Tim Harrington of Merthyr was, at the age of forty, one of the oldest Welsh volunteers to join the International Brigades.
Tim was one of 504 people who joined the South Wales Hunger March. This march took place in October and November 1936 and the marchers elected Tim as one of their leaders. In total four of the marchers joined the International Brigades. The marchers demanded that the Conservative government in Britain lift its arms embargo and support the Spanish people. The Conservative government refused. Instead, it offered tacit support to the fascists.
Initially, Tim tried to make his own way to Spain, as a tourist. He explained in an interview on 25 January 1970 that he attempted to book his passage with a travel agent. By December 1936, against the British government’s wishes, the volunteers had established a transport route: Cardiff – London – Paris – Spain.
Why did Tim volunteer to serve in the International Brigades? In his 1970 interview he explained: “The issues as I saw them were first a popular front action to smash the Spanish fascist movement, then to establish by parliamentary procedure, if possible, the foundation of a socialist society. The success of the Spanish working class in the war would guarantee the national independence of Spain, and the absolute abolition of the Spanish capitalist class.”
A footnote to Tim’s story. His grandson, Richard, has established himself as a distinguished actor and in April 2017 he presented the BBC Wales programme Richard Harrington: My Grandfather’s War.