiently grave to have him sent to prison until the end of the war. This problem is likely to increase. However, the unruly one has been told to watch his step, and as he is on friendly terms with a serjeant in the Squad who is a good fellow, a reformation is looked for with some confidence.
        From the point of view of morale, they have all become rather restive after their spell at Arisaig. Arrangement have been made for these boys to have 48 hours leave in London in batches of about six at a time. They will be accompanied by Spanish speaking Field Security men, who will show them about a bit, but who will not intrude at such times as the presence of a third party might be unwelcome [‘avec les girls’ was pencilled beside this comment].
        6 Feb. 41. Squads 1 and 2 are still in training in Hampshire, and are more or less ready. Arrangements are being made to alleviate the monotony of their existence by leave in London, and music and laughter in Hampshire. There are, however, only thirty of them. The next lot have been chosen, but their training can only begin about the 20th February [when another group’s training had finished]. (Ibid.)

        On 11 February, Scott requested 24 further Spaniards from Plymouth for the Sconce III group. The Commanding Officer, Major Drysdale-Smith, was asked to arrange for them to be medically examined and those found fit were to be taken by Lt. Hambro and Lt. Marchant, accompanied by three Field Security Officers, to Brock Hall. They were Corporal Grande, L/Cpl Vicente Izquierdo and Privates Miranda Perez, Pla Mallafré, Sebastian Cayuela, Francisco Romera, José Valero, Jaime Mas, Antonio Fernandez, Antonio (Juan) Membrado, José Nicolas, Francisco Perraferer, José Carreras, Francisco (Fernando) Gutierrez, Guillermo Martin, José Romero, Ramon Gener, Ramira, Luis Saez, Antonio Puig, José Luque, Pedro Gil, Eduardo Del Rio, Rafael Sanchez, Francisco Navarro, Francisco Munoz, Joachim Munoz, José Ostio and Donato Cuenca. Although Masso and Ortega were to be included, they were not on the list.
        An issue arose in mid-February when the Sconce I party found three Italians, Salcilli, Rivoli and Campi, at one of the houses in Beaulieu. These men had already undergone parachute training but as they had failed their course, they had been given domestic work to do. Animosity between the Spanish and Italians led to two of the latter being transferred to one of the other houses on the estate. (Ibid, 12 February 1941)
        From Beaulieu, the trained Sconces were taken to Thame House, a newly requisitioned 18th century mansion with extensive parkland, about 13 miles [20 km) east of Oxford. It was designated S.T.S. 42 but was sometimes referred to as Thame Park or Thame, and used as a holding station until the agents’ transport arrangements for infiltration into the ‘Field’ were completed. There were reports that some men were accommodated in army tents in the grounds.

        All Sections who are sending or who propose to drop people into Europe and who have any chance of transmitting information back from the country in which they have been dropped, should be supplied with a questionnaire from ‘C’, which could be prepared by L. Department in conjunction with Colonel [Claude] Dansey [Deputy Head of SIS] of C, or with whoever Colonel Dansey may depute in C.
        This is designed so that the wireless sets from C, with which they equip our men may be used to a certain extent for bringing intelligence to C and no doubt L. Department could explain in a very short course to our own people how to identify troops by shoulder-straps and aeroplanes by numbers on the wings, etc., etc., which is the type of information which C would be very grateful to have.
        I desire the fullest collaboration from all Section Heads on this matter, for it is obvious that if C. are interested in getting information for themselves we shall have a large degree of co-operation from them in equipping our people with wireless and giving them adequate reception from this end. (Ibid, 25 April 1941)

