Kindly insert in Monday's issue.
Glasgow, 5th June, 1937.
Scottish Ambulances in Spain.
It is nearly a month since my last letter to the press. In it I said that in the Madrid Sector and within a radius of 15 to 30 miles fighting consisted chiefly of bombardments resulting in the killing and wounding of many non-combatants and the wrecking of their houses, particularly in the poorest quarters. But the letter had scarcely appeared when all that was changed. The Ambulances of the Scottish Unit were hastily summoned to the neighbourhood of Toledo, some 48 miles distant, where they encountered the most severe bombing and machine-gunning suffered since their arrival in Spain, and this, be it noted, in spite of red crosses being painted boldly on the top and sides of every Ambulance, those on the top covering practically the entire roof. The incident was so unprecedented that the story of it was flashed by Reuter to the whole British Press and appeared with strange irony alongside the graphic descriptions of the Coronation festivities.
When the shrapnel and bullets seemed to foretell the complete destruction of the vehicles, the whole personnel took cover in sort of dugouts which had been prepared by the men themselves on their arrival. One bomb fell within 10 yards, the shrapnel from it hitting the parapet wall, and machine-gun bullets spattered all round, but fortunately, indeed miraculously, no one was hit. Certain newspapers reported that three of the Ambulances had been completely smashed, but bad as the damage looked, it was not past repair. The whole convoy was able to make its way back to Madrid where they received a hero-welcome, and most of the damage has since been made good.
Again there came a lull. Active negotiations went on in the Non-Intervention Committee and it almost seemed as if an Armistice might be arranged and that the work of our Unit and others would be limited to the rescuing of sick and starving non-combatants as long as our funds lasted, but alas, again the scene is changed. The destruction of Guernica was terrible, horrible, but what can one say of the " Deutchland " episode at Palma and the bombardment of Almeria?
Obviously there is no early settlement in sight so I am compelled to appeal once more to the many friends who have so steadfastly helped the Scottish Unit again and again to carry on its good work since September last; and may I add the hope that they will be joined by newcomers who cannot but be touched by the terrible sufferings of the people of Spain. The actual combatants are fairly well looked after by the military authorities on both sides, but the condition of the non-combatants and especially of the women and children in the poorest quarters is simply deplorable.
Subscriptions sent to Miss Riffkin, the Unit Secretary, 5, Cleveden Road, Glasgow, will be gratefully acknowledged, and the work, being purely humanitarian, may confidently be supported by all men and women of goodwill irrespective of politics or party.
D.M. Stevenson, Chairman.
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