Geoffrey Servante, almost certainly the last surviving British member of the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War passed away last Sunday at the age of 99. He spent his last days at the nursing home in Drybrook.
Born in may 1919, Geoffrey Servante was one of the 2,500 British volunteers who joined the International Brigades. Before Spain, Geoffrey, who was brought up in London and educated by the Jesuits, had never been in a political party nor had he expressed any political inclinations, and instead claimed later in life that he only travelled to Spain for a £100 bet after someone said it was no longer possible to join the International Brigades.
Upon his arrival to Spain, Servante joined the Communist Party and remained proud throughout his life that he have fought for Spanish democracy.
In Spain, 18 year-old Geoffrey joined the Anglo-American unit known as the John Brown Battery. Initially posted to the Estremadura front in south-west Spain, the battery was transferred to Toledo in December 1937, where it remained for the duration of the war. After the war, Servante was repatriated back to the UK via Paris and Dieppe in 1939. Within a year of his return, Servante has been called up into the British Army to fight in the WW2. He ended up spending three years in Egypt with the Royal Army Ordinance Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
In 2009, Servante received Spanish citizenship offered to all surviving members of the International Brigades. He retained interest in Spanish affairs throughout his life: he was a strong supporter of Catalan independence and voted in the 2017 referendum.