        In a report on the Sconce D party at Ringway, the Spanish Section was told that ‘Laiseca failed to jump at the night-drop at dawn today. It was a great disappointment to us all, as they were an excellent team, and had caused great satisfaction at Ringway. Unfortunately too, Nadal, the little batman of Marchant’s, who really enjoys jumping, fell on one of the lights at the ‘drome, and was taken to hospital. There is no report through from the hospital yet; the injury is a spinal one, and an X-Ray is being taken. Velasco is still in hospital with a fractured ankle.’ (Ibid, 25 April 1941)
        Accidents during parachute training resulted in students having to be hospitalised. As numbers rose, there was a recommendation that, for security reasons, a small military hospital ought to be set up specifically for dealing with accidents at Ringway.
        After 48-hours leave in London, Sconce D were escorted by an FSP officer to Beaulieu. Whilst their and Sconce E’s training continued, Grayson composed fourteen Sconce parties based on the students’ geographical knowledge, their leadership qualities and friendship groups. 12 were from Sconce A, 15 from Sconce B, 21 from Sconce C and 23 from Sconce D. Party A consisted of Sgt. Jurado and Privates Latienda, Alvarez, Arroyo and Delgado. Party B was led by Cpl. Busquet with Privates Aguera, Aparcio, Lassiera and Nadal. Party C was led by L/Cpl. Ioveno with Privates Queralt, Chuz, Cuenca and Masso. Party D was led by Private Bellenguer with Privates Palomar, Fernandez, Alcony and Sanabrias. Party E was led by Cpl. Delgado with Laiseca, Palanca, Montursi and Velasco. Party F was led by Cpl. San Feliz with Privates Nieto, Hamira, Saez and Luque. Party G was led by L/Cpl. Izquierdo with Privates Laiseca, Palanca, Montursi and Velasco. Party H was made up of Privates Perez, Ortega, Martin, Romera and Sanchez. Party I included Privates Nicolas, F. Munoz, J. Munoz, Gener and Gil. Party J was led by Cpls. Grande and Herreros with Privates Garcia, Carreras and Gutierrez. Party K was led by L/Cpl. Bernard with privates Sanchez, Ortiz, Pusol and Gonzalez. Party L was led by Cpl. Balague with L.Cpl. Pardo and Privates Lopez, Casabayo and Molina. Party M was led by L.Cpl. Panchame with Privates Tuset Salvador, Planella and Villaseisor and Party N was led by Sgt. Espallargas with L/Cpl Bon and Privates Prades, Romeo and Marcos (?Marco).
        On 8 May, Grayson reported that Richard Hambro, the Sconce E party’s interpreter, was ‘definitely interested in the work and has a good knowledge of the subjects taken here. He is possibly somewhat handicapped by his lack of knowledge of military procedure and does not seem to be sufficiently strict in interpreting correction of Students in matters of cleanliness of person (shaving etc.) and of equipment (boots etc.) and seems to take their part when censure in matters of discipline both in these and other matters, is considered necessary. In other respects I can certainly commend him.’ (TNA HS9/649/2)

        Unfortunately, Francisco does not have a personnel file in the National Archives in Kew.

        • Hello, My name is Joseph Luque and my father was Jose Luque 23/7/1918 who served in the Republican Spanish Army as an Artillery Sergeant, After the civil War he joined as many others did the 13th Demi Brigade of the foreign legion, I have a couple of photographs of him in Narvik, when he made it to England he enlisted into the Spanish corp at Westward Ho on the 17th July 1940, Unfortunately he did not speak much about his service, any further information would be appreciated.
          Joe Luque

          • There are five references to J. Luque in my book

            However – was he Jose LUQUE aka Ignatio QUINTILLA – born 1909


            Jose LUQUE aka Antonio HERRORO – born 22.07.1918

          • Seems like neither, born in Cordoba 23rd July 1918 Jose Luque Herencia Known as Pepe, was 22 when enlisting, temp address listed as Bristol, service No 13802520, Attesting officer Capt FH Harbour, good friend with someone called Alcon

          • My father was with Alcon in the French foreign legion and the Spanish corps and remained close friends till they passed away, my email address is I have various pictures of his time in Norway etc

        • Born in Cordoba 23rd July 1918 Jose Luque Herencia Known as Pepe or Lucky, was 22 when enlisting, temp address listed as Bristol, service No 13802520, Attesting officer Capt FH Harbour, good friend with someone called Alcon

    • Hi Bernard,
      would you be able to inform me if the private Molina mentioned in Party L is Esteban Molina ?
      Esteban is my father, but I know very little about him. thanks Tony Molina

      • He was Esteban Molina but unfortunately he does not have a personal file. One mention of him included Nieto in brackets after his name. Bernardo Nieto does had a very short file -date of birth 1/4/1916 .

  15. I have the personnel files of MANY of those recruited for special op training.
    Can anyone tell me where Brian Cole’s photos were taken? Plymouth, Hullavington or elsewhere?

