Franco toyed with the idea of Spain joining the Axis in WW2 but never took the step. He did, however, sponsor Spanish volunteer units to fight alongside the Germans on the Eastern Front.
Please get in contact if you have more information. I’m sure I haven’t found all the units and I always appreciate more details about the ones already on the list.
The Spanish units that fought for the Axis were:
My wargaming in this period is almost exclusively using Crossfire.
Blue Division Emblem
The Blue Division (Division Azul)
The Spanish Volunteer Division was designated the 250th (“Blue”) Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht on 25 July 1941. The Division left active service on 23 December 1943 after seeing considerable and bloody combat on the Eastern front, particularly around Leningrad. It was called the “Blue Division” because the original uniform included the distinctive dark blue shirts of the Spanish Fascists (the Falange), however, the Division adopted German uniforms as soon as they reached Germany.
I have a specialist section on the Blue Division, including:
Blue Legion HQ
The Blue Legion (Legion Azul)
On the repatriation of the Blue Division in December 1943, the the Blue Legion was formed from men who decided to stay and continue the fight against communism. The force consisted of about 2,000 men under the control of Colonel Antonio García Navarro, and was attached to the 121st Infantry Division. The Blue Legion only existed for about four months, being ordered to return to Spain on 3 March 1944.
The Blue Legion was modeled on a Tercio of the Spanish Foreign Legion. Similar to a Regiment it contained:
- Headquarters staff
- Two Infantry Banderas (the Spanish name for a small Battalion).
- One mixed Bandera containing
- One company of artillery
- One antitank company
- One company containing a mixture of combat engineers, reconnaissance and signals.
Waffen-SS ‘Unit Ezquerra’
After the Blue Legion was withdrawn it became illegal for Spaniards to serve on the Axis side. None the less, some of the volunteers refused to return to Spain, and volunteers continued to sneak across the border into France.
Most of these recruits joined the Waffen SS, however, some Spanish platoons were attached to the 3rd Mountain Division and the 357th Infantry Division. Two companies of Spaniards performed anti-Partisan work in Yugoslavia as part of the Brandenburg unit. In September 1944 one of these companies was sent to Austria, where it became the Spanische-Freiwilligen-Kompanie der SS 101. A second company (102) was soon formed. The 101 Company was attached to the 28th Waffen SS Division (Wallonien) and saw heavy action in Pomerania.
In the end, the 101st was attached to the 11th SS Division Nordland.
In April 1945 Colonel Miguel Ezquerra Sanchez commanded the three companies of Waffen-SS ‘Unit Ezquerra’. The unit was formed from:
- 100 Spaniards who, like Ezquera himself, had served in the Blue Division, but remained in German service. (Ezquera had been a Blue Division Captain.)
- 150 Spanish recruits who had secretly crossed the Spanish/French border which had been closed by Franco.
- Some survivors from Belgian and French SS Divisions.
The men of ‘Unit Ezquerra’ were amongst the last troops fighting the Russians in the rubble of Berlin. Ezquerra survived the battle, and later escaped from Russian imprisonment to return to Spain.
The Blue Squadron (Esquadrilla Azul)
Five Spanish squadrons participated in WWII, one after another. They are collectively and individually known as the Blue Squadron. All five squadrons operated in Russia, but being assigned to Army Group Centre they were not necessarily associated with their compatriots of the Blue Division. The Blue Squadron took part in the German offensive on Moscow and the battles of Kharkov, Smolensko and Kursk.