4 May, 2009 @ 12:12
1 min read

Spanish war hero dies


ONE of Britain’s key heroes from the Spanish Civil War has died at the age of 96.

Jack Jones – who became known as the ‘Champion of Working People’ – fought in a number of key battles against Franco’s fascist forces.

Joining the International Brigades in 1936 at the age of 23, he was sent to the front to fight against the trained soldiers, who were backed by Hitler and Mussolini.


He was eventually returned to Britain after being wounded in the bloody Battle of the Ebro in 1938.

He wrote about his experiences in his autobiography, Union Man.

A committed socialist, he later became the boss of the Transport and General Workers Union.

Born into a dockers family in Liverpool in 1913, he spent much of his retirement campaigning for pensioners.


  1. Ah but Stalin was on the left Pete, so it doesn’t matter how many he killed. Same goes for Pol Pot and Mao Tse Tung. Some people even think that Castro was a great guy yet the people of Cuba are living in 3rd world conditions! Amazing to think that until a few years ago Stalin was still openly revered by some people in this country! By the way, this in no way exonerates what Hitler and the Nazis did.

  2. Chris…… you are spot on…. i recall relatives who lived during WWII telling us how Stalin was affectionally called ‘Uncle Joe….’ by us and the yanks. it is amazing what a good press and propaganda machine can do to wrap up a devil in angel’s wings.

  3. Chris Peter
    I think you need to start reading history a little more.Without Uncle Joe you would possibly not be sunning yourselves here in spain today. We Brits like to think we won the war but without the sacrifices and hardships beyond imagination of the Russians the war would have been lost or at best taken many years longer.Yes he Stalin also was a dictator and it has taken since the second world to get any where near normal life in Russia, left /right/centre it dosent matter they all stand on the people.
    Jack Jones like a lot of people from working trade union backgrounds came to spain to fight against Franco a dictator. The Nazis used this little excursion to test their blitz krieg methods for something they had in mind later.
    At that time a lot of europe was engulfed in fascism.it would be interesting if we could see what the outcome would have been if everyone had just said let them get on with it.
    Just be grateful that then, like now there are people who will fight and if need be die on your behalf, for a just cause.

  4. I accept your point El Cinico though I don’t totally agree with your analysis. I think it was more Uncle Sam who saved our bacon in the Second World War than Uncle Joe though I do accept that the Russian’s shortened the war considerably.

    I also accept that at that time we had no idea how evil Stalin was and that people like Jack Jones were, naively perhaps, fighting against Franco rather than for Stalin.

    My point is that evil dictators on the left are treated less harsh by history that evil dictators on the right. Indeed, as I said, until recently Stalin was revered by some in our country! (Could you imagine anyone being accepted in mainstream society who still revered Hitler!?). During the Cold War the Russians used to call Communist sympathisers in the West ‘useful idiots’!

  5. Without Russia’s involvement Germany would not have been defeated. You have a shocking knowledge of history, Chris. Russia’s loss was also the greatest in terms of human lives lost.

  6. Having just read Ian Kershaw’s biography of Hitler and Anthony Beevor’s D-Day (both excellent by the way), I actually have quite a good knowledge of history. The fact is that the Germans came within an ace of defeating the Russians and if they had been properly lead probably would have done so. I don’t think that the Germans would have beaten the Americans though with their superior industrial, and eventual atomic, capability.

    I’m fully aware of the Russians’ sacrifice and the debt we owe to them.

  7. It was a combination of efforts that won the war; all of the allies forces weakened Germany to a state of defeat. I I don’t think Germany’s industrial capability was ever weak; german scientists were of course influential in most of the weapons advances of the day. I learnt that in O-Level history lol.

  8. You’re right Fred. German weaponry was in a lot of cases superior to that of the Allies and they were further ahead of us in rocket and jet technology, though not, thank God, in atomic bomb technology.

    If they’d have had better tactics, strategy and leadership, they’d have probably defeated the Russians before America entered the war and overrun Europe! America would then have probably made peace!

  9. I don’t think German tactics and strategy were lacking; the issue was being attacked on multiple fronts by multiple powers. Regarding A-bombs, Oppenheimer had German roots of course (both his parents were German). So once again the Germans excelled in all aspects of war technology, except Oppenheimer was not on the side of the Nazis, and of course was later indited as a Communist and asked to resign.

    Certainly an interesting topic – the reasons for German people supporting Hitler interests me the most. People would do well to read up on the history of the day; both the U.S. and Germany played foul leading up to WWII. The U.S. and Germany (at this time) were very similar indeed in many respects.

