43rd Division (People's Army of the Republic) - 43.ª División (Ejército Popular de la República)
|Active||June 1937-February 1939|
|Rama/s||Regular People's Army|
|Part of||People's Army of the Republic|
|Culture and history|
|Battle honors||The Government of the Republic issued a series of stamps in his honor.|
|Wars and battles|
|Spanish Civil War|
The 43rd Division was one of the divisions of the People's Army of the Republic that were organized during the Spanish Civil War on the basis of the Mixed Brigades , taking part in some of the main battles of the contest.
Deployed on the Pyrenean front, the unit played an important role during various battles that took place in this sector. It would achieve great fame in the battle of the " Bolsa de Bielsa ", during which the division withstood enemy pressure from far superior enemy forces. Later he would take part in the battles of the Ebro and Catalonia .
History of operations
It was founded in June 1937 , [ 1 ] bringing together the 72nd , 102nd and 130th mixed brigades ; it was integrated into the X Army Corps . During much of the war he served in the Front of Aragon . Its first commander was Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Salavera Camps , a veteran officer of the Madrid defense .
In September, it was the spearhead in the Offensive on the Serrablo launched by the Popular Republican Army and that conquered the Alto Aragonese towns of Gavín , Biescas , Yosa de Sobremonte , Aso de Sobremonte , Arguisal and Acumuer , copied 350 Francoist soldiers in the Valley de Tena and almost managed to conquer the industrial and strategic town of Sabiñánigo. Until November of that same year, the 43rd bled to death trying to maintain what it had conquered until both sides, exhausted and with more than 2,500 casualties in the government ranks and slightly less in the Francoist ranks, opted to back down and end the battle .
In March 1938, as a result of the Franco offensive in the Front of Aragon, the division was forced to abandon its positions. The disbandment of the 31st Division left the southern flank of the 43rd Division unprotected, [ 4 ] which would force the unit to withdraw towards the Huesca town of Sobrarbe , being isolated from the rest of the republican forces. [ 1 ] Towards April 14 the division became strong in the valley of the river Cinca , [ 1 ] near the French border and against the Sierra de Chía, in what is known as the « Bolsa de Bielsa ». During those days, the role of the division chief, Militia Major Antonio Beltrán Casaña , who managed to keep the soldiers' morale high, stood out .
Besieged in Bielsa
On May 14, the forces of the division organized an ambush to the Francoist forces, who advanced on the republican lines believing that they had fled to France; when the republicans left their shelters, the shooting began on the Francoist forces that advanced without protection, causing a real massacre among the rebellious ranks. [ 5 ] The following day the unit received a visit from the head of the government, Juan Negrín , and the chief of the General Staff, General Vicente Rojo , who reviewed their troops. [ 6 ] The 43rd Division, whose exploits had achieved worldwide fame, was collectively awarded the Medal of Valor .
At the end of May, it participated in a diversionary attack of the counterattack of the Battle of Balaguer , which managed to recover some territory both in the main attack and in the diversionary attack, although the essential purpose of the operation was to check the Group's military capabilities. of Armies of the Eastern Region (GERO).
On June 9, 1938, the rebel forces, preceded by intense aerial bombardments, and enjoying a clear numerical superiority, attacked the 43rd Division, which was forced to enter France on June 15 [ n. 1 ] not without first protecting the withdrawal of the civilian population through the Old Port of Bielsa. [ 9 ] [ 10 ] The 43rd Division, isolated from the rest of Republican Spain and with much less media had resisted for two months Franco 's army. [ 11 ]The French government organized a referendum among the soldiers of the unit, in which they were allowed to choose between returning to republican territory or going to rebel territory. Only 411 soldiers, accompanied by 5 nurses, chose the second option, while 6,889 soldiers went to Catalonia , crossing the border through Portbou . [ 12 ]
The Ebro and Catalonia
With the soldiers returned to Republican territory (despite the fact that the French had confiscated their weapons) the division was reorganized during the month of July, in time to take part in the Ebro Offensive - in which it was initially planned that it would only participate deployed as a reserve. The unit was re - equipped with weapons that had been taken to the 50th Division Franco during the first days of the battle you of the Ebro. [ 14 ]
The 43rd was initially assigned to the GERO, subsequently intervening in the Ebro. After the reinforcements received, the division was split in two, creating in turn the 55th Division - which was under the command of the former commander of the 130th Mixed Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Leopoldo Ramírez Jiménez -. [ 15 ]
The division was later integrated into the XXIV Army Corps , covering the lower Ebro front. [ 16 ] After the new attack by the Francoist army in December 1938 , the unit withdrew towards Tarragona . In early January 1939 the remains of the 24th Division were used to reinforce the 43rd Division, [ 17 ] by then badly worn out. However, he was unable to cope with enemy pressure. Integrated into the XV Army Corps , the withdrawal of the division later continued to Barcelona(which fell on January 26), passing into France again through the Port Bou border crossing during the withdrawal.
