Spain Military Operations During the Civil War 4

The Battle of Teruel. – From the synthetic narration of the events which took place in 1937 in Spain, it can be seen that the same year was about to close for the Marxists with a clearly passive balance sheet. The government of Valenza therefore felt the need to try a big blow in the hope that a victory, even a limited one, could strengthen the confidence of the masses internally and raise the prestige of the Marxist government abroad. For this purpose, a large-scale action was decided against the salíente that national positions form in north-eastern Spain between the French border and the Madrid region and whose summit, Teruel, is just a hundred kilometers from the Mediterranean coast.. 12 government divisions participated in this offensive; in total: 140 battalions, 30 batteries, 50 tanks.

According to BAGLIB.COM, the battle began on December 15 with two simultaneous attacks from the north and south, which managed to break through the national positions; the attacking columns were thus able to reunite to the west of Teruel, but all further attempts to expand the success failed.

On December 29 the nationals began a vigorous counter-offensive and on the 31st they managed to reach the western margins of Teruel by making contact with the defenders of the city who were still resisting assaulted in the more solid buildings. The counter-offensive would undoubtedly have achieved complete success if a sudden drop in temperature, accompanied by violent storms, had not made any action impossible.

With the climatic conditions somewhat reestablished, the struggle was rekindled. Thus there was a series of attacks by the Republicans throughout January 1938 which were all repulsed, while the nationals managed instead to make some progress north and south of Teruel. On January 10 the few survivors of the heroic defenders of this city had to surrender to the government, fewer than 130 of them who managed to reach the national lines.

Sea and air operations. – Until the fall of Gijón the nationals had concentrated most of their naval units (2 cruisers and 28 minor ships) in Cantabrian waters to prevent the government from being refueled and to support the advance of the army units in Biscay and in Asturias: numerous were the bombing actions of coastal localities, as were numerous smuggler ships captured or sunk. At the same time, the naval units that remained in the Mediterranean did not carry out any minor activity to stifle war smuggling and to escort the convoys of troops from Morocco. On April 30, 1937, the old battleship of the España national team sank after hitting a mine.

It can be calculated that in the first 12 months of hostilities the national warship captured over 200,000 tons of smuggling ships, while numerous steamers had been sunk by submarines. The encounters between the two opposing navies were scarce and unimportant.

Nor was the work carried out by the aviation less valuable; both belligerents had started the campaign with very scarce means, which however gradually increased, so much so that by mid-1937 each of them was already using several hundred aircraft, including the most modern bombing and hunting types: Breguet, Potez, Devoitine, Loire, Douglas, Martin, Curtiss, Rata on the one hand and Junkers, SavoiaMarchetti, Heinkel, Messerschmit, Fiat on the other.

Overall, the aviation was used by the two belligerents in all the most varied forms of employment allowed by its exceptional mobility and power and was present in all war episodes, giving a precious and sometimes decisive contribution.

From the beginning, however, the national aviation, validly assisted by the voluntary legionary one, managed to gain the upper hand over the adversary one, and it can be said that, except for the brief interlude of Guadalajara, it remained the absolute master of the Spanish sky. His bombing actions of the main enemy military targets were continuous; he participated in all the land battles, carrying out intense exploration activities, integrating the action of the artillery, assisting the advance of the infantry with machine guns and cuts from low altitude.

In the numerous aerial duels, the national fighters and legionaries always succeeded in overcoming the adversary, on whom they inflicted very serious losses; by mid-June 1937 government planes shot down already amounted to 421 and to these we must then add another 111 shot down in July, 125 in August, 73 in September and October, 53 in November and December and 56 in January 1936. Faced with these figures the scarce national losses are; according to a press release from the Madrid general staff, the legionary and national aircraft shot down until mid-June 1937 amounted to only 148.

Among the many brilliant episodes of national aviation, the two victories that the legionary fighters achieved in October 1937 in the sky of Zaragoza over powerful enemy formations attempting to bomb the city deserve special importance; in the first 19 legionary fighters they faced 6 Martin Bomber and 25 between Curtis and Rata shooting down 15; in the second, 29 legionary fighters faced 37 republican aircraft, annihilating 18.

The civil war is still ongoing (August 1938).

Spain Military Operations During the Civil War 4