Worksop: Spanish Civil War heroes honoured in Nottingham

Spanish Civil War memorial
Spanish Civil War memorial

A Worksop miner and soldier was among the many brave men honoured in Nottingham on Saturday as a memorial to those who served in the Spanish Civil War was rededicated.

Nine men from the county were killed in the conflict, while a further 15 survived the war.

George Turnill

George Turnill

The service, held in the city’s County Hall, remembered men from across the county by rededicating a 1993 memorial, laying wreaths and singing ‘Jarma,’ a song about one of the war’s battles.

A public information board, which explains the memorial and names the volunteers it recognises, was reinstated nearby in time for the service

The 1936-39 war saw the elected Popular Front government eventually toppled by a right-wing uprising led by the Italian and German-backed General Franco.

Worksop man George Turnill was one of thousands who volunteered to defend Spanish democracy, joining the International Brigades.

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SP

Catherine Turnell, George’s great-niece, attended the service on Saturday.

She said: “It was five years ago when I came across the story of George Turnill - it was the first I knew of a relative’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War.”

“The war was a conflict where the establishment was in violent opposition to the democratically-elected republic, voted in by the long-suffering Spanish people who were not previously granted even the most basic civil rights.”

“It’s George’s integrity I most admire. He believed that Franco’s military coup was wrong and could not stand by and do nothing - as many governments did - so he joined 30,000 volunteer soldiers of conscience in the International Brigades.

Catherine Turnill reading at the rededication service

Catherine Turnill reading at the rededication service

“He believed that fascism and Franco had to be stopped, purely because it was the right thing to do.”

During his time in Spain, George’s letters from the front were regularly published in the Worksop Guardian after being passed on via the local Communist Party, speaking of solidarity with fellow volunteers and the terrible poverty of his Spanish comrades.

George was wounded at the Battle of Jarama, one of the bloodiest battles of the war in February 1937, just a month after arriving in Spain.

He was killed on 20th January, 1938, at Teruel, aged 25.

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SP

Catherine added: “I am intensely proud of my great uncle George and that was why I was at the rededication ceremony.”

“If more people had taken a stand against fascism, it could have prevented the slaughter of millions who subsequently died in the Second World War.”

Robert Brown, of Harworth, also took part in the conflict, surviving the conflict.

Councillor Alan Rhodes, leader of Notts County Council, said: “Many people are unaware of the significance of the Spanish Civil War as a forerunner to the Second World War, or the role played by people from our county in fighting fascism, even before Hitler’s assault on Europe.”

“It is vital that this does not become a forgotten conflict and that the bravery and selflessness of volunteers is remembered.”

Turnill Group: Catherine Turnell (right) at the rededication service.

Turnill Reading: Catherine Turnell gives a reading at the service.

Turnill Wreaths: Wreathes were laid by a board explaining the memorial

Turnill Memo: The 1993 sculpture commemorating those who volunteered in Spain

Turnill: George Turnill’s death notice