As if it were a nightmare that does not end and that returns again and again to remind us of the ravages of an armed conflict between compatriots, which began in a distant 1936, the scars of the Civil War are still latent in the Spain of 2022. Far from the politics of clubbing of a Congress of Deputies that still gives brushstrokes of the Spain of both sides, in each corner of the country there artifacts, projectiles or weapon remains of the conflict between the Republican side and the rebel side. It sounds surreal but nothing is further from reality. More than 80 years later, remnants of the war are still coming to light.
Aragón is one of the best examples of these instruments that remain active and keep their lethality intact. The discovery of an Italian missile from the rebel side or the collision of several workers in a construction with a Republican bomb. There are multiple situations where these artifacts from the 1930s can appear and cause misfortune. The Civil Guard details that each year it discovers more explosive devices and that they already add up to more than 170 since 2020.
These findings are not always detected without mishaps and neutralized by the Tedax of the Civil Guard or the National Police. Recently, a young shepherd who was with his flock in the fields of Teruel found a grenade from the Civil War. came out of curiosity and it exploded in his hand causing the amputation of three fingers.
In recent days, the Civil Guard Command in the three provinces of Aragon have given notices of artifacts from the Civil War. And each one more bizarre because they are everyday situations in municipalities that suffered the blow of the conflict. Specifically, last Monday, during the construction of a building in Huesca, the National Police was notified by several alerted workers when a buried projectile was found.
The Tedax-NRBQ of the National Police, with their explosive deactivation teams, confirmed the discovery of a 155 mm projectile. That’s when they removed the artifact for controlled destruction at a military firing range. According to National Police sources present at the discovery, “the lethality of the device was intact and could have exploded at any time.” These sources warn that all the Tedax of the National Police present were surprised that it had remained ‘asleep’ for more than 80 years “because of its potential instability and easy activation”.
Another recent case, this week, alerted the residents of the Zaragoza municipality of Maella. An octogenarian neighbor notified the owner of a place that he had an aviation bomb from the Civil War on his premises for more than 80 years. This neighbor assured that, when he was 6 years old, remembered where he fell and that he was aware that he was still in the same place. He had never raised the alarm or warned anyone until now. Back then it was just a farmyard and did not explode. The ground was covered with concrete without any precaution and the bomb remained there asleep.
Sources of the Civil Guard deployed in the device confirm that once the neighbor notified the owner of the premises, he gave the alarm to the meritorious for its deactivation. It was necessary to use a metal detector to find out the exact point where it was located and to break the concrete in an operation that posed a risk to officerssources confirm. The device was a 50-kilogram explosive aircraft bomb, it used to be called ‘the legionnaire torpedo’ and was very common in Italian aviation. It was one of the most powerful devices and could throw shrapnel over 700 meters. In this situation, it was also necessary to explode the device in a cordoned-off place, away from a radius of 1,000 meters from any presence due to its destructive power.
45 kg projectiles and the ‘red devil’
Sources from the Delegation of the Government of Aragon, consulted by Confidencial, explain that dozens of discoveries are made every year and there will still be hundreds of artifacts hidden assets and dangers for the Aragonese provinces. Normally, the sources say, they are hidden in the brush or underground and can cause a misfortune if they are tried to manipulate. The most found artillery projectiles usually have weights between 3 and 45 kg, hand grenades, mortar or aircraft bombs also abound.
The findings are most unlikely: from a bomb hanging from a pine tree for 75 years to more than 161 hidden projectiles in a family farm. Among the most notorious incidents, the explosion on two occasions of a Breda grenade, also called the ‘red devil’ of the Civil War, stands out. The first of the accidents was experienced by a shepherd from the municipality of Sarrión (Teruel) when he found one of these grenades and when trying to reach it he lost three fingers. These Italian-made Breda grenades are the most dangerous and deadly artifact still scattered across the land. On another occasion, a 22-year-old man was walking with his father and when the grenade exploded left him blind and without both hands. His father, who was with him, suffered serious bodily injuries.
The Tedax of the Civil Guard, according to data published by the Government of Spain, came to neutralize in 2021 alone a total of 145 explosive devices from the Civil War. most of them in the province of Teruel with 85 artifacts, because it is one of the territories that suffered the most from the war blow of the Civil War. The Battle of Teruel was the deadliest of the Civil War. In that battle alone, 97,000 combatants lost their lives over 71 days.
From the Civil Guard it is detailed, in conversation with this newspaper, that these artifacts are usually found when carrying out agricultural work, earthworks in construction, hunting or harvesting. In case of encountering a device, the sources explain, you have to contact the Civil Guard or the National Police and always refrain from manipulating the device.