For my Spanish Civil War project I needed a plan for the buildings and scenery that I would be using. The initial battles of the Civil War typical took place near or in settlements, as local milicianos (and milicianas) set about defending their homes from the rebel forces which were trying to consolidate their hold on the areas they controlled. On the Nationalist drive to Madrid, resistance was also largely encountered at any number of towns and villages on the route. In others knots of Guardias Civil, local Falangistas and others might be contained in the local cuartel or ayuntamiento by local militia, the most obvious example of these being the siege of the Alcázar in Toledo from July 21st to September 27th 1936.
El Quinto Coño (The Arse End of Nowhere) will be a somewhat generic small Spanish town, based in part on my current home town of Estepona, but also a composite of other local settlements and moved inland. Estepona was actually fought over during the Civil War and from 8th October 1936 to the 14th January 1937, the western part of the front line in Málaga Province lay on the hills to the West of the town, along the line of the Arroyo del Vaquero (Cowboy River) and subsequently along the Arroyo de Janacino on the very outskirts of the town. The project will encompass both the town and the trench lines.
|Typical Spanish town with barely two buildings alike. The church is typically built at the highest point.|
For those of you who have visited Spain, the concept that there might be such a thing as Spanish 'town planning' might seem a little laughable. Invariably most towns seemingly have a veritable rabbit warren of streets and alley ways which in no way shape or form make any real sense. Most settlements are very old, some of them began as settlements in the times of the Romans and some earlier than that. Almost invariably they are built on high ground, so as to see any pirates/slavers drawing near.
They usually began as a quite spacious group of buildings and as families grew and became more extended, they grew into spacious clusters of buildings. Roads and tracks usually follow the easiest route up the incline, so tend to meander a bit and are typically only the width of a cart or so. New arrivals built their dwellings along these established tracks and in between the existing building clusters... in anyway that would fit in some cases. All these people need somewhere to pray and a central location, usually the highest point so that God can hear them better.
That is pretty much how a typical pueblo (village) formed way back when and it is at this point some form of planning comes in if it is to grow into a ciudad (town or city). Firstly there needs to be an ayuntamiento (town hall), which is usually converted from one of the more grandiose town houses, or purpose-built by knocking down a couple of modest houses. Usually the town hall is in the immediate area as the church, but not always. Then a market place is required, which depending on the size of the town can be quite spacious. In an ideal world the market place sits right between the church and the town hall, or failing that is typically in the vicinity of the town hall.
In terms of actual residential buildings, the largest are usually around the church and town hall, and represent the homes of the local 'caciques' (gentry). Apparently this was not quite good enough for some and a small 'gated community' (with its own walls and gates) was built on a false peak slightly to the East of the church. The remainder of the buildings varied between single and two storey buildings of varying size to accommodate working class and lower middle class families.
|The lower the buildings, the less affluent the occupants and typically the further away from the centre of town. The citizens of this district are however still choosy enough to build their balconies quite high off the ground.|
|A photo from Estepona in happier times. Taken from a working class calle in the East of the town, the steady rise up to the hill top and the area around the church is quite clear.|
Outside of the town limits there were small pueblos of a few low houses and larger farm houses. Typically the latter were two storey buildings, the bottom storey housing the animals and the top storey the family itself. These buildings varied dramatically in both size and construction, but were typically stone-built and rendered, with pantile roofing.
|Somewhat done up for sale as a holiday home, but a not un-typical smallholder's home.|
The Trench Lines
Estepona's defences were temporary and largely followed the contours of the terrain. The relatively thin layers of soil in many areas precluded digging deep trenches and bunkers, unless blasting took place. As a result defensive positions were partly 'in' and 'on' the terrain, as opposed to those wholly 'in' the terrain which we generally associate with the Great War. Key positions might have a hurriedly-built concrete emplacement or two covering them, but unless a 'front' stabilised for some time, more complex strong-points are usually absent.
|Near Albucierre in Aragon, the former Republican trenches at Tres Huegas and "Orwell's Hill" have been restored. Definitely somewhere on my 'to-go-to' list.|
|Rudimentary or not, some defences could stall an advance. These T-26 tanks were abandoned after failing to find a point to cross the nationalist trenches.|
So this post is the introduction to the second of my terrain projects to complement on of my key wargaming interests. Despite being eighty years on from the start of the Civil War, I am literally quite surrounded by buildings that date from that period of time. In terms of construction most are quite straightforward, as they are simply four walls and a roof. While urban buildings tend to be somewhat more elegant and require fine detailing of doors and windows, rural buildings are somewhat less so.
The only real limitation is that I have yet to see two buildings the same, that are not Post-Civil War builds. This means that constructing a standard template for a particular type of building would not give the right effect and each building would need to be a unique 'one-off'. It is not an insurmountable difficulty though and will at least make each one a new challenge.
|Family day out to see the sights 1930s Style.|