We visited Port Vell and Corbera de Ebro last weekend. It is exactly 77 years after the battle for Ebro-The bloodiest battle during 2 years long civil war. This town was completely destroyed during 25 July–16 November 1938 and although the lower part of the town was rebuilt, the upper part, known as Poble Vell (Old Town), including the old church on the hill, has been kept as a reminder.
The town has one of the five information center run by COMEBE, a public consortium, including the Generalitat de Catalunya, that was founded in 2001 to recover the historical memory of the areas in which the 115-day-long Battle of the Ebro, the longest, bloodiest and most decisive battle of the Spanish Civil War, took place. The Centre d’interpretació de la batalla de l’Ebre (Battle of the Ebro Information Centre) has marked paths on a circuit around the area.
At the end of March 1938, following the Aragon Offensive, the Lincoln-Washington Battalion, retreating from Belchite, where they had lost 400 of a total of 500 men, had camped in the area of Corbera. However, they were unaware that the town had been in Nationalist hands since noon on April 2, and several American brigadiers of the Lincoln and Washington Battalions of the International Brigades passing through were captured and executed, including the commanding officer of the Battalion, Major Merriman, and his second in command, David Doran. Merriman’s post as commander of the Battalion was taken by Milt Wolff, the last commander of the XV International Brigade’s Lincoln Battalion. They re-group on the banks of the Ebro to participate in the Ebro offensive, their numbers gradually increasing to around 700 men, including Spanish troops. After heavy fighting in the area, and heavy losses, at the beginning of September, the Lincoln Battalion is back in the vicinity of Corbera, only to be withdrawn from the region towards the end of the month, following the September 21 announcement by Spain’s Prime Minister, Juan Negrín, before the League of Nations at Geneva, of his decision to unilaterally withdraw all international troops from the Republican Army.
Other episodes of Urbanista:
Urbanista #2 Catacombs in Paris
Map of the area – Wikimapia.org