Spain Military Operations During the Civil War

The military revolt which began on July 18, 1936 in the Canary Islands immediately spread to Morocco in the Balearics and mainland Spain; while, however, in Morocco and in the Balearics it managed to have the complete upper hand over the government forces, with the exception of the island of Menorca, on the continent it could not be affirmed that in two vast areas, constituted in the north by western Aragon, by Navarre, by the Old Castile, León, the southern Basque country, Galicia and northern Extremadura and southern Spain from central and western Andalusia.

In all other regions the revolt was suffocated in blood, except in Asturias, where Colonel (later general) Aranda was able to keep possession of the city of Oviedo, and in Toledo where the cadets under the command of Colonel Moscardo had barricaded themselves in the old fortress. of the Alcázar.

Of the troops operating in the northern area, General Emilio Mola took command, of those operating in southern Spain, General G. Queipo de Llano.

At the beginning of August the situation was as follows: the nationals, masters of Morocco, western Andalusia and the ports of Algeciras and La Linea, had a base of departure and a tank of excellent troops in Africa, as well as a good platform of departure in the peninsula; however, the latter, constituted by western Andalusia, was separated from the national Spain of the north, by an area, in the power of the government, which went as far as Badajoz on the Portuguese border.

Behind the northern national region, the government area leaned on the French border, through which copious supplies of. men and materials, and others arrived in the ports of eastern Spain.

According to VAULTEDWATCHES.COM, the naval inferiority could have had serious consequences for the nationals who had their best troops (legionaries of Terceus and Moroccans) in Africa, and had only a few regular forces on the continent, reinforced by the Phalangist and Carlist volunteers, numerous, but without ‘instruction. The government, however, did not know how to take advantage of the favorable situation.

At the beginning of August, Generalissimo Franco flew to Seville, while a convoy with 5,000 men, 8 batteries and various material, protected by air units of legionary volunteers, managed to land in the national Spa.

In the second half of August the nationals conquered Eadajoz and Mérida, on the Portuguese border, and Irun and San Sebastian, obtaining the double result of reuniting the two national zones and separating the Basque Marxist regions from the French border.

Meanwhile, numerous volunteers reached the two sides, coming especially: for the governmental from France, Russia, Czechoslovakia and for the nationals from Italy and Germany.

The march on Madrid. – Immediately after the conquest of Badajoz, General Franco committed most of his forces in the Tagus valley, along the Maqueda-Navalcarnero route, with the intention of reaching Madrid; occupied the Maqueda road junction on 21 September, General Franco decided to temporarily suspend the advance to free the cadets who in the Alcázar of Toledo were still resisting the violent attacks of the government troops. After a thwarted advance, Toledo was liberated on 28 September; it was thus possible to resume the march on the capital, along the two routes Maqueda-Navalcarnero-Madrid and Toledo-Madrid. It was not until the end of January 1937 that the internationals were able to reach the western suburbs of Madrid. Since then, operations in this sector have taken on the character of a war of position.

The conquest of Malaga. – While in the center the pace of operations was slowing down, the national troops reported in the southern sector one of the most brilliant successes of the whole war: the conquest of Malaga.

The operation, directed by General Queipo de Llano, was carried out in two phases; the first (10 January-6 February) was carried out by a main column advancing along the coastal road, supported on the left by secondary columns, emerging from the mountain range that runs parallel to the coast, threatening the flank and shoulders of the subsequent defensive positions of the government; Estapona was thus occupied on 14th, Marbella on 17th and Fuengirola on February 6th. On the same day 6 the decisive advance from the north on Malaga began, carried out by three columns, one main motorized, and two flanking secondary ones, starting from Loja, Antequera and Alhama respectively. Having overcome lively resistance from the opponents, on February 8 Malaga was occupied by the nationals, who, pursuing the retreating enemy, entered Motril on the 12th.

A few thousand Italian legionaries also took part in the operation, well conceived and brilliantly carried out. Serious were the losses of the government. Among other things, over 10,000 prisoners and abundant war material.

At the same time, on the other fronts, the activity was limited to a series of violent, but useless, attacks by the government against Oviedo, always valiantly defended by General Aranda.

Spain Military Operations During the Civil War