Jack Jones, former Trades Union leader, battler for pensioner's rights, along with a couple of the remaining volunteers from the XV International Brigade sang in faltering voices, to the tune of Red River Valley, the Brigade's anthem .. 'There's a valley in Spain called Jarama......and most of our brave comrades fell' to remeber the return of their colleagues in Newhaven.
Jarama was the first decisive clash of the Spanish Civil War and the British Battalion lost 225 of its 600 men, the US Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Lincoln Battalion) lost 125 out of 500.
Jack who had been inspired to join on hearing Paul Robeson singing in Liverpool (Robeson toured the US volunteers to the displeasure of the US authorities) and was wounded in the last great Republican offensive at the Ebro.
They were commemorating the return in 1938 of the British Battalion to Newhaven, Sussex, England. In bright winter sunshine on Saturday a couple of dozen family members, friends and observers, remembered the bedraggled young men who arrived at the port some 70 years ago. They had been sent packing by the leftist Republican Government following the Non Interventionist Pact signed by Britain, Germany and others.
Unfortunately, the Nazi leadership of Germany failed to adhere to the agreement and continued to support the eventually successful General Franco who established a long lasting fascist state in Spain.
On the south coast of England at a fort first built in Napoleonic times to repel the French, the gathering was a tragic reminder that in war, nothing is as it seems.
Little did those heroic volunteers know the true extent that the infighting between the various anti-fascist groups; Anarchists; Trotskyites; Communists and Democratic Socialists, was significantly engineered by Stalin and the Communist Party.
Nevertheless, middle aged, middle class matrons, in smart London clothing, were seen to be selling the Daily Worker, oops Sorry, the Morning Star, in the pathetic belief that their grandfathers had given their all for the proletariat.