The Brunete Offensive Part 2

The plan was to smash southwards through the weak Nationalist lines and then south east to cut off the enemy forces on the west side of the capital in the Caso de Campo sector. At the same time a complementary assault from the suburbs of Madrid was planned to form a pincer action. The offensive began in the early hours of 6 July 1937, when 34 Division from XVIII Corps attacked Villaneuva de la Canada. The Nationalist resistance was unexpectedly fierce, and when the troops seemed reluctant to keep going into the assault, Miaja ordered the battalion commanders to place batteries of guns behind their own troops to force them forwards. Though outnumbered nine to one, the Nationalists held off their attackers for a whole day.

Lister's 11 Division swung past this action and captured Brunete the next day, but then failed to advance. Instead of advancing while the way ahead lay open, Lister ordered his troops to dig in just south of Brunete, where they waited for El Campesino's troops to finish off the Falangists in Quijorna. That took three days, and by then General Varela commanding the Nationalists had brought in Saenz de Buruaga's 150 Division to attack between Brunete and Quijorna. This threat was met by General Walter's 35 Division, which filled the gap between Lister and El Campesino.

While Lister waited, the major thrust of the advance was made towards Boadilla del Monte by Gals 15 Division. On the line of advance was a low ridge which the International Brigaders called Mosquito Hill because of the sound of the bullets. It was to become as horrific a memory as Suicide Hill at the Jarama. With the momentum of the attack dissipated because of two tiny pockets of resistance, and the tanks misused as self propelled artillery, the Nationalists had been given the time needed to recover.

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