Dynamite! It’s a form of slang that refers to the essence of something rather than the explosive device.

For example, we might say: “Penelope Cruz is a dynamite actress” or “Elton John’s movie Rocketman was dynamite!”.

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, it is fitting to introduce you to Rosario Sanchez Mora – a dynamite woman in more ways than one!

She could often be seen on the streets of Madrid selling contraband American cigarettes and snuff. She was the single mother of two young daughters.

Rosario Dinamitera
Rosario living up to her nickname

Disheveled in dress and disabled with only one hand, she was hardly the picture of a privileged citizen. Yet, people who knew Rosario would tell you differently. Not content to stay behind the front lines in the Spanish Civil War, Rosario volunteered for the skilled, but extremely dangerous, brigade of making homemade bombs.

She devised a specialised way of pouring dynamite powder into recycled condensed milk canisters to make hand grenades. Later, she could calculate the caliber of her rudimentary bombs by using fuse variations.

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Rosario took up arms

In September of 1936 she lost her right hand and nearly her life as one explosive went off prematurely as she was throwing a milk can-hand grenade into an enemy bunker. After a long recovery, she returned to the front lines delivering rifles, mail and supplies. She also supplied intelligence as a resistance activist.

After the war she was imprisoned with a 32-year sentence. She had lost her hand, her youth and much of her personal freedoms but never the passion for her belief in the struggle for the Spanish Republic.

Beloved Spanish poet and playwright, Miguel Hernandez, so moved by Rosario’s life story, that he would write the following ode to Rosario:

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Rosario in more peaceful times

Rosario Dinamitera (the Dynamiter)

The dynamite watched over on your pretty hand envying its fiery attributes…

The enemy knew well the hand of this maiden because it ignited the dynamite and made her a star!

She died April 17,2008 (at 88 years of age) and was buried in the civil cemetery of Madrid. With the tricolored Spanish Republican flag waving, Hernandez’s ode was read aloud to the many who attended and loved her. Rosario Sanchez Mora or La Dynamitera was a volunteer soldier, war bride, mother, wounded war veteran, underground resistance activist and tobacconist. She died a hero.

Rest in peace Rosario.

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