Spain’s Forgotten War – How the United States Aided Guerrillas

Few of the vacationers sunbathing on the more secluded beaches of Spain’s Costa del Sol realise that dramatic episodes of World War Two were played out here. Top-secret documents which are now open to public view reveal that for a time the Allies seriously considered invading Spain.

Such a move was discussed in the highest quarters in Washington and London – and a possible landing point was the Malaga-Granada coast.

Documents which can be viewed in the United State National Archives in Washington reveal details of the discussion.

Back in 1942 Allied forces had crushed General Rommel’s army in North Africa and preparations were made to launch an attack on Europe. The Nazis knew they were coming, but they did not know where.

Spain had outraged the British and Americans by its support for Germany even though it claimed to be neutral. German U-boats sneaked into the Spanish coast to obtain provisions and Spain exported tons of wolfram to the Nazi war machine.

Tungsten, which is derived from wolfram, is essential for hardening steel in armour-plating and armour-piercing projectiles. And Spain was one of the few sources.

Spies of various nationalities operated in Spain, practically tripping over one another in such locations as the stately Hotel Reina Cristina in Algeciras on the Straits of Gibraltar. There German and British agents eyed one another over the tea-cups between scanning the Straits for shipping movements.

Over in Morocco and Algeria Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE) and MI6 and France’s Cinquième Bureau liaised with America’s OSS (Office of Strategic Services), the forerunner of the CIA. The Allies feared General Franco, the Spanish dictator, might allow German troops to pass through Spain to attack Gibraltar and reach North Africa.

In a top-secret OSS memo, in the National Archives, an official suggested that the Spanish peninsula was “the slickest of all places to attack”. He proposed an invasion direct from the USA, entering all Spanish and Portuguese ports.

To obtain information about Spanish coastal defences, the British and Americans infiltrated Spaniards they had trained in the use of radio and arms. They landed on some of the beaches where tourists sun themselves today.

In the end, the Allies decided Sicily was the best spot to launch the battle to reconquer Europe. But meanwhile guerrillas, carrying American equipment, slipped by night into what is now the Costa del Sol to begin a war to undermine the Franco regime.

They were counting on continued support from the Allies, but when the Cold War started neither the Americans nor the British were willing to help a movement largely organised by Communists.

So the guerrillas were left to their fate. The brutal conflict, virtually unreported at the time, continued until 1952 in the mountains of Malaga and Granada.

Country folk in that area were caught between two fires, the repressive Civil Guard on one side and the guerrillas on the other. It was a time of tragedy and courage, heartbreak and betrayal.

Source by David C Baird

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