Jack Brent

Jack Brent (aka Georjge Dickie) was one of only two men from Dumfries and Galloway to serve with the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Born in Canada 1912, Jack Brent moved to Whithorn while still a small child. He was apprenticed to a local butcher but at the age of 17 left to join the Cameronian Highlanders. He deserted in 1933 and spent time in London where he developed an active interest in left wing politics. In 1936, soon after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he was accepted with the International Brigades, a world-wide volunteer organisation of men and women who went to Spain to defend the Republican government from attack by Franco's fascist army.

In 1937, at the battle of Jarama, Brent was shot through the spine while helping to collect the wounded. He never walked again without the use of crutches and was in near constant pain for the rest of his life. 

On his return from Spain he joined the Communist Party. Living in London during the  Second World War he worked to improve conditions in the city's air raid shelters. He was also active in attempting to gain the release of International Brigaders interned in concentration camps in France, Spain in North Africa. He was Secretary of the International Brigade Association and one of his successes was the campaign to free Luis Longo, Inspector General of the International Brigades who had been handed over to Mussoloni's secret police. Brent obtained signatures of support from 275 MPs and members of the House of Lords and persuaded the Pope to intervene in Longo's favour. Longo was eventually freed from jail and risk of execution. 

A biography, 'Good to be Alive - the story of Jack Brent', by Stanley Harrison was published in 1949. 

Brent died in Whithorn in 1951. In 2006 the International Brigade Association erected a commemorative plaque in the town in his honour. 

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