Chain of Command Espana – The Falange
A merry Christmas to all of our readers! I hope Santa brought you all you wished for.
To continue with our twelve days of Chain of Command Espana, today with focus on the letter F. F for Festive and F for Falange. Jim and Rolf have come up trumps with this list ideal anyone who is a devout national syndicalist, enjoys facing the sun, or simply likes wearing blue.
Some months prior to the start of the Civil War, the Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista, FE de las JONS (Spanish Phalanx of the Assemblies of the National Syndicalist Offensive), or more simply, the Falange, had begun creating an armed militia in preparation for the ‘counter-revolution’ it was planning to begin. While numbers were small, the mass exodus of members from a similar paramilitary force belonging to CEDA, following their defeat in the election, provided a boost in numbers. Sympathetic army officers devoted their free time to training Falangists in the use of weapons, while the Falange’s leadership endeavoured to buy arms from abroad, assisted by wealthy individuals like Juan March. Although every member did not have a weapon, most were at least trained in their use.
Most of the leadership of the Falange were ‘out of the loop’ as regards the plans for the coup d’etat and until their leadership pledged support for the Nationalist Manifesto on the night of 18th July, were largely ignorant that it was even taking place. Plans to integrate Falangists into the military forces were non-existent and in one case a local Falngist leader was asked to leave his phone number at the rebel headquarters, so he could be summoned if required. This was an isolated case however and in general, the local rebel commanders released weapons to local Falangists to assist the military and security services that had sided with the rebels.
After the initial street-fighting and confusion of the first few days was over, attempts to integrate the Falangists began. Initially this largely consisted of forming composite units of security service personnel and local Falangists, and in the case of Andalucia, the first elements of the Army of Africa that arrived. These units were then sent into the hinterland of the Nationalist controlled towns and cities, to root out the ‘Rojos’ (Reds) within them and secure the area for the rebels. Columns of trucks with these forces would roll off into the countryside, occasionally meeting some form of organized resistance, but more usually rolled into small towns and villages, demanded that the Rojos be identified and then summarily executed them.
As the rebel army became the Nationalist Army, the need for men led to conscription. Many took the opportunity to join the Falange, as it appeared clear that these would be used mainly in the rear areas to ‘pacify’ territory that the army gained. Much to the distress of many of these men, it was decided to use Falangists to flesh out army formations, which were still on their reduced peace-time organisation. While in some cases this was merely a case of adding individual Centuria to army units, the process was completed by creating entire battalions of Falangists, organized and as much as was able, equipped, on the army model.
At this point the Falange began to lose its identity and other than small concessions, as regards insignia and symbolism, became little different to an army unit of similar size. This process was to be completed when the Falange and the traditionalist militias, the Requetés, were merged to form the Falange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional-Sindicalista (Spanish Traditionalist Phalanx of the Assemblies of National-Syndicalist Offensive) – the FET y de las JONS, in April 1937.
This list can be used to represent a Falange platoon-sized unit operating either as a complete formation, or as one supported by outside elements, in the early months of the Civil War. This list is good until around October-November 1936, after which point the Falange became more militarised and began to receive its own integral support weapons, along with a share of ordinary conscripts, becoming little different to any other Nationalist formation in the process. All of its support weapons are provided by the army formations of the area or formation it belongs to and are attached purely for the duration of a single operation. These formations are short of these same weapons themselves however, so their availability is limited. In some areas Falangists fought alongside Requetés as a distinct minority, in others the situation was reversed.
The Falangists were very much a mixed bag. With the presence of both ‘true believers’, common or garden thugs, bully-boys and of course failed draft-dodgers, it was hard to tell how a unit would behave until it came under fire. While as with any unit, experience and training would make a difference over time, in the initial battles the Falangists were as unpredictable as the Popular Militia they faced. Like most of the Civil War militias, there were also mounted companies of Falangistas, who were used as scouts and mounted infantry, a role that they appeared to have performed adequately and which saw them supporting regular cavalry units on occasion too.
And here’s the list:CoC – Falange