ROTARY ROUND-UP: Worthing and the Spanish Civil War

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This week, David Chapman, from the Rotary Club of West Worthing, gives an update on the latest and future goings-on.

Jim Jump, secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT), brought an episode of Worthing’s history to life in a recent talk he gave to West Worthing Rotary Club about the Spanish Civil War.

He brought to life the stories behind the two commemorative plaques, one on Beach House and the other in Worthing Labour Hall on Lyndhurst Road.

Jim’s father, James Jump, worked for the Worthing Herald in 1936 and he was already a political activist having taken part in protests against Mosley’s Blackshirts when the Spanish Civil War flared up.

In the 1930s Spain was a divided country, torn between right-wing Nationalists made up of monarchists, landowners, employers, the Roman Catholic Church and the army led by General Franco, and left-wing Republicans made up of workers, trade unions, socialists and peasants.

Spain was deeply afflicted by the turmoil of the Great Depression.

The King abdicated in 1931 and the Republicans came to power in 1936. The army rebelled and removed them from power.

Although Britain and France had a non-interventionist policy, Germany and Italy sent troops and weapons and actively helped the Nationalists, while the USSR, not wanting to get too involved, sent supplies and weapons to the Republicans.

The better-equipped Nationalists won and the war ended in March 1939.

General Franco then began his long term in power.

The war was seen as the first stand against Fascism.

Idealistic young men and women from all over the world travelled to Spain and volunteered to help the Republicans fight, which let to the formation of the International Brigade.

It was illegal to travel to Spain to join the Brigade, but 2,300 volunteers came from Britain and 530 of these never returned.

A plaque honouring the five Worthing men who fought in the Spanish Civil War – Tom Elliott, Chris Thornycroft, Frederick Cronshaw and Edmond Updale, and Jim’s father, James Jump – is located on the wall of the Worthing Labour Hall on Lyndhurst Road.

Franco, supported by German and Italian troops, planes and tanks, pursued a vicious campaign against the Republican enclaves, typified by the infamous bombing and destruction of the town of Guernica.

It led to the evacuation of 4,000 children fleeing the bombing and the starvation of the war-torn area.

The children arrived in Southampton, in the ship ‘Habana’ in 1937.

There was a mixed reaction to the refugees but charities and church groups stepped in to help, Worthing Rotary being one of them, and 60 of the children were accommodated at Beach House.

There is a plaque on the house wall to commemorate this.

With the children there came a number of helpers, and among them was 23-year-old seamstress Cayetana.

James Jump had always had a passion for Spain and, being a fluent Spanish speaker, he became a translator helping the Spanish children, and so it was that he met Cayetana who was to become his future wife.

Their relationship was put on hold as James then left to join the International Brigade, but their relationship was rekindled on his return in 1938.

While in Spain, his services as an interpreter, especially under intense enemy fire, led him to be mentioned in despatches following the Battle of Ebro.

He also became known as one of the poets of the Spanish Civil War.

After his repatriation from Spain in 1938, James was conscripted into the British Army.

He married Cayetana in 1941 and they settled in Rochester, Kent, although still travelling backwards and forwards to Spain.

James went on to teach and write books in Spanish.

His son, Jim Jump, is secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust (IBMT) today.

Now marking the 80th anniversary of the formation of the Brigade, the group keeps alive the memory of the 2,300 British and Irish men and women who volunteered to defend democracy and fight fascism in Spain from 1936 to 1939.

They also maintain the 100 memorials around the country and give lectures to students and schools to keep the memories of the sacrifices made by those men and women alive.

Jim Jump has produced a book which features his father’s poems and gives the history of these events.

‘Poems of War and Peace’ is available from the IBMT, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R ODU, for £10 and £3 p&p, with cheques payable to IBMT.

Details of Worthing’s three Rotary clubs are:

• Worthing Rotary Club meets Monday, 12.55pm, at the Chatsworth Hotel, in The Steyne, Worthing, 01903 209564.

• West Worthing Rotary Club meets Tuesday evening at Tudor Close, Ferring, 01903 501961.

• Worthing Steyne Rotary Club meets Monday evening at The Ardington Hotel, in Steyne Gardens, Worthing, 01903 234957.

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