Copeman, Frederick Bayes (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 794
Department
Sound
Production date
1978
Subject period
Dimensions
  • whole: Duration 380, Number Of Items 13
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview
Creator
Category
sound

© IWM

Purchase & License
Object description

British volunteer served as instructor with No 2 (Machine Gun) Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 1/1937-2/1937; officer served with No 1 Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 2/1937-3/1937; served as adjutant with British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 3/1937; commanded British Bn, 15th International Brigade in Spain, 3/1937-7/1937; served as staff officer with 15th International Bde in Spain, 9/1937-11/1937; commanded British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 11/1937-12/1937

Content description

REEL 1 Background to volunteering to go to Spain, 1936: decision to go to Spain; visiting Harry Pollitt; participation in recruitment drive for International Brigade in GB. Aspects of journey from GB to Spain, 9/1936-10/1936: escorting volunteers to Spain via Paris; question of involvement of Josip Tito; nature of journey; organisation of volunteers; crossing Pyrenees Mountains, 10/1936. Aspects of period as volunteer with International Brigades in Spain, 10/1936-12/1937: reception in Barcelona; opinion of Frank Ryan. Recollections of period as instructor with No 2 (Machine Gun) Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 1/1937-2/1937: appoint to company, 1/1937; selection of ex-Royal Navy men at Madrigueras; knowledge of Lewis Gun; story of transfer of Irish volunteers to American Battalion; changes in battalion command; story of Peter Kerrigan’s shooting of Wilfred Macartney; opinion of Peter Kerrigan; instructing volunteers on Maxim Machine Gun. Aspects of period as officer with No 1 Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 2/1937-3/1937: move to Jarama front, 2/1937; composition of brigade. REEL 2 Continues: going over the top; Nationalist Air Force strafing attack; casualties in sunken road; taking cover behind mound; question of taking command of company after death of Christopher 'Kit' Conway, 12/2/1937; dealing with casualty; sustaining wound; retrieving machine gun ammunition; firing on advancing Moorish troops; opinion of Harold Fry; opinion of wounding of Tom Wintringham; hospitalisation for head wound, 2/1937; story of Sam Wild’s search for brothel and Tom Wintringham association with Spanish woman in hospital; rallying deserters in farmhouse; positioning of No 2 (Machine Gun) Coy; reaction to first encounter with tank; capture of No 2 (Machine Gun) Coy; death of Harold Fry. REEL 3 Continues: Aspects of period as adjutant of British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 3/1937: appointment as adjutant to Jock Cunningham, 3/1937; construction of battalion headquarters; memories of Josip Tito; reaction to J B S Haldane’s lecture on crossfire; rescuing Jock Cunningham. Recollections of period commanding British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 3/1937-7/1937 and 11/1937-12/1937: opinion of J B S Haldane; altering role of political commissars; measures to control venereal disease; story of treatment of International Brigade doctor imprisoned for rape; treatment of volunteers wishing to return home; visit by Ernest Hemingway; type of discipline employed and treatment to prevent desertion; controlling sexual relations within battalion. REEL 4 Continues: impressing need for discipline on battalion; dealing with insolent volunteer; improving patrolling including capture of Nationalist officers near latrines; treatment of deserters; story of deaths of Wally Tapsell, Bert Overton and Robert Merriman; capture of Nationalist tank; question of background to shooting of deserters in battalion; effect of cession of recruitment by Communist Party of Great Britain on battalion strength, 9/1937; role of Sam Wild. REEL 5 Continues: issue of Spanish Republican officers’ uniform and instigation of officers’ mess; attitude of Communist Party towards discipline; reaction to presence of priest in brigade; story of being under-fire with brigade priest; question of role of religion and work of priests in brigade; story of meeting fiancée in Deptford, London; treatment by nurses at Benicasim; question of luck during service; preparations for Brunete offensive, 7/1937; issue of Russian rifles. REEL 6 Continues: construction of mortars; opinion of Spanish grenades and Russian machine guns; battalion command structure; battalion ammunition and equipment supplies; political factors influencing supplies at Brunete; International Brigade newspaper ‘The Volunteer’; opinion of J B S Haldane’s lectures on sexual behaviour; story of burying Oliver Law commanding officer