Thursday, 9 March 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 8th – 18th March 1937

THE BATTLE OF GUADALAJARA

The Nationalist forces threatening Madrid were ordered to attack around the north-east of the city in an attempt to cut it off from the rest of the Republic. Two Nationalist armies advanced towards Guadalajara, which is 34 miles from Madrid, and pushed back the inexperienced Republican troops that faced them. The right-hand (or western) army, which was commanded by General Jose Moscardo, had little trouble in forcing the opposing Republican troops back, but the left-hand (or eastern) army, which was composed of Italian "volunteers" and led by General Mario Roatta, experienced stiffening resistance after their capture of Brihuega on 10th March.

General Roatta halted his advance on 15th March to re-group and the Republicans used this break in the battle to mount a counter-attack. Two divisions, assisted by Russian tanks and aircraft and led by Colonel Enrique Jurado, fell on the leading Italian units on 18th March. The ferocity of the counter-attack surprised the Italians and their retreat rapidly became a rout. Moscardo's army was forced to fall back because of the Italian collapse and the Republic recaptured Brihuega. Although the Nationalist attack had gained some ground when the battle finally ended, it had failed to achieve the decisive result that had been hoped for.

Spain at the end of March 1937. The red areas are under Republican control whilst the blue areas are under Nationalist control.

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