September 1936. The area dominated until then by the so-called “People’s General”, Colonel Julio Mangada, based in Navalperal de Pinares (Ávila), experienced days of exchanging positions. Beat retirement, in the middle of the month The Italian Gastone Sozzi column, the Polish Dombrowski group, the French Paris Commune and the German Thälmann column arrive in Cebreros, who reorganized in Robledo de Chavela (Madrid) in the face of the push of rebel forces from the north led by Emilio Mola. On October 9, the day after the capture of Navalperal and in command of his column, Colonel Óscar Nevado participated in the assault of Hole of Pinares and 10 it’s over with Port of Arrebatacapas and collaborated in the conquest of what would be the birthplace of Adolfo Suárez. A section of Fiat-Ansaldo CV-33/35 (L-3) battle tanks took part in this action, the first of the “national” army. Count Galeazzo Ciano has sent five small tanks, but members of the fascist Corpo di Truppe Volontarie (CTV) will also be deployed to the area soon.

The confrontation of these forces with their transalpine compatriots who feed the Republican ranks will still take time.

The members of Gastone Sozzi constitute a century formed on September 3 in Barcelona, ​​composed of 86 Italians, 29 Poles, 10 French, a few Belgians and a Dane. The majority were in Barcelona to participate in the People’s Olympic Games. On September 9, these hundred men joined the Liberty Column, passing Madrid after his first visit to Ávila. In the capital, they defend the Extremadura highway.

On October 25, Gastone Sozzi formed the majority of the Garibaldi battalion, which was integrated into the XII International Brigade. It is the germ of the group to which Pablo Iglesias dedicated his Lavapiés tavern, named in honor of the armed militia in memory of the Italian soldier, revolutionary and politician Giuseppe Maria Garibaldinational hero of Italy.

Already a member of the International Brigades, the Garibaldi Battalion experienced its baptism of fire on November 12, 1936 during the failed assault on Cerro de los Ángeles (Getafe), and later participated in the fighting of the University town, Boadilla del Monte, Pozuelo de Alarcón, Mirabueno, Majadahonda, Arganda, Morata de Tajuña and Guadalajara.

Although its most important role was played in the Battle of the Ebro, it was on the lands of the Alcarria where the most emblematic clash between Italians during the war took place. If in Ávila the units were still small and did not come together, in Guadalajara Garibaldi’s anti-fascists fought for the first time on a large scale with the volunteers and the “black shirts” of Benito Mussolini. (In total, more than 85,000 Italians fought during this period, approximately 80,000 sent by the Duce and around 5,500 garibaldino).

In the first moments, among the snow and mud, an Italian patrol crosses paths with another patrol on the opposite side. The two groups They greet each other from afar, believing themselves to be allies., by the common language. But the error is only an anecdote in what immediately becomes a small transalpine civil war where the fighting is fought hand-to-hand and without quarter. A moment of glory for the Garibaldino, who manage to repel and scare away the fascists.

Flag of the Garibaldi Battalion, part of the XII International Brigade
Flag of the Garibaldi Battalion, part of the XII International BrigadebathroomL/R.

The surviving prisoners are used by the Republic for propaganda purposes, they are exhibited before the international press and their documents are presented to the London Non-Intervention Committee to demonstrate the involvement of Mussolini’s Italy in the Spanish Civil War. At the same time, the Republicans mainly receive help from Russia.

Things did not turn out as Mussolini had hoped. The Italians suffered heavy losses which forced them to reorganize their forces. During the rest of the war, The CTV lost its independence and remained under the direct command of Spanish officers and bosses.

In July 1937, the anti-fascists of the now famous Garibaldi Brigade They fought at Brunete, and between August and September 1937 they also did not have much luck during the Zaragoza offensive. In February 1938, they took part in a night attack in Zalamea (Extremadura). On March 10, they crossed the Aragon front to try to stop the Franco offensive, but without success and suffered a very high number of losses. In April, they were isolated in Catalonia, but they took the opportunity to reorganize.

The Garibaldians will once again meet the veterans of Abyssinia in the Ebro, notably with the Italian Legionary Aviation. The Sierra de Cavalls is the scene of their last battle before the withdrawal of the International Brigades.

By wbu4c

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