On July 18, 1936, soldiers under the command of General Franco began an uprising against the democratically elected government of Spain.

The civil war that followed lasted for three years and drew combatants from across the world to fight in a conflict which they believed – and history has since confirmed – was a prelude to the Second World War.

It was in Spain that the Franco allies, Germany, developed blitzkrieg bombing, which was put into terrible effect a few years later in Clydebank.

A total of 30 men from Dunbartonshire, including 11 from Clydebank, made the journey to Spain under the auspices of the International Brigade.

The Depression on Clydeside was a period of political education for many and those who fought were fired by their conviction that democracy had to be defended.

Born in 1906, Joe Harkins was the youngest of seven children and grew up in Gordon Street, which is now gone.

In common with many others in Clydebank, his family roots were in Donegal. His mother and father came from near Milford.

Joe worked as a mechanic in the Singer factory. He was a trade unionist and a member of the Communist Party.

Against the wishes of his family, he volunteered for the International Brigade and travelled to Spain, where he arrived in November 1937.

It is most likely that Joe left from Glasgow Central and travelled to London. There was a degree of subterfuge around arrangements from there.

Maintaining the pretence of innocent travel, volunteers bought a weekend ticket to Paris. Once there, they had a medical examination and their political bona fides were checked. Then they were taken across the Pyrenees and smuggled into Spain.

Six months after his arrival, Joe was killed in action at Gandesa, on Hill 481, in one of the bloodiest episodes of the war.

Early in the battle, he was captured but escaped soon after to return to the front.

Following the death and serious injury of two senior officers, he assumed command of his company but was killed shortly after.

Stories of the legendary International Brigade still draw a crowd in this part of the world.

In 1974, the statue of La Pasionaria on the Broomielaw was unveiled.

In 2011, a memorial was erected in Renton to the five locals, including Joe, who died.

In his own family, ‘Joey’ is fondly remembered into the current generation.Around 15 years ago, members of his family made a pilgrimage to the spot where he fell – a sacrifice that deserves to be remembered.