Says Capt. McCullagh In Interview With " Staff Reporter
It was shortly after reading the various highly coloured accounts of the bombardment of Guernica that I met Captain Francis McCullagh, war correspondent in Spain.
" What are we to say about that? How can we defend such action on the part of a side with-h claims to be fighting in part at least for Christianity'?" I asked hint.
Do You Know the Facts ?
Captain McCullagh, who has only been in London a few clays and bears still the pinched, wind-burned look of one exposed to war, answered with the smile of many experiences, and many deceptions, "Do you know the facts?"
I could only answer that I knew what
the English papers had said. Again he smiled. He had not forgotten that exactly the same had happened about Badajoz and that, nevertheless, when he personally investigated the reports he was unable to discover a single eye-witness to the alleged massacres, as was any journalist of reputation.
What was Guernica ?
" Was Guernica a town of military importance?" I went on.
"In this war every town is of military importance because it is a fight to the finish by men whom you do not understand in this country. They are men who seem to have taken on something of the bleak and rugged nature of so much of their country," he replied. " They fight with the ruthlessness of their own exacting land.
" But how do you know," he went on, after a reflective pause. " that, even if there was so severe a bombing, no warning was given and no time allowed to evacuate the inhabitants?"
" If there is anything in the reports the whole point of the attack Was its suddenness and its intention to strike terror into the people." I said.
Captain McCullagh then explained that
it was most unlikely that the Basque report would mention such a warning. Warnings had been given to Madrid but they had not been reported by the Government and in all cases disregarded by the authorities who, caring little for the lives of ordinary people, took no notice.
Red Technique I then asked him how this alleged attack compared with the method of warfare adopted by the Reds. He expressed surprise at so much notice being taken of what would in any case be but one single instance when dozens of the same nature had taken place on the Red side and never been reported.
" It is part of the technique of the Reds to bomb open towns and villages to strike terror into the People. Talavera, Merida, Naval Marina, Badajoz. even Salamanca and dozens of villages have been attacked by Red aircraft without warning, and men, women and children killed.
"If the Reds had had the means of totally destroying a town as Guernica is said to have been destroyed, they would have done so. Plenty of villages have shared it.s fate. and if larger towns have not it is because sufficient aircraft and bombs have not been available or the attackers were driven off."
asked why this was not better known. " Because the Nationalists are their own worst enemies as far as news distribution is concerned. They do not appreciate its importance: they do not like war correspondents; they hold • tip despatches for months even on account of censorship. When the news finally arrives it is too stale to be of use."
It was only on returning from my interview with Captain McCullagh, who is very shortly going back to Spain, that I heard of the official denial from Salamanca that Ciucrnica had ever been bombed. Captain McCullagh had certainly been fair and moderate.