• Document: Naval Aspects of the Spanish Civil War ( ) Presented at HMGS Cold Wars 2005 by Admiralty Trilogy
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Naval Aspects of the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) Presented at HMGS Cold Wars 2005 by Admiralty Trilogy Background of the Spanish Civil War ◆  Apr 1931 – End of Spanish Monarchy, Socialist Government in power ◆  Nov 1933 – Conservatives in power: revoking social reforms ◆  Nov 1936 – Social Revolutionaries back in power: collectivizing farms, attack church institutions ◆  17 Jul 1936 – Revolt by Moroccan Garrison to put down ‘social revolution’ as letting the nation fall apart – become known as ‘Nationalists’ ◆  The remaining government forces which remained loyal to the Republic became known as ‘Republican’ 2 Division of the Spanish Fleet ◆  Most of the officers were Nationalists, most of crew were Republican ◆  Most of the ships were Republican ◆  Never any prolonged or massive engagement during the war – usually just skirmishes ◆  Most naval activity was convoy warfare, shore bombardment, port blockade and counter-blockade operations Nationalist Heavy Cruiser Baleares 3 Division of the Spanish Fleet Nationalists Republicans Battleship 1 1 Heavy Cruiser 2 Light Cruiser 2 3 Destroyer 5 16 Torpedo Boat 5 7 Gun Boat 5 1 Mine Layer 3 - Patrol Craft 4 5 Submarine 2 12 Men 7,000 13,000 4 International Conflict ◆  Nationalists supported by Italy and Germany — Both send arms, supplies, advisors and volunteers to assist. ◆  Both recognize Franco’s government - Nov 18, 1936 ◆  Italians initiate submarine campaign Nov 36 – Feb 37: Italian sub, Italian crew, single Spanish officer ◆  Republicans supported by Soviet Union and France — Soviet support is arms, munitions, advisors, — French support is aircraft and artillery. Government is pro-Republic, but general population is divided ◆  Lyon Conference 1936: Need to stop support to both sides before civil war becomes general European war. France stops. Germany and Italy do not. German Condor Legion Me-109 5 International Conflict ◆  Many nations had warships in Spanish waters shortly after the civil war began – primary mission to evacuate citizens or non-combatants from danger. ◆  France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, United States – later followed by Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Yugoslavia, Netherlands, and Norway. ◆  Example: US Navy evacuated over 1,500 people, only 633 were US citizens; German Navy evacuated 9,300 in two months, over half were not German. ◆  Combined navies evacuated 50,000 non-Spanish and 10,000 Spanish citizens by the end of 1936. 6 Sample of Navies Involved – May ‘37 7 Sample of Navies Involved – May ‘37 8 Highlights of the Spanish Civil War ◆  Initially Republican ships blockade Straits of Gibraltar – trap Nationalists in Africa ◆  Franco and troops ‘airlifted’ by German and Italian to Spain ◆  Republican cruisers pulled north to deal with conflict in Bay of Biscay ◆  Nationalist ships sortie into Straits and gain control ◆  Nationalists blockade Republican coast backed by Italian and German air power (and Italian submarines) ◆  When northern Spain is taken, blockade in Med intensifies Republican Light Cruiser 9 Miguel de Cervantes Theaters of Naval Action ◆  Northern Area – Bay of Biscay — Gijon — Santander — Bilbao ◆  Straits of Gibraltar ◆  East Coast – Mediterranean — Cartagena — Valencia — Barcelona — Palma, Majorca — Mahon, Minorca 10 Phases of the Naval War (Summary) ◆  Phase 1: Jul 36 – Apr 37 ◆  Phase 2: Apr 37 – Sep 37 ◆  Phase 3: Sep 37 – Sep 38 ◆  Phase 4: Sep 38 – Apr 39 11 Phase 1 (Jul ‘36 – Apr ‘37) ◆  20 Jul – Republican PM appeals to France for arms and ammunition, General Franco appeals to Germany and Italy ◆  Evacuation of foreign nationals by various navies at Spanish ports ◆  21 Jul – Nationalists take El Ferrol Naval Base in NW Spain ◆  26 Jul - COMINTER

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