    • Bernard, Inconveniently, some might say, I’ve recently moved house and in so doing, have mislaid the photos (which may have some info written on the back of them); so, for the time being at any rate, I can’t answer your question. However, I do have another document which suggests that the photos were taken after D-day. Going on from that, I am aware that my father served the latter part of the war in West Africa (Lagos in Nigeria, to be exact) and I wondered if you had (or could direct me to) any information about that part of the company’s history, please.

  16. Hi Bernard, I remember my father Francisco Romera (Espinar) talking about special op and bombing factories etc, I also have pictures in the wooded area etc any info would be brilliant.
    Kind regards
    Enrique Romera (Ricky)

  17. Bernard,
    thanks for the reply. Nieto was my grandmother’s maiden name so Esteban and Bernardo Nieto may have
    been related. Esteban’s date of birth was 17/11/1920 thanks again Tony Molina

    • It’s possible the men were given cover names during training – a bit silly when many knew each other from their time in Spain, France, Norway and then Britain. as the d.o.b. (date of birth) differs, it was common practice for the cover name to be based on the initials of the real name, so Anthony Molina could be Alfonso Mahon. I doubt whether Bernardo was Esteban’s cover name….

  18. Documented Spanish Republicans engaged on Operation Sconce during Second World War
    Nota Bene – there may be some spelling mistakes. s.

    Cristofo Aguera/Agueras,
    Francisco Alapont
    Luis Alvarez, HS9/27/4
    B. Aparacio/Aparicio,
    Mariano Arroyo, HS9/56/3
    V. Belles (Francisco Ruiz).
    José Bernard,
    Francisco Balague (De Cortes),
    Pedro Bellenguer, HS9/120/1
    Bernard, ???
    Miguel Bon (Mateo),
    José Bosque, HS9/186/7
    José Busquet,
    José Carreras, HS9/271/4
    Ricardo Carron,
    Fernando Casabayo (Martinez), HS9/276/2
    Sebastian (Salvador ) Cayuela, HS9/282/8 +photo
    Juan Colome (Massalle),
    Antonio Cruz, HS9/378/2
    Donato (Henrique) Cuenca HS9/379/5
    Miguel Cuevas,
    Martinez Delgado,
    Ignacio Egea,
    Fabian Escaso,HS9/484/8
    Manuel Espallargas (Ferrar), HS9/485/5
    San Feliz,
    Antonio Fernandez,
    Francisco Fernandez,
    Teodoro Fernandez,
    Francises Villas Fivor (Lozaro).
    Blas Gallego,
    José Molina Garcia HS9/561/3 (NOT Sconce but Republican)
    Juan Garcia HS9/561/4
    H. Gener,
    Ramon Gener,
    Pedro Gil,
    Antonio Giurerrez,
    Joaquin Gomez, HS9/598/3
    Courado Gonzalez (Ragal),
    Antonio Grande (Catalan), HS9/608/9
    Francisco Gutierrez,
    Fernando Gutierrez=Gallastegui, HS9/638/4 (Not Sconce
    Pedro Herreros (Catalan),
    Juan Iniesta, HS9/777/2
    Francisco Ioveno,
    M.(Clement) Izquierdo, HS9/781/8
    Vicente Izquierdo,
    José Jurado, HS9/815/8
    Domenico Lassierra,
    Angel Latienda,
    Modesto Lopez (Fernandez Salvador Garcia (Tun/Tur)),
    José Luque,
    Pla Mallafré,
    Silvenia Marco (Guillot),
    Guillermo Martin,
    Jaime Mas,
    Benito Masso,
    Luis Melis,
    Antonio (Juan) Membrado,
    Esteban Molina (Nieto),
    José Montane,
    Andres Muniz,
    A, Munoz,
    Francisco Munoz, HS9/1075/6
    Joachim Munoz,
    Joaquin Nadal,
    Francisco Navarro,
    José Nicolas,
    Bernardo Nieto, HS9/1102/4
    Antonio Ortega,
    Armando Ortiz (Diego),
    José Ostio, HS9/1128/3
    Ramon Palanca,
    Benito Panchame (Busquet),
    José Pardo (Garcia), HS9/1143/8
    Miranda Perez,
    Francisco Perraferer,
    José Planella (Ayler),
    Augustin Leandro Pollan,
    Juan Prades (Molina), HS(/1207/1
    Antonio Puig,
    Alfonso Pujol (Galvet), HS9/1217/1
    Jaime Queralt,
    Eduardo Del Rio, HS9/1262/6
    Nicholas Del Rio, HS9/1262/7
    Jesus Rodriguez, HS9/1275/8 (+photo)
    Juan Romeo (Subirats), HS9/1279/2
    Francisco Romera,
    José Romero,
    Francisco Ruiz, HS9/1290/8
    Luis Saez, HS9/1298/6
    Sebastian Salvador (Roig),
    José Sanchez (Berroz),
    Rafael Sanchez,
    Juan Tapia,
    Francois Trujillo, HS9/1488/1
    Juan Tuset, TNA HS9/1494/3
    José Umbo, TNA HS9/1497/6
    José Valero,
    Simbon Vergugo,