- Lieutenant Colonel Fernando Salavera Camps (since June 1937); [ 18 ]
- Lieutenant colonel José Escassi Cerrada (since December 1937); [ 19 ] [ n. 2 ]
- Militia Major Antonio Beltrán Casaña "El Esquinazau" (since March 1938 ); [ 21 ]
- Chiefs of Staff
- The last soldier of the 43rd Division crossed the French border at 04:00. June 16. [ 8 ]
- As pointed out by Martinez Bande, Lt. Col. Escassi was replaced in command of the division by the largest of militias Antonio Beltrán Casaña shortly before the start of the Franco offensive on the Aragon front, in March 1938. [ 20 ]
- Ripol, 2007, p. 56.
- Engel, 1999, p. 96.
- Maldonado, 2007, p. 202.
- Ripol, 2007, pp. 55-56.
- Ripol, 2007, pp. 58-60.
- Maldonado, 2007, p. 444.
- Ripol, 2007, p. 60.
- Ripol, 2007, p. 62.
- Thomas, 1976, p. 892.
- Ripol, 2007, pp. 56-62.
- Ripol, 2007, pp. 62-63.
- Ripol, 2007, p. 63.
- Ripol, 2007, pp. 63-64.
- Tagüeña, 2005, p. 229.
- VV.AA., 1990, p. 600.
- Martínez Reverte, 2006 , p. 53.
- Martínez Bande, 1979 , p. 136.
- Engel, 1999, p. 219.
- Maldonado, 2007, pp. 202, 442.
- Martínez Bande, 1978 , p. 49.
- Alpert, 2013, p. 130.
- Gómez, 2002, p. 408.
- Gómez, 2002, p. 534.
- Cabrera Castillo, 2002, p. 462.
- Ferrerons and Gascón, 1991 , p. 17.
- Alpert, Michael (2013). The Republican Army in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939. Cambridge University Press.
- Cabrera Castillo , Francisco (2002). From the Ebro to Gandesa. The battle of the Ebro, July-November 1938 . Battlement.
- Engel , Carlos (1999). History of the Mixed Brigades of the People's Army of the Republic . Madrid: Almena. ISBN 84-922644-7-0 .
- Ferrerons , Ramón; Gascón , Antonio (1991). Huesca, the Bielsa bag. Photographs 1938 . Provincial Council of Huesca.
- Gómez , Esteban C. (2002). The echo of the discharges. Goodbye to republican hope . ESCEGO.
- Maldonado , José M.ª (2007). The front of Aragon. The Civil War in Aragon (1936-1938) . Look Editors. ISBN 978-84-8465-237-3 .
- Martínez Bande , José Manuel (1978). The Battle of the Ebro . Madrid: San Martín.
- —— (1979). The Campaign of Catalonia . Madrid: San Martín.
- Martínez Reverte , Jorge (2006). The fall of Catalonia . Barcelona: Criticism.
- Ripol , Marc (2007). The routes of exile . Barcelona: Alhena editions.
- Tagüeña , Manuel (2005). Testimony of two wars . Barcelona: Planet.
- Thomas , Hugh (1976). History of the Spanish Civil War . Barcelona: Circle of Readers. ISBN 9788497598323 .
- VV.AA. (1990). General history of Spain and America XVII . The second republic and the civil war . Madrid: Rialp Editions.