This obituary of International Brigader James “Jimmy” Jump was published in the Guardian in 1990, but is not online. It was sent to me by Peter who did a tour with me a few months back. The story at the end at Gare de Lyon in Paris is hilarious. Pictured here second from right on back row (no hat) with fellow British Batallion members.
“WHEN Jimmy Jump climbed over the Pyrenees in November 1937 to join the International Brigade it was not just an expression of an anti-facist creed which was to last a lifetime. It was the start too of an equally passionate involvement with the Spanish language, which culminated this year with the publication of his Penguin Spanish Dictionary.
His socialism was shaped by the political polarisations of Europe in the thirties. Injustice and humbug were the enemies. It was rekindled half a century later during the Thatcher decade, when I got to know him through the Labour Party and my union’s support of the International Brigade Memorial Appeal, of which he was the secretary and which raised the handsome sculpture now standing in London’s Jubilee Gardens.
He was never a member of socialism’s dour tendency. His poems poking fun at Thatcher-ite values appeared regularly in Tribune during the eighties. Tribune also received the proceeds of one of his inspired brainchilds: the “Do Not” plastic card to be carried in wallets to instruct hospital staff not to allow Mrs Thatcher to visit the bearer in the event of being injured in a major disaster. Jimmy Jump’s fascination with Spanish in part came about as an accident of birth. Merseyside’s maritime connections with the Iberian peninsula and South America meant that Wallasey Grammar School, exceptionally for the time, taught its pupils Spanish.
So uncommon were Spanish speakers then that, though only barely proficient to begin with, he served as an interpreter as well as a machine gunner in the British Battalion of the International Brigade.
After the second world war he gave up journalism, trained as a teacher and settled in Kent with his Spanish wife, Cayetana, eventually becoming a lecturer at the Medway College of Technology. He had 14 books on Spain and its language published during this period. It always made him chuckle that he had persuaded a leading textbooks publisher to accept an O-level reader on the 1938 Battle of the Ebro, in which he had fought and been mentioned in despatches for bravery.
“It was like giving birth to an elephant,” he said when the Penguin dictionary which had been commissioned 22 years previously appeared in print. This year also saw the publication of his third anthology of poems, With Machine Gun and Pen. Eric Heffer, in his introduction, said they moved him to tears.
Jimmy Jump leaves many friends and admirers in the British Isles and Spain. They will remember him as much for his warmth, humour and childlike sensibilities — so evident in much of his verse — as for his more public achievements.
When speaking of the Spanish Civil War he preferred to dwell on the lighter, even farcical, moments, one of which still makes me laugh. Having been briefed at a secret address in Paris on the travel arrangements to the Spanish border, he was given a plain brown paper parcel with food for the journey — and strict instructions not to speak to anyone. “Imagine my surprise,” he would say, “when, on arriving at the Gare de Lyon, I saw more than a hundred young men milling about on the platform, each carrying an identical brown paper bag. This was no spy film; it was more like Laurel and Hardy.”
His son and daughter, who were with him when he died, report that he managed a broad smile when told that it was the first day for over 11 years that Mrs Thatcher was not prime minister.
James Robert Jump born August 24,1916; died November 29, 1990
Memorial in Fulham, London to volunteers from Hammersmith and Fulham who fought in Spain. Kindly sent to me by John Turner who came on the tour in October.
“In honour of the volunteers who left Hammersmith and Fulham to fight in the International Brigade, Spain 1936 – 1939. They fought alongsidethe Spanish people to stop fascism and save liberty and peace for all. They went because their open eyes could see no other way. “No pasaran!”
Sadly, the “ion” of “International” has been damaged, as has “1936-1939
The back of monument. English, Irish, Scottish, Jewish names…
Paul Robeson singing for Republican Troops in 1938 in Tarazona and not Teruel as is often stated. His repertoire included L’Internationale and ended with Ol’ Man River
One of the most iconic images of the civil war. The militiawoman Rosita Sanchez photographed (by?) on 26 August 1936 on the Extremadura front for the magazine Ahora. With her daughter named “España”, I think…
An estimated 100 Chinese volunteers fought in the Spanish Civil War for the Republic, though only one person is thought to have come directly from China to fight, as the rest already found themselves in Europe working. A book has just been translated into Spanish on them: “Los brigadistas chinos en la guerra civil. La llamada de España (1936-1939)”. More here
And here: El soldado Xie Weijin contra Franco
Chinese volunteers imprisoned together with other brigaders, I think in France.
Striking photomural by Josep Renau, exhibited at the Spanish Pavilion of the 1937 Paris World’s Fair (as was Guernica), contrasting a woman from Salamanca in bridal dress and a militiawoman from Barcelona – in trousers as she strides confidently forward.. The legend on the glass under the militiawoman confirms this message: “The New Woman of Spain has rid herself of the superstitions and misery of her past enslavement and is reborn and capable of taking part in the celebration of the future”
Below text from here:
“Superimposed on a glass wall, and standing side by side, are life-sized photos of two Spanish women. One woman is dressed in a traditional, elaborately constructed, and richly decorated wedding dress. The other woman, a Republican militiawoman, is wearing an open-collared shirt and trousers. The woman wearing the traditional dress appears weighted down by its voluminous multi-layered skirt and long sleeves. Her arms hang down limply by her side, her mouth is tightly closed, and she stares straight ahead. In comparison, the fabric of the trousers and shirt of the militiawoman is lightweight enough to appear to be moving as she strides confidently forward. Her arms convey strength and movement, as does her left shoulder, which seems to more toward the viewer. The woman’s mouth is open and she appears to be issuing some sort of command. Her eyes are piercing and intent. Her head is uncovered and her hair is pulled off her face. Unlike the bride in the other photograph, this woman appears to be walking out of the display straight towards the visitor. The only adornment on her clothing is a leather strap across her shoulder–possibly a gun holster–investing her with an aggressive and militaristic persona. ”
Explaining the intended message of Renau’s photomural,
Jordana Mendelson writes:
…Renau contrasted the Arxiu Mas image of traditional culture with the forward stride of a young militia woman. The photomural
used the visual comparison to reinforce a message about the liberation of women under the Republic: shedding her age-old
traditional dress, the new woman of the revolution would find freedom in her fight against fascism.
The legend on the glass under the militiawoman confirms this message: “The New Woman of Spain has rid herself of the superstitions and misery of her past enslavement and is reborn and capable of taking part in the celebration of the future” (Graham 112 n.7).
For visitors to the 1937 World’s Fair, the trousers on the miliciana would have been the most obvious sign of Spanish women’s new emancipation and alignment with aggressive political action. As Nash explains … for [Spanish] women the wearing of trousers or monos [blue
overalls] acquired an even deeper significance, as women had never before adopted such masculine attire. So for women, donning the
militia/revolutionary uniform not only meant an exterior identification with the process of social change but also a
challenge to traditional female attire and appearance.