International Brigade Association
Source: Spain Today, November–December 1949, p. 10
Publisher: International Brigade Association
Transcription: Phyll Smith
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Members of the International Brigade and all friends of Spain will mourn the passing of one who was amongst the earliest anti-Fascist fighters from this country to take up arms against Franco, and upon whom fell the signal honour of leading the British Battalion as its Commander during its baptism of fire at the battle of the Jarama valley.
Those who took part in that battle, in which from the opening shots the Battalion gave such a splendid account of itself, will remember the calm and courageous hearing of Tommy Wintringham and the skilful way in which he deployed the units under his command in those first and most difficult hours when they went into action straight from the lorries which brought them to the front line and came immediately under the murderous fire of Franco’s Moors. In the early stages of the battle he was wounded and carried off the field.
During his brief period of command he showed those high qualities of military leadership of which we who had trained under him had come to expect; and it is not the least of the ironies connected with the history of the Battalion that the man who played such an outstanding part in its training and building up should be so quickly put out of action, and that the illness which followed upon his wounding meant that he was never able to return to its ranks.
Tom had devoted himself since the end of the 1914 war, in which he participated in the Flying Corps, to a study of military theory, and many of those who subsequently distinguished themselves and won promotion on the field of battle profited greatly from the series of lectures which he gave both at Madrigueras and at the Officers’ Training School on the relationship of military science and modern politics, related to the needs and character of the people’s war against Fascism.
Not only the British Battalion was indebted to him. Another of his services was his earlier work over many months as machine-gun instructor to the French, Belgian. Slav and Spanish units which were later welded together into the 15th and other Brigades.
His later differences with the Brigade Command weakened the contribution he made, and were also reflected in some of his writings after the end of the fighting in Spain. Nevertheless, we shall always remember his positive contribution to the cause of Republican Spain.
To the memory of one who was a friend and fighter in the great anti-Fascist cause members of the British Battalion and friends of Spain give their final greeting: Salud!