Bob Smillie, a volunteer with the Independent Labour Party (I.L.P.) contingent in the Spanish Civil War, died while held prisoner by the Republican side in Valencia in June 1937. His death, officially due to appendicitis, has been consistently treated as suspicious, not least by his comrade-in-arms George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia. This article re-examines the circumstances surrounding Smillie's death, using the papers of the I.L.P. businessman David Murray who was in Spain attempting to secure his release. Murray accepted the ‘official version’ of Smillie's death by natural causes – and defended it doggedly within I.L.P. circles – despite those who advanced views to the contrary. The article examines Murray's evidence in reaching his conclusions, and concludes that the I.L.P.'s response to Smillie's death reveals much about its precarious position within British politics in the late 1930s.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.