Bench for brave Brigades brothers
Danny, Tom and Joe Gibbons had gone to help in the Spanish civil war
Thursday, 10th June 2021 — By Dan Carrier
The new bench on Hampstead Heath
THE memory of a group of heroic volunteers who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War has been honoured with a new bench unveiled on Hampstead Heath.
The New Journal reported in March how a bench commemorating three brothers, Danny, Tommy and Joe Gibbons, and their brother-in-law Pat Dooley had fallen into disrepair.
The four had travelled to Spain when civil war broke out in 1936 to help defend the democratically elected government against General Franco’s fascists.
Tommy was to give his life to the cause, killed fighting for the International Brigades in the Battle of Brunete in 1937.
His brothers survived. Now a new bench is in place near the Men’s Pond and has had an extra name added to it: Milt Cohen, another volunteer who was friends with the Gibbons brothers.
He travelled to Spain with Joe and both were on board a troop ship in 1937 which was hit by a torpedo. Milt couldn’t swim – and Joe saved him from drowning.
A fundraiser organised by the International Brigades Memorial Trust has paid for the new bench and its upkeep, while the original slat with the volunteers names on has been preserved and is set to be installed in a garden at the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell.
Trust president Marlene Sidaway said: “We thought fascism was defeated in 1945 – but it never really goes away, it rises whenever there is prejudice, inequality and unrest.
“The Gibbons family and all those brave men and women who fought in Spain are a constant reminder to us that we must always be on guard to challenge and fight fascism wherever and whenever we find it.”