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Very sad..but what a life 11:43 - Apr 1 with 402 viewsBarcaBlue

Just saw this in The Guardian's rolling coverage. Never heard of La Nueve before but with time on my hands will do some more reading...

My colleagues Sam Jones and Kim Willsher report that a 99-year-old who was the last living survivor of La Nueve - a company of mainly Spanish troops that was the first to enter Paris August 1944 marking the city’s liberation from Nazi occupation - has died after contracting the coronavirus in a nursing home in Strasbourg.

Rafael Gómez Nieto grew up in Andalucia near Almeria, the son of a career soldier who had been part of the Royal guard to the Spanish king Alfonso XIII. He was a veteran of the Spanish Civil war, having fought in the four-month Battle of Ebro, the longest and largest battle of the civil war, in 1938. At the end of the war in Spain he crossed the border into France where he was briefly interned before travelling to North Africa where he joined La Nueve.

La Nueve, the 9th Regiment de Marche du Tchad, part of the 2nd Armoured Division (Division Leclerc), was overwhelmingly made up of Spanish republican fighters who were among the 500,000 Spaniards who fled across the border into France in 1939 as Franco’s forces closed in on victory in the civil war. One hundred and forty-six of the company’s 160 men were Spanish and, despite serving in the French army, they were permitted to stitch the red-yellow-and-purple flag of Spain’s second republic on their uniforms. They were also allowed to paint the flag on their vehicles, which rolled into Paris emblazoned with names such as Guernica and Don Quichotte (Don Quixote). Spanish was the common language within the company. All had fought during the liberation of French North Africa.

The company, also known as La Española because of the number of Spanish soldiers, was the first to enter Paris on 24 August 1944. While awaiting the surrender of the German governor of Occupied Paris, La Nueve troops were sent to occupy public buildings and those taken over by the German military command as well as Place de la Concorde.

Allied troops led by General Charles de Gaulle entered Paris the following day. More than 50 members of La Nueve received the Croix de Guerre for bravery.

La Nueve’s contribution to the liberation of Paris has only been recognised recently. After the liberation, the company was forgotten or left out of the French history books for political reasons - the liberation being presented as an exclusively French triumph. It was only in August 2004 - 60 years later - that Paris officially paid homage to the division with a plaque.

Later, Gómez Nieto was awarded the Grande Médaille de Vermeil and the Légion d’Honneur.


On a related note, my allotment neighbour, who sadly passed away last month, told me a story of a guy in the village where we live who spent the Civil War hiding behind a wardrobe in his house, avoiding arrest or conscription, it wasn't clear. The kids called him the ghost as he emerged as white as a sheet. I thought the story had been embellished over the years but I see there's a Netflix doc about people who spent the entire Franco years in hiding in secret rooms. Can't find the name of series right now but will definitely check it out.
[Post edited 1 Apr 2020 11:44]
Very sad..but what a life on 13:12 - Apr 1 with 306 viewsfactual_blue

Didn't know about La Nueve, but I don't think I would have wanted to fall into their hands if I were a German soldier.

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