Vintage Saturday: Captured

Spanish Antifascists with a JoLoAr pistol, July 1938
Note the distinctive palanca of the JoLoAr pistol being held on the captured Nationalist officer. Identity of the officer unknown, photo taken July 1938.

Antifascists holding a captured officer at gunpoint with a JoLoAr pistol during the Spanish Civil War.

Check back Monday for a video on the JoLoAr!


  1. That cocking lever hanging down on the JoLoAr always concerns me. I know it’s supposed to fold up out of the way, but most photos I’ve seen seem to indicate that whatever was supposed to hold it up (friction lock? spring latch?)didn’t work very well.

    Add in the pistol’s lack of a trigger guard, and I keep wondering how you were supposed to fire it without getting a sharp rap across the knuckles.



    • Movement of the slide during recoil rotates the cocking lever of the Jo-Lo-Ar up around the mounting screw on each shot. No latch, the lever flops back down after the slide returns to battery. Works surprisingly well. Was told that this latch absence was to allow one handed clearing at any time a cartridge failed to fire.

  2. The Royalist with the Jo-Lo-Ar is also carrying a rifle and has an ammo pouch for the rifle – but no holster for the Jo-Lo-Ar. Looks like he liberated the Jo-Lo-Ar from the captured Spanish officer, who seems to be missing his belt. Didn’t realise that Franco’s forces issued Jo-Lo-Ars, which were made by strong Royalist supporters.

    • I think you meant to say “Loyalist” instead of “Royalist”, that would be the proper term. The Jo-Lo-Ar was a commercial model, not adopted by the Spanish Army, whose official sidearm was the Astra 400 or 1921 model. It´s true that some Army officers were allowed to carry whatever they wanted for a pistol, but it´s more likely that the pistol was given to the militia man, as many weapons were spread disorderly through the workers´ militiamen at the beginning of the war, with no holsters, pouches nor spare magazines.

    • Dansquad is right. The Jo-Lo-Ar was never issued, at least not on an offical basis. The pistol was of course available for private purchase by officers who wished so.
      As for the pistol in the photo maybe it was liberated from the unfortunate officer. Anyway, and since it was stricly a commercially available model (and not one to be found in Government arsenals and warehouses) I doubt it could have been ‘given’ to the pictured miliciano. It wasn’t a regulation gun with the Guardia Civil or Guardia de Asalto either.

      • Well, I didn´t refer strictly to military and police arsenals as the only procedence of firearms. The months preceeding the war were a sort of gang-war between radical militants of both sides, and many guns were adquired by sindicates and other political organizations to provide its members. Meaning that those guns came from black market, legal international adquisitions, stolen from gun shops or bootlegged from manufacturing facilities.

        • Yes, I understood that. Trade unions, on one hand, and members of right-wing organisations, on the other, obtained a surprisingly high number of handguns via legal means (by direct purchase) before the war.

  3. Guadalajara, July 22th 1936
    Engineer Commander Rafael Ortiz de Zarate, supporter of the fascist rebellion, is taken up to the firing squad after being captured. His position at Henares bridge was overrun by workers´ militia and some members of Guardia Civil, after several hours of combat. He by himself made use of a machinegun to hold his point, but was finally captured after running out of ammo. His brother Ricardo Ortiz de Zarate, carabineer commander, remained loyal to the legitimate government of the Spanish Republica, but suffered the same fate in the oposite side: executed by firing squad short after the end of the war. The one who said that “A Civil War is a war between brothers” could not have said it better.

    • Thanks for sharing this poignant and ultimately terrible aspect of history with us. May I ask where the information came from? I would like to learn more about the individuals involved. Thanks in advance.

      • Earl .. The faces recall to me what CS Lewis said “One cannot give to another what one does not have himself”. It is true for a single moment ..or a lifetime. If you were to take away the weapons from the picture it could well look like a group of young football fans that had just won the game. It is so like the faces of German people watching as officers went down a line shooting Jews young and old, in the back of their head, it is the same faces of Iraqi teenagers and old men stomping on burned American bodies. Yes Earl it is still with us.//

        • Thanks for the thought, Thomas….sadly, you are quite right. The momentary triumph and manifestation of rage that callously tosses aside all real values for life and decency is so evident in those young men’s faces — a facet of the human condition that frighteningly exists somewhere in all of us. One can barely imagine the fear and emotions that that Nationalist officer must have felt as they led him to his execution — or was he already dead, just a physical presence yet living and breathing but acquiescent to his certain fate?

