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

News & Events

The coalition of Pedro Sanchez's PSOE and Unidas Podermos seems likely to fall apart at the next Spanish election in July.  Here, Ekaitz Cancela and Pedro M Rey-Araujo for the New Left Review take a broad look at the rightward drift in Spanish politics.  Worth a read ....

An Evening of Poetry and Music Celebrating the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War on 18th April 2023 at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford

Paul Macnamara and Rob Garcia of folk duo NaMara, long time supporters of the IBMT sing songs of the Civil War to an attentive audience

Poetry is fundamental to the human condition.  Every war; every conflict, inspires an outpouring of literature and verse and the Spanish Civil War more than most.  Music, too, from soldierly marching songs, to dyspeptic mockery of the boredom, chaos and dysfunction of military organisation, to songs of loss and regret.

How were we to choose a selection of civil war poetry.  But where to begin, there being such a wealth of poetry on the Spanish conflict?  We were fortunate to have, in Oxford, Professor Valentine Cunningham, a long-time supporter of the IBMT and our Oxford group.  Val Cunningham edited the Penguin Book of Spanish Civil War Verse, first published in 1980, and which today remains the foremost anthology of Civil War poetry.  Val Cunningham agreed to select and curate the poetry and texts for our “Evening of Poetry and Music”.

We booked the iconic Holywell Music Room in central Oxford.  The Holywell Music Room is Europe’s oldest concert venue.  It’s an intimate small theatre seating close on 200 people and it’s been the home of Oxford’s intellectual life for more than a century.

Readers Paul Collins (left) and Alison Skilbeck (right) read the poetry and the story of the volunteers of the International Brigades

IBMT Patron, Maxine Peake, had hoped to headline the event but her filming schedules got in the way.  But we were fortunate to have IBMT supporters Alison Skilbeck and Paul Collins to deliver the texts and poetry of Cecil Day-Lewis, George Orwell, Cambridge brigader John Cornford, Wystan Auden and Nan Green amongst others.  The poetry was interspersed with music by celebrated Flamenco guitarist Marcos and the folk duo, NaMara, regular performers for the IBMT

Internatioanlly acclaimed flamenco guitarist Marcos


We opened the doors on April 18th to an almost full house and an introduction from IBMT Chair Jim Jump.  It was a wonderful evening and was enjoyed by all who listened, often in hushed silence to the sorrowful words of remorse at the loss of so many young lives, but also to the inspiring spirit of Internationalism and commitment that was such a feature of the Brigades in Spain.  The evening ended, as it always had to, with a rousing rendition of La Pasionaria’s speech at the repatriation on the Brigades in the Autumn of 1938 in Barcelona, “You are history; you are legend; you are the heroic example of democracy’s solidarity and universality …………….”

The audience join the performers with a rousing rendition of "The Internationale"

A Community Memorial in Malgrat de Mar

to remember the ship “Ciudad de Barcelona” 1937

 A project for unity by The Friends of Ciudad de Barcelona.

And to create a Solidarity Park International Arts Festival at Malgrat de Mar, a small town just to the north of Barcelona in Catalonia. Solidarity Park is a memorial for the International Brigaders of the Ciudad de Barcelona, a ship that was sunk by fascists in the Spanish Civil War in 1937.  Read more ......

Oxfordshire's Very Own Working Class Action Hero

Charlie Hutchinson, the only known black volunteer in the British Battalion of the International Brigade was born in the market town of Witney.  True, he didn't spend much of his life in Oxfordshire, living in London before volunteering to go to Spain with the IB in 1936 at the age of 18.  After Spain he served in the British army during WW2.  After the war he married and moved to Bournemouth and he died in 1993, aged 74

In October 2021 a new coffee shop (Coffee#1) opened in the centre of Witney in its Market Square and to the Oxford International Brigade Committee's surprise and delight, a wonderful mural has appeared commemorating Charlie's life and achievements

As the mural says, "Witney's Own Working Class Action Hero"

You can read more about Charlie's life here.

Independent of, but supported by, the Oxford International Brigades Memorial Committee, there is now a campaign to erect a memorial in Oxford to Charlie Hutchinson.

You can read all about Charlie and the campaign for his memorial here

17th October 1938 & 17th October 2020

On the 17th October 1938 the democratic Republic of Spain agreed to disband the International Brigades in the hope that by so doing they might yet persuade the reactionary governments of Britain, France and the US to abandon their bogus policy of non-intervention.


The event, one of about a dozen held at various IBMT memorials across Britain, was organised by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB).  Originally, the event was to have been a public celebration but the COVID restrictions that limit public gatherings to no more than six people meant that numbers had to be limited to committee members only.  However, we do hope that you enjoy seeing the photographs and that next year we can all celebrate the Oxfordshire International Brigade volunteers together.

