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All Posts, P&S History

Author Guest Post: Chris Hall

The Nurse Who Became A Spy

I have been a member of the Charity ‘International Brigade Memorial Trust’ since 2001 and was a national executive committee member from 2010-2019. 

The aims of this charity are:

The International Brigade Memorial Trust keeps alive the memory and spirit of the 2,500 men and women from Britain and Ireland who volunteered to defend democracy and fight fascism in Spain during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. We also remember those who supported the volunteers and the cause of the Spanish Republic at home. 

We bring together families, friends and admirers of the International Brigades, along with historians, labour movement activists and all others who share an interest in the exceptional story of the International Brigades.

The IBMT organises and supports educational, cultural and commemorative events around the country, including three annual events: the Len Crome memorial lecture / conference in March, the London commemoration in July and the Trust’s Annual General Meeting in October. We assist students, academics and others researching the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War and promote the preservation of archives about the volunteers. Through the IBMT magazine, our website and new media platforms we keep members and the wider public informed about developments concerning the memory and legacy of the International Brigades. 

We also ensure that the more than 100 memorials in the British Isles to the volunteers – 526 of whom were killed in Spain – are maintained in good order and, where appropriate, new ones are erected.

The IBMT was founded in 2001 when members of the veterans’ organisation, the International Brigade Association, and members of the Friends of the International Brigades decided to merge to form a single organisation.

We are a registered charity and rely on membership subscriptions and donations to finance our activities.’

Members of this charity have researched and written books about the men and women who served in the International Brigades and medical services in Republican Spain and raise money for memorials.

Unknown working class heroes and heroines like Madge Addy have been discovered and their stories published.

In Madge’s case she led a straightforward life until her early thirties, then volunteered to be a nurse in the Spanish Civil War where she was wounded, was the last British nurse in Republican Spain and became a prisoner of war when the war ended. In WWII she was a spy and resistance leader in occupied France. In addition she was married three times to a local Manchester man, a Norwegian and a Dane. Her war time activities led her to awarded an OBE. She died alone and unknown in 1970 in London. In 2018 a City of Manchester plaque was unveiled at her last Manchester home before she left for Spain.

Her unique story is found in Chris Hall’s Pen and Sword Book, ‘The Nurse who became a Spy’.