Return to

Major Battles of the Spanish Civil War

Interview with Joseph Kahn

This short video features an interview with Joseph Kahn who volunteered for the British Battalion of the International Brigades and fought at Jarama. The documentary was created by the Documentary Film Makers Group and is hosted on You Tube

Ay Carmela

Ay Carmela is a Republican song from the Spanish Civil War. It is also known as Viva La Quince Brigada. This version is available from Internet Archive

The Battle of Jarama

The Nationalist offensive in the Jarama river area south of Madrid was an attempt to encircle Madrid and cut it off from the Republican government in Valencia. The offensive was scheduled to start on January 24th 1937, but heavy rains forced the Nationalist high command to postpone the offensive, which was finally launched on February 6th. Meanwhile, the Republican government had advanced knowledge of the plans for the offensive, but did not take any preparatory action, presumably believing the intelligence to be false. When the offensive began the Republic had only two brigades, the 28th and 18th and some Assault Guards in the area.

The initial forces of the Nationalist offensive, under the command of General Varela, comprised five infantry brigades as well as artillery, cavalry and three companies of tanks. Progress was fairly rapid during the first two days of the offensive, but on February 9th Republican reinforcements arrived and resistance stiffened. Among the Republican reinforcements was the 12th International Brigade and soon after, the 11th, 15th and 14th International Brigades were committed. The fighting quickly focused on the domineering hilltops in the area between the Jarama and Tajuña rivers.

By the time the front stabilized around the 27th February, the Nationalists had committed forty infantry battalions and fifteen cavalry squadrons as well as tanks and artillery. The Republic had thrown around fifty battalions as well as Soviet manufactured T-26 tanks and aircraft. This would be one of the few battles were the Republicans had air superiority and they were able to claim a defensive victory, although the Nationalists were not forced back over the Jarama river. Casualties on both sides were appalling, with some Nationalist units suffered sixty percent casualties. Both the British Battalion and the (American) Lincoln Battalion of the 15th International Brigade, the British Battalion going from 600 to 225 combat effectives after a single days fighting, and the Lincoln Battalion suffering 300 casualties in a single attack on Pingarron Hill. Overall both sides suffered approximately 10,000 casualties and the Nationalists had again failed to take Madrid.