    • Thanks for the details and clearing up that the year was 1936 and not 1938. When I’d seen 1938 my 1st thought was that the officer had to be very unlucky to be captured when leftists could no longer hope for any type of victory.

      In 1936 the leftist were one big happy family, but by July 1938 they had fought a war amongst themselves.

      • Martin,
        The Spanish Frente Popular was never a ‘big happy family’ nor even an united one for that matter, and this applies also to the short period before the Civil War, stemming from February to July 1936. The seeds of dissent were ever present after the Left coalition victory at the legislative election held on 16 February 1936, and became evident on several episodes, some quite bloody, during the war. The apex of such war within the larger Civil War was reached during the so-called May Days (known in Spanish as Sucesos de Mayo or Hechos de Mayo), which ocurred during the first week of May 1937 with serious fighting taking place in the streets of Barcelona between forces (mostly Guardia de Asalto units) loyal to the central Republican government and the PCE (the Spanish Communist Party) and local anarchist militias aided by the POUM (a local communist party, of Trotskist persuasion).

    • Great detail, dansquad, but I’m a bit confused by your comment about Guardia Civil being with the workers’ militia on the antifacist side. My understanding was that the Guardia Civil were resolutely on Franco’s side – they were certainly still a force to be reckoned with when my sub was doing pre-patrol refits out of Rota in the late 70s. Actually the first detail that jumped out at me from the photo was the hat with chinstrap worn by the guy holding the forend of the Mauser with his left hand… it looks very similar to the hats worn by the Guardias I saw in Spain (by my time they had upgraded to the CENTIME, which was the most firepower I’ve ever seen in the hands of cops on routine patrol) but I figured it was a captured and treasured trophy.

      • Hi, Jim :

        Thanks for sharing your personal experiences in Rota at the time. Did you mean to refer to the CETME 7.62mm rifle?

        • Yup, for all practical purposes the G-3. Full-flap holsters but from what I could see 1911-style pistols which I assume were Star Bs. I was there after Franco had died but before the constitutional monarchy was installed; there were occasional demonstrations but the Fascists were still very much in power. The GCs ran two-man patrols, wearing a rather formal, archaic long green coat over a white shirt and a black patent-leather hat, almost a Revolutionary tricorn, with the back brim pushed up flat against the back of the hat as a tribute to some event in the Civil War where the Guardias were fighting literally “with their backs to the wall.” They had Jeeps and SEAT (Spanish Fiat) patrol cars but usually patrolled two-up on 50cc scooter/ moped things, with the passenger carrying a slung G3/ CENTIME. To be honest it was pretty silly-looking but the GCs had such a fierce reputation (at the time possession of hashish was six years and a day without a trial, which as post-Vietnam sailors we were warned about repeatedly before we arrived) especially among the tender pukes and other permanent-station guys that no one even smiled at the sight of these fierce, strangely uniformed cops two-up on tiny bikes. The GC hats were an almost mythical object of souvineering – never knew anyone who got one and they were said to be unavailable at any price. It was a lot of fun if you played by the rules – which meant the Spanish girls of any reputation were off limits and heavily chaperoned. The exchange rate at the time was about 1200 pesetas to the dollar. The beer (Spanish San Miguel, which is much worse than the Filipino version) was horrible but the dry red wine was fantastic and so cheap – about 25 cents a liter – it was ridiculous. Outstanding stewed horse meat in a tomato sauce heavily seasoned with orange zest and bay leaves. First time I ever ate squid or snails.

