I quite enjoy historical wargames and as an outgrowth of that hobby I have become quite the avid collector of combat memoirs, especially of the WW2 and pre-WW2 era. When I heard that Peter Kemp’s ‘Mine Were of Trouble’ would be available for the pittance of 10usd I was elated. With the tightening quarantines imminent I decided to forgo some 3d printed robots for wargaming and instead rush ordered Kemp’s memoir, which is currently available here.
The physical presentation of the book itself is excellent, like all Amazon custom prints, and the spelling errors were minimal and had no real impact on the legibility of the contents. The publisher, Mystery Grove, should be quite proud of the job they performed, and I hope they enjoy whatever cut of my money Bezos lets them keep.
I personally find Kemp to write war memoirs in a manner befitting a man who would fight against Nationalist Germany with the Royal Marine Commandoes after witnessing the atrocities of the liberal bolshevik alliance firsthand. While Kemp may have fought for ‘El Generalissimo’ bravely and dutifully, he could not resist subtly chastising his erstwhile comrades for lack of respect for “institutions” like “human rights” or “international law” in his writing. Of course, I would I hope I am not required to explain to my reader how these concepts are merely outgrowth of Anglo-Zionist imperialism’s growing global hegemony.
Besides that and Kemp’s inability to restrain himself from sniping at the Falange (Kemp is a conservative of the most passive aggressive variety), the firsthand insight into the fighting was quite welcome. For those unfamiliar, the Spanish Civil war was fought with scarcely more technology than the Great War itself in the broad strokes, with only more aircraft and a few meager tanks (which at that time amounted to little more than metal boxes carrying machine guns) to spice up the battlefield. Yet the Spanish Civil war never became the industrial charnel house of the Great War largely due to Spain’s lack of mass scale industry and to the easygoing nature of the Spanish themselves. Kemp castigates even the elite Spanish foreign legion for their lack of entrenchment engineering and portrays the Spanish character as easygoing, likable, and perhaps a bit alcoholic.
The overall narrative of the book is similar to that of Ernst Junger’s ‘Storm of Steel’ (also available from Mystery Grove) as a younger Kemp finds himself volunteering for combat to experience adventure and finds himself mastering the art of soldiery as he volunteers for greater and greater danger. Kemp joins the Requetes or Carlist militias and spends about half the war with them as an infantryman. Eventually he joins the Spanish Foreign Legion, looking for more combat, and would fight for the remainder of the war with them. I will not bring up any standout moments, but those who enjoyed Junger will find Kemp’s account just as enjoyable.
Ultimately however, the most fascinating thing about Kemp’s account to me was how much the Nationalist Spaniards he interacted with wished that foreign powers and people had kept themselves out of a Spanish affair altogether. While we may now view the Spanish Civil War as a microcosm of the dialectic between Fascism and the golems of international capital, its nationalist participants viewed the conflict as a distinctly Spanish affair. Kemp himself, editorializing a bit, does note that the war would’ve been over in a few weeks bar the international brigades and Soviet aid, but that the nationalists would ultimately never have been capable of overcoming those forces without the support given to them by Italy and Germany. In the light of ‘Mine Were of Trouble,’ the lesson of the war morphs from a parable about the duplicitous nature of Liberalism and its Conservative stooges to a lesson about how the forces of the right must overcome regional rivalry, petty disagreements, and band together if they wish to overcome international capitalism in any context.