    • Thank you Bernard, I cannot express how pleased I am to find someone has completed such extensive research on an otherwise overlooked battalion of soldiers. My father Rafael Sanchez (Ruiz) was a very humble hard working man. He did not discuss his time in any of the three armies he fought in with me, I was the youngest, but he did with my much older brothers. There were claims that he had undergone espionage and parachute training, which in the era of James Bond films we brushed off as exaggeration, one brother paid a researcher some years ago to discover his war history, there did appear confirmation that he had indeed undertaken training at the same establishments where SOE training was carried out but the information petered out.

      The only person I know he kept in contact with was Joe San Feliz who was a good friend for many years after the war.
      I will buy your book and look forward to discovering more.

    • Your book is very interesting, you have mentioned my father a few times, Rafael Sanchez. Are you aware of any personal records? My search of the National Archives via the website only found his naturalisation certificate.

  19. I have been helping my friend Michael Tarraga with his past as he was put into care at birth with his twin brother and 2 year old sister. Having traced his fathers first marriage in 1943 and then the birth of a daughter in 1944, I have found he was in the Spanish company, Pioneer Corps, no: 13802412 Mario Tarraga.

    Apart from these pages, does anyone know where to look for more details? Mike knows nothing about his mother or father, apart from what the Council Care papers reveal.

    Thanks Chris.

    • I’ve checked my files and those in the National Archives. It appears that he did not volunteer to join the Sconces (trained to be infiltrated back into Spain on sabotage missions should the Germans invade). It’s possible that having a girlfriend may have influenced his decision….

      • Sorry for the late reply, thank you for looking and eliminating one line of enquiry. Much appreciated.

  20. Hello Bernard, I am a relative of Sgt Espallargas, he appears in figure 5a, he is the one who is sitting first on the left. I’ve been collecting data about your participation in World War 2 for a while. Manuel Espallargas Ferrer was a very fighter person, he had very strong ideals, a member of the CNT Spanish union in the 1930s and that led him to defend freedom first in Spain and later in Europe. He fought in the Spanish Civil War, fought in the battle of Teruel and in the battle of Belchite, escaped to France at the end of the war and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion where he fought in Narvik and finally became part of Spanish No. 1. Bernard do you have information in the archives of Sgt. Espallargas ?, Greetings and thanks.

  21. Dear All, I wonder if those of you who are well into your research on No.1 Spanish Company could help me. My grandfather served in the Company. His name was Francisco Ramon Martinez Gimenez. I have now received his military records. There is one record in his service record that I wonder whether any of you may be able to shed light on. There is a note referring to No. 56 Group Pt II, and refers to him being admitted to Military Hospital Davenport W.E.F. on 16 April 1941 wounded by enemy action. Another note says “injured enemy action” 15 April 1941 OF 60m Docs” Does anybody know what was happening with the Company at the time, or how I might find out more? Thanks very much to all who can assist, and I hope you are all safe and well. Best, Tony

  22. 28 Feb 41 Officers:-
    Maj R D Smith MC – OC
    Capt F G Scollick – 2IC
    Lts A Harrison, S H Watson & A L Chapman MC
    2Lts T T Garvie & L S Davis
    20 Mar 41 1 OR killed, 1 missing & 3 wounded in air raid . Drill hall received a direct hit.
    Coy supplied a Guard of Honour at Millbay Station on the occasion of the visit to PLYMOUTH by their Majesties the King and queen
    21 Mar 41 All billets destroyed during an air raid, except Officers’ and Sgts’ Messes. Casualties 9not named). At 2200 hours Coy evacuated to SALTASH and took over billets of Somerset Light Infantry
    24 Mar 41 Being fitted out with new kit and equipment – everything lost in air raid