      • Jim, when the Spanish army rebelled in Morocco on 17 July 1936, the Guardia de Asalto remained loyal to the government for its most part, while the Guardia Civil became utterly divided, but not in an even way. In each area or region the conduct followed by Guardia Civil units was different, with many variations and episodes of confuse loyalties. However, in Madrid and Barcelona, for instance, the Guardia Civil contribution proved invaluable to the Republican government in putting down the rebellion of local army units. One of such men was colonel Antonio Escobar Huertas who, despite being a Catholic and a man of conservative ideas, remained loyal to the elected government. He secured Barcelona in the early days of the Civil War, suppressing the rebellion there. He was strongly against keeping the anarchist militias armed AFTER the rebels were defeated in Catalonia… One of his sons died fighting on Franco’s side.
        He surrended (as general by then) to the Nationalists at the end of the war. A Francoist general offered him a plane and a safe escape to Portugal, but he refused in order to share the same fate of his men. General Escobar was executed by firing squad in 1940.

        • Thanks for the clarification! That is one of the main things I remember from the Herrick book I recommended below… there were a bewildering array of factions within the two sides, more confusing than my aunts at Christmas arguing over whether distant relatives were third cousins or second cousins twice removed.

          • The Spanish Civil War reminds me of something I’m writing about at the moment, the Greek Resistance of WWII and the follow-on Greek Civil War. The Comintern learned from their disaster in Spain, and there was less internecine fighting between the left side of the Greek wars, but the whole thing was a mess with three major (Communist, republican, royalist) and countless minor factions in ever-shifting combinations, including alliances with the Nazi occupation when that was expedient. And all distinguished by very similar acronyms! I’m trying to write an acronym-free, clear and simple retelling of the wars that had their roots in the 1930s and still have repercussions today.

            For these acronyms, men killed and died. Very hard to follow now, it’s a bit like watching Apocalypto with the subtitles off. The Spanish situation was similar, amplified by each side being a cat’s paw of foreign interests to one extent or other (this was true in the Greek case, but less so than in the last couple years of the Spanish unpleasantness).

  4. End will be obvious…. that’s what war is about. When eventually fortunes turned to nationalist’s side tens of thousands of other side were promptly ‘be-souled’. The way they identified them was by ‘shoulder-prints’ from firing rifles. Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.

  5. It was one of those conflicts where you wish BOTH sides could lose.

    Nut case anarchists and lickspittle Stalinists versus nut case fascists and nut case ultra-conservatives is a recipe for for mindless atrocities and there were plenty of those.

    “New York Review” of books once ran a debate on the horrific influence of the Stalinists (fratricidal Soviet style purges), and the pro-Stalinist side ran perfectly to form.

    I’m part way through Antony Beevor’s “The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939”, it’s only confirmed my long held belief that both sides were certifiable. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin only took advantage of the opportunity to test their new toys… and largely draw the wrong conclusions, Stalin in particular, with his persistence in maintaining a large force of biplane fighters.

    • Perhaps, they were both ‘bad’. The “democrats” were on sidelines to get embroiled in the same, just little later. They all used same means.

    • He wasn’t alone with these biplane fighters – mind you, the Fiat CR42 and Gloster Gladiator were both still very much in use in 1940 and 1941.

      • “He wasn’t alone with these biplane fighters – mind you, the Fiat CR42 and Gloster Gladiator were both still very much in use in 1940 and 1941.”

        The difference was that they were in much LESS use than the I-152 and I-153 in 1941 and 1942.

        If the Soviet Union had been invaded only by Italy, they probably could have done well against CR32s and CR42s. Of course they probably would have been badly handled by the Fiat G50s and Macchi MC200s. Against Bf-109fs, the I-16s were like lambs to the slaughter. The I-152s and I-153s were utterly doomed, and the LaGG-3s at a serious disadvantage.

        • Chris, Earl .. all. It is easy to learn all the specifics and intricate details of this and that weapon or weapon system. The flint lock, MG 34 or a SADM. What is, I believe, a greater challenge is look find the “why” the various “leaders” throughout our human history made the determination that they needed them and why they felt it necessary to use them, in some of the most horrific and often inhumane ways. Weapons have always been only the tools.

          • Thanks for your insightful observations, Thomas. The way the ends justify the means, when combined with other dynamics, in the perceptions of many leaders ( and followers, too ) is often absolutely horrifying but still must be looked at closely if we are to at least try and understand — and learn from — them.

          • I’ve been a student of Soviet history, and especially Stalin and the purges since the ’70s.

