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Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 16:00 UK
The ongoing fight against fascism

BBC Tees' Natalie Boxall
Natalie Boxall
BBC Tees

Some of the International Brigade
Some of the International Brigade

A Spanish Civil War memorial plaque at Middlesbrough Town Hall has been re-dedicated to ten men from Teesside who fought with the International Brigade.

The men fought alongside Spanish Republicans, against the fascist forces of Franco.

Marlene Sidaway, secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust says the memorial is our vital link to these brave men.

Family of the soldiers have spoken to BBC Tees, including Moira Gray, who was 19 when her two brothers died in the war.

Moira Gray

Moira Gray lost her two brothers during the Spanish Civil War, but still believes they were right to fight.

If the people of the world realised what was happening they would move hell itself in order to bring help to the people here.

An excerpt from Bill's letter home

Her brother Bill died after being thrown from a truck, and she has only recently discovered that her brother Edward was shot during a retreat in Aragon.

Moira may have stayed in England but she also contributed to the war:

"I came from a politically active family, my mother was a Labour councillor and we understood what fascism was.

"It was a time when the pits were shut but we had to fight back.

"I went around the village collecting for Spanish aid and the poorest people would donate whatever they had.

"We did what we could to help and it got us through."

Marlene Sidaway

Marlene Sidaway is the secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust. Her partner David Marshall was one of the founders of the trust before he died.

David Marshall, one of the founders of the International Brigade Memorial Trust
David Marshall, a founder of the International Brigade Memorial Trust

She said, "He was one of the earliest of the volunteers, and got to Spain aged 20, with a forged signature for his passport in September, 1936.

"This year is the 70th anniversary of the end of the Spanish War - and the start of the Second World War, which the International Brigadiers felt they would be able to avert, if they could stop the rise of fascism in Spain.

"There were many from the North East who went to Spain including a good number from Teesside, and the memorial plaque in the Town Hall is our vital link with those brave people."

Daniel Gray

Daniel Gray is an author from Teesside whose latest book is about the Spanish Civil War.

"The idea that you'll go to a foreign country to take up arms, against the wishes of your own government, is one which transfixes me.

Daniel Gray's latest book is about the Spanish Civil War
Daniel Gray's latest book is about the Spanish Civil War

"It's important this event is held, as working class history often gets forgotten, and bringing it home is important to an area like the North East.

Daniel has met veterans of the war and thinks their experiences are still relevant today: "Our generation's biggest fight is against the BNP - the men and women I met who went to Spain drew parallels between them and fascism in the 1930's.

"The fight against fascism will go on."

The International Brigade Memorial Trust are appealing for people on Teesside to come forward with any letters, photos and memorabilia from the Spanish Civil War.

Tributes to a fallen soldier
20 Aug 09 |  People & Places
Teesside troops head to war zone
10 Sep 09 |  People & Places
Spanish Civil War bodies exhumed
13 Jun 09 |  Europe



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