The Richard Burton Archives hold various collections that are of relevance to the study of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). The collections are particularly strong in resources relating to the Welsh volunteers who went to fight in the International Brigades and the mining communities that supported the Republican cause. These include:
Additionally, the collections provide an international perspective of the war through photojournalism, journals and propaganda from both the Nationalist and Republican sides of the conflict.
Leo Price worked as a collier at Cwmtillery and Bedwas Collieries and was a member of the South Wales Miners’ Federation. He also joined the Communist Party. In April 1937 he travelled to Spain as a volunteer and became a member of the Second Company, Fifteenth Battalion. Leo was shot in the chest but survived and after medical care travelled to Tarrazona where he was given a desk job recruiting new soldiers. His collection includes
(Ref. SWCC/MNA/PP/93, SC/309, SC/164)
Part of letter in a souvenir postcard from Leo Price to his wife (SWCC/MNA/PP/93/4)
David (Dai) Francis
David Francis (often known as 'Dai') was born in 1911 in Pantyffordd, near Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley. In 1926 he began work at Onllwyn No. 1 Colliery. In 1937 he joined the Communist Party. He was a member of the Executive Council of the South Wales Miners' Federation, 1943-1959; appointed as Chief Administrative Officer of the NUM (South Wales Area) in 1959; becoming General Secretary of the NUM in 1963. In 1974 he was elected First Chairman of the Wales Trades Union Congress (TUC).
His collection includes includes the minute book of the Onllwyn Spanish Aid Committee (he was secretary), 1937-1938.
Jack Jones was born in Trealaw, Mid Rhondda in 1898 and in 1912 commenced employment in Cambrian Collieries. He was a founder member of the Communist Party in 1920. In March 1938 Jack Jones volunteered for the British Battalion of the International Brigade, becoming the oldest Welshman in the British Battalion. However in May of the same year he was captured by Franco forces and was taken to a concentration camp in San Pedro de Cardena, Burgos, where he remained until January 1939. He returned home to South Wales and in 1940 became Miners' Agent for the Rhondda district.
The collection includes letters from Jack Jones to family and friends detailing his intention to join the International Brigades, his experiences in Spain and his experiences as a prisoner in Spain.
Harry Dobson was a collier at Blaenclydach Colliery who volunteered to fight with the International Brigade. The photograph below was put up by the Cambrian Combine Workmen and friends as a token of their esteem for his 'Supreme Sacrifice for Democracy'. He was killed at the battle of Ebro River in July 1938, just over a year after he had arrived in Spain.
Photograph of Harry Dobson (Ref. SWCC/PHO/SWC/14) and letter sent by him to his sister Irene, 26 December 1937 (Ref. SC/182)
Our collections include many personal letters from the volunteers including:
It also holds letters from wives and other family members including:
Notebook created by Jack Roberts whilst at the International Brigade Officers' Training School, Tarrazona, Spain in 1937 (Ref. SC/269)
The notebook by Jack Roberts includes drawings and detailed notes about weapons, tactics and Spanish topography, 1937 (Ref. SC/269)
Photograph of members of Basque Refugee dancing troupe which toured the valleys, c.1937-1938 (Ref. SWCC/PHO/SCW/52)
The collection (ref. SWCC/PHO/SCW) includes photographs of
A kerchief with image of a female combatant (Ref. 1999/22)
Records relating to the South Wales Miners Federation contain information about the union’s response to the Spanish Civil War:
South Wales Miners' Library
At the Miners' Library, a wide-reaching collection across assorted materials highlights the political significance of the Spanish Civil War for working-class communities in Britain. The resources available include: