[ The Spanish Civil War: Royal Navy evacuation of refugees in 1936. ] Original duplicated copy of an account titled 'H.M.S. “Shropshire” at Barcelona. 22nd August 1936 to 16th September 1936'. With thirteen photographs, including eight of refugees.

Spanish Civil War; HMS Shropshire, Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet 1st Cruiser Squadron; Admiral Sir Thomas Hugh Binney (1883-1953); the Spanish Civil War
Publication details: 
'For private circulation only". Dated from 'H.M.S. "Shropshire", | 27th September 1936.'
SKU: 20492

HMS Shropshire was a Royal Navy 'London' County-class heavy cruiser, launched in 1928 and decommissioned in 1942. In July 1936, as part of the Mediterranean Fleet 1st Cruiser Squadron, she sailed to Barcelona, relieving HMS London, the first ship to arrive to take off refugees from the Spanish Civil War. The present item (possibly written by Admiral Binney) is excessively scarce: the only other copy traced is in the Hampshire Archives. [3] + 19pp., foolscap 8vo. The original document from the 1930s, spirit-duplicated in aniline ink, with pages on one side only of 22 leaves. In fair condition, with faded text on aged paper, and staple holes in margins. Title on covering leaf: 'For private circulation only | THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR. | H.M.S. “Shropshire” | at | Barcelona. | 22nd August 1936 to 16th September 1936.' Below title, at foot of covering leaf: 'References | H.M.S. “London” 22nd July to 22nd August 1936. | H.M.S. “London” Period subsequent to 16th September 1936.' Full-page introduction providing overview, followed by narrative on 19 paginated pages, divided into five chapters, listed on contents page: 'I – Barcelona during the Crisis', 'II – The Life of the Ship', 'III – Relations with Foreign Navies', 'IV – The Refugee Organisation', 'V – The Human Element'. Dated at foot of of contents page: 'H.M.S. “Shropshire”, | 27th September 1936.' Lightly laid down onto pages of the narrative are thirteen black and white photographic prints (all 5.5 x 8 cm) relating to the voyage, with text arranged around them, and some with typed captions: 'Berthing arrangements (“London” is occupying the berth subsequently taken up by “Shropshire”)', 'The Customs Barrier', '”The very old or The very young”', 'A typical group', '”... a large number of competent nurses ...”', '”He won't remember much” [image of 'the youngest refugee being 15 days old']'. Eight of the photographs are of refugees, another is of Spanish and British naval officers, and four are of ships and harbour. The introduction notes that 'The organisation for the evacuation of refugees from North Eastern Spain, which was under the direction of Rear-Admiral Binney in "Shropshire", and of which the "Shropshire" formed part, consisted of depot ships at Alicante, Valencia and Barcelona, and a ferry service of destroyers to take the accumulated refugees northward to Marseilles; larger ships, such as the Hospital Ship "Maine", being used for the trip to Marseilles if there were large numbers to be dealt with.' A businesslike account of the ship's twenty-six-day mission, with the commencement of the third chapter typical of the no-nonsense and informative tone: 'During “Shropshire's” stay at Barcelona Rear-Admiral Binney exchanged calls with all foreign senior naval officers, and the officers of “Shropshire” exchanged visits with those of the foreign ships. A deck hockey match versus France was played on board and the officers of the French cruiser “Tourville” arranged a deck tournament for “Shropshire's” officers. | Many ships were visited during the period and it was very noticeable how far smarter the Germans were than any other nation. Everything was always perfectly carried out when calls were paid on them and the three ships visited were all spotlessly clean. | Calls were also paid on the President of Catalonia, Senor Companys, and the General Officer Commanding the 4th Division. The President received the Admiral in a magnificent palace, but the guard provided and the members of the household, of which there were a great number, seemed rather out of place. | The General paraded two guards, which were a good deal smarter than the President's and were composed of regular soldiers. | The President did not return the Admiral's call. The General returned it the following day and was received with the honours due to a Lieutenant General, with which he was much impressed.' Accompanying this text is a phtograph of the general being received by Admiral Binney'. The final chapter is the longest, at ten pages, and deals with 'The Human Element', with stories of individuals ranging from 'a solitary Spanish nun who was evacuated from Barcelona and taken in “Shropshire” to Gibraltar' ('apparently she had lived for the last 16 years in a convent without once going outside, and indeed most of the time hardly leaving her cell at all') to 'the youngest refugee being 15 days old. “I'm saying he won't remember much” as the Spanish-American with the Peruvian passport remarked.' Other refugees included a 'Biosophist-Biotherapist' professor, 'an elderly English spinster of the type now rapidly dying out, aged 85' ('She had lived in Spain for 50 years, […] refused to be carried up the gangway […] “There are too many men in this ship” she said, “I've avoided being entangled with men for 70 years and I do not intend to break that record now”.') and a 'Mexican Bank Manager who insisted on showing appreciation of the work done for him by a donation of £4 to King George's Memorial Fund'. The author notes that: 'In Barcelona from a ship one had no more intimate contact with local Spanish officials than the occasional delay in getting the sleepy customs man on duty to open the gates to allow one of the consular cars to pass. This air of unconcern cloaked the more watchful eye of the Anarcho-Syndicalists, and there were those “marked men”, in immediate danger of their lives, to whom a passage through the barriers alone would have been impossible.' One war atrocity is reported: 'Conversations with reliable refugees from Madrid brought to light authentic stories from the capital. One remembers the story told by a gentleman, travelling very much incognito with a hastily grown beard, but who once held a high post in the affairs of state, and who would doubtless be remembered by the Spanish Royal Family in connection with their flight from Spain. He told of the trainload of 200 rebel prisoners that arrived in Madrid. As they stepped out of the carriages they were lined up on the platform and shot down ruthlessly. When the platform became in too horrid a state the remainder were re-embarked, the train shunted into a siding and there the remainder were shot.' The item is accompanied by a modern description of the ship (2pp., 8vo), together with six pages of copies of earlier associated documents.