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From Malta last week hustled the 32,000-ton British battle cruiser Repulse under forced draft with the entire second battalion of the Gordon Highlanders between decks to help protect the Rock of Gibraltar, overhauled a squadron of five Italian cruisers bound for Barcelona.
Close to the shore line kept the Repulse, for out in the roadway between the Pillars of Hercules, the Spanish battleship Jaime I (pronounced "Hymie Primero") and two cruisers were slinging shot for shot with rebel-held batteries at Ceuta, Spanish Morocco. A well-placed hit from the shore put the Jaime I temporarily out of action, nearly sank her.
From Barcelona, where a dozen ships were evacuating foreigners, went many a harrowing tale. For 17 years swarthy Santiago Iturralde was a clerk in the U. S. Consulate at Barcelona, running errands, filing papers, sorting mail. Late last week word reached the Consulate that Manager George Jenkins of the Ford Motor Co. branch was in imminent personal danger. With a British chauffeur Clerk Iturralde jumped into a car bearing a U. S. flag, attempted a rescue. Both clerk and chauffeur were killed with a burst of machine-gun fire.
"Local authorities," reported U. S. Consul Lynn W. Franklin, "have expressed concern, sympathy and regret." For the widow and four children of Clerk Iturralde the U. S. State Department proposed a pension.
Among the refugees from Barcelona to reach Marseille last week were one Joseph Friedman, U. S. cinema operator, and Mrs. George Haven Putnam, widow of the Manhattan publisher.
"Everybody seemed to be firing at everybody else,'' said Photographer Friedman. "Barcelona authorities had distributed rifles to 60,000 workers with orders to shoot anyone who looked like a rebel. Anyone who had a hat looked like a rebel, so they fired."
Added Mrs. Putnam: "We talked to several youths, all of whom wore red arm bands with the Communist emblem ot the hammer and sickle on them. They said they were for the Government, but judging from the number of churches and convents and homes of so-called Fascists they said they had burned, it was hard to say whether they had much use for law and order. ... On shipboard we stood on deck all day watching the coast. From time to time we heard the booming of guns, and saw dozens of churches aflame in little towns and many convents and other churches afire high on the hillsides over the sea."
Vivid were the Barcelona adventures of one Ruby Beach of Washington, D. C.
"I saw women fighting in the front-line barricades, shooting more often and with more precision than the men. These women kept calling on their men to take no prisoners but to kill them. The men Communists often stopped short, aghast at the atrocities the women asked them to perpetrate.
"I saw girls dressed in beach pajamas carrying refreshments and ammunition to the men fighting behind the barricades. The situation was such that the American flag was no use as a protection. Many of the fighters have never heard of the United States and don't know what our flag looks like. I am able to be here to tell the story only because our cook had a Communist sweetheart."