  10. If the German’s had had better military leadership at the top, they could have defeated Russia before the Americans entered the war and so wouldn’t have had to fight on 2 fronts (3 actually including Italy). Hitler had loads of competent Generals but he insisted on directing the war himself which lead to Germany’s downfall.

    I recommend Ian Kershaw’s biog of Hitler (the single volume edition), bit of a monster at nearly 1000 pages but well worth it and not hard work at all. He has loads of stuff about Nazi shenanigans to get power and how the people were initially supportive until it was too late.

  11. The sacrifice that the Russian people and the Red Army made in the defeat of Nazi Germany cannot be underestimated. However let us not make the mistake of attributing the victory to Uncle Joe. For it was he who almost single-handed managed to lose Russia’s war against Germany.

    Firstly, to satiate his grotesque paranoia, he had just about the whole officer class in the Red Army executed in the years immediately preceding the war with the result that the Russian armed forces suffered from a catastrophic lack of leadership experience as it faced up to the Wermacht in 1941.

    Also, the fundamental theories behind the blitzkrieg, particularly that of using tanks independent of infantry and used to such great effect by the Germans at the start of the war was actually first dreamt up by senior officers in the Red Army. But of course such examples of independent thought could not be tolerated by the great man, so he had most of the main tactical and strategic thinkers of the Red Army liquidated. Result: the Russian Army prepared themselves with tactics that were at least 25 years out of date.

    Then, and against all the advice from his senior commanders, he ordered the Red Army to be deployed in a thin line across the whole length of Russia’s western frontier. The Germans couldn’t have faced an easier opponent on the morning of 22 June 1941.

    After the German invasion had begun, Mr Stalin then rashly declared to the Western leaders that Russia would never surrender Moscow, Leningrad or Kiev. Once he’d said it, his monumental ego wouldn’t allow him to backtrack. So he then refused every request from the field commanders to allow the Red Army to retreat from Kiev when it was clear that the battle for that city was well and truly lost. Thus he allowed almost 650,000 Red Army soldiers to become surrounded and eventually led off to German POW camps.

    Despite all the huge advantages that the Soviet Union had over Germany in terms of geography, manpower, war material and natural resources, the Great Man managed to squander them all and took his country to wthin a hair’s breadth of losing the war.

    But as I say we can’t discount the Russians contribution to the war effort. Was it greater than that of the Americans. Well we can debate that one ’til we are blue in the face. All I would say is that, if it wasn’t for the Americans, there almost certainly wouldn’t have been the Normandy landings and subsequent liberation of Western Europe. If that hadn’t happened, would the Russians have stopped advancing once they had reached Berlin? Given that Stalin’s stated aim was world revolution, I doubt it. So we might very well have ended up with the whole of continental Europe descend into the darkness of Communism. Nice thought.

  12. Dear El Cinico. And your point being?

    On July 15, El Cinico said: “We Brits like to think we won the war but without the sacrifices and hardships beyond imagination of the Russians the war would have been lost or at best taken many years longer.”

    Spanish Civil War?

  13. Koba “my point is” selective quoting is another well used ploy on these sites to make a point, taking a selective word or paragraph without mentioning the rest of the quote which does not fit in with your argument , but emphasises your view. One of the benefits of having to type rather than have a conversation is that the quotes remain to be looked back upon
    Peter and Chris in first opening comments to the thread immediately started on Stalin. I commented on this and the other 50 % of my quote returned to the original thread which was the article on Jack Jones and his involvement in the Spanish civil war.
    One of the problems on this site is that as you cannot start your own threads, so I have found that people just wander off the subject in hand onto something they prefer.
    Chris i think there would be sufficient material in the original thread, more relevant to our current place of domicile to last for some weeks. I was hoping some of our Spanish friends might have given their views, but it seems to have been high Jacked, excuse the pun, by Uncle Joe’s inefficiency at running a country and preparing for a war. Now there you go I know someone in power today exactly the same Uncle Gordon.

  14. Dear El Cinico. Thank you for your clarification. I don’t make any distinction about who first mentioned Stalin or indeed any other matter.

    I assume that since you commented on the subject of WWII, regardless of what percentage of your message was dedicated to that subject matter, then you will extend me the courtsey of allowing me to comment on the same subject.

    If someone mentions something in a contribution, whether it is on topic or not, it is there to be commented on. As you did yourself.

    I agree with Chris. In an open and largely unmoderated forum you have to expect that discussions will take their own course.

    Now, can someone remind me what the original discussion topic was? Lol!!

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