Battle of Irún
The Battle of Irún was the critical battle of the Campaign of Gipuzkoa prior to the War in the North
War in the North
The War in the North, in the Spanish Civil War was the campaign in which the Nationalist forces defeated and occupied the parts of northern Spain that remained loyal to the Republican government. The campaign included several separate battles. The Battle of Bilbao resulted in the loss of the part...

, during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. The Nationalist Army
Spanish State
Francoist Spain refers to a period of Spanish history between 1936 and 1975 when Spain was under the authoritarian dictatorship of Francisco Franco....

, under Alfonso Beorlegui
Alfonso Beorlegui Canet
Alfonso Beorlegui Canet was a Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry in the Spanish Army. In the Spanish Civil War, he led the Nationalist campaign to capture Guipúzcoa in August and September 1936....

, captured the city of Irún
Irun is a town of the Bidasoa-Txingudi region in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain...

 cutting off the northern provinces of Gipuzkoa, Biscay
Biscay is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lord of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao...

, Santander
Santander, Cantabria
The port city of Santander is the capital of the autonomous community and historical region of Cantabria situated on the north coast of Spain. Located east of Gijón and west of Bilbao, the city has a population of 183,446 .-History:...

, and Asturias
The Principality of Asturias is an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain, coextensive with the former Kingdom of Asturias in the Middle Ages...

 from their source of arms and support in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...



Irún is located on the northeastern coast of Spain, between the French border and the city of San Sebastian. The town was defended by 3,000 Republicans, including CNT
-Buildings:* Canadian National Tower, or CN Tower, a communications and observation tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada-Businesses:* Cantiere Navale Triestino , an Italian shipbuilding company founded in 1908 and renamed Cantieri Riuniti dell' Adriatico Monfalcone in 1929-Non-profit organizations:*...

 militia, Asturian miners, Basque nationalists, and French communist volunteers. Major Beorlegui's force was smaller, but it included 155 mm artillery, German light tanks, Junkers
Ju 52
Junkers Ju 52
The Junkers Ju 52 was a German transport aircraft manufactured from 1932 to 1945. It saw both civilian and military service during the 1930s and 1940s. In a civilian role, it flew with over 12 air carriers including Swissair and Deutsche Luft Hansa as an airliner and freight hauler...

 bombers, and a 700-man bandera from the Spanish Foreign Legion.

The battle

The Nationalist ships España
Spanish battleship Alfonso XIII
Alfonso XIII was an España-class dreadnought battleship of the Spanish Navy which served in the Spanish fleet from 1915 to 1937. She was renamed España in 1931 for her sister ship, an earlier battleship España that served in the Spanish fleet from 1913 to 1923.-Technical...

 (battleship), Almirante Cervera
Spanish cruiser Almirante Cervera
Almirante Cervera was a light cruiser of the Cervera class of the Spanish Navy. She was named after the Spanish admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete, commander of the Spanish naval forces in Cuba during the Spanish-American War...

(cruiser), and Velasco (destroyer) bombarded the town on August 11. The main fighting took place on the Puntza ridge south of the town. The peak of the battle occurred at the convent of San Marcial, which was defended by Asturian miners and militia who threw dynamite and rocks when they ran out of ammunition.

The French had closed the border with Spain on August 8, leading to a shortage of ammunition and supplies on the Republican side. When the Republicans finally abandoned the town, they set it on fire to destroy anything that might aid the Nationalists. During the duration of the war, when the Nationalists would bombard, then occupy a town, they would announce that the Republicans had destroyed it, citing the example of Irún. Beorlegui was wounded by a sniper's bullet when he entered the town. He refused to have the wound treated and soon died from gangrene.


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