Last Spain Civil War Volunteer Dies at 92

THE last surviving Irish combatant on the Republican side of the Spanish Civil War has died. Bob Doyle, 92, passed away in London on Thursday after a short illness.

Mr Doyle was born in Dublin on February 12, 1916, and became politically active in the 1930s.

He joined the IRA after being beaten up in street fights with the Blueshirts which left him with permanent damage in one eye.

But he quickly became more interested in social issues and, in 1937, decided to volunteer for the International Brigade.

He was partly motivated by the fact that his former flatmate Kit Conway had been killed in action at the Battle of Jarama on Bob's 21st birthday.

He was foiled in his initial attempts, arrested and expelled from Valencia. Undeterred, he made it into Spain later that year by crossing the Pyrenees. Initially deployed to train new volunteers, he disobeyed orders in order to join a frontline group.

After the battle at Belchite, he was taken prisoner by Italian fascists on the Aragon front in March 1938 and held for 11 months.

He was regularly tortured by Spanish fascist guards and interrogated by the German Gestapo and once taken out to be shot.

Released as part of a prisoner exchange deal, Doyle enlisted in the British Merchant Navy for the duration of the Second World War before settling in London with his Spanish wife Lola.

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