Fighting for Franco

Updated, 4th Feb. 2009

Bandera membership - update

I've been able to confirm that Denis Donoghue, a 28 year old labourer from Carlow, served with the Bandera from 12th Dec. 1936 to June 1937. While in Spain he served with C Company and spent 4 days in the hospital at Grinion, possibly with a neck injury. I've now added him to the membership lists, and would appeal to anyone with information on Bandera members to please get in touch. Thanks to Denis Donoghue (his son) for sending me the info. CC, 8/4/8. The start of the Bandera membership lists can be seen here.

In late Jan. 2009 I was contacted by Paul Dillon, leading to the removal of two names from the Bandera list - Ned Horan is already counted as Eamon Horan, as is Dan Tuite as Dan Chute (KIA). Paul was also able to correct the townlands a few of the Kerry volunteers were from - thanks for that, your input is greatly appreciated.

A Bandera volunteer remembers

Niamh McGuinness recently did a university dissertation in which she interviewed her grandfather, Denis McGuinness, the only known survivor of the Bandera. Read that chapter here from "Retracing the past - 70 years later: 1936-2006" - Added to site, Oct. 29th 2008

Mick Gaffney - Sligoman in the Bandera

I've decided to pull together a short report on what life was like in the Bandera, basing it on what information I could gather on Mick Gaffney. Linked to this is a short article recently written for the Sligo Champion by a local activist.

Kerrymen in the Spanish Civil War

This article was published in The Kerryman, 30 January 1998, by T Ryle Dwyer who has given permission for it to be reprinted here. There are some new details on the local men, mainly Bandera members. I think it's interesting, read it here.

Collins- death

Letter from J McCarthy on the death of a Bandera member after the SCW. More here ...

Did anyone volunteer to fight with the fascists? - Daily Mail (London), April 9, 2001


Many people joined the communist International Brigades to fight the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. Did anyone volunteer to fight with the fascists? Read this correspondence here.

Adventures in Spain - 9 articles by James McCarthy.

Bandera member James McCarthy, of Desert, Enniskeane, Cork, wrote as series of 9 articles in the Cork Evening Echo in late 1967, and essentially they've been hard to get ever since!

The series starts here and all the articles will be added to the site in full because it in one of very few documents written by a Bandera member. There are only a handful of books or pamphlets supporting their side, and now two sets of newspaper articles. The other set of articles is by TP Kilfeather in the Sunday Independent, 1960.

The first FIVE articles are now available, and I'll add the rest over the coming weeks.

Obituary for one of the last Bandera volunteers - Update 2nd Sept 2008

The death of Ned Murphy, of Wexford, has been confirmed. As far as is known he was the last member of O'Duffy's Bandera. His obituary was carried in one of the local papers.

I was contacted on Sept. 1st 2008 by Denis McGuiness to tell me that his father, Denis Senior, from Dublin, is still alive. Further details to follow, CC, 2/9/8

Moss Fennells "Memories of war in the olive groves"

Individual stories

Matt Beckett

Document by Legionaire Matt Beckett. A short manuscript by him, a volunteer in the Bandera from Westport, has become made available by his family and was published here on April 26th 2002. It is interesting for a number of reasons, primarily because this is one of a very small number of documents giving details about life in the Bandera, and in particular he mentions a number of other men.

Collins- death Letter from J McCarthy on the death of a Bandera member after the SCW.

Deserters from the Bandera

Here's the accounts from the New York Times of McDaniel and Colley, two deserters from the Bandera.

Matt Doolan

Matt Doolan - from an article published in 1986

If anyone can provide more information on these men, or or any of the other Bandera members, I'd be very grateful. Please contact me.

Peter Fanning

Here are some brief notes on Bandera man, Belfastman Peter Fanning.

Moss Fennells "Memories of war in the olive groves"

Added to the site, August 24th 2006.

This article gives a few extra details I didn't have, like Donnie Ahern being in Company C. The story about smuggling out 3 Republican soldiers is not mentioned anywhere else in the literature. There WAS ONE man smuggled out, but that was Frank Thomas, a Welsh volunteer for Franco.

Tom Coleman spoke to Moss Fennell in the Irish Times, 30th April 1987.

Frank B Fitzgerald

Another memoir by a Bandera veteran. volunteer Frank B Fitzgerald's experiences are dealt with the Limerick Leader, 10 June 1995.

Who was Brendan Kielty?

Among the various names of volunteers in the Irish Brigade, led by General Eoin O'Duffy, appears that of Brendan Kielty, but the details are confusing to say the least. Was he from Tyrone or Belfast? Is there one man or two? Added to this site, August 4th 2004

Death of the Bandera member

Note 22nd April 2006: I've just been informed that Bill McCormack died within the last month in England - he could well have been the last member of the Bandera. An obituary piece will be added soon. Can anyone with information of any other survivors, or indeed of any Bandera members, please get in touch asap!

Here's an earlier piece about him by DES RYAN in the Limerick Christmas Chronicle, 1995

Ciaran Crossey, Belfast, 22nd April 2006

Last Survivor of Spanish war?

This article marks the recent 94th birthday of Ned Murphy, almost certainly the last member of the pro-Franco Bandea. There are a couple of notes inserted by me [in brackets]. CC

Copyright belongs to the Gorey Echo, thanks to Tom Mooney, Editor, for permission to carry these pieces, CC, 17th Oct. 2006. Mary Frances Ryan writes in the Gorey Echo, Wednesday June 28th 2006

Biographical notes on one Bandera member: George Mooney (1902 - ?)