            As I noted above, I’m reading Beevor’s book on the Spanish Civil War. Beevor (and pretty much anybody else I’ve ever read) gives the impression that Spain was a slow motion trainwreck since at least the War of the Spanish Succession. Their loss in the Spanish-American War just accelerated the process. By the time of the Civil War, Spain was a seething cauldron of ultra-rightwing and ultra-leftwing nut cases. When the war started, they were eager to appeal to their respective ideological kin outside the country.

          • Chris .. I have not a fault with your assessment. I (too self appointed huh)have givein long and anguished thought, not just if the results of the as you so perfectly identify “the nut cases” but what possesses, what leads them to become certifiable “nut cases” that are allowed to run rampant for so ling. Bad guys do bad things .. that is why we call them bad guys. It, even though I have witnessed it personally, still baffles me to understand .. the results are self evident, easy to see. But how can a mind become so totally evolved into a total allusion of reality .. totally deleting from their soul reality …in mass! What for the most part spoken of here so far is the “tools” used. I guess Chris this in me, is what happens when you see a lot of death and try hard to find a reason other than “there are “NUT cases” that defy reasonable explanation. Hope you understand what I am struggling to convey.

        • Speaking of forgotten weapons, the Macchi MC.200 Saetta and its successor, the MC.202 Folgore, were excellent yet greatly under-rated fighters that could hold their own against contemporary enemy fighters. They were let down to some extent by ancillary issues such as unreliable radio equipment and relatively light armament, but as far as overall flight performance was concerned, they were as good as the general opposition.

          • The MC.202 Folgore was a much, much better aircraft than the underpowered (and underarmed) MC.200 Saetta, Earl. However, the zenith of Italian fighter aircraft development was reached with the superlative ‘Serie 5’ machines: Macchi MC.205 Veltro, Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario and Fiat G.55 Centauro, the later perhaps the best from a purely industrial standpoint. By late 1943, any of the three was more than the equal of the best Allied or Axis fighters then in service.

          • Agreed. The MC.205, Re.2005 and G.55 were actually superior to their contemporaries, both Allied and Axis, in terms of overall flight performance, and easily equal or better in terms of armament and firepower. Unfortunately ( or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it ), they were collectively a case of too little, too late.

            I was referring to the MC.200 and MC.202 specifically in the same context, i.e., an apples-to-apples comparison with equivalent rivals of the same exact design vintage and technological timeline, not necessarily the enemy fighters that they actually ended up facing due to the exigencies of war.

          • “relatively light armament”

            The Italians relied upon twin gun installations of their low power 12.7mm machinegun, long after even the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force did.

            The Italians never could come up with a powerful aircraft engine. They ended up having to rely upon the Germans for Daimler-Benz engines of which the Germans didn’t have enough.

            The Veltro was an EXCELLENT aircraft, handicapped by the shortage of engines.

        • Well, the CR.42 remained in use far longer than its closer ‘brothers’ from the fraternity of late biplane fighters, but no longer in air superiority roles, of course. Anti-partisan missions were flown by the Nachtschlachtgruppe 9 over Italy and Yugoslavia in early 1944, using a special light bomber and night harassment version of the basic type, the CR.42LW, ordered from Fiat shortly after the Italian armistice of 3 Setember 1943.

      • Quite right, Leszek. And the Hawker Fury served the RAF until 1939 and the South Africans in the Western Desert well into 1941. (The Spanish Republicans were out of them by 1936, but that’s because indigenous Spanish production never got going due to the Civil War). One reason Neville Chamberlain took the raw deal at Munich was that his nation, apart from the Senior Service, was in no shape to fight in 1938.

        • The references to biplanes serving in the RAF well into the early war years as a result of unpreparedness reminds me of yet another aircraft that is largely forgotten — the Vickers Vildebeeste ( sometimes spelled Vildebeest ) torpedo bomber, which was of somewhat earlier vintage ( first flight, 1928 ) than the venerable Fairey Swordfish ( first flight, 1934 ). The Vildebeeste is best known for its service with Nos. 36 and 100 Squadrons in the Malayan Campaign and the Battle For Singapore.

