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Siege of Gijón
Part of the Spanish Civil War
Date July 19 - August 16, 1936
Location Gijón, Asturias, Spain
Result Republican victory
Belligerents
Spain Second Spanish Republic Spain Nationalist Spain
Commanders
Manuel Otero Antonio Pinilla †
Strength
Unknown 180 regulars and militia
Casualties and losses
Unknown 180 dead or wounded

The Siege of Gijón in the Spanish Civil War saw Anarchist militia defeat a small Nationalist garrison in Gijón, between July 19 and August 16, 1936. The militia—nominally fighting in defense of the Republic—laid siege to the Simancas Barracks in the city of Gijón. These were defended by about 180 soldiers and Guardia Civil officers who had risen in support of General Franco's rebellion and seized the post for the Nationalists. The battle was remarkable for its viciousness and the stubbornness of the besieged.[1]

Contents

Background

The Nationalist rising of July 1936 fared poorly in Asturias, a province overwhelmingly hostile to Franco and controlled almost from the outset of the war by a curious but effective council of state officials, technicians, and mine workers. CNT and UGT membership totalled in the 70,000 range, forming the backbone of a disciplined and fearless militia.

Against such opposition the Military Governor of Gijón, Colonel Pinilla, dared not declare his loyalty to Franco. Few were fooled, and by late July his outpost was surrounded and cut off from General Mola's Army of the North by several hundred miles of enemy territory. From the lonely Atlantic vain support was offered by the Nationalist cruiser Almirante Cervera, whose guns might have been used against the Anarchists but offered no hope of relief.

The Siege

The battle for Gijón was marked by Pinilla's unwavering resistance and by the almost total lack of weapons—excepting dynamite—of the attackers. Until they secured Gijón's fall the Republicans could not concentrate their full numbers against the Nationalists in Oviedo; accordingly, their attacks were unrelenting.

The defenders soon ran out of water and went mad with thirst. Pinilla refused to give in, believing, from the distorted reports of Nationalist propaganda, that relief was imminent. As at the concurrent Siege of the Alcázar in Toledo, the Anarchists abducted Pinilla's son and threatened to slay him if the defenders refused to surrender. Like his counterpart José Moscardó Ituarte, Pinilla was unmoved.[2]

In mid August the miners stormed the barracks, hurling dynamite as they charged. The barracks burned and the Nationalist defence crumbled. Rather than surrender, Pinilla sent a radio message to the Almirante Cervera, ordering it to open fire on his position. However, the cruiser didn't open fire fearing a trick from the revolutionaries to bomb their own troops. The defenders were killed by the revolutionaries.

Notes

  1. ^ Thomas, The Spanish Civil War, p. 328.
  2. ^ Thomas, p. 327.

References

  • Hugh Thomas (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Modern Library. ISBN 0375755152.  

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