Bombing of Durango

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Bombing of Durango.
Part of the Spanish Civil War
Durangoko Bonbardaketa 1937-03-31.jpg

Photo of the bombing taken by an Italian pilot.
Date March 31, 1937
Location Durango, Biscay, Spain
Result The town of Durango was destroyed.
Belligerents
Spain Spanish Republic Kingdom of Italy Aviazione Legionaria
Commanders and leaders
? ?
Strength
Anti-aircraft artillery He-51 and CR.32 fighters
9 Sa-81 bombers[1]
Casualties and losses
248–250 civilians dead None

The Bombing of Durango took place on 31 March 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. On 31 March 1937 the Nationalists started their offensive against the Republican held province of Biscay. The same day the Legion Condor and the Aviazione Legionaria bombed the town of Durango. Around 250 civilians died, among them one priest and fourteen nuns. Durango was the first defenseless European city bombed. The Nationalists never acknowledged their guilt.

Background[edit]

On 31 March 1937, the Nationalist forces, led by Emilio Mola, started the offensive against the Republican held, Vizcaya Province. Mola said that: "I have decided to terminate rapidly the war in the north: those not guilty of assassinations and who surrender their arms will have their lives and property spared. But, if submission is not immediate, I will raze all Vizcaya to the ground, beginning with the industries of war".[2] The same day the Nationalist bombed the towns of Durango[3] and Elorrio.[4]

The bombing[edit]

Durango a town of 10,000 inhabitants was a road and railway junction between Bilbao and the front. It had no air defenses or any form of military presence.[5] On 31 March, heavy bombers (German Ju-52 and Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.81) from the Condor Legion[6] and the Aviazione Legionaria bombed the town in relays. Two churches were bombed during the celebration of mass, killing 14 nuns and the officiated priest.[7] Furthermore, Heinkel He 51 fighters strafed fleeing civilians. Altogether, around 250 civilians (Thomas:248;[8] Beevor:250[9] and Preston: 258[10]) died in the attack. Durango became the first defenseless European city bombed, twenty days before the town of Guernica.[11]

Aftermath[edit]

On 28 April, Durango fell to the nationalists.[12] The nationalists never acknowledged their guilt in the death of civilians.[13] They said that the priest and the nuns were killed and burned by the reds. Queipo de llano said that: "our planes bombed military objectives in Durango, and later communists and socialists locked up the priests and nuns, shooting without pity and burning the churches".[14]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ es:Bombardeo de Durango
  2. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. London. p.598
  3. ^ Graham, Helen. The Spanish Civil War. A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. 2005. p.71
  4. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p.228
  5. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p.228
  6. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. London. p.598
  7. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p.228
  8. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. London. p.598
  9. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p.228
  10. ^ Preston, Paul. Franco. Fontana Press. 1995. London.p.239
  11. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. Londo. p.598
  12. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. Londo. p.607
  13. ^ Preston, Paul. Franco. Fontana Press. 1995. London.p.239
  14. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Penguin Books. London. 2006. p.228

Coordinates: 43°10′N 2°38′W / 43.167°N 2.633°W / 43.167; -2.633