In telling my own story it was necessary to jerk forwards and backwards, not least because of the illegal confiscation of my notebooks and diaries by police on three different occasions, and also to keep a flow to the narrative. For the historical record this chronology of Anglo-Spanish Anarchist associations might be useful.
1934 — Asturias rising; the last ditch stand at Casas Viejas and first Spanish Prisoners committee in London, whose first secretary was Matilda Green, later Ralph Barr.
1936 — Civil war and revolution in Spain. Italian group in London begins Spain and the World, editor Vernon Richards. Emma Goldman forms CNT-FAI London Committee and made representative of CNT-FAI Exterior Propaganda London bureau.
1939 — End of civil war. Formation of Solidaridad Internacional Anti-fascista for aid of refugees; short-lived existence in London organised by Ethel Mannin.
1944 — Paris occupied by Maquis, driving out Nazis but armed presence of Spanish Anarchists causes alarm and Home Office gives directive to penetrate London-based Spanish anarchists. Divisions between middle class pacifists and liberals, who penetrated British anarchist movement during the war, and rest of movement causes one split. Reaction against those from Spain who entered bureaucracy during Civil War and became ossified in those positions, tending to rely on Allied cause rather than resistance, causes another split, but the divisions do not become clear-cut until later.
1948 — Drive against the Spanish Resistance by armed groups getting support by workers, now without rights, causes Franco’s government to hot up the internal war. War-time intelligence activities set up by CNT-FAI revived for counter-intelligence against terror measures. Two agencies set up in England and France.
1949-60 — Jose Sabater killed (November 1949), and four months later his brother Manuel executed, as a result of the “rounding up” of the armed groups. Legal defence arranged for the trial by a group from Argentina. Attacks on Spanish institutions in London during these years. Miguel Garcia sentenced to death in Barcelona (February 1952), later reprieved to life (served 20 years). Facerias killed and Goliardo Fiaschi arrested in August 1957. Francisco Sabater killed, 4 January 1960.
1960 — February: DRIL openly announces existence with attacks in Spain and Portugal. These are planned in London and Paris.
1961 — Octavio Alberola returns to Europe from Mexico and is soon regarded by Franco’s press as “Public Enemy No. 1”. The rift in the Spanish movement between activists and quietists deepens. Simultaneously in Britain the rift between activists and pacifists deepens, as bourgeois liberals and pacifists take over Freedom and Colin Ward’s revisionist journal Anarchy re-writes anarchist theory.
1962 — CNT Congress in August/September, ratified by FAI, approves a secret section DI (Interior Defence) to organise and co-ordinate actions of the Spanish Resistance. But some, like Laureano Cerrada and Francisco Gomez, think this an effort to bring resistance under control rather than extend their activities. Some break away, others enthusiastically co-operate. In December, the Libertarian Youth (FIJL) form the Iberian Liberation Council (CIL).
1963 — Stuart Christie contacts CIL in England in sympathy with suppression of miners in Spain.
1964 — 11 August: Christie and Carballo Blanco arrested in Madrid.
1965 — FIJL breaks with MLE (Spanish Libertarian Movement) in frustration with lack of support for the armed resistance.
1966 — Formation of the First of May Group to co-ordinate Spanish resistance outside the DI. 29/30 April: Mgr Ussia (Ecclesiastical Counsellor to the Spanish Embassy to the Vatican) kidnapped in Rome; the first action claimed by the First of May Group.
1967 — Protests at Christie’s imprisonment leads to machine-gunning of US Embassy by First of May Group protesting at US collaboration with Franco. In the following month Christie (but not Carballo) is unexpectedly released, it being stated Franco was responding to a plea by his mother, surprising hundreds of Spanish mothers who had been severely punished for making just such pleas for their sons and daughters.
Agustin Garcia Calvo forms Acratas at a Madrid University, influenced by new protest movement amongst students abroad, but Anarchist rather than Marxist.
Meltzer and Christie re-start Anarchist Black Cross.
1968 — Christie raided by Special Branch in Hornsey, London, and charged with possession of fake dollars (offset propaganda leaflets of dollar bills with the words “Una vida” — one life — overprinted).
May Rising in Paris. Anti-Vietnam War demonstrations internationally, including one at London’s Grosvenor Square London in October, which has worldwide publicity.
15 October: Alan Barlow and Phil Carver arrested for participating in a First of May Group attack on Banco de Bilbao in Covent Garden. International Anarchist Conference at Carrara (Italy), Christie and Daniel Cohn-Bendit are chosen as British delegates.
1969 — 22 March: Miguel Garcia released in Spain. Former Portuguese diplomat, Antonio de Figueredo, despairing of attempts at ameliorating the dictatorship of Dr Salazar, persuades local anti-fascists to unite with Iberian dissidents, including ETA and the anarchist activists.
