Asturias Offensive

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Asturias Offensive
Part of the Spanish Civil War
Frente del Norte - Spanish Civil War (March-Sept 1937).svg
Date 1 September – 21 October 1937
Location Asturias, Spain
Result Decisive Nationalist victory
Territorial
changes
Asturias captured by Nationalist forces. End of the War in the North
Belligerents
 Republican Spain  Nationalist Spain
 Italy (Italian CTV)
Nazi Germany Condor Legion
Commanders and leaders
Second Spanish Republic Adolfo Prada Vaquero
Second Spanish Republic Francisco Ciutat
Second Spanish Republic Francisco Galán
Second Spanish Republic Belarmino Tomás
Francoist SpainFidel Dávila
Francoist SpainAntonio Aranda
Francoist SpainJosé Solchaga
Francoist SpainAgustín Muñoz Grandes
Strength
45,000
180 artillery guns
1 destroyer
1 submarine
90,000
250 artillery guns
250 aircraft
2 cruisers
1 destroyer

The Asturias Offensive (Spanish: Ofensiva de Asturias) was an offensive in Asturias during the Spanish Civil War which lasted from 1 September to 21 October 1937. 45,000 men of the Spanish Republican Army met 90,000 men of the Nationalist forces.

Background[edit]

After the failed republican offensive against Zaragoza, the Nationalists decided to redeploy their forces and continued their offensive against the last piece of Republican held territory in the Norh, Asturias. On 29 August, the Sovereign Council of Asturias, led by Belarmino Tomas, assumed all military and civil powers and appointed Colonel Prada as commander of the Republican Army of the North.[1]

Opposing forces[edit]

The Nationalists offensive was launched by the General Dávila's Army of the North, with 80,000 men. This force included the José Solchaga's four Navarrese brigades, the Aranda's three divisions and the Italian CTV. The Nationalists also had 250 cannons and 250 aircraft.[2]

Opposing them, the Republicans had the Army of the Norh, led by the Colonel Prada, with the XIV Army Corps led by Francisco Galán (8,000–10,000 men) and the Colonel Linares's XVII Army corps (35,000). The Prada's chief of staff was Francisco Ciutat. The Republicans had 180 cannons,[3] one squadron of Chatos and two flights of Moscas, around 35 aircraft.[4]

The Nationalist Offensive[edit]

The destroyer Císcar, sinking at the Gijón's harbour on 20 October.

The Nationalist offensive started on 1 September, Solchaga advancing from the East and Aranda from the southwest, but despite their crushing numerical and air superiority their advance was painfully slow (less than a kilometre a day). The Republicans fought fiercely and the difficult terrain of the Cordillera Cantabrica provided excellent defensive positions. The Solchaga's troops (33,000 men) occupied Llanes on September 5 and attacked the El Mazuco pass, held by the CNT workers from La Felguera (5,000 men).[5] The Navarrese managed to conquer the Pass, only after 33 days of bloody combats. On September 18 the Nationalists occupied Ribadesella, on 1 October Covadonga, but by 14 October, the Republicans still held several high passes of the Leonese Mountains.[6]

The main goal of the Republicans was to delay the Nationalist advance until the winter came, nevertheless, then the Legion Condor returned from the Aragon front and started to bomb the Republican positions. The German squadrons used napalm (cans of petrol attached to incendiary bombs) and tested the idea of the carpet bombing. On 14 October Arriondas fell, and the Colonel Muñoz Grandes managed to break the republican front, entering in Tama and advancing to Campo de Caso.[7] The Republican troops retreated to Gijón and on 15 October the Solchaga's troops joined up with Aranda's troops.[8]

Then, the Republican government ordered to begin the general evacuation[9] and on 17 October the Sovereign Council of Asturias decided to start the evacuation, but the Legion Condor sank the Republican destroyer Ciscar and the Nationalist fleet blocked the Asturian harbours. Only the senior officers managed to escape on gunboats and fishing vessels (Prada, Galán, Segundo Blanco, Belarmino Tomas). On 20 October, twenty-two Republican battalions surrendered and the Colonel José Franco, handed over the town of Trubia to the Nationalists. On October 21, the Nationalists entered Gijon, ending the occupation of Asturias. Nevertheless, thousands of Republican soldiers fled to the nearby mountains and started a guerrilla campaign against the Nationalist troops.[10]

Aftermath[edit]

The Nationalist repression was harsh. In Oviedo alone, 1,000 republican prisoners were shot.[11] The Republican prisoners were sent to labour battalions or were forced to join the Nationalist army (around 100,000).[12] Furthermore, with the conquest of the North, the Nationalist controlled the 36 per cent of the Spanish industrial production, 60 per cent of the coal and all the steel production.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. p. 301
  2. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. p. 301.
  3. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p. 707
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. p. 301.
  5. ^ http://www.speleogroup.org/files/ElMazuco-impossible-defence.html
  6. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. p. 302
  7. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. p. 302
  8. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p.708
  9. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. p. 302
  10. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. pp.708–710
  11. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p. 710
  12. ^ Beevor, Antony. (2006). The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939. Penguin Books. London. pp. 302-303.
  13. ^ Thomas, Hugh. (2001). The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. p. 712

Bibliography[edit]