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A Century of Change: Memories and Experiences of Volunteer Work
Steve Fullarton was born and brought up in the Shetteston area of Glasgow. In 1938, at the age of 18, he joined the International Brigade to fight for the Republican cause in Spain. He was eventually wounded and returned home.
‘In Britain at the time, and before I volunteered, there were lots of Aid Spain committees all over the country and these committees were responsible for organising collections of money and non-perishable foods, such as tinned milk, sardines, bully beef and so on, and money. I helped in my own small way in the tenements of Glasgow where I lived. Someone would go round the street with a megaphone and say the purpose that they were collecting and people would indicate from their windows to come up, because they can"t throw a tin of condensed milk out of the window. That would be me, along with others; I would go upstairs and collect what they were giving in either money or tins. And that was me, that was my sort of tie-in.’
‘The motivation was just a follow-on that I was doing no good, that just collecting tins of milk and tins of sardines was not enough and that the Spanish Republic was losing, but to be honest, I never realised the extent to which they were losing until I got there and the first rifle I had was dated 1896 and it was a Russian rifle.’
‘We got ten pesetas a day, which was enough probably if there was a café within reach, you could probably get yourself a couple of cups of coffee or something. Money was not a consideration.’
Volunteering Your Life - Steve Fullarton
Referred to as The Spanish Civil War the war in Spain was a bitter struggle between the existing Republican Government and right wing forces led by General Franco. The conflict ran from 1936 until 1939. Franco received considerable military support and aid from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Republicans were aided by Communist Russia. The British and French governments took the line of non intervention as it was ‘a civil war’.
The International Brigade, who fought on the Republican side, numbered 35,000 and was made up of volunteers from all around the world. More than 2300 came from Britain and the Commonwealth.