          While the crews and the aircraft served with incredible gallantry in the face of modern Japanese fighter opposition, the results were predictable. Both squadrons were completely decimated in a short amount of time. The aircrew casualty rate was among the highest ever recorded for any unit of any air arm, and the Vildebeeste squadrons were evacuated to Palembang in Sumatra and later Java barely days before the fall of Singapore. By February 8th, 1942, the survivors were re-grouped into one grossly under-strength unit as No.36 Squadron. By March 6th, only two serviceable aircraft were left, and these were lost in an attempt to escape from the Netherlands East Indies when the Dutch decided to surrender. Three of the four crew of one Vildebeeste were killed on ditching, and the entire crew of the other aircraft were captured. The ground crews and remaining staff became POW’s and were interned at Kalidjati in Java for the duration of the war. Nos. 36 and 100 Squadrons had literally ceased to exist.

          For those FW readers who might be interested in finding out more about the history of the RAF in the Far East ( specifically Malaya and Singapore ), there is a very well-written and well-researched book with many rare photographs called “Lion In The Sky” ( Copyright 036807, Federal Publications Sdn. Bhd., Singapore, 1968 ) written by Squadron Leader Neville Shorrick, who served at RAF Seletar in Singapore in the 1960’s. Surprisingly for such a relatively hard-to-find book, you can still get it on Amazon.

        • The Royal Yugoslav Air Force actually used their Hawker Yugoslav Fury (the fastest and latest Fury variant, capable of a maximum speed superior to the Fiat CR.32 and close to the CR.42 and Gladiator) against the Luftwaffe during the German invasion of April 1941. They actually claimed a few kills before being decimated by the superior quality and sheer numbers of the Luftwaffe fighter units during Operation Marita.

          Thanks for the book suggestion, Earl. Sq.Leader Neville Shorrick book is a classic. I read it in the Eighties but unfortunately lost my copy during a move. Another title that might interest those who want to know more about the Japanese onslaught against British and Dutch possessions and the air war that ensued, is “Bloody Shambles”, written by noted expert Christopher Shores with Brian Cull and Yasuho Izawa, touted quite correctly by the publisher as “the first comprehensive account of air operations over South-East Asia December 1941-April 1942”. The book is divided in two volumes: Vol.1, “The Drift to war to the fall of Singapore” and Vol.2 “From the defence of Sumatra to the fall of Burma” (London: Grub Street, 1992). A third and final volume was published in 2005, covering the Allied AFs counter-offensive in SE Asia from 1942 till the end of the war; I don’t have it yet and this is a good remind to order a copy soon!

          • Thanks for the recommendation — I’ll have to look into getting a copy ( or copies ) of “Bloody Shambles”. Much appreciated!

          • Thanks for the book recommendations. I have a few books about the Allied collapse in the Far East in 41-42 to work through, but not these. Even obsolete aircraft seem to have nonzero results against more modern ones. The US found the “obsolete” MiG-17 a challenge in Vietnam. and in the Philippines, the Philippine AF had obsolete Boeing P-26s (monoplanes, but wire-braced ones with fixed gear, two MGs, and sub-Hawker-Fury performance) and managed to score a few kills against the Japanese onslaught.

            The preponderance of the victories go to the better trained men with the better machinery. Wait, how did we get on to this from the Spanish Civil War?

    • A very thoughtful commentary, Chris — thank you. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this painful chapter in human history, where the terms “the ends justify the means” and “total war” were given even more meaning than before, and for all the wrong reasons. To this day, generations after the Spanish Civil War, Spain is still in some ways divided — a testimony to the scars that run deeply within.

      • Just to add this little detail…. and as eluded at times before, I trust my impressions when talking with actual people/witnesses the most.

        I met a man here in Canada who was a worker, born Spaniard. Therefore not member of any privilledged group which would keep him in his home territory. We touched ones briefly on past in Spanish history. His take was that during general Francos’ regime there was order and prosperity. Ironically, after his demise and consequent turn toward more “democratic” society he elected to leave his homeland. By the way, he was first class machinist-grinder.

        So, as we can see again, nothing is clear cut.

        • I think you are quite correct. I have heard about both similar and dissimilar experiences and impressions from friends and acquaintances from Spain, from both sides and from those caught in between too. This simply proves that in something as complicated as a civil war, its aftermath and all it implies, there are diverse viewpoints depending on the experiences involved. None are absolutely in the right, and none are absolutely in the wrong, either. The human condition is many changing shades of grey, and almost never black nor white.

