Whithorn hero defended

SUPPORTERS of Whithorn’s Spanish civil war hero have leaped to his defence after he came in for severe criticism last week.

George Dickie, also known as Jack Brent, was accused of being a deserter and communist who lived on the run. The accusation was made by William Lawrie in a hard-hitting letter to the Gazette. Mr Lawrie’s intervention came following a ceremony to commemorate the centenary of Dickie’s birth.

Mr Lawrie and another letter writer, David Doughty, both from Whithorn, suggested there were many other local heroes from both world wars who were far more deserving of commemoration than Dickie. A plaque was erected in Whithorn in 2006 by the International Brigade Memorial Trust to recognise Dickie’s heroics in the 1936-39 conflict.

But in another letter this week, Jim and Francie Bainbridge defend Dickie and the other volunteers who comprised the International Brigade that fought against Franco.

The Bainbridges write: “Jack Brent (whatever his earlier history) and many thousands of other ordinary folk were idealists, and volunteered individually to fight Franco’s nationalists, one of the evil fascist regimes which later engulfed Europe.

“The British government had stood by and allowed Franco’s mercenaries, backed and encouraged by the Catholic Church, to slaughter thousands of innocents, who sought only democracy and freedom. The International Brigade were doubtless inspired by the fact the criminal czarists in Russia had been deposed by the people, but it was the words of Karl Marx which inspired them, not the despot Stalin!

“Even when Adolf Hitler’s Luftwaffe devastated the Basque town of Guernica in an unprovoked attack, the spineless British government of the day took no action, and Stalin’s resolve buckled under the strain, viewing such British vacillation as guaranteeing the success of the fascist Axis powers.

“Whatever Jack Brent’s politics or his life before he went to Spain, he was part of a brave and unselfish movement which could have altered history. I would be proud to have such a man commemorated in my burgh.”

Letters page 14