QR Spanish Civil War

The Library also holds an impressive archive consisting of letters written by men from the Greater Manchester area some of whom, sadly, lost their lives in what is regarded by many as the first battle of the Second World War

Ralph Cantor

Ralph Cantor was one of the first International Brigade volunteers from Manchester. In Spain he wrote numerous letters and a diary, which is also at the Library. In this letter he talks of the reality of life for Spaniards, as well as his comrades’ annoyance about him borrowing pens and paper. Cantor died on the Jarama front aged 21.

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Jud Coleman

Jud Coleman spent much time in Spain with Ralph Cantor, and from his letters it is clear the two knew each other from home. In this letter Coleman is writing to let people know about Ralphs death and explaining he had been taken from the front line to hospital for shock.

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Albert Charlesworth

Writing on the first anniversary of the 15th Brigade’s ‘baptism of fire and action’, Albert Charlesworth talks about moving on with others from his area, saying that there will be an Oldham section.

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Kenneth Bradbury

In 1934 at age 17 Kenneth Bradbury formed the Oldham branch of the Young Communist League in 1934.To join the Spanish Civil War he left his job as a compositor with a local firm of printers.He was killed at Teruel, Spain on 20th January 1938.

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Joe Fillingham

Joe was the oldest son of six. He was a political activist and reportedly joined the Spanish Civil War to ‘practice what [he had] preached’ and in 1937 he was made Sergeant in the Major Attlee Company. Like Kenneth Bradbury, he was killed on 20th January 1938 at Teruel.

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Joe Lees

Joe came from a Labour background and prior to the Spanish Civil War was active in Labour circles. At the outbreak of war he collected foodstuffs and took part in organised protests. On writing this letter he had been at the front for 40 days and apparently desires a wash.

Lees was killed at Brunette on July 18th 1938, he was wounded in the head by an explosive bullet whilst assisting an American comrade.

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These letters are just a small example of the wealth of Spanish Civil War Material at the Working Class Movement Library, from the diary of Ralph Cantor, to posters, tapes, books, photographs and much more. Come and delve or dabble in this collection.

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