Ceremony held to remember Wigan fighters in Spanish Civil War

A memorial event was held in the town centre to remember the local combatants who travelled across Europe to take part in the 1930s conflict.

Janet Phillips, Irene Thompson, Mary Callaghan and Babs Hennessy at the event
Janet Phillips, Irene Thompson, Mary Callaghan and Babs Hennessy at the event

Wigan Trades Council organised the commemoration at the International Brigades Memorial outside the Wigan Life Centre South on Saturday.

Twelve people from the borough went to the Iberian peninsula to fight against the forces of Franco, who went on to become Spain’s dictator.

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Members of Wigan Trades Council laid a wreath and flowers were placed at the monument by Irene Thompson, the widow of Roy Thompson who argued for the memorial to be installed.

Speakers told the gathered audience about the conflict, the conditions those who fought experienced and how the dozen Wiganers involved were also trade union activists both before and after they went to war.

Mary Callaghan, whose grandfather was one of the 12, said how proud the family was of him, how relatives did not even know what he had done for years and about his upbringing in poverty in Wigan.

Wigan Trades Council also said the Spanish Civil War combatants left a legacy of hope and the importance of campaigning for a better world, while Stand Up To Racism linked the 1930s conflict to present-day battles against racism and religious hatred .

Local history enthusiast Babs Hennessy spoke about Mary O’Shaughnessy, who ended up in Ravensbrueck concentration camp during World War Two.

Janet Phillips from the trades council said: “The International Brigaders from Wigan were extraordinary people, and we should never forget that.”

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