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As I have mentioned I live in Catalunia in a forest near the river Ebro where I own a small olive finca in the forest. The Battle of the Ebro  raged across the river through the mountains to Corbera D’Ebro then on to Gandesa.  I have written about Corbera http://bit.ly/qvGwGd where I talked about the town and the battle which crushed Cobera and left the streets covered with dead.  How the people rebuilt a new town below the original which they have left as a monument to all those who fought and paid with their lives

Beyond Corbera lies Gandesa which was the main target of the Republicans.  Gandesa is around 25 km west of the river ‘Ebro, and was the cross-roads into Catalonia with the roads running both north/south and parallel to the river making it a vital supply point. The land around the town is extremely hilly with three mountain ranges around it the Serra de Pandols, the Serra de Cavalls and the Serra de la Fatarella.

At this time the Republican army was being supplied by Russia, but when Russia joined the International Consensus in 1938 they stopped supplying the Republicans and with no one else to supply them with arms they found themselves stranded and trapped.  When the battle stalled Franco sent in around 500,000 troops with some heavy artillery and it was basically over. However, because the landscape was so difficult Franco’s advance was delayed which meant that the battle actually lasted for another 2 months finally ending on the 16th of November 1938.

Over the years whilst working on my finca I have found live bullets along with bits of shrapnel.  So one year I decided to take these finds along to the museum in Gandesa just in case they could use them.  We arrived to find an old building jam-packed with artifacts from the war, plus photographs on the walls depicting all areas from the Ebro to Gandesa. That was then!

I had decided to write about both the museum and wines in the Terra Alta region. So I drove to Gandesa to do some research on the battle still expecting to see the original facade. However, today when I drew up I found it had a new facade and inside although smaller it was bright and spacious.

The entrance hall is light and you enter via sliding glass doors and facing you are an arrangement of machine guns, here you turn right past a bomb towards the desk. Before this building became a museum it was the local school, then during the battle it became the hospital after which it reverted back to the school until it was taken over and opened as a private museum.  The tiles in the entrance hall are the original ones that have seen all phases of the building’s history.

Beyond this in a long room are displays of grenades, medals, badges and bayonets displayed in white cabinets ranged along the walls.  In the middle at one end of the room is a large glass cabinet displaying bombs, shells, and two uniforms plus other artifacts, whilst on either side hanging from the ceiling are two models of the planes used by the Germans.  In the middle of this room is an electric map which gives you an idea of what went on depending on which of the three screens you touch.

At the far end is a moving screen which tells personal stories, with interviews and memories from people who lived through those times.

Off to one side is a room with an equipped tent in it, and when you turn round you find you are looking at a machine gun wall, with ammunition boxes and guns set up.

On the other side of the entrance hall you find a viewing room where films are shown so you can learn more of the battle.  Here the walls are hung with pictures, newspapers, posters, the Republican Flag and newspaper cuttings a very interesting place.

This museum is privately owned and still undergoing renovation as and when funds allow. It is about the Battle of the Ebro it does not take sides, but tells the story from every point of view no matter how sad it is to find families against each other, that is war and part of history. If you visit the museum I would ask if you could leave a small donation.  If you would like to visit the region which is full of interesting places and stay in comfortable accommodation with fine views of the river Ebro you might like to contact Dena @EbroApartments.

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