With time, we hope that this section of internal history becomes a fixture in Gethenews. So, again, we will resort to history’s photographic archive. In this case, we will pick a Spanish civil war photography.

Spanish civil war photography, bike batallion militiawoman

A militiawoman of the Enrique Malatesta bike batallion, reading news from the front (Photo: ABC)

After watching this picture, it springs to mind, that theatre play of the controversial and genial Spanish actor and director Fernando Fernán Gómez called “Las bicicletas son para el verano” (The bikes are for summer) placed in the Spanish Civil War.When a kid asks his father, at the end of the war that confronted the two “Spains” between the years 1936 and 1939:

Now I can get a bike, because the peace has arrived.

And the father replies:

Not peace, but victory

Inner history of Spanish civil war photography

But the subject to deal with is not that theatre play. Rather, the picture that is shown here and the history behind. As we did back then with a picture of the Vietnam war, we are going to build this post on a previous one in the Ciclosfera website (only in Spanish) to contextualize this picture. The bike was very useful in all wars during the 20th century. Everything was advantages: carrying the mail, laying the electric lines, carry ammo, or even transporting injured soldiers. It was cheap, easy to ride, as now a vehicle more than useful to have around.

To place ourselves in the conflict, Pablo Sagarra, Lucas Molina Franco and Óscar González are the perfect people son las personas adecuadas. Authors of the book “Batallas de la Guerra Civil española” (Spanish Civil War battles) after being asked about war bike batallions, and then giving some thought they replied:

 Just before the war outbreak, some cycling units exist, at least a priori. All of them attached to the Cavalry Regiment. In each of the  Organic Divisions, and reporting directly to the Division Command, since the beginning of the military reforms, the existance of a machinegun section and cycling infantry was planned as part of the Cavalry squadron.

By 1936, the Republican side had only created one batallion in Alcalá de Henares. Made by 800 soldiers, they used bikes as assisting vehicle for the fusilier regiments. Their Motto: “Celeritate ac virtute” (latin for speed and valour). Unluckily, a series of clashes between a group of socialists and various officials took place. Soon after, and once the war broke out, the batallion was dispersed.

The winning side

The bikes were also used by the rebel side. During the conflict and afterwards. In 1940, the army was reorganised. That is when the cronicles talk about 3 bike batallions in the cities of Jaen, Barcelona and Lorenzo del Escorial.

Cycling batallion in a Spanish civil war photography

There is even accounts of its use to capture Maquis (Anti-Franco’s side resistance) in the Gredos Incluso consta su uso para capturar maquis (resistencia antifranquista) in the Gredos mountain range, in the Ávila province as it is sketched out in this article about cycling batallions (in Spanish only). This second instalment on a historical photography is the first of many, we hope to contextualize in Gethenews. There are many in this image bank that is history.

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