The Spanish Civil War: Naval Aspect

Spanish Civil War naval engagements
Figure 1.--The 'USS Oklamoma' was in Europe when the Spanish Civil War broke out and ordered to Bilbao to evacuate Americans caught in the fighting. It put into Bilbao controlled by the Republic (August 1936). They also took on other children. We are not sure how the Captain W.A, Hall decided what non-Americans to take aboard. Here we see Oklahoma crewmen with some of the evacuee children. The men are Lloyd A. Payne (possibly), Chief Petty Officers Fuchs, and Slajus. Note the ship dog who wants a better look at its new shipmate. 'Oklahoma' along with 'Arizona' was one of the two battleships destroyed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor 5 years later.

A poorly reported element of the Spanish Civil War is the naval war. Spain had a navy and the sailor split as to their loyaltues. Some supported the Republic, others joined Franco and the Nationist forces. In some cases the officers attempted to join the Nationalists and the enlisted men favored the Republic. Another factor was naval assistance provided by the Germans and Italians. The Italians commited submarines with Spsnish officers to the battle. Both sides seized merchant ships of neutral countries and there were sunmarine attacks. This became a major effort. The British and French organized an international maritime protection force composed primarily of destroyers, including substantial part of the Royal Navy Home Fleet. HMS Coventry and HMS Curlew led at the peak of the effort, a 70 destroyer flotilla in the western Mediterranean to prevent the warring Spanish naval forces from seizing prizes. A major part of that effort was to suppress submarine attacks. A reported 45 of those destroyers were British. Additional ships were deployed in the Bay of Biscay off Bilbao and the northern Spnish coast. Another naval effort was to evacuate foreign nationals along with some Spanish children. The United States did not participate in the internatiional naval protection force because of the wide-spread isolationist sentiment. The Unittes States did participate in the evacuatuion effort, primarily but not exclusively U.S. citizens.


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Created: 3:14 AM 3/14/2011
Last updated: 3:14 AM 3/14/2011