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Emblem of the International Brigades.svg

The XV International Brigade fought for the Spanish Second Republic in the Spanish Civil War as a part of the International Brigades. It was mustered at Albacete, Spain, in January 1937, comprising many English-speaking volunteers - arranged into a mostly British British Battalion and a mostly North American Lincoln Battalion - plus two non-English-speaking battalions, the Balkan Dimitrov Battalion and the French Sixth February Battalion.

The XVth Brigade first fought at the Battle of Jarama in February 1937 and suffered terrible casualties. The British lost 225 men from 600[1]; the Lincolns 120 from 500.[2] After the battle, the brigade was seriously understrength.

At the end of March, a Spanish battalion, Voluntario 24 (24th Volunteers) joined the brigade. Over the next few months, under the close supervision of Janos Galicz, the brigade was re-organised into two regiments of about 1,200 men. He appointed "the gallant major",[3] George Nathan, as brigade Chief of Staff.

The first regiment, commanded by Jock Cunningham, with Harry Haywood as political commissar,[4] was English-speaking and comprised the depleted British and Lincolns; as well as the recently formed but understrength second battalion of American volunteers, George Washington Battalion. The second regiment was commanded by Major "Chapaiev" (Miklos Szalway[4] and consisted of the Dimitrov Battalion, the Sixth February Battalion and the Volontario 24 Battalion.

This was the composition in July 1937 for the Battle of Brunete. As with Jarama, the brigade suffered huge casualties and "brigade strength was reduced from four to two battalions".[5] In particular, the two American battalions were so depleted that they merged to form the Lincoln-Washington Battalion [6] (This name didn't last: it was re-named the Lincoln Battalion in October 1937. Two additional battalions - the nominally Canadian Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion and the Latin-American Español Battalion - joined the brigade to (again) make up numbers.

Battalions: overview

Flag of the 1st battalion of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Date joined Number Battalion Name Composition Date left Comments
31 Jan 1937 16th British Battalion British, Irish, Dominion 23 Sep 1938 Demobilised
31 Jan 1937 17th Lincoln Battalion US, Canada, Irish, British 23 Sep 1938 Demobilised
31 Jan 1937 18th Dimitrov Battalion Balkan 20 Sep 1937 Moved to 45th Div. Reserve
31 Jan 1937 19th Sixth February Battalion French & Belgian 4 Aug 1937 Moved to 14th Brigade
14 Mar 1937 24th Volontario 24 Spanish volunteers 10 Nov 1937 Moved to Spanish brigade
5 Apr 1937 ~ Español Battalion Latin Americans 23 Sep 1938 Demobilised
29 Jun 1937 ~ Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Canadian & US 23 Sep 1938 Demobilised
4 Jul 1937 20th Washington Battalion US 14 Jul 1937 Merged with Lincoln Battalion[7]
  • Sub-battalion units attached to the Brigade
    • Brigade Anti-Tank Company
    • XVth Brigade Photographic Unit (Aug 1937-Sep 1938) Archive

Notable people

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Beevor (2006), p. 211
  2. ^ Beevor (2006), p. 214
  3. ^ Thomas (2001) p693
  4. ^ a b Eby (2007), p174
  5. ^ Beevor (2006) p 285
  6. ^ Eby (2007), p 196. "... losses in killed and wounded approached four hundred out of close to eight hundred just eight days before..."
  7. ^ Briefly known as the Washington-Lincoln Battalion
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