The Battle of Jarama

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Alexandre Vieira (Portugal)  

La Batalla del Jarama/The Battle of Jarama

Rafael R. Permuy López
Artemio Mortera Pérez

Quiron, Valladolid, 2003
ISBN 84-96016-08-0

There's a valley in Spain called Jarama
Its a place that we all know right well
For it's there that we fought with the fascists
And saw that pleasant valley turn to Hell.*

* Verse from a Spanish Civil War tune, sang by the men of the Abraham Lincoln American Brigade.

This book was published early in 2003, and deserves to be better known by those who are interested in the history of the Spanish Civil War. It is the best single account of the fierce battle fought in the valley of the river Jarama during February 1937 published so far in Spain or elsewhere. The authors used the best archival references at their disposal in their country and help from abroad (namely from Russian author Sergey Abrosov). This title is the third in a collection entirely devoted to the Spanish Civil War, Historica 36/39, the other being the Los Pilotos de Caza de la Aviación Republicana/Fighter Pilots of the Spanish Republic pt. 1 and Tupolev SB Katiuska en España/Tupolev SB Katiuska in Spain Pt. 1.

Physically speaking, the book is a softback in the usual A4 format, printed in glossy, good quality paper. It has 88 pages, with plenty of black and white photos, tables, maps, reproduction of original documents and some striking colour profiles (mostly of aircraft, with two tanks and three artillery pieces also depicted). The text is fully bilingual, with double columns, Spanish to the left, English to the right.

We must warn the aviation minded readers about the cover: dont let it deceive yourselves, with its group of Republican Army soldiers and an officer and their Soviet-supplied Maxim machine-gun! Besides from a comprehensive description of the ground operations, the book also covers in deep detail the aerial operations from both sides during all stages of the battle in the Jarama valley and its surroundings, discussing the subject of air superiority and giving some answers to questions that still remained on the subject after so many years of contradictory versions. According to the authors, the so-called superiority achieved by Nationalist airmen from 18 February on is a myth, in spite of some gallant but isolated actions, like those performed by the ace Capitán Garcia Morato and his comrades in that same day.
The only monoplanes employed by the Nationalist aviation were the Heinkel He 112V-3 and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 prototype, both integrated in the inventory of Condor Legions VJ/88. The air fighting over the Jarama also demonstrated for once and for all the total inadequacy of the Heinkel He 51 for all kinds of interception missions. From then on, the German biplane was relegated to ground attack missions.

The book is divided into the following chapters:
1. Introduction (includes full lists of both the Nationalist and Republican aircraft in the Jarama sector during February 1937)
2. Part I: First phase. The attack by the Reinforced Division (day by day).
3. Part II: Second phase. The passage of the Jarama (day by day).
4. Part III: Third phase: The Republican Counterattack (detailed overview of the fight in the air; conclusions).
5. Various documents. Includes an Operational Record Book for the period stemming between 8 November 1936 and 17 April 1937, drawn from an original document researched in the Russian archives by Sergey Abrosov.

We can recommend without any doubt this title to all enthusiasts of military history, especially those interested in the Spanish Civil War. The aviation part is well covered and is an essential part of this work.
The book can be purchased directly from the publisher at, at a price of 10,5 Euro plus postage.
We must express our gratitude to our friend Rafael Permuy, who offered us the copy reviewed.

¡Muchas gracias, querido amigo Rafa!

Alexandre Vieira