  23. My father was Jose Emillio Sanchez Vargas
    He didn’t talk much about the war, Spanish civil or WW2, all I remember him saying is that when he got out of Spain he went to North Africa and joined the French Foreign Legion
    When war broke out some of the Spanish hi jacked a boat and went to Narvik where they joined the British Army in the catering corp
    After the war he was de mobbed in Devon
    I have his army details, de mobb info and some photos
    Does anyone remember him, he was from Adra Almería

      • hello sir
        my name is philippe olive and i’m in france

        I just read excerpts from your book which explodes Iberia.
        inside, you speak several times of Mr. Alapont Francisco. this gentleman was now my deceased grandfather.
        I research her history and her military career.
        you can provide me with information about my grandfather and tell me how to get informed in order to obtain precise and detailed information about his acts of war
        .thanks in advance for participating in the advancement of my family history. do you have any documents or files to send me. I have some photos from this time I think they are Spanish pioneers. I can keep them at your disposal, as well as some documents

        I tried to contact you by email and messenger without success, my email

        excuse my english i write it badly and use google translation

  24. I just read excerpts from your book which explodes Iberia.
    inside, you speak several times of Mr. Alapont Francisco. this gentleman was now my deceased grandfather.
    I research her history and her military career.
    you can provide me with information about my grandfather and tell me how to get informed in order to obtain precise and detailed information about his acts of war
    .thanks in advance for participating in the advancement of my family history. do you have any documents or files to send me. I have some photos from this time I think they are Spanish pioneers. I can keep them at your disposal, as well as some documents

  25. My great grandfather Alfonso Cánovas, participated with the Pioneer Corps in the War. He served in the 357 company. If anyone has information about him would be really greatful. Thank you

  26. My father was Jose Carreras. He was stationed in Thame and along with several other Spanish settled in Oxford. His number was 13802 447. Do you have any information regarding him. He never spoke of the war

  27. Good evening everyone, Séan Scullion here. I am in the process of researching Spaniards who fought in the British Army in WW2 and became essentially “Churchill’s Spaniards”. Fortunately, I have been able to speak to a few people in this forum (thanks Bernard O’Connell, Tony Fajardo) and have also spoken to Daniel Arasa in Spain but there is still a lot I want to look into. I am very interested in hearing your stories and seeing if you would be willing to share them for my research. The idea is to make this all into a book in the near future.

    Hola. Si alguno de vosotros está interesado en compartir la información que tenéis sobre vuestros antepasados que sirvieron en el ejército británico en la segunda guerra mundial me interesaría recibir información. Estoy estudiando el tema de estos individuos para escribir un libro.

    Muchas gracias. Séan

    • According to the dictionary, a sconce is
      . a candle holder that is attached to a wall with an ornamental bracket.
      “a wall sconce”
      a flaming torch or candle secured in a sconce.
      “the sconces burning in the passage provided some light”

      My guess is that the person in SOE’s Spanish Section who had responsibility for planning missions made up names that had no connection to the operation, hence sconce and relator.

  28. We have looked into my father’s records but couldn’t find him. My father Jose Carreras was at Thame but he was honourable discharged in 43. How can I find out through his Army number

  29. Hello, my father Private Rafael Tresserras Number 13802470 in the Pioneer Corps joined 17.7.40 left 19.5.46
    Enlisted at Westward Ho on 17.7.40. He was at one point employed in the Forestry. He was also at Narvik with the French Foreign Legion.. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

      • Hi, my father was one of the Republicans that joined the 13th demi brigade involvement in Narvik, after this he enlisted into the 1st Spanish Corp westward ho,
        He was José Luque DOB 23/7/1918
        Enlisted UK with service No 13802520
        I have a photo of him taken in Narvik
        and would like to share with you.

