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Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Monday, 10 January 2011
Hull families campaign for war memorial
Street fighters in 1936
Government supporters fighting in Barcelona during the summer of 1936

Relatives of local veterans of the Spanish Civil War are campaigning for a war memorial in Hull.

Eight men from Hull volunteered to fight for the Republican forces when the conflict started in 1936.

They joined the approximately 2,000 British citizens who fought against General Franco and his forces.

Franco and his Nationalists had launched a military coup against the elected socialist government.

His forces had the support of fascist troops from Nazi Germany and Italy.

The British fighters were joined by volunteers from across the world to form International Brigades. Famous participants included authors George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway.

The eight men are commemorated by a small plaque in Hull City Council's Guildhall. Four of the men were killed in combat.

The existing plaque is located in a corridor in Hull's Guildhall

One of the names on the memorial is Robert Wardle, who joined up in 1938. A dock labourer he left a wife and two children back in Hull.

He was killed just a few weeks after arriving in Spain. He and 100 others were gunned down by tanks at Calaceite, a village south of Barcelona.

Audrey Wardle is his daughter-in-law. She said her late husband, also named Robert, spent his life researching his father's role in the conflict. She said her husband was full of admiration for his late father:

"Rob said I don't think I could do what my dad did because he'd never been abroad before, and leaving a wife and two children, who he obviously loved. He said he must have had strength of character to do it."

Robert Wardle
Family portrait of Robert Wardle and his son, also named Robert.

A fellow-fighter from Hull was Joe Latus. He survived the war and returned to the city to open a bookshop. He later became one of the directors of Hull FC rugby league team.

His daughter Dilys Porter is one of the campaigners behind a move to have a more prominent memorial to the veterans erected in the city.

She has a box of mementos of her late father. One item is his International Brigade identity card. It bears the inscription "Better to die on your feet a free man than on your knees as a slave."

The campaigners hope to achieve their aim in time to mark this year's 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the war.

There is more on this story on Inside Out on BBC 1 at 19:30 on Monday 10th January.

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13 Jun 09 |  Europe



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