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By Peter Cooksley

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But the other was a fear of alienating France's most important diplomatic partner, Britain, whose Conservative government in 1936, with Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister and Anthony Eden as Foreign Secretary, was concerned above all to limit the conflict to Spain and prevent escalation. Moreover, the accounts of revolution, expropriations and anti-clerical atrocities in Republican Spain frightened conservatives everywhere. Selling arms to a democratically elected government threatened by a military coup was one thing.

Most but not all were Communists, the great majority were working-class men, and on 14 October the first 500 were brought to the base in Albacete, about 150 miles (240 km) south-east of Madrid, where Andre Marty, a top Comintern The fighting official, was commander. By the end of October, only those who chose not to see could deny that on both sides the Spanish Civil War had been internationalised. The battle for Madrid On 29 October the Nationalists began a heavy bombardment of Madrid, while the Army of Africa fought its way, village by 47 village, to the south-west outskirts of the city, and seized the airport at Getafe on 4 November.

The Nationalist garrison in Teruel eventually surrendered, but the victorious Republicans were in turn besieged when the Nationalists outside the city were able to advance again. By the end of February 1938 Teruel was back in Nationalist hands, after intensive fighting. Both sides had lost thousands of men. Moreover, whereas at the battles of Brunete and Guadalajara the side taking the initiative had advanced, and then been pushed back part of the distance it had gained, at Teruel the Republicans ended up in a worse position than where they started.

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