Where and what on earth is Hill 705?

Alan Warren on Hill 705 in the Sierra Pandols 

Perhaps a brief explanation as to the title of this blog might be in order. In a nutshell this blog is to do with the last battle of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.  Between 25th July and 23rd September 1938 the XI, XIII and XV International Brigades of the 35th Division of the XV Army Corps of the Republican Army of the Ebro attempted to break through Nationalist lines to link up with Valencia lying to the south of Catalunya in Spain. Of the three International Brigades, the XV was composed of British, Canadian and American volunteers alongside many Catalan and Spanish recruits. Considered to be the “shock troops” of the Republican Army they were often sent in to untenable positions and sustained many casualties.

In May 2005, Wales’ last surviving International Brigader, Alun Menai Williams, unveiled a plaque to the ninety volunteers of the 57th British Battalion of the XV Brigade. This plaque now stands on the top of Hill 705 in the mountainous Sierra Pandols where some of the bitterest fighting took place in high summer during the Battle of the Ebro. On the same hill are a number of other memorials and monuments to the fallen of both sides including one to the Quinta de Biberon or “baby bottle” troops-teenagers from the year of 1920 who were conscripted into the Republican Army to replace the horrific casualties already sustained in the war. Hill 705 is now a Monument to Peace and is well worth the visit.

Monument of Peace to the Quinta de Biberon conscripts

And the whole battlefield is also well worth exploring. A variety of exhibitions, museums, positions and memorials are scattered about the area and are slowly being recognised and publicised by national and local government strategies and intitiatives. I hope to explain what there is to be seen and if it sparks of any curiosity I now also offer guided tours of the battlefield in connection with the XV International Brigade and most recently the XI (German) International Brigade too. Many of the sites are almost impossible to visit without expert guidance, such as the XV Brigade memorial built in August 1938 on a remote hillside close to Hill 666 and having survived destruction by the victorious Nationalists. Amongst the 37 names on the memorial are five British officers who were killed before and during the battle. It is quite unique.

A group of Catalans and British at the XV Brigade memorial below Hill 666


British battalion memorial on Hill 705 at its unveiling.  May 2005


Detail of British battalion memorial on Hill 705

There is a lot to see and do, and I hope that this blog will enthuse and intrigue you into examining further the role of the XV International Brigade not only on the Ebro but also at Jarama, Brunete, Belchite and Teruel. Bear in mind that of the 2,500 who went to Spain, 526 will lie for ever more in the sandy soil of Spain and Catalunya.

Now that I am living in Catalunya and  conducting on site research on the International Brigades I am now able to offer long weekend tours of the Ebro aswell as other battlefield sites. This is sometimes considered as “Dark Tourism” but having taken various family members of Brigaders and those interested in visiting the places so vividly described in accounts I now feel confident to offer such tours of the various sites that involved the International Brigades. See the page on Tours for further details.

 With this in mind I intend to keep this blog more updated than before. Sorry it has been a bit quiet as of late, but I lost the password!

Alan Warren

Published on September 25, 2007 at 10:14 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Alan, Looks great. I will be following as it developes. Gary

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