        • Quite interesting and very true. I once met a Spanish old gentleman living – of all places – in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. A man of monarchist sympathies and the son of a Carlist offier in the Nationalist army during the Civil War, he loathed Franco and his henchmen to an obsessive degree. As to why did he choose to led a secluded existence deep in the Brazilian countryside I have no clues (other than his beautiful and much younger cabocla<i/< wife!), but can imagine a few.

          • Quite interesting and very true. I once met a Spanish old gentleman living – of all places – in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. A man of monarchist sympathies and the son of a Carlist offier in the Nationalist army during the Civil War, he loathed Franco and his henchmen to an obsessive degree. As to why did he choose to led a secluded existence deep in the Brazilian countryside I have no clues (other than his beautiful and much younger cabocla wife!), but can imagine a few.

        • Quite interesting and very true. I once met a Spanish old gentleman living – of all places – in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. A man of monarchist sympathies and the son of a Carlist officer in the Nationalist army during the Civil War, he loathed Franco and his henchmen to an obsessive degree. As to why did he choose to led a secluded existence deep in the Brazilian countryside I have no clues (other than his beautiful and much younger ‘cabocla’ wife!), but can imagine a few.

          • I appreciate your feed-back Ruy, as much as Earls. As for yourself and your background, you have obviously lot to say.
            For me, as a person as we can say in ‘non-related’ but still interested position, I believe that all these variations and alterations were mainly due to fact of Spanish nature. I know them as supremely freedom minded, at they same time prone to stand behind their convictions, whatever it takes.

  6. I mentioned this in passing the last time we discussed the Spanish Civil War, but I couldn’t remember the author’s name (my much re-read copy disappeared during a move over 25 years ago) and couldn’t find any reference to the book. Just refined the search… “Hermanos!” by Spanish Civil War veteran and self-described “American radical” William Herrick is an unforgettable and incredibly well written novel about the SCW and the Popular Front. (Incidentally, at the moment, Amazon has four hardbound copies of “Hermanos!” for a penny + shipping; used paperback copies start at $10.50!) Here’s an interesting bio of Herrick I just turned up as well:

    Regardless of your views of his politics, he was a hell of a writer and “Hermanos!” is one of the most authentic and well-written war novels I have ever read.

      • Knowing this crowd, I’m curious to see how many copies they have left in the morning. It is a great book; I’m surprised how much of it I can remember after all this time. As a former enlisted man with a fondness for border Spanglish, I especially liked the way the troops in the novel referred to a particularly odious junior officer as “el Incompetiente.”

        Another odd Spanish Civil War footnote – an Argentine friend told me one time that Paul Robeson went on morale-building tours on behalf of the Internationalists and performed not-far-from-the-lines concerts for the troops. As near as I can tell, no tapes or film of those shows survive (surprisingly, considering the considerable propaganda skills of the Internationalists) but man, those must have been some shows!

        • I can think of some junior and senior officers from my Army days who would have richly deserved the title of “El Incompetiente” :). Reminds me of that old saying, “We, the Unwilling, led by the Unqualified to kill the Unfortunate, die for the Ungrateful”.

          Your footnote about Paul Robeson, who was well-known as an outspoken champion of social justice, rang a bell. I seem to recall listening to an article on NPR not too long ago about the same subject.

          Thanks for the great commentary.

          • Priceless comment, Earl! I had a good laugh, something I needed badly as I am about to put my beloved dog to sleep… I kept bouncing back and forth between canceling it with the vet and realizing it had to be done.

          • I’m terribly sorry to hear about your friend and companion, Ruy. I’ve known the same feeling more than once. But that is also a part of life, yes? Everything moves in cycles, and as a result we all know both grief and joy in equal measure. The consolation is that one day that cycle will come full circle, and we will be together again.

          • R. Aballe – My deepest condolences on the situation with your dog. I’ve been there… at the moment the 80-lb boxer (oldest of the pack of 3) who is 11 or so is still in good health and humor but for her age, size and breed she is the equivalent of a 120 year old grandmother that can still jitterbug… you know it isn’t going to last forever. It takes a very special person to take on a relationship where you know you are going to outlive the being you love.

