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‘Franco’s British Friends’

IN CASE YOU were in need of someone to raise a glass to, why not the 14th Duke of Hamilton and his friends? A reader and friend of ours from the fair Dominion of Virginia sent us a link to this program, which is available for listening to until next Monday, about “a famous flying ace, a top racing driver and an aristocrat” who together lent a helping hand to Christian Spain in her hour of need.

Famously, the four Douglas-Hamilton brothers (below) all simultaneously held the rank of Squadron Leader in the RAF. In the BBC program linked to above, one of the living Douglas-Hamiltons relates the tale of when all four brothers individually flew to a certain aerodrome and when the tower radio operator heard “Squadron Leader Douglas-Hamilton requesting permission to land” one time after another, he thought someone was pulling his leg.

Air Commodore Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton and 11th Duke of Brandon, KT, GCVO, AFC, PC, DL, FRCSE, FRGS, also served as Chancellor of the University of St Andrews.

Previously: The Tomb of Francisco Franco | The Caudillo in Action! | Fun With Franco

This post was published on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 7:04 pm. It has been categorised under Franco Great Britain History.
  1. kd
    30 January 2007
    8:17 pm

    Kudos, Andrew, for such tidbits of history (especially your posts on architecture).


    In the wake of critical acclaim accompanying the new film “Pan’s Labyrinth”, I’m hearing Franco discussed in a few intellectual circles. The same happened when Criterion released Victor Erice’s “Spirit of the Beehive” on DVD. Have seen either of them? (As you know, I’m no fan of Franco, or fascism for that matter — even the Jeane Kirkpatrick approved “soft” variety — so that’s why I’m interested in your response.)

  2. Joaquin Toro Prieto
    1 February 2007
    10:06 pm

    I am astonished and surprised. I am sure you are aware about your political incorrectness for cheering Franco. Back in nowadays Spain they will name you, the least, as a fascist… Bravo for you Mr. Cusack! “Vista, suerte y al toro!” which was the motto of the first air patrol fighting for Franco… the “Blue Patrol”, la “Patrulla Azul”.

  3. Philip
    3 February 2007
    10:27 am

    I am neither surprised nor astonished. I am, though, as ever, perplexed that the myth of Franco’s supposed salvation of Spain is perpetuated. Truly the Catholic Church has much, even now, for which to repent.

  4. 3 February 2007
    1:27 pm

    Well, you’re right in that it was by no means Franco alone. After all, one man cannot really save a country from certain doom! But one appreciates his efforts at leading that great struggle which involved so many from all walks of life in order to prevent the further destruction of Spain by the communist and anarchist forces.

    But the Church has nothing for which to repent, though many of the souls which together comprise the Church do, indeed, have much for which to do penance, and through prayer and supplication, we hope the good Lord will look upon our humble little penances, which can so rarely make do for our sins, and take pity on us.

    Also, for anyone who’d be interested, Anthony Daniels has a very good piece in the latest New Criterion revisiting George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia written about his experience of the Spanish Civil War. You can read it here:

  5. 3 February 2007
    1:33 pm


    I have seen neither film, and I have heard that “Pan’s Labyrinth” contains an exceptionally revolting and disturbing scene, so I will not be seeing it at all.

    The brilliant Daniel Larison, who hasn’t seen it either, discusses it to some degree here:

    But I will have to look up “Spirit of the Beehive”.

  6. kd
    3 February 2007
    2:19 pm

    You’re right, Andrew, “Pan’s Labyrinth” does have a particulary violent & disturbing scene.

    “Spirit of the Beehive” is, I think, a lovely film. It came out in 1973, in the last days of Franco’s rule. A lyrical, atmospheric exploration of a little girl’s experience in an isolated village just after the civil war. It is at once simple & complex, which (in addition to its exquisite visual beauty & wonderful performances) gives it a haunting quality. As the first post-Franco film to gain an international audience, it has an important place in Spanish cinema. Some consider it the greatest of all Spanish films. Criterion, as usual, has done a great job. Take a look.

    Now to read your link to Mr. Larison!

  7. 5 February 2007
    4:03 pm

    I had to chuckle a bit when Philip wrote:

    “I am, though, as ever, perplexed that the myth of Franco’s supposed salvation of Spain is perpetuated. Truly the Catholic Church has much, even now, for which to repent.”

    I can assure Philip that the Catholic Church (especially in America) spends most of its time apologizing for its sins, both real and imagined. In fact, other than Mr. Cusack and a few dozen traditional Catholics (of which I am one) you would be hard-pressed to find a Catholic who would even contemplate the fate of Spain had Franco’s forces lost.

    It is a dismal situation, from which Philip can take much satisfaction.

    Well done, Mr. Cusack, as always.

  8. Richard Gallas
    6 February 2007
    4:15 pm

    I listened to the BBC piece and found it fascinating. However, it was very anti-Franco. He was no angel but at least he saved Spain from ruin at the hands of radical leftists.
    The BBC kept referring to Franco and his comrades as fascists which I think is erroneous because of the role of the Church in Spanish society. Franco was allied with the Church, unlike the governments of Italy and Germany.

  9. kd
    7 February 2007
    12:00 pm

    I don’t think it is entirely correct to say that because Franco’s regime was allied with the Catholic Church it was therefore not fascist (if that’s what you’re saying).

  10. Ted
    23 February 2007
    11:28 pm

    Franco became a dictator in a one-party state. 15000-27000 opponents were executed after the civil war. When someone says “Franco saved Spain from the radical left” I think the real meaning is “Franco solidified the power of the Catholic Church”. As a democrat and a non-Catholic, I’m not sure the price was worth it.

  11. Dano
    11 December 2007
    9:51 am

    Franco, at the very least, was the lesser of two evils. As nasty as those executions were, he followed Machiavelli’s injunction to do all the killing right at the beginning, then stop. This is a decent article describing Franco’s Spain after the revolution: .

    Keep in mind that his opponents were radical, bloodthirsty communists and socialists who had won a narrow electoral victory and were attempting to use it to ban all opposition parties, not to mention were receiving aid from Communist Russia. They also murdered countless priests and nuns simply for the crime of refusing to support the Republican regime.

    I don’t know much about the specifics of the people Franco executed, and I won’t apologize for any unjust executions, but based on the aggregate evidence, I’ll say Franco is coming out way ahead in this one.

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