Mourners pay tribute to Spanish war veteran

Morning Star, February 11, 2009

Hundreds of mourners paid tribute to Spanish Civil War International Brigade veteran Bob Doyle in north London yesterday, writes James Tweedie in Golders Green.

Irishman Mr Doyle passed away on January 22. He is survived by just four of his comrades from the British Battalion of the International Brigades, which fought to defend the Republican government of Spain against the fascist forces of General Franco from 1936 to 1939. Two of them, Jack Jones and Sam Russell, attended the funeral.

Born in 1916, Mr Doyle was a member of the Communist Party from before the civil war until his death more than 70 years later. He was also a member of the IRA, a militant trade unionist and a supporter of popular struggles in Latin America.

Mourners packed the Golders Green crematorium as Mr Doyle's coffin was carried in and draped with the International Brigade flag, while the banner of the British Battalion was hung from the altar.

Brigadista editor Harry Owens recalled that, despite having been captured and imprisoned in Franco's concentration camps, Mr Doyle risked life and liberty to return to Spain in 1947 and distribute anti-Franco leaflets.

Deputy head of the Catalan regional delegation to Britain Angel Mesado said that the brigadistas were heroes to today's youth in his homeland.

Mr Doyle's son Julian recalled the lighter moments of his life, after which musician Brendan Gallagher performed the song Vive La Quince Brigada.

The congregation then stood up to sing The Internationale as Mr Doyle's remains were borne away for cremation, followed by the Republican battlecry of "No Pasaran" or They Shall Not Pass. Speaking after the service, Mr Doyle's surviving comrade-in-arms Sam Russell said: "He fought the good fight and we shall always remember him for it."

Back to the Bob Doyle Collection of articles