  7. @ R. Aballe :

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful insight concerning the complex political and personal commitments that characterized the individuals who were caught up in the Spanish Civil War. These examples clearly illustrate how complicated such situations — and the people involved — can be. Nothing in the endeavours of humanity is ever as simple as it looks, or as one may wish it to be. One can only imagine how torn the gentleman of your acquaintance must have been, and how he could have been haunted by what he might have seen and known in his younger days.

    It seems that we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again because we have repeatedly failed to understand this complexity. The results of this failure have surfaced many times, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, and potentially in dealing with the situations in Egypt, Iran and Syria, Chechnya, China’s Xinjiang Province ( Uighur rebellion ), et al.

    As our friend Denny, and others, have pointed out, we are not through with it — not by a long chalk.

    • Indeed Earl, indeed.

      There is an entire set of events unfolding thru the world right now. We have – in addition to what you mentioned growing instability in Ukraine and in Thailand…. and can expect almost anything to come out of this. Once people get killed in mass, it will go like an avalanche.

      I do not want to sound prophetic, but this all is part of “grand scheme” – to be fulfilled. The events in Spain were child’s play in comparison with what is in stores. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for reason and good will to prevail. Nothing is ‘predetermined’ per se, but it may happen.

      Again, highly respecting Editor’s position of providing space for free discussion on related subjects. It’s not weapons for most part but social-political currents, who will be determining factors.

  8. @ Jim : Thank you so much for your sympathy and kind (wise too) words. Reading that last phrase was of great confort and a good reminder of the unconditional love my dog has bestowed upon me and my family. I wish all the best for your old boxer and that she may yet live many happy years.

    @ Earl : You are welcome Earl, as always. Nothing is ever black and white… I was always fascinated by the tragic figure of Gen. Escobar Huertas, a larger-than-life, almost operatic character (like so many other of his contemporaries, friend and foe alike) that stood by his choices till the very end.

    As for the gentleman I met during a car travel in Minas Gerais, he was pure novel material – right out of Gabriel García Márquez or Mario Vargas Llosa! Living an anonymous self-imposed exile in a somnolent backwater with decaying colonial houses and charming baroque churces, once home to brisk gold mining and trade back in Portuguese times, he somehow managed to keep old Europe alive in small everyday things, down to his slightly old-fashioned sartorial elegance…

    @ Denny : “I know them as supremely freedom minded, at they same time prone to stand behind their convictions, whatever it takes”. A very accurate assessment, imho!

  9. My Grandad was a Welsh Miner (and Communist as most were pre-war) who volunteered to fight in the Spanish civil war. Fortunately he never made it to Spain as he might well have ended up like the poor Engineer in the photo.

    The volunteers were given £5 enlistment pay most of which he gave to my grandmother. He was suppossed to have gone secretly from Swansea to Ireland and then to Spain, it being illegal to travel to Spain to fight. Despite being ordered to stay in the hotel, he and his friend went for a farewell pint (well they were miners!), on returning to their digs they saw two Black Marias and a horde of cops raiding the place. They kept walking, the arrested got 6-9 months in Prison. By the time he could arrange to go again the war was pretty much over.

    He ended up volunteering to go in the RAF in 1939 and joined Coastal Command, where he spent a long, cold and boring career in Scotland and Iceland until 1944. He then volunteered to go back down the mines as there was a desperate need for experienced miners.

    • Thanks for sharing an interesting personal story. Personally, I’m glad that your uncle spent his wartime career in a cold and boring place rather than be yet another possible casualty of a cruel and horrific war.

    • Thanks for sharing the story of your grandad, Woff65. I second what Earl wrote about his wartime career. However, that Iceland bit has just reminded me of the single most repulsive ‘delicacy’ I ever tasted, hákarl, a classic example of an acquired taste and one absolutely unpalatable to foreigners too! I hope he had enough supplies of other edible things from abroad available during his Icelandic sojourn…

      Earl, I must thank you for the kind words regarding my difficult decision (it finally took place yesterday). You are certainly right about it being an (inevitable, I must add) part of life. And yes, agreed, everything moves in cycles. Also agree with what you said about consolation. Thanks again!

  10. You are welcome, Ruy, as you will always be. Take care, my friend, and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you and the other guys on FW.

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