Joe Garber

Joe Garber

Joe Garber, the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, was born in 1911. Influenced by his father's left-wing views, Garber joined the Communist Party and was involved in the campaign against Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in the East End of London.

On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Garber travelled to Spain and joined the International Brigades at Albacete. He fought at Jarama where he was shot in the groin. After recovering in hospital he rejoined the frontline and was badly wounded at Brunete while defending Madrid.

Garber served in the British Army during the Second World War. After the war he worked in the cosmetic wholesale trade.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Joe Garber was interviewed by Peter Lennon in the Guardian (10th November, 2000)

We were issued with uniforms and rifles of all descriptions. Most of the Spanish had Mausers from 1896. First I was given a Canadian Ross, a kind of elephant gun. But then the Russians sent us a whole load of bayoneted rifles.

My first battle was the bloodiest of the whole war, at Jarama, near Madrid. Oh, it was horrible. It was like a Hollywood film. We were issued with machine guns, German Maxims, water-cooled things. We had dug ourselves into this escarpment and the bastards, loads of them, came up howling. They had these Mauser grenade rifles. I had a lump in my throat but I let fly at the bastards with my machine gun and they all dropped down. I was really enthusiastic. We had come to our enemies now, not just the Spanish - they were bloody Germans. And there were a bunch of Italian Black Arrows too. I let fly and got a couple of them as well.

The battle lasted a fortnight. On the third day, over 200 of our boys lay dead out of 600. That's where I copped it. I was shot in the groin.