Dunlop, John Peter Cowan (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 11355
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 390, Number Of Items 13
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview

Object description

British civilian member of Overnewton Branch, Communist Party of Great Britain in Glasgow, GB, 1936-1937; observer served with Anti-Tank Bty, 15th International Bde in Spain, 5/1937-7/1937; hospitalisation in Casa Rojo Hospital in Murcia and convalescent home in Denia Spain, 7/1937-9/1937; clerk served with Headquarters, International Brigades at Albacete, Spain, 9/1937; trained as weapons instructor with 15th International Bde Officer Training School at Tarazona de La Mancha, Spain, 19/9/1937-10/11/1937; machine gunner served with No 2 (Machine Gun) Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 11/1937-2/1938; hospitalisation in Valdeganga Hospital in Spain, 2/1938-4/1938; NCO served with 2 Section, 2nd Platoon, No 4 Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 4/1938-10/1938

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Winnipeg, Canada and Edinburgh, GB, 1915-1933: family; education; employment as accountant in Edinburgh, 1933; interest in politics. Aspects of period as member of Communist Party of Great Britain in Glasgow, GB, 1936-1937: meeting with Communist Party member; rejection of family’s religious beliefs; joining Overnewton Branch of Communist Party of Great Britain autumn, 1936; origins of branch members; attending Aid Spain meetings. Recollections of recruitment to International Brigades and journey to Spain, 5/1937: decision to join International Brigades; interview with Peter Kerrigan in Communist Party of Great Britain Headquarters, Ingram Street, Glasgow, GB; memories of W B Henderson; leaving by train, Glasgow, GB. REEL 2 Continues: period in London, GB; journey from London, GB to Paris, France; reception, accommodation and activities in Paris, France; other volunteers in his group; bus journey to Oyonnax in French Alps; accommodation and attending dances at Oyonnax, France; story illustrating Bill Alexander’s use of discipline; organisation of volunteers travelling on train from Lyon, France; keeping low profile in Agde, France; opinion of Italian volunteers; journey to and drinking wine in Perpignan, France; meeting guide on outskirts of Perpignan, France; crossing Pyrenees Mountains. REEL 3 Continues: avoiding non-intervention patrols; reception at Spanish frontier, 19/5/1937; singing ‘The Internationale’. Aspects of period as volunteer with International Brigades at Figueras in Spain, 19/5/1937-22/5/1937: initial impressions of Spain; truck journey to Figueras Castle; opinion of uprising in Barcelona, 5/1937; treatment of Spanish Anarchist militiamen at Figueras Castle; Spanish volunteer’s reaction to being billeted with Anarchists; physical training; story of capture of suspected spy on train journey to Barcelona; lack of evidence of uprising in Barcelona. Recollections of period as observer with Anti-Tank Bty, 15th International Bde in Spain, 5/1937-7/1937: arrival at Albacete, 22/5/1937; opinion of Guardia Nacional; organisation of British volunteers at Albacete; relations with German volunteers; sings German volunteer song in German and English. REEL 4 Continues: second hand story of death of priest firing machine gun from church tower in Madrigueras; training at Madrigueras; saffron farming in Madrigueras; formation of Anti-Tank Bty; opinion of Soviet 37mm Anti-Tank Guns; ammunition and supply situation; duties; memories of unit members including Malcolm Dunbar and Hugh Slater; status of political commissars; relations with George McDermott; move to Jarama front, 6/1937; positions and use of earth ramps; behaviour of Irish Brigade commanded by Eion O’Duffy serving with Nationalist forces; moving guns to front to fire; conditions and morale; sight of Nationalist deserters; move to Brunete front, 7/1937; wounding by shrapnel during Battle of Brunete, 7/1937. REEL 5 Continues: death of John Black and French volunteer; opinion of deployment of unit during Battle of Brunete, 7/1937; attitude towards Nationalist forces. Aspects of hospitalisation in Casa Rojo Hospital in Murcia and convalescent home in Denia Spain, 7/1937-9/1937: hearing story of execution of captured Nationalist officers by Cuban volunteer; opinion of medical treatment received; medical evacuation to Casa Rojo Hospital in Murcia; removal to convalescent home in Denia; meeting John Tunnah from Edinburgh in convalescent home; story of getting leg sores in Sierra Pandols; story of Republican prisoner forced to join Nationalist forces. REEL 6 Continues: Aspects of period as clerk with Headquarters, International Brigades at Albacete, Spain, 9/1937: allocation to clerking duties; treatment of disciplined prisoners; question of use of Catholic churches