The Worthing Herald reporter who fought fascism

The remarkable tale of the Worthing Herald reporter who fought in the Spanish Civil War has been published.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 7:05 am
Jimmy Jump
Jimmy Jump

The Fighter Fell in Love: A Spanish Civil War Memoir by James R Jump has been edited by his son Jim Jump, with a foreword by Paul Preston and a preface by Jack Jones, published by The Clapton Press (https://theclaptonpress.com) at £9.99 (paperback).

Son Jim, aged 71, who lives in Battersea, said: “This is a previously unpublished memoir written by my father, James ‘Jimmy’ Jump (1916-1990), about his time as a soldier in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

“Jimmy was working as a reporter on the Worthing Herald when he decided to join the International Brigades, an army of volunteers from around the world who were fighting to stop General Franco’s fascists toppling Spain’s elected government with the help of Hitler and Mussolini.

“Jimmy spent 13 months in Spain and saw action at the Battle of the Ebro in the summer of 1938, where he was mentioned in despatches for bravery.

“With its policy of appeasement towards fascism, Britain was trying to stop volunteers going to Spain. Jimmy crossed the Pyrenees secretly by night in order to fight fascism, which was showing its ugly face in Spain through the terror bombing of civilians, something that hadn’t been seen before in Europe.

“This is both an exciting and very romantic story. My father met my Spanish mother-to-be in a refugee home in Worthing in 1937.

“Cayetana Lozano Díaz had arrived in Southampton in May 1937 with nearly 4,000 Basque children fleeing Hitler’s bombs on Guernica, Bilbao and other northern Spanish towns. Cayetana was already a refugee in Spain, having escaped Franco’s fascists before they entered San Sebastián where she was working as a seamstress.

“When the Basque government asked for volunteers to accompany the children to safety she put her name forward. There were homes for the children at Beach House, Worthing, and Penstone House in Lancing.

“Jimmy, aged 21, was a volunteer helper at them, and that’s how he met and fell in love with Cayetana, 23. He proposed to her and she said yes. She added that she wanted them to live in Spain, but not under Franco. Jimmy went off to fight the fascists. He lost the war, but won the hand of Cayetana.

“Jimmy’s memoir is a different kind of love story. It tells of how Jimmy also fell in love with Spain, with its culture, the people and their language.

“He was one of the lucky ones. Out of the 2,500 volunteers in the International Brigades from the British Isles, 526 of them were killed in Spain. Jimmy returned home in December 1938 and soon married Cayetana.

“They eventually settled in Rochester, Kent, and he dedicated the rest of his life to teaching and writing about Spain and Spanish. His first book, The Spaniard and his Language, came in 1951 and his last was The Penguin Spanish Dictionary, published in 1990.

“All this happened because of that love affair on the Sussex coast in the summer of 1937 and the war in Spain that brought Cayetana to England and sent Jimmy to Spain.

“There’s still so much interest in the Spanish Civil War and the Britons who fought in it that I decided I should edit his memoir.

“He wrote two versions, and there were different versions of these as well, along with a diary he kept in Spain.

“I brought them all together and I’m delighted that Paul Preston, probably the world’s foremost historian of the Spanish Civil War, has written a foreword. He praises the book as ‘painfully honest and brutally realistic’ and penned by ‘a writer with a poet’s eye for detail, a gentle sense of humour’. There’s also a preface by the late trade union leader Jack Jones, who fought with Jimmy at the Ebro, and I’ve written an afterword telling the story of my father’s life.

“I’m the co-author (with Richard Baxell and Angela Jackson) of Antifascistas: British and Irish Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War (2010). I’ve edited several other books on the war in Spain, including Poems from Spain: British and Irish International Brigaders on the Spanish Civil War (2006). I’m also the chair of the International Brigade Memorial Trust.”