This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 14 and 15: 17 – 31 October 1936

Week 14 and 15: 17 – 31 October 1936

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Week 14

October 18

The Republican government creates the ‘Mixed Brigades’. This combines the army units which remained loyal during the initial rebellion, and militia groups of all forms fighting around Spain. This mix is titled the Popular Army, the name coming from the Popular Front party in government. While anarchist groups are not art of the government (yet), their militias are still able to be part of the Popular Army.
Week 15

October 24

The first shipment of gold arrives in the Soviet Union; the first shipment of over half the Spanish supply which will be sent to Moscow. It is worth around $35 per ounce, a total of around almost $600 million, though Spain only gets half its worth.

October 27

Russian tanks finally get to Madrid to defend the city. T-26 tanks, around 10 tonnes in weight each, are dispatched from Madrid main’s train station and head straight to the front. The Nationalists outside the city already have tanks, supplied by Italy and Germany. The Republicans have been using Molotov cocktails to hold back the Nationalists until now and are in desperate relief to save the city.


T-26 tank outside Seseña

October 27

The Nationalist unleash an air raid on Madrid. Six bombs are dropped in Plaza Colón, a major square in the city, heavily populated. A queue of women and children are waiting to get milk and a bomb lands directly on them. A total of 16 are killed, another 60 seriously injured. The air raid comes from a Junker Ju-52 with a German pilot. The bombing is labelled the first bombing in history that served no purpose. It was designed solely to bring terror to 900,000 Madrileños. Madrid has no way to stop planes flying overhead and bombing them as they are becoming surrounded by Nationalists, setting the stage for the coming mammoth siege of Madrid.

October 28

A squadron of Soviet Tupolev ANT-40 planes, named Katiuska bombers, drop bombs over the city of Seville, which has been in Nationalist hands since July. This Republican-supported bombing leads the Germans to send more planes and supplies, and set up the Condor Legion in Spain, to overcome the Soviet forces.

Aftermath of the air raid in prep for the Madrid siege

October 29

The town of Seseña is 30 kilometres (18 miles)  south of Madrid, near destroyed Toledo. The Nationalist army, who have marched and massacred their way north are now ready to take Madrid. The Republicans who hold Seseña attempt to hold their town. The new Mixed Brigades, led by Spanish and Russian colonels, lead their mixed-nation/loyalty troops with newly arrived tanks. However no one has any training, other than one Russian tank expert. The Nationalists have their highly trained Spanish and Moroccan troops and Italian tankettes on their side. The Republicans head south of Seseña to engage with the Nationalists about only gain around 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) before they are attacked.

The Republican were able to destroy 11 Italian tankettes and kill 600 soldiers, losing only eight men and three tanks in the fighting. However numbers were on the Nationalists’ side and they won the battle of Seseña when the Republicans were forced to retreat.

The showdown for the siege of Madrid is ready to begin.


This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit


This Week in Spanish Civil War History – Week 12: 3 – 10 October 1936

Week 12: 3 – 10 October 1936

October 3

Franco sets up a new Civil Junta, or civil government, for the areas the rebels have captured, named the National Zone. This is done to try to legitimise the uprising. The Civil Junta is only a facade and has no power or control, as the country is covered in a state of war already. This new group gives Franco no extra power over the German and Italian forces, though their decisions are similar to Franco’s anyway.

October 6

The USSR decides it no longer wants to be part of the Non-Intervention Agreement. As Germany, Italy and Portugal are openly intervening whilst signed to the agreement, the Soviet Union decides it can intervene too, except instead for the Republicans. The Nationalists’ area is supplied with weapons and supplies over the Portuguese border, but as France will not break the agreement, the Republicans have no way of getting supplies.

International Brigade flag

October 7

The International Brigade volunteers set up a base in Albacete, in the Valencia region. To men are selected to run the organisation – André Marty, a French Communist, and Palmiro Togliatti, an Italian Communist. Both men are well experienced in running left-leaning groups. Volunteers start arriving, some over the French border. Anarchists control the border and don’t want communist volunteers, but need the manpower. Others make their own way into the country, not contracted or obliged to fight in any way.

October 9

The Spanish Republican government officially forms the Popular Army. As most left-wing groups are militias of workers and/or peasants, these need to be grouped more effectively and have commanders who are sharing information. Also part of the civilian militia joins those army men who remained loyal, along with any Guardia Civil and assault guard men, who are already trained to fight.

The flag three pointed star of the Popular Front


This is not a detailed analysis, just a highlight (lowlight?) of the week’s events. Feel free to suggest an addition/clarification/correction below. All photos are linked to source for credit