15 December: Black Cross secretary Giuseppe Pinelli thrown by Milan police from window in fake suicide, as the result of a plot by Italian Intelligence and fascist stay-at-home army units (created by US Army from Mussolini’s Intelligence) to make bomb attacks on workers’ institutions and pretend they were by Anarchists thus killing two birds with one stone.
1970 — The Bulletin of the Anarchist Black Cross (London) becomes the anarchist fortnightly Black Flag and recognised as a voice for the International Revolutionary Solidarity Movement (IRSM).
22 May: Bomb found on the site of the new Paddington Green police station, later claimed by the prosecution in the “Stoke Newington Eight” trial, as the first action of the Angry Brigade, and given as evidence of a Spanish link. Women protesters disrupt the Miss World contest during live TV transmission on 20 November. Flour bombs hurled at Bob Hope. The BBC outside broadcast van parked outside is blown up. This is the first known link between Anarchists and Situationists.
3 December: Spanish Embassy in London is machine gunned. It is claimed at a later trial that the same gun had been used in the August 1967 attack on the US Embassy and is offered as proof of a “Christie link” though he was in a Spanish jail until September 1967.
1971 — The Tupamaros (MLN) rebel against the military dictatorship in Uruguay, which reduced the “Sweden of South America” to Third World conditions, and a virtual civil war ensures. The British Ambassador to Uruguay, Sir Geoffrey Jackson, is kidnapped, and a statement issued in Montevideo protests how “For years England has drained our economy … obtaining benefits which amounted to thousands of times the invested capital and which never left the country tangible advantages. British Ambassadors did good business for Britain” (MLN Communique, February 1971). They demand the release of Tupamaro prisoners, asking Miguel Garcia to publicise the case in London.
12 January: The home of Robert Carr MP is bombed after he introduced the Industrial Relations Bill, which began the drive to crush trade unionism. This is claimed to be part of an organised “Angry Brigade”.
The ‘mysterious young Scot’ story is featured fingering Christie as major suspect for every armed action in resistance to the Government’s plans for industrial slavery. Jake Prescott is arrested in January, Ian Purdie in March.
Meltzer suggests that if Whitehall agrees to Garcia and de Figueredo acting as go-betweens, which would lead to Jackson’s immediate release, they should be asked to release Purdie and Prescott, not yet sent for trial, as “brokerage”. Christie approaches two journalists from The Times with known connections with the Foreign Office. They are more concerned with making a case against Christie and the negotiations fall through. Though the plan did not come off, this is one of the internationally concerted defence efforts that caused Interpol to concentrate efforts on growing anarchist activism.
In August of the same year, Anna Mendelson, Jim Greenfield, John Barker and Hillary Creek are arrested at Stoke Newington. Next day Stuart Christie and Christopher Bott are arrested separately. Next month 100 Tupamaro prisoners, including Raul Sendic and Julio Marenales Sanz, specially asked for, escape from Punta Carrera prison, and three days later Geoffrey Jackson is set free after eight months which he could have been spared. Either this is a record mass escape from a heavily guarded jail, or the British government, while rejecting the proposed intermediaries, put pressure on Montevideo.
The bombing of the Post Office Tower October is attributed to people under arrest at the time.
Angela Weir, Chris Allen and Pauline Conroy, representing a widening political spectrum, are also arrested in November and charged with the five already held. But Conroy and Allen are freed on committal, in the lack, not merely of proof, but of any relevant charges other than their sympathies. Anarchy Collective member Kate McLean is arrested on 18 December and also charged, the defendants thus gaining the description “Stoke Newington Eight”.
Still in December, the Prescott-Purdie trial ends, with Purdie acquitted for sheer want of evidence, and Prescott convicted, despite obvious jury sympathy, on admission of writing envelopes, which counts as conspiracy. Sentenced to 15 years (reduced on appeal to 10).
December: Formation of MIL-GAC (Iberian Liberation Movement — Autonomous Combat Groups) in response to growing police terror in Spain in the dying years of the dictator.
Attack on Black Cross extends to Germany, where Georg Von Rauch is shot dead by armed political police in West Berlin (4 December), and Tommy Weisbecker in Augsburg (2 March, 1972.)
1972 — The MIL-GAC become active and the first known action of the MIL takes place in Barcelona. Puig Antich, actively concerned with pushing the Spanish libertarian cause in England for the past year, returns to Barcelona.
The Stoke Newington Eight trial opens on 30 May and ends on 6 December, making a record as the longest trial in British history. Four defendants are sentenced to ten years after a plea for clemency by the jury, four are acquitted. It may be significant that the evidence rejected was from or through Spanish police and markedly political. The jury accepted British police evidence as less overtly political.
