13th Division (Franco's Army) - 13.ª División (Ejército Franquista)

13th Division
country Spain
Fidelity Flag of the national side 1936-1938.svg Uprising Band
Spanish flag Franco dictatorship
Type Infantry
Function Shock force
Size Division
Dissolution August 20 , 1943
High command

Notable commanders
Fernando Barrón Ortiz
Ricardo Rada Peral
Culture and history
Meeting The Black Hand
Motto "We won in Brunete" , "Against the black hand there is no god who can"
Colors Black and red
Wars and battles
Spanish Civil War :
Battle of Brunete , Defense of Zaragoza , Battle of Teruel , Offensive of Aragon , Battle of Lérida , Battle of the Ebro , Battle of Segre , Offensive of Catalonia , Final Offensive

The 13th Division , also known as the Black Hand [ n. 1 ] , was a division of the rebellious side that fought in the Spanish Civil War . His boss during the civil war was Cavalry Brigadier General Fernando Barrón Ortiz , a veteran of the Rif Wars . At the end of the war, it served as the basis for the creation of the Brunete Armored Division , on August 20 , 1943 . [ 1 ]

Considered as an elite military unit, perhaps the most prestigious and also the one with the lowest casualties of the Franco Army : 953 chiefs and officers (of them, 136 dead) and 25,517 among the troops (3,570 dead). For example, during the Battle of Brunete he had 70% officer casualties and more than 60% among the troops, despite which he continued to fight until his relief. [ citation required ]


The known cone column Barrón was established on 16 of September of 1936 in the city of Talavera de la Reina with the 1st Legion Flag and 1. Tabor de Regulares de Tetuán , replaced by the 2nd. Tabor de Regulares from Melilla; Later the 1st is incorporated. Tabor de Melilla . [ 2 ] In April 1937 the column increased in size to that of a complete Division , becoming a reserve of the Army of the Center of General Andrés Saliquet . [2 ] However, until the Zaragoza Offensive it did not act as a complete division, limiting itself to the dispatch of single units to different war scenarios. [ citation required ]

In May 1937 he sent to the bridgehead of Toledo the 1st and 5th Flags of the Legion, the Tabores of Ifni and Ifni-Sahara and the 1st battalions of the 35th "Mérida" Regiment and 3rd of the 28th "La Victoria" Regiment. [ 2 ] Some of their units participated again during the Battle of La Granja .

"... In these encounters they have built a fearsome reputation. Memories of retreats, bayonet charges, ruthless knives of the Moors, songs of death and terror come to their minds just by hearing the name of the city 13 Division ... "

History of operations


Recently created, it intervenes in the battle of Brunete with the aim of counterattacking the enemy and recovering the population that had fallen into the hands of Enrique Líster's 11th Republican Division . All the forces that were in reserve on the immediate fronts were called; thus, from the south, coming from Navalcarnero , units of Regulares approached and from the west, coming from Chapineria , legionaries of the 1st Flag arrived. In view of the general situation, Lister remains undecided in Brunete . [ n. 2 ]

When the general counterattack of the Francoist Army takes place , six battalions of the Black Hand push the 11th Republican Division in the middle of very hard fighting. [ 4 ] In this adverse circumstance the 14th Division of Cipriano Mera comes to his aid , whose counterattack ends up failing. Lister's men will be able to withstand several rounds by the 13th Division in the heat. [ 5 ] On July 25, the division managed to reconquer Brunete , turned into a pile of rubble. [ 5 ]

Aragon front

Belchite was completely in ruins and was not rebuilt. Image of Belchite in 2006 .

At the beginning of September she was sent to the Aragón Front [ 6 ] and failed in her attempt to help Belchite , surrounded since August 25 by the V Republican Army Corps of " Modesto ". [ 7 ] However, it manages to prevent the approach of the republican troops to Zaragoza and makes the republican offensive fail in the sector .

Stationed in Anguita - Salinas de Medinaceli , it was prepared for the planned final assault of the Francoist Army on Madrid in December 1937 . But, when the republican counterattack occurred in Teruel , Franco suspended this offensive. After a first failure to reconquer Teruel , Franco decided to send reinforcements, including this Division that is located north of the Turia to reinforce the 150th Division . Later, she became a member of the new Moroccan Army Corps under the command of General Juan Yagüe, intervening in the Battle of Alfambra and the final battles of Teruel .

During the rupture of the Aragonese front in the spring of 1938, it operated in the south of the Ebro river , after breaking the republican front on March 7 . Shortly after he goes to Quinto , with the aim of securing his position and crossing the Ebro; there is heavy fighting, but at dawn a bridgehead is established where the 5th , 150th Divisions and a Cavalry Brigade cross the river . [ 8 ] On March 16 the division (together with the divisions of Muñoz Grandes and Bautista Sánchez) surrounded Caspe , having reached the suburbs the day before. At nightfall on the 17th , after two days of hard fighting, the Aragonese town fell. [ 9 ] He continues his advance until he reaches Lleida on March 28 , where he has to fight against the defense organized by the 46th Division of El Campesino . [ 10 ] After several days of hard fighting, on April 3 the city fell into the hands of the Insurrectionary Party , but there it stopped its advance and failed to prevent the retreat to Catalonia.of important republican contingents. [ 10 ]


After intervening in the rupture in two of the republican zone, he acts in the Battle of the Ebro , which would become the decisive battle of the war. During the fighting against the Ebro Army units, it was disputed with the 1st Division of Navarre , in the words of General Rafael Casas de la Vega , "the honor of being the best Division in that decisive action." During the Battle of the Ebro, the 13th Division was one of the Francoist units with the most losses, with 5,959 casualties. [ 11 ]

After the defeat of the republican troops, in January and February 1939 it participated in the offensive of Catalonia , being one of the units that entered Barcelona on January 26 , one of its great successes throughout the conflict. At the end of March, he participated in the final Offensive that marked the last military action of the Civil War and the end of the war.

Postwar period

During the immediate postwar period, in 1939 , it became established in the I Military Region (Madrid) along with other units. Fernando Barrón, who had been its commander from the beginning, was appointed Undersecretary of Air. [ 12 ] He was appointed in place Brigadier General Ricardo Rada Peral , as of 1 of September of 1939 . [ 13 ] In 1943, the No. 1 Armored Division was created , which was officially created on August 20 , 1943 on the basis of the units and structure of the 13th (motorized) Division. [1]

Explanatory notes

  1. The hand of Fatima az-Zahra as an emblem motif that appears on her shield, along with the legend in Arabic language we won in Brunete
  2. The resistance offered by small units made the normal operation of the attack impossible and Lister, without the support of artillery, did not continue the attack. Furthermore, it was fortified in the town of Brunete . Fragment of the "Matallana report" appeared in "Brunete", Rafael Casas de la Vega , Uriarte, Madrid 1967.


  1. a b Brief History of the Heavy Forces Archived 13 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine .
  2. ^ A b c Carlos Engel (2010), p. 47
  3. Dying in Spain: The 'Black Hand'
  4. ^ Hugh Thomas (1976), p. 770
  5. ^ A b Hugh Thomas (1976), p. 771
  6. The civil war month by month, Volume 17. Distraction Maneuvers in Belchite (September 1937) , various authors, p. 41
  7. ^ Hugh Thomas (1976), p. 784
  8. ^ Fernando Barrón Ortiz, (1892 - 1952)
  9. ^ Hugh Thomas (1976), p. 860.
  10. to b Battle of Lerida (1938)
  11. Martínez Bande, 1978 , p. 302.
  12. Official State Gazette no. 236 of August 24, 1939
  13. Official State Gazette no. 244, of September 1, 1939


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