Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 8th – 23rd November 1936


The Nationalists were now poised to make an all-out attack on Madrid in the hope of capturing the Spanish capital and thus ending the war. The forces at their disposal were led by General Emilio Mola and the majority of them were units of the Army of Africa. Mola ordered Colonel Jose Varela to attack the north-west flank of Madrid's defences, and by 16th November Varela's troops had forced a bridgehead over the River Manzanares.

During the following week almost three-quarters of the University City fell to the Nationalists, but the poorly armed militia units that comprised the Popular Army, led by General Jose Miaja and aided by Russian tanks and aircraft, stemmed the Nationalist advance.

Republican defenders manning the trenches in Madrid.
Further assistance to the Republican cause came from the first International Brigade units to reach the front-line. It is worth noting that the XIth Brigade, which was mostly composed of German, Polish and French volunteers, arrived after the front-line had stabilised.

By 23rd November both sides were exhausted by the fighting and began digging in. Varela had failed to achieve the desired break-through. Although the Nationalists held the areas to the North and West of the city, it was obvious that all further frontal attacks upon Madrid would be costly and likely to fail.


  1. These days mark the climax of the battle (6-10 November). Exactly today 8th Novemenber but 80 years back, the first Intl Brigade units paraded through the capital and went straight into the front line at Casa de Campo, parque del Oeste and Ciudad Universitaria

    1. Anibal Invictus,

      The arrival of the first units of the International Brigade certainly helped to stabilise the frontline and to blunt the attempts of the Army of Africa to capture the University City.

      All the best,



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