Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Clyde Walkway – Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Apparently missed by local media (I didn’t see any mentions, nor did a quick search find any), a memorial to the blockade runner to Spain was unveiled on Saturday, 02 March 2019.

I only found two mentions online, and one of those was the RMT’s own invitation to members to attend the unveiling. It notes the Glasgow Shipping Branch worked for some 15 years to raise funding for the memorial.

Carelessly, I’d been passing this spot for some time, and failed to stop for some pics of the construction of the memorial (which it obviously was, even if I didn’t know for what), always being late on my out, and then returning home via a different route, and forgetting to detour back to the spot for some pics.

I remembered yesterday, only to find it had been completed and unveiled the day before (my usual perfect timing).

Previously just the bare stonework was to be seen, then I noticed the sculptural parts had been added.

The memorial remembers British seafarers who braved fascist bombs and U-boats to trade with Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

The rail and maritime union RMT and its Glasgow Shipping Branch raised the money for this memorial to the crews of British ships who risked, and in some cases gave, their lives to break Franco’s blockade of Spanish Republican ports. Thirty-five merchant navy and eight Royal Navy seafarers died (in May 1937 the destroyer HMS Hunter struck a mine laid by Franco’s navy south of Almeria), while almost 50 were injured on vessels attacked by submarine, naval, and aerial forces then under fascist control.

The Spanish Republic’s embassy in London reported that in the first two years of the war, up to June 1938, 13 British merchant ships had been sunk, 51 others bombed from the air, two had been damaged by mines, five were attacked by submarines and 23 had been seized or detained by Franco’s forces. By the end of the war in April 1939 the figure had rises. At least 26 sunk or wrecked – though the number of British seafarer deaths is unknown.

Later in the war, British ships and crews played a key role in taking thousands of Republican refugees to safety, again running the gauntlet of Franco’s mines and bombs.

The full story is long, complex, legal, and political, so is best read in historical accounts, rather than attempted in summary here.

The memorial was designed by sculptor Frank Casey, list many of the ships lost, and stands on the other side of Glasgow Bridge from Arthur Dooley’s memorial, La Pasionaria (Dolores Ibárruri) .

Click for bigger.

Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Blockade Runners to Spain memorial

Plaque detail.

Blockade Runners memorial panel

Blockade Runners memorial plaque

04/03/2019 - Posted by | Civilian, Maritime, photography, Transport | ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Tweet Share Share By Fraser Raeburn on May 20, 2019 in Histories of the Present Blockade Runners to Spain memorial by Frank Casey. Photograph: Secret Scotland. […]


    Pingback by Radical Memorialisation: Echoes of the Spanish Civil War in Glasgow – History Workshop | 20/05/2019

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