Griff Maclaurin c1936

Griff Maclaurin c1936

Portrait of Griff Maclaurin around the time he left Britain for Spain.

Griff Maclaurin was a brilliant mathematician from a distinguished Auckland family who had left New Zealand to study in Britain. He arrived in Madrid on 8 November as part of the International Column. In his small detachment of 'English' machine-gunners he was joined by another New Zealander, Steve Yates.

They took up a position inside Madrid University’s School of Philosophy and Letters. Using the larger books from the departmental library, they barricaded themselves in, discovering that ‘bullets generally penetrated to about page 350’. Both men were among the first international volunteers to be killed in the Spanish Civil War when their position was overrun sometime on 10 November.

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