The Fighter Fell in Love: A Spanish Civil War Memoir by James R Jump
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Edited by Jim Jump, with a Foreword by Paul Preston and a Preface by Jack Jones
Aged twenty-one, James R Jump gave up his job as a journalist and went to Spain to fight General Franco’s fascists in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Leaving his Spanish fiancée in England, he joined the legendary International Brigades and was mentioned in despatches for bravery during the Battle of the Ebro. This is his previously unpublished memoir, bringing to life his time in Spain and the tragic course of the war he took part in. The author’s accompanying poems reflect the intense emotions sparked by his experience – anger, comradeship, fear and grief – as well as his growing love of Spain and a lament for the passing of a generation who fought alongside him.
Cover design by Ivana Nohel.
See extract, reproduced in Tribune magazine.
The following is quoted from Paul Preston’s introduction:
‘Like other memoirs before this one, we have here another stark reminder of the horrors undergone by Republican soldiers during the constant bombardments as they resisted on bare hillsides with little shelter from the blazing sun. Jimmy pays moving tributes to bravery of those who died. They were short of food and water. Despite the suffocating heat, priority for water had to be given to cooling the machine-guns: ‘Although we had enough ammunition, we had hardly any equipment. Most of us were bare-headed, dressed in shirts and trousers. Few had boots. Most of us wore sandals or rope-soled alpargatas. I doubt if there were more than four steel helmets in the whole company. We had no pouches, but carried our ammunition in our pockets or in bags tied to our belt.’ It was almost impossible to bury the dead and life took place amid the stench of putrefying corpses. Men died from wounds and others went mad with shell-shock. Jimmy was reluctantly hospitalised from 30 August to 23 September after collapsing with jaundice.
When Jimmy’s unit was pushed back across the Ebro along with the rest of the Popular Army, it was the end for the Republic. While he was still in hospital, in the vain hope of securing international support, Juan Negrín, the Republic’s prime minister, unilaterally withdrew the volunteers. Jimmy missed the formal farewell parade held in Barcelona for them at the end of October 1938 although he recalls the heart-rending descriptions given him by comrades of the moving reception given them by ordinary people. He captures precisely the sense of disorientation felt by men who had fought and suffered for an ideal, without expectation of reward. They had stayed on in the hope of victory for the Republic but now faced, at best, an uncertain future. He provides one of the best explanations of the volunteers’ repatriation: ‘The ‘official line’ was that the Spanish People’s Army was now strong enough to fight alone without foreigners. I thought that the government’s decision was simply an act of compassion. The leaders knew that the war was lost and that if we were captured we would almost certainly be shot. Therefore they decided to send us home where, at least, we would be useful propagandists against fascism.’