Reprinted from "The Sunday Post," Glasgow, February 21, 1937.
STARVATION IN MADRID
Women Go Frantic When Ambulance Food Supply Ends
This remarkable story of what is happening in Madrid to-day is told by Mr Morris Linden, a member of the Scottish Ambulance Unit in Spain.
The Scottish Ambulance Unit has all week been distributing foodstuffs in four of the poverty-stricken areas of Madrid - Venytas, Tetuan, Puente de Toledo, and Vallecas.
Puente de Toledo has probably been the most heavily-bombed working class area in Madrid.
Apart from devastated tenements, the most moving indication of Franco's damage is observed in the children, many of whom show the effects of two months of shell fire and air raids by their twitching hands and general nervous condition.
A number are limbless, while others are heavily-bandaged.
The scenes at the distributions have all been the same—
The gratefulness, to the point of tears, of the women who were first in the queues.
Their disbelief that they were receiving coffee, sugar, milk, and other foodstuffs.
And the heavy blow to those who had stood so long in the queue, only to be told that we had no more food left.
A Teaspoonful of Sugar
One incident during a distribution reveals the starvation point to which many of the people in Madrid have been reduced.
As a 2 lb. bag of sugar was being handed out from the ambulance a little escaped from the flap. Those women who had seen the sugar spill, actually became hysterical — so great was the loss of a teaspoonful of sugar !
Many examples of the plight of the women and children could be given. Even a member of the unit, whose work among the injured must have innured him to great suffering, broke down when many of the women became frantic, as the word swept down the long column that the ambulance had been emptied of food.
Naturally the shortage of food has a military aspect, and the wisdom of the decision to evacuate the civil population becomes more evident daily.
If the majority of the population is evacuated, then the threat of starving the city into submission - by cutting the Valencia, or other minor roads connecting Madrid and Valencia - would be ineffective to some extent.
The authorities, in that case, would have to deal only with the problem of feeding the troops and those people whose presence is necessary in the city.
Evacuation is proceeding at present, but it could be speeded up considerably if more foodstuffs were available.
People Amazingly Cheerful
Meanwhile the people are amazingly cheerful. Yesterday afternoon at lunch-time I saw a group of girls have a game of skipping within a mile of the front. That was how they were spending the last few minutes of their lunch hour before returning to work in the building on the opposite side of the road.
I have seen factory girls do the same in Bridgeton. But one hardly expects to see it in the Madrid of February, 1937.
Another member of the unit, writing home, says —
Food queues begin to form early in the morning, and recently one of their duties has been to serve hot refreshments to the hungry people.
"We were out at three o'clock one morning," he writes, "dishing out hot chocolate and bovril to people who had been standing all night in the food queues. It was highly appreciated. We served out between four and five hundred cups."
Sir Daniel Stevenson, commenting on Mr Morris Linden's story, said it showed how urgent it was that the Scottish Ambulance Unit should be supported financially.
MISS JACOBSEN, with members of the Scottish Ambulance Unit, issuing supplies of food in Madrid.
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