  30. You said you had information regarding my father Jose Carreras born 1916. Could I please see it

  31. Hi, I’m Steven, the site owner. A couple of people have mentioned additional photos (Joseph, Michael). If anybody wants to share it with the group, you can email me and then I’ll post them on the page.
    steven at balagan dot org dot uk

  32. hOLA, miu nombre es josé Antonio De la Iglesia, militar retirado por edad, investigador y escritor de temas militares, Desde hace varios años he ido escribiendo un libro en dos tomos sobre los españoles que combatieron en la II GM (WW2). El primer tomo trata del Frente occidental, Africa y Medio Oriente. El sehundo tomo de los frentes Oriental y Central. En cuanto al tema que trata este hilo: No. 1 (Spanish) Company of the Pioneer Corps in WW2, tengo localizados a los siguientes españoles que estuvieron destinados en esta unidad de Pioneers:

    BARBERÁN, José.
    BORRÁS, Emilio.
    CARRERAS, José. 13.802.447.
    COLOMÉ, Juan. Sargento.
    DALMAU I NORAT, Francesc.
    ESPALLARGÁS FERRER, Manuel. Sargento.
    FERNÁNDEZ. Antonio.
    FERNÁNDEZ, Francisco.
    FERNÁNDEZ, Manuel.
    FERNÁNDEZ, Teodoro.
    GARCÍA, Salvador.
    GONZÁLEZ, Conrado.
    GRANDE CATALÁN, Antonio. Sargento.
    HARO, Rodrigo. Cabo.
    IOVINO, Francisco. Sargento.
    IZQUIERDO, Clemente P. Sargento.
    JURADO, José.
    LUQUE HEREDIA, José. 13.802.520.
    MARCO GUILLO, Silverio.
    MARTÍN ALBERRUCHE, Rafael. Cabo ascendido a Sargento.
    MARTÍNEZ DELGADO, M. Sargento.
    MARTÍNEZ GIMÉNEZ, Francisco Ramón.
    MOLINA, Esteban.
    NIETO, Bernardo.
    PUIG, Antonio.
    PUJOL CALVET, Alfonso.
    ROA VENTURA, Aquilino.
    ROIG, Ángel. Sargento.
    ROMERA ESPINAR, Francisco.
    ROMERO, José.
    SÁNCHEZ RUIZ, Rafael.
    TÁRRAGA, Mario. 13.802.412
    TRESSERRAS, Rafael. 13.802.460
    VALERO, José.

    Si alguien puede ampliar datos de los mombres o los números de liatamiento de estoe españoles o ampliar con otros españoles que no constan en esta lista, lo agradeceré. Mi único interés es xacar a todos estos hombres españoles del olvido. Gracias.

    • Hola! Mi nombre es Bonnie, soy hija de Rafael Sánchez Ruiz, murió a los 69 años en 1987. No habló mucho de su tiempo en los ejércitos en los que sirvió, por lo que me puse en contacto con este grupo hace algunos años. Parece que a sus registros del ejército les faltan también sus registros de su tiempo en el Ejecutivo de Operaciones Especiales, estoy feliz de ayudar, solo hablo un poco de español.

      • Thank you, Bonnie, I have already located your father Rafael Sánchez Ruiz. Greetings. J.A. De la Iglesia.

    • POLLÁN MARTINEZ Leandro, 13802434. Mi padre, nació en Murias de Somoza, León (hoy llamado Murias de Pedredo, cerca de Astorga) en enero 1916 y murió en Londres en febrero 2005. Nunca quiso hablar de sus tiempos en la guerra de España y en WWII, y yo por respeto no pregunté mas. Sé poco – en algun tiempo mencionó Sidi Bel Abbés (Argelia) y Alesund (Noruega), y cuando el armistício en mayo 1945 se encontraba en Sint-Joris-Weert (Bélgica)

      • Muchas gracias, al parecer su padre estuvo en la 13 DB en Narvik antes de pertenecer a la One.

    • Hola Antonio, soy familiar del Sargento Manuel Espallargas Ferrer, veo que aparece en su lista pero le falta el numero de licencia, su numero es : 13802514, saludos

    • Hi José,

      my father was Silverio Marco Guillo. Through my own personal research I have much information on his life in Spain, Algeria and the UK. If my information helps a can put it all in an e-mail for you. Regards. Andre Marco.