To send the heroic brigades on their way back home or to exile, the democratic Republican government laid on a Farewell Parade in the city of Barcelona where the great Communist orator Dolores Ibarruri, more generally known as La Pasionaria, gave an electrifying speech that was to become one of the most famous in all history.
Towards the end of her speech she said these words:-

"Comrades of the International Brigades: Political reasons, reasons of state, the welfare of that very cause for which you offered your blood with boundless generosity, are sending you back, some to your own countries and others to forced exile. You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy’s solidarity and universality in the face of the vile and accommodating spirit of those who interpret democratic principles with their eyes on hoards of wealth or corporate shares which they want to safeguard from all risk."

There were 31 volunteers from Oxfordshire who volunteered as anti-fascists in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939.  They came from Oxford’s industrial car plant, from its agricultural hinterland, and from its University.  Six were killed in action and they are named on the memorial that was unveiled in 2017.

Oxfordshire volunteer Jim Brewer (pictured, second from the left, carrying the Spanish Republican flag in Catalonia) was originally from a mining family in Rhymney, South Wales.  While working at a local bakery he took evening classes and was offered a place on a Trades Union scholarship to Ruskin College, Oxford.  There, whilst helping at a summer camp for unemployed miners, he met fellow Oxfordshire radical Chris Thorneycroft and in 1936 they both joined the International Brigade and went to Spain.  Jim fought at Jarama and was later posted to the anti-tank regiment as a quartermaster.  He saw further action at Brunete, Gandesa and Belchite and carried the British Battalion banner at the Brigades farewell parade in Barcelona on 17th October 1938.  In 1939 he signed up as a commissioned officer with the Royal Artillery in WW2.  Jim spent much of his post-war life in Oxfordshire and died in 1993.










Above from top, clockwise:- The flags of the Communist Party celebrate the anniversary of 20 October 1938;  the socially distanced representatives pay their respects;  John Haywood, executive member of IBMT lays a tribute at the memorial;  the memorial with tributes from Oxford Communist Party, Oxford IBM Committee, and Colin Carritt, Chair of OxIBMComm

Jeremy Corbyn at the IBMT South Bank Memorial Commemoration - July 2020

Laying a wreath at the International Brigade memorial with his partner Laura Álvarez. (Photo: Andrew Wiard)

The socially distanced commemoration held on Saturday 4 July at London's International Brigade memorial saw Jeremy Corbyn lay a wreath on behalf of the IBMT. The Labour MP for Islington North also said a few words in support of preserving the memory of the volunteers who went to Spain and their relevance to today's campaigns. 

The IBMT has produced a short film of the event in Jubilee Gardens, which was held in lieu of our customary public gathering. This could not take place due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.  Check IBMT website for details

Comrades Come Rally

On 8th March the Oxford Committee held "A Celebration in words and music of the Oxfordshire volunteers who fought Franco in the Spanish Civil War 1936-39"

It raised over £400 for the International Brigade Memorial Trust

The event comprised a history of the British Battalion in the words of the volunteers themselves, through their letters home, their memoirs and sometimes through their poetry.  The words were spoken by professional actors and was interspersed with music

Read John Haywood's review of the event here......

The historic Holywell Music Room in Oxford

Clockwise from top left:  Alison Skilbeck: Jeff Robert: Brenda O'Riordan: Manus and brenda O'Riordan: Rob Garcia and Paul MacNamara of "Na-Mara": Marcos: Tim Hardy.

International Labour Day in Oxford
27th April 2019

On a cold and windy, but mercifully dry day, Oxford District Trades Union Council, in collaboration with the Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee held a campaigning day on the issues of public services.
Speeches by Anneliese Dodds MP for Oxford East and Layla Moran MP for Oxford West and Abingdon were followed by a rally procession to the International Bragade Memorial at South Parks/St Clements where the meeting was addressed by Megan Drobney, Secretary of the International Brigade Trust and others.

Pictured left:  Megan struggles with the gales to deliver her message of solidarity and remembrance of the Oxfordshire volunteers of the Spanish Civil War

Crome Memorial Conference
23rd March 2019

 ... an International Brigade Memorial Trust event

Madrid FC during the Civil War

A full house at Kellogg College, Oxford for the 2019 Len Crome Memorial Conference.

The topic for the Conference was "Football and the Spanish Civil; War".  The main speakers were:-

Sid Lowe, the Guardian's Spanish football correspondent
and author of Catholicism, War and the Foundation of Francoism:  The Juventud de ccion Popular in Spain 1932 - 1037 and Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid, and the World's Greatest Sports Rivalry

Daniel Gray, author, social historian and broadcaster and the author of the history of Scotland and the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Caledonia, and several books on football and working class culture including Saturday, 3pm.

Music was provided by Maddy Carty, Robb Johnson and Na Mara

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New Memorial Planned?
Some tips from the Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee on how to raise a new memorial to the International Brigades:’ts-creating-international-brigade-memorial