He was born in November 1902 in South Dublin. By December 1936 he had married Patricia, with whom he had three children, with a fourth on the way when he decided to answer the call by General Eoin O'Duffy to join the Irish Brigade fighting for General Franco in Spain. He applied for a passport, something very unusual for a workingman in the 1930's, he was a postman, and it was issued to him on December 1st 1936. Read more of this note here....

If anyone can provide more information on this man, or or any of the other Bandera members, I'd be very grateful. Please contact me at

Added to this site, August 3rd 2004

For Franco in Spain

Ned Murphy and Luke O'Rourke, two Wexfordmen tell Billy Quirke of their experiences during the Spanish Civil War, in the Wexford Echo, [December 1988]

Short note on a Bandera chaplain: (Fr Charles O'Daly)

Fr O'Daly was opposed to the 'godless 1922' constitution of Ireland. Here's a short note.

If anyone can provide more information on this man, or or any of the other Bandera members, I'd be very grateful. Added to this site, August 3rd 2004

General reports and reviews, etc.

Article on international support for Franco

The other volunteers, by Judith Keene Author, Fighting for Franco. Carried on the BBC website, 27th Sept. 2006.

General Eoin O'Duffy: Ireland's Answer to Mussolini by Niall Cunningham, The Irish Post, 2nd March 2001

Dermot Bolger The Sunday Independent, November 27, 2005

A Dictator of dressing up - Review of Eoin O'Duffy: A Self-Made Hero - Fearghal McGarry, Oxford University Press, Euro36.99

Another review of this book - by Manus O'Riordan Irish Political Review, May 2006.

Los Otros Internacionales: A Spanish source on O'Duffy's Bandera

Some details on the Bandera Los otros internacionales. Voluntarios extranjeros desconocidos en el Bando Nacional durante la Guerra Civil. by José Luis de Mesa. Ediciones Barbarroja. APDO. CORREOS 45.082 MADRID. ISBN 84-87446-24-8

LA BANDERA IRLANDESA is a 30 pages chapter in the above book, following Eoin O'Duffy Crusade in Spain, Seumas McKee I was a Franco Soldier, and F. Mc Cullagh In Franco's Spain as main sources. Also many Servicio Histórico Militar original documents.

Make allowances for the fact this is a Spanish book, translated for us, but there are a lot of small details, names, etc. (some sadly wrong) but basically it is valuable as one of the rare sources on O'Duffy's people.

Added (again!) to this site, August 3rd 2004

Irish Volunteers for Franco

The members of O'Duffy's Irish Bandera listed here, 23rd June 2000, is substantially larger than in any previously published list. [check below as well]

Possible volunteers? Can someone help?

Over the past few years I've pulled together a list of over 700 men and women who can definitely be said to have been in Spain for Franco. On top of that there is this list of nearly 120 people who've been listed in some books and papers as going - but for whom there is no PROOF they were in Spain. Would people look over this list and see if you can give any information on ANY of the people concerned. If you can prove they were in Spain, they will be added to the forthcoming publication. The list is here....

Members of Companies A-C

What I've tried to do is to break down the long lists of names from the Bandera into the various companies. These lists do place over 200 men in their Companies, but that still leaves over 400 for whom not enough information has been found to place them in the relevant company.

We still need help, if you can provide ANY information, please send it in. Added Feb. 2003 and then updated 7th March, 2003.

Members of Company D

I have been able to draw together a list of 112 members of Company D, the machine gun unit. Captain Sean Cunningham of Belfast led this.

If anyone has additional names, please let me know. Luke O'Rourke was added on August 18th 2004, along with a couple of spelling corrections.

Recently I was contacted by Jennette Gest, nee Byrne, from Australia, giving me information on her father, Thomas J Byrne, who'd been with the Bandera. If anyone else can provide biographical or political information on any of the men concerned, I would appreciate hearing from you.

A list of 40 volunteers

One of a number of smal documents about the Bandera to come to light is a commemorative booklet listing the 40 men who left Ireland on Nov. 20th 1936 to fight for the Bandera.

One of the men listed, W Weymes, must be a mistyping of his name, as it was his brother, Michael who actually went on that date. William was the only one of 4 brothers who didn't go out.

Added 5th April 2002, correction on Weymes noted, Feb. 13th 2003.

Newspaper Articles - early histories

Spanish Inferno

The Sunday Independent, produced in Dublin, printed a series of articles on the role of the Irish Bandera, led by O'Duffy, in Spain. This gives an indication of the widespread support in Ireland for the Bandera. There are a lot of individual mentions, so taken with the fact that this was one of the earliest accounts of the pro-Franco forces in Ireland, I fell it is well worth a study.

The series was finally added to this site in Feb. 2003.

© For the original articles belongs to the Sunday Independent

Articles by Charles J McGuinness

Articles by Charles J McGuinness from the Irish Independent, January 1937. Technically he was a volunteer for the IB but quickly left Spain on dubious grounds. A member of his family has put on the web an absolutely amazing site about McGuinness and his exploits.

© For the original articles belongs to the Irish Independent

If you want to contact me, feel free,

I look forward to any comments, questions or corrections.