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

Individuals

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.

74 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?
    Regards
    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

    Antonio

    • 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
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10216084815885745&set=pb.1010229330.-2207520000.1559807257.&type=3&theater

  • 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

    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)

  • Bernard O'Connor

    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.

    • Enrique Romera (Ricky)

      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

      • Bernard O'Connor

        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.

        • Joseph Luque

          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.
          Regards
          Joe Luque

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

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

            or

            Jose LUQUE aka Antonio HERRORO – born 22.07.1918

          • Joseph Luque

            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

          • Ricky romera

            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 Ricky.romera@gmail.com I have various pictures of his time in Norway etc

        • Joseph Luque

          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

    • Anthony Molina

      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

      • Bernard O'Connor

        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 .

  • Bernard O'Connor

    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?

    • Brian Cole

      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.

  • Enrique Romera (Ricky)

    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)

  • Anthony Molina

    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

    • Bernard O'Connor

      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….

  • Bernard O'Connor

    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
    Alcon/Alcony,
    Luis Alvarez, HS9/27/4
    B. Aparacio/Aparicio,
    Mariano Arroyo, HS9/56/3
    V. Belles (Francisco Ruiz).
    José Bernard,
    Francisco Balague (De Cortes),
    Belanguor,
    Pedro Bellenguer, HS9/120/1
    Bernard, ???
    Miguel Bon (Mateo),
    José Bosque, HS9/186/7
    José Busquet,
    Calome
    José Carreras, HS9/271/4
    Ricardo Carron,
    Fernando Casabayo (Martinez), HS9/276/2
    Sebastian (Salvador ) Cayuela, HS9/282/8 +photo
    Chuz,
    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
    Gardia,
    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
    Hamira,
    Pedro Herreros (Catalan),
    Juan Iniesta, HS9/777/2
    Francisco Ioveno,
    Iovono,
    M.(Clement) Izquierdo, HS9/781/8
    Vicente Izquierdo,
    José Jurado, HS9/815/8
    Laiseca,
    Laiscon,
    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,
    Montuisis,
    Montoursi/Montursi
    Mundane,
    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,
    Palomar,
    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
    Pusol,
    Jaime Queralt,
    Ramira,
    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),
    Sanabrias.
    José Sanchez (Berroz),
    Rafael Sanchez,
    Juan Tapia,
    Francois Trujillo, HS9/1488/1
    Juan Tuset, TNA HS9/1494/3
    José Umbo, TNA HS9/1497/6
    Valasco,
    José Valero,
    Velasco.
    Simbon Vergugo,
    Villaseisor
    Villasenor

    • Eileen Grenham

      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.

    • Eileen Grenham

      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.

  • Bernard O'Connor

    Blowing up Iberia (paperback and ebook), which contains details of Operation SCONCE can be found here:
    http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/coprolite

  • Chris Smith

    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.

    • Bernard O'Connor

      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….

    • Andre Marco

      Download the appropriate forms from https://www.army.mod.uk/people/join-well/army-personnel-centre/ or contact ‘Army Personnel Centre, Support Division Historical Disclosures, Mail Point 555, Kentigern House, 65 Brown Street, Glasgow G2 8EX’. You will at the very least get his full British Army record.

  • Victor Asensio

    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.

  • Antonio Suarez-Martinez

    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

  • Royal Pioneers Corps Association

    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

  • Anita Sánchez

    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

    • I just checked my records and he doesn’t appear to have been selected for the Sconce party.

      • olive philippe

        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 philippe.olive9@orange.fr

        excuse my english i write it badly and use google translation

  • olive philippe

    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

    philippe.olive9@orange.fr

  • Alfonso Cánovas

    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

  • Rosa Cadd

    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

  • Séan Scullion

    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
    sfscullion12@gmail.com

  • Ricky

    Hi Bernard , what does sconce mean

    • 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.

  • Rosa Cadd

    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

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