Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


The Battle of Ebro was the hardest battle between republicans and nationalist in the whole Spanish Civil War. The confrontation started the night on July 25th and finished on November 16th, 1938. It took place in the Ebro river, between Amposa (Tarragona) and Mequinenza (Zaragoza).

After the republican army lost Teruel in the Battle of Teruel, Franco's army atacked Aragón and kick out all the Popular Army. General Yagüe's Army entered in Catalonia and took Lérida and Franco's army reached the Mediterranean Sea dividing into two the republican territory, that situation led to the nationalist army had a very good position between Valencia and Barcelona.
Franco planned attack Valencia (capital city of the republican territory) instead of going into Barcelona, scared if France would join republicans, to that situation Juan Negrin approved Vicente Rojo Lluch's plan to attack the army that was coming to attack Valencia so that the can show the Europeans powers that the republicans were still viable. The plan was going to be carried out on the right side of the Ebro river, between Mequinenza and Amposta , the first attack had the propose of conquering Gandesa, the most important communication center, if they could conquer that, it would be impossible for the nationalist army to reorganized the attack. There were two more attack, one of them from the north, between Mequinenza and Fayón, and the other one from the south, near Amposta.

The night on July 25th, the republican army started to cross the river, the Tagüeña army, crossed it between Mequinenza and Ascó, while Lister, crossed it between Benisanet and Amposta. On the other side of the river 'Cuerpo del Ejercito Marroquí' was protecting the river, although Coronel Campo had informed about some republicans coming from the other side, nobody had payed attention.

When the republicans reached the other side of the river and started to fight, some of the Franco's militaries went out of the battle and there were no organization, on the other hand, the 'Cuerpo del Ejercito Marroquí' was even worse. At half past two in the morning Coronel Peñarredonda informed General Yagüe about the conflict.

Overall, General Lister went 50km in the enemy's territory, taking some areas between Gandesa and 'el Ebro'. The 'XV Cuerpo del Ejército' went 15km in, near Mequineza, without the air support and the artillery stopped its way. The nationalist army reorganize and attacked again in 'Legión Condor' supporting it. Franco established a very important air force and his best weapons on the Ebro front, so the republicans cannot access to the other side of the river, but apart form that the republican army stopped its way because they didn’t have enough weapons and Franco's current organization was affecting its way. Franco continued strengthen the Ebro front by taking some of the artillery of the Levante front and placing them on the Ebro front, and also ask to the Germany 'Legión Condor' and the Italian 'Aviación Legionaria' for bombard the republican Ebro front.

Finally, thanks to the air support, nationalist army could start its attack all along the Ebro front, in some part of the Ebro front, the republicans had to come back to the river.
Both of them were actually getting weak, but the republicans could afford the attack and the came back slowly and even maintaining the strategy, Generals Yagüe and Garcia Valiño join their army and on September the started the contra attack. This time the republicans had planned a better strategy and they could maintain their positions, at the same time, Hitler refused to send more help to Franco's army, and Franco realize that he has to win the battle as soon as possible.

In Cavalls mountains republicans decided that it was better to come back home, but on October 30th there was a massive bombardment around this area, that led to a huge air battle, the Battle of Cavalls, it ends with the nationalist taking all the area and destroying all the republicans weapons.

Republicans came back around the first days of November, they had lost the battle.
In conclusion, this tremendous battle provoke more that 50.000 people dead, more than 11.000 were republicans, also they lost more than 150 air weapons, but they were repaired by Germany or Italy.

It was not possible to join back the republican territory and, Catalonia was lonely and controlled by nationalist army.

Álvaro Ledesma Aznar

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