115 days of death and destruction

120,000 casualties 

30,000 dead and 75,000 wounded and 15,000 prisoners

On July 25th, 1938, at 00:15 a.m. on a moonless night, Republican forces began crossing the river between Mequinenza and Amposta, striking the enemy. The largest military operation of the Civil War had begun.

The Republican offensive was aimed at three targets. The first was to stop the Francoist advance on Valencia, the industrial and commercial lung of the Central sector, diverting the attention of that front on that of the Ebro. The second sought to revive the morale of the Republican rear-guard and silence the voices that, taking the war for lost, demanded a negotiated peace with the rebels. The third was, facing the growing war climate in Europe due to Hitler’s expansionist policy, to show the democratic powers that the Republic was still alive and could be an ally in the war against fascism.

The operation was a success at first. On its first day they occupied about 800 km2, between Mequinenza and Benifallet, and a whole enemy division was annihilated. Soon, however, the Francoists managed to build a line of resistance along the Faió axis, La Pobla de Massaluca, Vilalba dels Arcs, Gandesa and the Canaletes river. A wall of men and weapons, where Republican forces crashed.

After a week of heavy combat, without advancing beyond the line reached on the first day, Republican commanders ordered the offensive to a halt. On August 2nd, the attacks were stopped and the whole territory began to be fortified to defend it under the slogan of not giving up even a handful of ground to the enemy.

Against the opinion of some of his commanders, Franco decided to fight on the Ebro instead of leaving the enemy trapped there, with a river behind them, and surrounding them from Lleida. A decision that turned the operation of the Ebro into a battle of attrition, hell for the nearly 250,000 fighters who faced it.

The ground that the Republicans had conquered in a single day, took more than a hundred days and seven counter-offensives to be recaptured. On November 16th, one hundred and fifteen days after crossing the river, Republican forces withdrew to the other side.

The battle ruined the villages and fields where it took place, leaving a balance of 120,000 casualties between the two armies: 30,000 dead, 75,000 wounded and 15,000 prisoners.

BIBLIOGRAFIA

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