Marshall Mateer

Research, Writing, Film and Presentations …

My project work is carried out over years. The five projects below are all well underway – nearing completion! (May 2024)

A film project developing an annotated version of newsreel film from the BFI archives made in December 1938 of the British Battalion returning to London before dispersing to their homes. ‘The Brigaders Return!’ was shown in 14 events around the country to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the return during December 2023.

The Nat Cohen Project is about the lives of Nat Cohen, his wife Ramona Siles Garcia and their friend Sam Masters. Research in the UK and Spain over ten years. The outcomes are being prepared as a book and presentation.

Image WCML: Sam (left) and Nat (right) after they were wounded on the Aragon front Autumn 1936.

My presentation of the early research, ‘The Story of a Photograph ~ Nat Cohen, Ramona Garcia Siles and Sam Masters’, at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford, 2015.

My essay ‘Ramona’s Story’ was published in the IBMT Newsletter in 2015 and was included in ‘Remembering Spain’ edited by Joshua Newmark, published by IBMT and Clapton Press, 2023.

In the summer of 1936 volunteers flooded into Spain, but very few were British. Some, like John Cornford and Felicia Browne and later George Orwell, are well known and already much has been written about them. My research focuses on less well known volunteers who arrived in Spain in the months of July, August and September 1936. Image DW: Richard Kisch wounded in the Battle of Mallorca, August 1936.

My essay on the early British volunteers ‘Not Such a Quiet Front’, was published in the IBMT magazine in and was included in ‘Remembering Spain’ edited by Joshua Newmark, published by IBMT and Clapton Press, 2023.

Ivor Montagu’s silent film ‘The Defence of Madrid’, (now in the BFI archive), was shot in Madrid in November 1936. It was the first film to show the Spanish Civil War in detail in the Britain. My research explores the making of the film, it’s content and how the film was distributed in 16mm format and shown in halls, large and small around Britain collecting £6000 pounds for Aid to Spain. £6,000 pounds is equivalent to over half a million pounds today – quite remarkable for 1936. [BTW it is Peter Churchill, of Spanish Medical Aid, who is mentioned in the advert, not Winston Churchill. ]

I introduced the ‘The Defence of Madrid’ in the Len Crome Memorial Lecture in Bristol in 2018. The film was shown in it’s original 16mm format.