The Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee keeps alive the memory and spirit of the men and women from Oxfordshire who volunteered to defend democracy and fight fascism in Spain from 1936 to 1939

The Oxford Memorial

The Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee is independent of, but affiliated to, the International Brigades Memorial Trust (IBMT).  The views and opinions expressed in this website may not reflect official policy of the IBMT.  Click here to see our Privacy Policy

New International Brigade memorial at Hull
more here plus more pictures to follow

Thanks to Oxford City Council for improving the landscape setting of our wonderful memorial to the Oxfordshire volunteers - April 2019

The Oxford Memorial

Across the world, 50,000 men and women from all walks of life responded to the call from the Popular Front government of Spain and joined the International Brigades and its partner organisations to defend democracy against the 1936 fascist insurgency of General Franco.  2500 were from the British Isles and of these, 526 paid the ultimate price and were killed in action against a far better equipped and resourced enemy.

Although there are over 100 IBMT memorials across the British Isles, the absence of an Oxford memorial has long been a sad omission. This was finally put right on June 10 2017 when the Deputy Lord Mayor of Oxford, Cllr Christine Simm, unveiled the Oxford memorial to the 31 volunteers from the City and the county.

The memorial was planned on behalf of the International Brigade Memorial Trust http://www.international-brigades.org.uk/ by a local committee of IBMT members who wanted to make the memorial part of Oxford’s heritage and not to be just “names on a piece of stone”.  To that end three local historians carefully researched the biographies of all those known to have connections with Oxford and Oxfordshire at the time they went to Spain.  31 volunteers were identified and the results published in a 120 page book, “No Other Way : Oxfordshire and the Spanish Civil War 1936-39”, available from IBMT (and some bookshops) priced £8.99 plus £3 p&p (ISBN 978 1 910448 05 2).

Several of the volunteers were from the city’s world famous university.  Others were from the burgeoning Morris motor works at Cowley on the edge of the city.  Others were agricultural workers from the rural hinterland.  Some were politically active as anti-fascists, others had pacifist leanings or were from religious backgrounds and many of these volunteered in non-combat roles as medics, ambulance drivers and stretcher bearers.  All came together in common cause to defend democracy.  And many others in Oxford, too numerous to mention, gave time and effort and money.  They raised funds for the Dependants' Aid Committee; they campaigned for a reversal to the British government's iniquitous non-intervention policy; and they sheltered some of the 4000 refugee children who had fled the carpet bombing of Guernica and the Basque region in the Spring of 1937.

The University was particularly active and following the well-reported delegation by Eleanor Rathbone MP and the Duchess of Atholl MP in 1937, a group of students similarly set out for Spain in July  1938 in support of Spanish students.  The group included Edward Heath, later Prime Minster of the United Kingdom.  All of this, and more, is documented in the book “No Other Way”.

In October 2014 a preliminary planning application was submitted to Oxford City Council for a memorial in Bonn Square in the City Centre.  The Council’s planning committee greeted the project with unanimous support but wanted a more ambitious design and they had reservations regarding the chosen location.

As a result a design competition was commissioned and the successful sculptor/designer was Charlie Carter Artworks Ltd.  http://www.charliecarter.co.uk/index.htm .  The front face of Charlie's design shows an image of a clenched fist gripping a scorpion, symbolising the struggle for freedom and democracy against the tyranny of fascism, and lists the names of the six fallen volunteers.   On the reverse side is a bronze resin plaque identifying the conflict and memorialising the volunteers.

Several other sites were investigated.  The committee wanted a City Centre location with high visibility but one that represented both "Town and Gown" in the City.  The final approved location is at the bottom of Headington Hill at its junction with Morrell Avenue and planning approval was granted in March 2017.    

As well as commissioning the sculptor and sourcing and procuring the stone the Committee sought professional advice for the foundation design.  The City Council's direct labour team offered a competitive price for the installation, and the Council has agreed to include the memorial on their asset register meaning that it will be insured and managed by them on a day to day basis.  The International Brigade Memorial Trust retains ownership and financial liability for any significant costs that may be incurred.  All of this ensures that the memorial will be in safe and professional hands.

The project costs totalled about £30,000.  Funds were raised through social events and concerts, book sales and donations from trade unions, individuals, and other organisations. 

The Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee (OxIBMComm) believe the memorial will add significantly to Oxford’s already rich history. It will fill a gap in the general knowledge and understanding of the Spanish Civil War and the part played by local people.  It will include a small QR code on the side that will allow visitors to access the IBMT's website where further details will be available. (This QR code is yet to be added).

The Oxford Committee are:-
Colin Carritt - Chair - email
John Haywood - email
Chris Farman - email
Chris Davies - email
David Chanter - email
Cllr Tom Hayes - email
Secretary IBMT - email