A tiny Spanish village is to host a commemoration to two Ulstermen who gave their lives in the fight against fascism.
A plaque will be unveiled in the remote north-eastern settlement of Corbera d’Ebre on September 24 to mark some of those who died in three days of battle, including Belfast men Daniel Boyle and Henry McGrath.
It is to mark the 75th anniversary of the last battle of the British Battalion of the International Brigade, a force made up of non-Spanish volunteers who joined the country’s Civil War on what was known as the “loyalist” side.
They fought to defend the government against rebel general Franco, who was backed by Hitler and Mussolini, while the Soviets offered support to the loyalist side.
Mr Boyle and Mr McGrath’s deployment was due to end after the Spanish government decided on September 21, 1938 that all foreign fighters must be sent home.
It is understood British Battalion troops opted to stay at the front-line until eventually stood down on September 24.
Joining the names of Mr McGrath and Mr Boyle on the plaque will be 21 other British fighters killed in this final burst of combat, in what was called The Battle of the Ebro.
One of those who will be at the noon-time commemoration in the province of Catalonia is Lynda Walker, 68, and originally from Sheffield.
She had known a number of men who fought in the International Brigade, and will be among six from Belfast travelling to the commemoration.
Ms Walker, an avowed communist herself, said: “We hold on to the ideals, and what they (the International Brigade) fought for in terms of democracy.
“Having known them personally makes it even more meaningful. You want to see a better world for your children and grandchildren, and they were the kind of principles these people fought for.”
The conflict is sometimes viewed as a precursor of the Second World War, and Ms Walker said if they had managed to defeat the fascists early in Spain, “they may well not have had bombs in Belfast in World War Two”.
Also present will be Jim Jump, secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust.
Mr Jump, 65, a freelance journalist originally from Kent, has a personal connection to the site, because his father James R Jump had also fought there, and survived.
“The story goes that they could have elected to say ‘we’ll stand down now’. But they stayed and fought and suffered terrible losses,” he said.
“They came under intense attack. They were bombed and strafed by Italian and German aircraft. It was a tragic end to the British Brigade in Spain.”