Battle of Corunna Road Pt 3

In January 1937 General Orgaz relaunched his unimaginative attack along the same axis. When the Nationalist attack opened up on the 3rd January the Republican right flank fell back in disorder. At first the Republicans managed to hold in the centre, in a battle which was described as "the most complete chaos" but eventually the lack of ammunition and air power took its toll and the Republican defence began to collapse. Modesto's formation, the communist elite 5th Regiment, was virtually routed, and General Miaja was forced to set up machineguns at crossroads to halt the fleeing Republican soldiers.

The ammunition supply was appalling, with only a handful of rounds per man in some battalions, while others had run out completely. The fault lay partly with Miaja for reacting so slowly to the problem, but mainly with Largo Caballero and the ministry of war in Valencia. Largo replied to Miaja's request for more ammunition with the accusation that he was simply trying to cover up his responsibility for the defeat.

While the whole Republican front was collapsing, Miaja ordered in XII International and Lister's brigade of communists. XIV International was brought in all the way from the Cordoba front. On 7th January General Kleber of the XI ordered the Germans of the Thaelmann Battalion to hold the enemy, telling them 'not to retreat a single centimetre under any circumstances.'. The German communists in a stand of suicidal bravery obeyed his order to the letter. 35 men survived.

When the reinforcements arrived the line once again was stabilised. Both sides were exhausted and by mid January the battle was over, the opposiing armies having established themselves in defensive positions. The Nationalists had overrun the Corruna road from the edge of Madrid to a third of the way to San Lorenzo, but the Republic had prevented any encirclement of the capital on the right flank. Each side had suffered about 15,000 casualties in the process.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.