The “John MacLean Society”, a Maoist grouping in Scotland, carry out a series of expropriations, an indication that some Marxists here, as on the Continent, wanted to move on a scene which was proving popular among workers feeling threatened by governmental proposals. Matt Lygate was sentenced to 24 years and altogether the four, all of whom had been made redundant, and wanted to make an affirmation against being put on the scrapheap, got 81 years jail between them. Glasgow journals, notoriously knowing nothing of Scottish history after Mary Stuart, referred to John MacLean as a “well known Anarchist”.
1973 — Dafydd Ladd and Michael Tristram arrested in Bristol on 14 September and charged with three attacks on Portuguese vice-consulates in Bristol and Cardiff, and outside the British Army Officers Club at Aldershot, claimed by a group calling itself “Freedom Fighters for All” but manifestly part of the same spontaneous wave.
Puig Antich arrested in Spain on 22 September and garrotted the following year (2 March, 1974). Extensive reaction to Spanish government targets throughout British, Irish and European cities.
1974 — February: In Bristol, Ladd sentenced to seven years, Tristram to six.
3 May: Spanish banker Balthasar Suarez kidnapped by the “Groups of International Revolutionary Action” (GARI ) in Paris in an action aimed at securing the release of 100 political prisoners in Spain (under the Franco government’s own laws). It also demanded re-payment of part of the union funds of the CNT seized by Franco. Though Suarez was released unharmed after the payment of an undisclosed sum as ransom in a week or so, police arrested nine French, British and Spanish anarchists in Paris. French and British police make (unlawful) joint raids in London, mostly directed at Spanish residents.
Formation of FOI (Iberian Workers Federation) inside Spain, with Spanish, British and French collaboration, to enable co-ordination of resistance activities disowned by exile movement.
1975 — Irish activities, on the same lines as those in the UK, become prominent during the campaign to free Puig Antich. Prisoners’ rights activists jailed for explosions. Noel and Marie Murray arrested on 9 October and charged with murder.
20 November: Death of General Franco (birth of general rejoicing). CNT-FAI reconstitutes in Spain officially. FOI becomes redundant. Schisms between various sectors over the years thus unresolved and co-operation breaks up. The anarcho-syndicalist emigration sends back with returnee’s private possessions duplicators and printing presses, collected by “Black Flag”.
1976 — Robert Touati, French anarchist active in Centro Iberico around 1974 and Juan Durran Escriban, wanted in Spain for an attack on an armoury, both killed in grounds of Toulouse University during the night of 8/9 March. Police claim them as members of GARI and responsible for a series of anti-Franco actions in Southern France.
MIL member, and former Centro Iberico activist, Oriol Sole Sugranyes shot dead during escape of Resistance prisoners (all ETA members bar him) from Segovia jail on 9 April.
Laureano Cerrada, veteran of the plot to kill Franco and Hitler together, murdered in Paris on 18 October by a Spanish Nazi who is given asylum in Canada.
10 November: London Murray Defence Group occupy Aer Lingus offices in Regent Street. Similar protests are made in Madrid and Sydney, the first ‘reciprocal’ protest to be made in Spain for years.
1977 — Iris Mills and Ronan Bennett are held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Huddersfield, and exclusion order signed against Bennett (born in England). Order revoked on appeal.
The “Lewisham Three”, who had been active in aid for international prisoners and solidarity with Spanish resistance, are charged with holding up a betting shop in October, and receive seven years each on a first offence.
1978 — A series of similar raids, between 1 January-21 May, are linked. Iris Mills and Ronan Bennett are arrested in Bayswater on 24 May. They, together with Vince Stevenson, Trevor Dawton, Dafydd Ladd and Stewart Carr are charged and become known as “Persons Unknown”.
1979 — September: The Persons Unknown trial opens. Ladd jumps bail and does not surrender for three years, when he receives nine years on other charges. Carr, an outsider to anarchism, pleads guilty to anything the police require and is sentenced to nine years. All the others are acquitted. Carr’s “confessions” are read out by the judge after the trial when they can no longer be challenged in open court and berates the jury as too sympathetic.
1992 — The TV film, “A Matar Franco (To Kill Franco)” is made in Madrid, a film documentary based on news coverage, previously unshown film and current shooting, telling in full for the first time of the various, mostly unpublicised, attempts to kill Franco by the Spanish CNT, the Basque nationalist ETA and international Anarchists (Spanish, Mexican, Belgian. French, Italian and British). The identity of an informer who came from or passed to the ranks of the secret police is confirmed.