Dunlop, John Peter Cowan (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 11355
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 380, Number Of Items 13
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview

Object description

British civilian in Glasgow, Scotland 1930-1937. Served as observer with Anti-Tank Bty and as machine gunner with British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain 5/1937-10/1938.

Content description

REEL 1 Background in Canada and Scotland, 1923-1936: employment as accountant in Edinburgh, 1933; background to joining Communist Party in Glasgow, 1933; rejecting family's religious beliefs; reasons for joining CP in 1936; class origin of CP comrades; attending 'Aid Spain' meetings and deciding to join International Brigade. Aspects of joining IB in Spain, 5/1937: recruitment interview with Pater Kerrigan at CP Headquarters, Ingram St, Glasgow; journey with other volunteers through France. REEL 2 Continues: reception at trades union restaurant, accommodation and activities in Paris; other volunteers; hotel accommodation, going to dances with Canadian volunteers in Uyenax; story illustrating Bill Alexander's use of discipline; organisation of volunteers; keeping low-profile in Agde; opinion of Italian volunteers; wine-drinking in Perpignan. REEL 3 Continues: crossing Pyrenees with guides, avoiding non-intervention patrols; reception at frontier; singing 'The International.' Recollections of period with International Brigade in Spain, 5/1937-10/1938: first impressions; truck-journey to Figueras Castle; opinion of uprising in Barcelona; treatment of Anarchist soldiers at Figueras Castle; recollections of commander at Figueras nicknamed, 'Guarde a vous'; Spanish volunteer's reaction to being billeting with Anarchists; physical training around Figueras Castle ramparts; story of capture of suspected spy; reactions from civilians enroute to Barcelona; question of evidence of uprising in Barcelona; opinion of Guardia Nacional; organisation of British volunteers at Albacete; football in Thaelmann and British Bns; sings Anti-Tank Battery song with verses in German and English. REEL 4 Continues: appointment as observer with Anti-Tank Battery, ca 5/1937; story of murder of priest sniping from church tower in Madrigueras; training; saffron farming in Madrigueras; formation of unit; opinion of artillery guns, supplies, ammunition; duties; recollections of unit members including Malcolm Dunbar, Hugh Slater; status of political commissars; training; move to Jarama front, 6/1937; positions; use of ramps; success of tactics; knowledge of enemy units; story of antics of Nationalist Eoin O'Duffy unit; question of communication between Nationalist and Republican trenches; opinion of Nationalist equipment; view of Nationalist deserters; conditions; move to Brunete front, 7/1937; sustaining shrapnel wound. REEL 5 Continues: death of John Black; opinion of deployment of unit; story of execution of captured officers by Cuban volunteer; opinion of Dr Norman Bethune, medical techniques on Jarama front; meeting John Tunnah during convalescence in Murcia and Denia; story of getting leg sores on Sierra Pandols; story of Republican prisoner forced to join Nationalist forces. REEL 6 Continues: appointment as clerk at International Brigade base, Albacete, 9/1937; treatment of prisoners; latrines; question of use of Catholic churches for military purposes; duties with new recruits; opinion of base; period training as weapons instructor at Tarazona de La Mancha, 19/9/1937-11/11/1937 ; story of execution of Jimmy Rutherford; opinion of Rutherford; appointment as corporal with Machine Gun Company, British Battalion on Aragon front, 11/11/1937; billets at Mondejar. REEL 7 Continues: opinion of visit from Clement Attlee and VIPs; camp in reserve at Mas de las Matas, 12/1937; visit from Professor Haldane; slaughter of pig, being fed fresh black pudding; move to Teruel, 31/12/1937; reaction of Anarchists to orders; nearly shooting Republicans in communication trench; recollections of American volunteer, 'Slats' MacLaren; wounding of Maurice Ryan; reactions to cold conditions; story illustrating dangers of lighting fires in dugouts; story of unit members' attempts to desert; selection of execution party. REEL 8 Continues: execution of deserter; story of near miss from unexploded shell; morale; role of political commissars; story illustrating influence of anarchism within unit; move to Segura de los Banos, 2/1938; opinion of Malcolm Smith and his death on the Ebro; moving machine-guns through mud; recollections of Cuban volunteer, Domingo Garcia Morales; circumstances of death of George Nathan; convalescence at Valdeganga, 2/1938. REEL 9 Continues: recollections of staff and patients at Valdeganga hospital; building swimming tank; move to Moya barracks, 4/1938; defensive positions at Moro del Ebro, 4/1938; comical behaviour of Spanish officer; constructing 'chebola' shelters at Marso; visits from Jawaharlal Nehru and Hayden Guest; opinion of Spanish recruits; sings Spanish recruits' song; discovering Polish Battalion's alcohol supplies; epileptic fit of volunteer; air-attack during crossing of River Ebro, 23/7/1938. REEL 1 0 Continues: improvised anti-aircraft guns; view of Moorish prisoners, 25/7/1938; killing Moorish ambushers with grenades; attacking Hill 481; mistaken ambush of unit and shooting of unit quartermaster by Lister Battalion; attacks on Hill 481; death of Lewis Clive; being fired on by drunken volunteer; background to execution of Maurice Ryan; execution of Ryan, reaction of George Fletcher; question of inter-coy communication; injury in booby trap grenade explosion; story of acquiring Sam Pearson's boots; recollections of members of Irish Republican Army in unit; story illustrating conditions for Republican prisoners; attacks on Hill 481; death of Jock Ness. REEL 11 Continues: opinion of casualties on Hill 481; story illustrating dangers from enemy mortar fire; description of going over the top at Sierra Pandols, 9/1938; rations; supplies; opinion of Sam Wild; background to his promotion to sergeant, 9/1938; recollections of Australian and Canadian volunteers; story of death of Cuban officer; problem of Russian tanks. REEL 12 Continues: shooting down enemy aircraft and discovering Czech armour on Nationalist plane. Aspects of final action, Sierra Pandols, Ebro Offensive, 24/9/38: positions; trenches; wounding of runner; isolation of adjacent Company; problems with Russian rifles; retreating from grenade attacks; arrest of Battalion headquarters for desertion; retreating across River Ebro. Aspects of leaving Spain and return to GB, 10/1938: missing farewell parade due to hospitalisation; story of death of Malcolm Smith. REEL 13 Continues: recollections of American and Irish volunteers; story of acquiring whisky; question of choice of host country for repatriation; story of hearing Andre Marty in Ripoll; joining Spanish Communist Party; train journey and reception in France; reaction to Salvation Army in France; health problems on return to GB.

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