RAFAEL Gomez Nieto, the last surviving member of the ‘La Nueve’, a group of WW2 Spaniards that invaded Nazi occupied Paris in 1944, has died from COVID-19.
Nieto was born on January 29, 1921 in Roquetas de Mar in Murcia before settling in Badalona with his family.
After entering the police force, then the military at an early age he took part in the battle of Ebro and spent four months in an Algerian refugee camp before fleeing with his father using false documentation.
In 1944, Nieto was assigned to the ‘La Nueve’, a second division company consisting of 129 soldiers, predominantly Spanish, that were tasked with entering a Nazi-occupied Paris en route to Austria.
During Francoist Spain, the ‘La Nueve’ legacy was all but erased from the history books until 1994 when four other remaining soldiers from the battalion were recognised for their service on the 50th anniversary of the liberation.
In 2012, Nieto was awarded the Legion of Honour from Spanish dignitaries and in 2015, a park in Paris was named after the ‘La Nueve’ company in the presence of King Felipe VI and Letizia, along with two other Spanish survivors of the assault.
Following Nieto’s death, in an interview with his now-widow back in 1994, she explained that Nieto was ‘embedded with Spanish soul.’