Battle of Irún

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Battle of Irún
Part of the Spanish Civil War
Date August 19 - September 5, 1936
Location Gipuzkoa, Spain
Result Decisive Nationalist victory
Belligerents
Spain Spanish Republic Francoist Spain Nationalists
Commanders and leaders
Spain Antonio Ortega
Spain Manuel Margarida Valdes
Francoist Spain Lt. Colonel Alfonso Beorlegui Canet
Strength
over 2,000[1]-3,000[2][3] over 2,000[4]
a battery of 155 mm guns[5][6]
some Ju 52 bombers[7]
some tanks Panzer Mark I[8]
Casualties and losses
? ?

The Battle of Irún was the critical battle of the Campaign of Gipuzkoa prior to the War in the North, during the Spanish Civil War. The Nationalist Army, under Alfonso Beorlegui, captured the city of Irún cutting off the northern provinces of Gipuzkoa, Biscay, Santander, and Asturias from their source of arms and support in France.

Background[edit]

Irún is located on the northeastern coast of Spain, between the French border and the city of San Sebastian. Navarre, a Carlist stronghold, was taken over by the Requetés in late July, followed by brutal mass-repression against blacklisted civilians.[9] In early August, the Carlists Colonel Jose Solchaga Zala and Colonel Alfonso Beorlegui under the orders of General Mola commanded large numbers of Requetés down the north of Navarre towards Irun.[10]

Colonel Beorlegui's force was smaller, but it included 155 mm artillery, German light tanks, Junkers Ju 52 bombers, and a 700-man bandera from the Spanish Foreign Legion.[11] It also included Italian aircraft. Both Germans and Italians carried out heavy air strikes over Irun and Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía) on a daily basis, at the same time dropping pamphlets over the towns threatening to repeat the massacres of Badajoz.[12]

The town was defended by 3,000 Republicans, including CNT militia, Asturian miners, Basque nationalists, and French communist volunteers. However, they were poorly armed and lacking in proper military training.[13]

The battle[edit]

The Nationalist ships España (battleship), Almirante Cervera (cruiser), and Velasco (destroyer) bombarded the town on August 11. The main fighting took place on the Puntza ridge south of the town. The peak of the battle occurred at the convent of San Marcial, which was defended by Asturian miners and militia who threw dynamite and rocks when they ran out of ammunition.[14]

The French had closed the border with Spain on August 8, leading to a shortage of ammunition and supplies on the Republican side. When the Republicans finally abandoned the town, anarchist forces in retreat enraged by their lack of ammunition set fire to parts of the town to destroy things that might aid the Nationalists.[15] During the duration of the war, when the Nationalists bombarded then occupied a town, they would put the blame of the destruction on the Republicans, like in Gernika (a sort of false flag operation), citing the example of Irún.

Beorlegui was wounded by a sniper's bullet when he entered the town. He refused to have the wound treated and soon died from gangrene.[16] Thousands of civilians and militias fled in panic for their lives across the Bidasoa border to France as the rebel far-right forces entered the town.[17]

The Nationalist battalions headed then west towards San Sebastián, defended halfway only by the Fort San Marcos.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. p.273
  2. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1931-1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.116
  3. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. London. p.364
  4. ^ Jackson, Gabriel. The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931-1939. Princeton University Press. Princeton. 1967. p.273
  5. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1931-1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.116
  6. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. London. p.365
  7. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1931-1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.116
  8. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. 2001. London. p.365
  9. ^ Preston, Paul, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, (2013), pp. 179-183.
  10. ^ Preston, Paul, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, (2013), p. 430.
  11. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1931-1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.116
  12. ^ Preston, Paul, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, (2013), p. 430.
  13. ^ Preston, Paul, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, (2013), p. 430.
  14. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1931-1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.116
  15. ^ Preston, Paul, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, (2013), p. 430.
  16. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain. The Spanish Civil War 1931-1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.117
  17. ^ Preston, Paul, The Spanish Holocaust: Inquisition and Extermination in Twentieth-Century Spain, (2013), p. 430.

Sources[edit]

Coordinates: 43°20′N 1°47′W / 43.333°N 1.783°W / 43.333; -1.783