Talk on photos from the Aragon Retreats

March 20, 2012

Alan Warren notifies us of an upcoming event around 22 photographs of the retreats in Aragón, depicting American volunteers, for which research has been able to pinpoint the exact location where they were taken (text and announcement in Catalan, in pdf here):

Twenty two photos of the Lincoln Battalion, having been taken during the Aragon Retreats.

To our great surprise, Anna Martí Centellas has been able to supply previously unknown information about a photographs of American volunteers  in the Great Retreats from the Aragon Front in March 1938. Therefore, in 2012, to commemorate the 74th anniversary of this tragic event, the Cultural Association La Castellana, with the collaboration of the Associatio Lo Riu and Recreational and Cultural Centre of San Isidro Batea has organized in Batea, various acts of commemoration to raise awareness of this event.

On Saturday, March 31 at 19:00 in the Recreational and Cultural Centre of San Isidro in Batea there will be a conference on the Lincoln Battalion Retreats in March 1938, by Anna Martí Centellas. The conference will deal with the American International Brigaders. From 18 March until 2 April 1938 in the area of Batea, a short summary of the Retreat and their route from Belchite to Batea and Corbera, where they were intercepted by Franco’s troops.
The next day, Sunday 1 April, a March has been organised from Batea to Corbera (30 km) making the same journey made by the Lincoln Battalion in 1938 during their Retreat. The Starting point will be at Venta de San Joan  at 9:00 in the morning. The route is divided into different stages, for those who only want a part of itinerary It will also have support vehicles. It is necessary that participants bring approproiate shoes and clothing and have registered in advance sending an email with your personal data and the number of attendees at:

The price of entry is € 10 and includes lunch (picnic) and individual insurance. Anna Martí Centellas: live Viladecavalls (Barcelona) and works in the Information Centre at of the Natural Parc de Munt and Obac.

The origin of this research was some”graffiti” that she found a friend in the village of Aguaviva (Teruel) where her family comes from. The “graffiti” was penned by an American Brigade who died in this period of the Retreats. Thus the motivation for her extensive research on this subject. “We have a house in the village of Massalió (Teruel) which we visit once a month and we are therefore close to the study area.”

“I’ve done this quest with the assistance of my partner. This work has been helped by such people as Alan Warren, Miquel Sunyer of Batea, who has helped us in that area and Vicente Julian from Corbera d’Ebre who has located many photos taken in the area and also has collected in Corbera many oral memories from neighbours concerning this period of the War”

More information here. Contact here.


2 Responses to “ Talk on photos from the Aragon Retreats ”

  1. Anna Marti on March 22, 2012 at 6:23 am

    Dear friends,
    My name is Anna Marti and it is me who will give the talk on the American Brigaders. I would like to correct the information of the title of the article. We haven’t discovered “unknown photos”, what we have discovered is the exact location where the photos were taken on the area of Batea and Corbera d’Ebre during the Great Retreats. The photos are not “new”, they are the photos from the Tamiment Collection.
    We also have found where the American Brigaders had their camps, where their positions on the front line were and the possible route they took on their retreat. We also have local oral memoirs related to the brigaders during the Retreats.
    The graffiti was made by an American brigader EDWARD MUSCALA from Minneapolis on Xmas 1937.
    Thanks and sorry for the mistake,
    Anna Martí

  2. Alan Warren on April 6, 2012 at 2:39 am

    Just to let readers know that the Talk and Walk last weekend at Batea was a great success. Over ninety people, including Dan Bessie, son of Alvah Bessie, attended the excellent talk by Anna Marti on the Saturday, and forty three individuals (including Dan) made the 30km walk with four wheel drive support. For some reason, the group photo taken at the American position above Gandesa only has twenty nine, but we are not sure where the others got to! But serously, It was a very well organised and friendly walk indeed.

    At the end of the Walk I thanked the many people who helped organise the weekend and asked the “survivors” if they would like to do it again. The reply was a resounding yes! So for those interested, please consider the weekend of March 30th and 31st 2013 for the same weekend event on the 75th anniversary of this tragic event. The morning of March 30th there may be a seperate trip to Calaceite where the British battalion was destroyed on March 31st 1938. Also, to make it worthwhile coming from the United States, it may be possible to offer a small tour beginning on the 25th of March from Barcelona to cover the whole of the route of the XV Brigade Retreats if people might be interested. No more than eight people, so if this interests you, please contact me on

    Photos and a more detailed report willl appear shortly on

    In the meantime I would like to thank Ana Marti and her partner Enric Comas for their excellent work. And also Miquel Sunyer and Pere Rams from the Cultural Association La Castellania of Batea, and Joan and Alex Sambro of Lo Riu Associacio from La Fatarella for their hard work in making this happen and finally to Dan Bessie for joining us.

    We look forward to inviting others on the 75th anniversary next year. And if people wish, they can sleep at “the great limewashed stone house” as described by Alvah Bessie in Men in Battle which has now been identified by Anna Marti, the night before the start of this horrific retreat. Of the Lincoln Washington battalion 183 Americans were killed or executed over the two days of the Retreat. The photos of some of those killed and the long list of names shown by Anna Marti at the end of the talk produced a frightening and humbling silence that moved many people in the audience. And the American dead aswell. As many other unkown soldiers are still there in the beautiful Catalan countryside that we walked through last weekend.

    Alan Warren