|Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain|
"Fantastic place to visit with loads and loads of amazing sights and history, Spain is a big country by European standards.
With Spain at the very western end of Europe (along with Portugal, of course) and the Spanish a major naval power for much of their history, it’s hardly surprising that they played such a big role in the European exploration and settlement of both North and South America. The Brits, of course, were not far behind them, and with a long history of hostility between the two countries, there was bound to be trouble.
After all the wars between Spain and Britain, Spain was only too delighted when we rebelled against English rule, and the Spanish crown supplied the rebel colonies with food, ammunition, and intelligence during the American Revolution. King Charles III of Spain even sent livestock to George Washington’s farm at Mount Vernon. Very friendly.
|22 Americans fought on board HMS Victory at Trafalgar|
In 1815, we again ventured into Spanish waters when, during the Second Barbary War, Commodore Stephen Decatur scored naval victories over Barbary pirates based in Algiers at Cape Gata and Cape Palos off the coast of Spain. On that occasion, even though we were in Spanish waters, we were actually fighting the Barbary pirates rather than the Spanish.
|Virgin Mary, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain|
In 1898, the United States, led by President William McKinley, went into a full-scale war with Spain. In the Spanish-American War, however, despite occasional plans for us to do things, like attack the Canary Islands (again), in the end, there was no actual fighting in Spain. Therefore, we cover that war in the Cuba and Philippines chapters.
In 1936, the Spanish Civil War, as sort of a pre-game warm up for World War II, broke out. It’s a fascinating and important war and deserves to be better known. When General Franco mounted a right-wing military coup against the left-wing Spanish government, foreign volunteers flooded in from across the world to defend the republic, and among them were plenty of Americans. The Soviet Union supported the republic. Hitler and Mussolini supported Franco.
|Oliver Law, First African American to Command American forces|
|The Moment of Death, Robert Capa|
Even Errol Flynn, a naturalized American citizen, went to Spain as a war correspondent. The Loyalist side attempted to recruit Errol to their side in the conflict and gave him a machine gun, but he decided that killing people for politics in somebody else’s war wasn’t really his cup of tea.
Not all our military involvement with the Spanish Civil War was unofficial, For instance, in August 1936, the destroyer USS Kane was sent to Bilbao in Spain to rescue American citizens. On the way into Bilbao, a three-engine monoplane dropped bombs within a hundred yards, and the ship’s crew had to open fire three times to drive it away. Kane then joined up with USN Squadron 40-T under the command of Arthur P. Fairfield, which during its time in the area rescued hundreds of Americans and others from the war.
|Church Door, Ezcaray, Spain|
Spain officially remained neutral during World War II, though it did send the so-called Blue Division to fight alongside the Germans in Russia, and German U-boats were able to utilize the “neutral” ports of Spain to resupply. Amidst fears that Franco might still join the Axis cause “Wild Bill” Donovan, the head of the OSS, visited Madrid, and an OSS detachment was established in Spanish Morocco. The OSS made contact with the remnants of the Republican underground and exiled Spanish government to explore the possibility of subverting Franco’s regime, but that was about as far as it got.
|Pub / Cafe in Logrono, Spain|
"The Wayne in Spain is not to be disdained!"
We have major bases in Spain. Rota, once a sleepy fishing village near Cadiz, has served as a US naval base from 1953 to the present. It is referred to as the “Gateway to the Med” for the US 6th Fleet and other NATO forces since it’s very close to the straits that lead from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The USAF also maintains Morón Air Base in Andalucia."
Travel Notes: Special thanks to Jimmy and Alex of Duvine for guiding me and our group through Spain. See...www.duvine.com
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