The Bite

Music: R.García, Lyrics: P. McNamara

From all corners of the land our forces gathered
Arm in arm together there to fight
Comrades committed to the battle,
To stem the rising tide of fascist might

We had nurses, we had students and shipbuilders
The brave responded to the call
And rallied to the ‘tricolor de España’
Fighting for the future one and all

I used to lie awake before the dawning
Thinking on the next day’s bloody fight
Then the brightness of the Spanish morning,
Check your gun, your bullets, and your bite

We had comrades from the East End of London
At Cable Street they’d ruined Moseley’s day
We had miners from the valleys of Carmarthen
All proud to wear La Quinta’s black beret

At dead of night their homes these heroes parted
And to Spain they quiet made their way
Leaving grieving wives and sweethearts
Ignoring all entreaties there to stay


By train to Perpignan then onwards
We crossed the Pyrenees by night
Avoiding the soldiers at the border
(And) it’s on to Albecete at daylight

We battled at the Ebro and Jarama
We were baked by Brunete’s burning sun
Disbanded at the fall of Barcelona
La Passionaria praised us every one


And now my life is nearly over
Oh, did my comrades fall in vain?
No – fascists must be challenged where they muster
In Bolton and Blackburn and Brick Lane


Music: R.García / Words: P. McNamara

The song is our homage to all those from the British Isles who volunteered to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. The willingness to leave the comforts of home and family to lay one's life on the line to fight for an idea and confront evil in a foreign land deserves greater remembrance than these heroes and heroines have received to date.

The song is loosely based on the experiences of George Wheeler who, when interviewed by the Guardian newspaper in 2000, told of his 'bite', a small piece of wood he would place in his mouth as he went onto the battlefield and which he could clench as a meagre defence against shell shock. This poignant detail moved us both greatly.

Listeners will note the reference in the song to the 'tricolor de España’. For those who know only the red and yellow flag of today's Spain, the flag of the elected Republican government of Spain comprised red, yellow and dark purple bands.