of Washington Battalion, 7/1937; taking cover in cornfield during Brunete offensive; advance towards Villanueva de la Canada and attacking Nationalist held tower. REEL 7 Continues: capture of German tank at Villanueva de la Canada, 7/1937; Nationalist forces use of human shields at Villanueva de la Canada and death of Bill Meredith; reaction to shooting of Nationalist officer at Villanueva de la Canada; arrival of inexperienced Washington Battalion; technique for taking cover during air attacks; advance towards Mosquito Ridge; digging in on Mosquito Ridge; loss of Russian tanks on Mosquito Ridge; conditions on Mosquito Ridge and withdrawal; wounding of Sam Wild; shelling of battalion; reaction to order for battalion commanders to return to Communist Party of Great Britain in London, GB, 7/1937; Central Committee of Communist Party criticisms of Jock Cunningham. REEL 8 Continues: Jock Cunningham’s reaction to criticisms; return to Spain; opinion of Republican strategy during Battle of Brunete, 7/1937; question of role of students in brigade; opinion of personnel serving with Anti-Tank Battery including Malcolm Dunbar; comparison of sexual behaviour in British Bn and Royal Navy; attitudes towards homosexuality and religion; attitudes towards American volunteers; opinion of American Washington Battalion attempts to get rations to British Battalion on Mosquito Ridge; question of effects of lack ammunition supplies; opinion of Russian influence during Spanish Civil War. REEL 9 Continues: opinion of second International Brigade recruitment drive in GB, 9/1937; nature of fighting during Battle of Brunete; capture of Villanueva de la Canada, 7/1937; opinion of British Battalion; question of uniform; opinion of Moors fighting with Nationalist forces; conditions as battalion commander; conditions at Mosquito Ridge; comparative question of organisation of Nationalist and Republican forces; opinion of different national forces in International Brigades. REEL 10 Continues: memories of Ernest Hemingway; story of visit of Labour Members of Parliament to Mondejar, 12/1937; joining staff of 15th International Brigade ; question of Russia involvement in Spanish Civil War; hospitalisation and background to return to GB, 12/1937. Aspects of period as member of Communist Party of Great Britain and International Brigade Dependents Aid Committee in GB, 1937-1938: opinion of Stafford Cripps; opinion of J B S Haldane and Charlotte Haldane. REEL 11 Continues: activities with International Brigade Dependents Aid Committee; protesting against inclusion of certain individuals on fund list; reasons for leaving Communist Party of Great Britain, 1938; marriage and settling in Lewisham, London, 1938. Opinion of No 1 Coy, British Bn and question of shooting of deserters. Opinion of Russians. REEL 12 Continues: Aspects of period as seaman aboard HMS Norfolk during Invergordon Mutiny, 9/1931: background to mutiny; nature of ‘mutiny’; strike actions aboard HMS Hood, HMS Valiant and HMS Norfolk; background to discharge from Royal Navy. Aspects of period as civilian in GB, 1931-1936 employment as rigger; political activities including involvement with Communist Party of Great Britain; confrontations with police during National Unemployed Workers Movement hunger march from Norwich to London, 1934; story of being imprisoned for allegedly biting police sergeant. REEL 13 Continues: involvement in demonstrations against Blackshirts; periods of imprisonment for political activities; knowledge of Spanish Civil War, 1936. Reflections on service with 15th International Brigade in Spain, 1937: memories of Josip Tito; background to formation of International Brigades; question of shooting of Wilfred Macartney by Peter Kerrigan; Irish-British volunteer relations in brigade; memories of Andre Marty; degree of training on Maxim Machine Guns prior to Battle of Jarama, 2/1937; character of action at Battle of Jarama, 2/1937; casualties during Battle of Jarama, 2/1937; wounding during Battle of Jarama, 2/1937; retrieving machine gun ammunition during Battle of Jarama, 2/1937; firing of Maxim Machine Guns on advancing Nationalists; death of Christopher 'Kit' Conway, 12/2/1937; memories of George Nathan.

Associated people and organisations
Associated places
Associated events
Associated themes
Associated keywords

IWM Non Commercial Licence

The media for this item are free to reuse for non-commercial purposes under the IWM Non Commercial Licence. Video, sound and images can be embedded with the code we offer here, and images can also be downloaded.

By downloading any images or embedding any media, you agree to the terms and conditions of the IWM Non Commercial Licence, including your use of the attribution statement specified by IWM. For this item, that is: © IWM

  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML
  • Embed HTML