for military purposes; presence of different nationalities at Albacete; sleeping away from barracks; acceptance of former Nationalists into International Brigades. Aspects of training as weapons instructor in 15th International Bde Officer Training School at Tarazona de La Mancha, Spain, 19/9/1937-10/11/1937: memories of fellow trainees; training as weapon instructor. Recollections of period as machine gunner with No 2 (Machine Gun) Coy British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 11/1937-2/1938: joining unit, 10/11/1937; story of execution of Jimmy Rutherford; in billets at Mondejar. REEL 7 Continues: opinion of visit by Clement Attlee and other VIPs; in reserve at Mas de la Matas, 12/1937; visit by JBS Haldane; local civilians’ slaughter of pig; move to Teruel, 31/12/1937; reaction of Anarchists to taking orders; near shooting of Republicans; memories of American volunteer ‘Slats’ MacLaren; memories of Maurice Ryan and his wounding; weather conditions at Teruel; dangers of lighting fires in dugouts; unit members who deserted and were captured; selection of execution party. REEL 8 Continues: execution of deserter; narrow escape from unexploded anti-aircraft shell; battalion morale; opinion and role of political commissars; story illustrating influence of Anarchism within unit; move to Segura de los Banos, 3/2/1938-19/2/1938; character of Malcolm Smith and his later death during Battle of Ebro, 1938; moving Maxim Machine Guns through mud; memories of Cuban volunteer Domingo Garcia Morales; circumstances of death of George Nathan. Aspects of hospitalisation in Valdeganga Hospital in Spain, 2/1938-4/1938: move to hospital. REEL 9 Continues: memories of staff and patients at hospital; construction of swimming tank; transfer of patients in hospital train to Moya, 4/1938. Recollections of period as NCO with 2 Section, 2nd Platoon, No 4 Coy, British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 4/1938-10/1938: defensive positions at Moro del Ebro, 4/1938; behaviour of Spanish Republican officer at Moro del Ebro, 4/1938; constructing shelters at Marca; visits from Jawalharlal Nehru and Hayden Guest; opinion of Spanish recruits; sings snippet of Spanish recruits song; discovery of Polish battalion’s alcohol supply; volunteer’s epileptic fit; Nationalist air attacks during crossing of River Ebro, 23/7/1938. REEL 10 Continues: sight of improvised anti-aircraft guns; sight of captured Moorish troops, 25/7/1938; killing of Moorish troops who had ambushed battalion personnel; accidental shooting of battalion quartermaster by personnel from Lister’s 5th Corps; nature of attacks on Hill 481 and casualties; being fired on by drunken Irish volunteer Maurice Ryan; background to execution of Maurice Ryan; reaction of officers; question of inter-company communications; wounding by booby trapped grenade; acquiring Sam Pearson’s boots; presence of Irish Republican Army members in battalion; hearing of conditions in which Republican prisoners were held; further details of attacks on Hill 481; death of Jock Ness at Hill 481. REEL 11 Continues: opinion of battalion leadership at Hill 481; sight of flames on top of ridge at Sierra Pandols; use of stone sangars and dangers of mortar fire; description of going over the top at Sierra Pandols, 9/1938; Sam Wild’s reaction to battalion attack at Sierra Pandols; rations and lack of supplies; memories of Sam Wild; promotion to sergeant, 4/9/1938; memories of Australian, New Zealand and Canadian volunteers; death of Cuban officer Domingo Garcia Morales, 9/1938; incident of being accidentally fired on by Soviet T-26 tanks at Sierra Pandols; use of Czech light machine guns. REEL 12 Continues: shooting down Nationalist aircraft; orders for final attack, 9/1938; description of taking up positions in trenches in Sierra Pandols; under aerial bombardment and machine gun-fire in Sierra Pandols, 24/9/1938; wounding of runner; isolation of adjacent company; problems with Soviet rifles; retreating down hill from Nationalist grenade attacks, 24/9/1938; under Nationalist shell-fire; how Headquarters Coy, British Bn had been placed under arrest for desertion by Spanish Republicans. 24/9/1938; retreat across River Ebro. Aspects of return from Spain to GB, 10/1938: missing International Brigades farewell parade due to hospitalisation for injured legs; hearing story of how Malcolm Smith had died REEL 13 Continues: memories of American and Irish volunteers in hospital; story of acquiring glass of whisky; return to battalion in Ripoll; question of host country for repatriation; story of listening to Andre Marty in Ripoll; joining Communist Party of Spain; crossing into France and reception received; train journey through France; reaction to receiving aid from Salvation Army in France; minor health problems on return to GB.

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