    • Hola, soy Hijo de Jose Herencia Luque y creo que hay un error ariba.
      tienes Luque Heredia Jose, se que algunos tuvieron pequenos cambios en su nombre por alguna razon que desconozco.
      fue sargento de artilleria en la republica y nacio en Cordoba.
      lucho en la legion en Navik y fue SOE en inglaterra con sus amigos Alcon y Socorro Gonzales

  33. I presume you have found Blowing up Iberia. It sheds lights on those Spanish Republicans from the Pioneer Corps selected and trained for special operations by the British…

    • Yes. I have read his book Blowing up Iberia. It has been very important for me to find many of those who belonged to the S.O.E. It is a good research, I congratulate you and I inform you that I have included it in the bibliography review of my work.

  34. Hello to everybody my father Rafael Parra Cortes served in 361 (A) coy Pioneer Corps from April 1943 till October 1946. He had fought for the Republican army escaping to France, then sent by the French to North Africa. He was released by the British army when the allies invaded, and was recruited into the Pioneer Corp. He never spoke of his experience during the Spanish Civil war or the 2nd World War, does anyone recall his name. I have his Soldiers pay book and his discharge book. I know that after serving in North Africa he served in France and Germany.

  35. Hola Rosalind! Your father was one of the few from 361 who were transfered to No. 1 Spanish Coy in the autumn of 1944 after the Coy was moved from N Africabto the UK. Do drop me an email at to discuss further as I can tell you more and help a bit. Hasta entonces. Séan

  36. Might anyone be able to help. I want to find out if two Swiss Italians fought with the International brigades in Spain. Alessandro FLORO and Alberto ROSSI. I suspect they were were Communists who fled fascist persecution in the 1920s or 30s and accepted USSR’s offer of employment and accommodation. They were probably members of Comintern and then sent to Spain. Might there be Spanish records of Italian volunteers?

    • Hola Bernar, es muy probable que estos dos brigadistas de origen Italiano, Alessandro Floro y Alberto Rossi, pertenecieran a la XII Brigada internacional llamada “Garibaldi”, en la cual estaban encuadrados los italianos.
      Donde podrá encontrar información sobre ellos es en : El centro de estudios y documentación de las brigadas internacionales , de la Universidad de Castilla la Mancha.
      esta es la pagina wed : CEDOBI .
      Un saludo y espero que le sea de ayuda

  37. My Grandfather, Augusto Perez Miranda b: 28 APR 1907, fought in Barcelona during the Civil War, going over the Pyrenees and joining the French Foreign Legion and deployed to Norway, then being rescued by the British after being cut off. He was sent to Westward Ho! in North Devon, UK (where I moved nearby without knowing as a kid in Bideford and where my Grandfather visited in 1980s but like many did not mention his time there.) and was taken into Pioneer Corp, he was trained in various STS locations and send to Norway for demolition. This is all I know but would be great if Bernard, anyone can shed any further light on his time.

  38. I could not find his personnel file in the National Archives. Do you know which STS locations he was sent to?
    Return to Iberia will give you details of training at the STSs.

  39. THANKS for getting in touch.

    It depends on the size of the file John.
    If it#s less than 15mb it ought to be able to be sent as an attachment in an email. (Search the email page for attach, click and locate the file and then send}

    If it’s a bigger file you can use Dropbox or WeTransfer – free


    As I get to the end of writing my book on Spaniards who served in the Second World War, this is a last call for anyone who would like to send me information on their relatives for the book. Please send to me at before the 15 of December. Many thanks!

    Ahora que estoy a punto de terminar mi libro sobre españoles que estuvieron en el British Army durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, este mensaje es una última llamada para todos que están dispuestos a pasarme información sobre sus parientes para el libro. Por favor mandármelo a antes del 15 de diciembre. ¡Muchas gracias de antemano!

  41. I am very sorry to hear that I may have found this forum too late but nevertheless I would like to mention that I have some information of Sgt Enrique Bernardez 13809478 and a list of names and numbers typed under “Nominal roll of sections n 7. . I do not know what this means. I know that Enrique was from Vigo and served in the Miguel de Cervantes cruiser, ending in Tunisia in a camp in Meheri Zane’s (Meheri Zebbeus), and in the British army later but do not know where. I am waiting for his military record from the TNA. I have a picture but again I do not know where he served. If anyone has any information and eould also be interested in what I have I am very happy to share. Thank you.


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