Statement issued by Manus O'Riordan earlier today. (slightly edited,
The last surviving Irish combatant on the Republican side of the
Spanish Civil War has died, leaving one surviving Irish veteran, Paddy Cochrane.
Bob Doyle passed away in London on Thursday, aged 92, after a short
Doyle was born in Dublin on February 12, 1916, shortly before the
Easter Rising, and became politically active himself in the 1930s, joining the IRA after being beaten up in street fights
with the Blueshirts which left him with permanent damage in one eye.
But he quickly became more interested in social issues and, in 1937,
decided to volunteer for the International Brigade, motivated in part by the fact that his former flatmate Kit Conway had
been killed in action at the Battle of Jarama on Doyle's 21st birthday.
He was foiled in his initial attempts, arrested and expelled from
Valencia after he had stowed away on a boat. Undeterred, he eventually made it back to Spain later that year by crossing the
Initially deployed to train new volunteers, as a result of his IRA
experience, he disobeyed orders in order to join a group heading for the front line. After engaging in battle at Belchite,
he was taken prisoner by Italian fascist troops on the Aragon front in March 1938, along with Irish International Brigade
leader Frank Ryan.
He was imprisoned for 11 months in a concentration camp established
in the disused monastery of San Pedro, near Burgos, where he was regularly tortured by Spanish fascist guards and interrogated
by the German Gestapo and, once, taken out to be shot.
Released as part of a prisoner exchange deal, Doyle enlisted in the
British Merchant Navy for the duration of the Second World War before settling in London with his Spanish wife Lola.
Active until the very end, Doyle was a regular visitor to both his
native Ireland and to Spain for International Brigade commemorations and, in 1996, along with all other survivors of the Brigades,
was offered Spanish citizenship. He delivered his last speech at the rededication of Belfast’s International Brigade
memorial on November 8.
He published an account of his experiences in Since Michael O'Riordan's
passing in May of that year, Doyle had been the last surviving Irish combatant in the International Brigade.
Doyle is survived by his sons Bob and Julian, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
From Geocities website
See Ireland and the Spanish Civil War for extensive material on Bob Doyle's life and times on Ciaran Crossey's website.