Video: Interview with British Veteran of the Spanish Civil War

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February 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of the battle of Jarama. When the battle broke out, Spain had already been embroiled in a civil war for seven months following the army revolt led by Franco on July 18th 1936. Almost immediately, foreign volunteers enlisted in left-wing militias to defend the Spanish republican government and the International Brigades were officially founded in October 1936.

As Christopher Farman explains in The King Street Crusaders in the February issue of History Today, Jarama was the first time that the British Battalion of the International Brigades went into battle. Some Britons had been involved in earlier skirmishes, but around 500 British volunteers fought at Jarama as part of a fully-fledged battalion. Jarama marked the beginning of a bruising and often dispiriting campaign.   

This news report from October 2007 features an interview with one of the few surviving British veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Sam Lesser was 92 at the time of the interview. He was one of the first British volunteers to sign up and was wounded relatively early on in the war. He explains why he joined the International Brigades and his experience of the war.

- More on the Spanish Civil War