Annie Cargill Murray Knight, born April 10, 1906, died November 4, 1996

WITH the death of another link between Scotland and the Spanish Civil War has ended. Almost exactly 60 years ago Annie Murray, as she then was, volunteered through the British Medical Aid Association to go to Spain. ``I went to Spain,'' she recalled many years later, ``because I believed in the cause of the Spanish Republican Government. I didn't believe in fascism and I had heard many stories of what happened to people who were under fascist rule.''

Annie Murray, whose two brothers Tom and George fought in Spain for the Republic as members of the International Brigade, had begun her training as a nurse at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in her twenties. She became a registered nurse shortly after the Spanish war broke out in summer 1936.

Even in her years of training at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary she had been politically active. She later recalled how she had led nurses to protest against conditions in the infirmary. ``We used to have huge meetings in my room. We got certain things done.'' After the Spanish war broke out, and shortly before she completed her nursing training, she joined the Communist Party.

By September 1936, two months after the outbreak of the civil war, she was in Spain working as a nurse for the Republicans, at a small hospital at Huete, near Barcelona. There two London nurses had preceded her and a group of about a dozen British nurses soon gathered, as well as untrained Spanish nursing auxiliaries. ``At that time Spain had no real trained nurses,'' Annie Murray later recalled. ``They used nuns. So these little Spanish girls only had about three months training. But they were very keen and very good for the time they had trained.''

After a few months at the Huete hospital, Annie Murray joined a wholly Spanish medical group at a large hospital in the centre of Barcelona, where she worked for the rest of her two and a half years in Spain with a Spanish surgeon, Dr Quemada.

She worked from time to time in hospital trains all around Barcelona during offensives. ``On one occasion we went under a bridge to operate when bombs were falling,'' she recalled.

The casualties she nursed included men from the International Brigades, wounded while fighting for the Spanish Republic, but most of her patients were Spanish soldiers. Among other patients she nursed were Moors captured fighting for the nationalist or fascist side in the war. She recalled of these Moors: ``They were given money by the fascists that wasn't of any value. They thought they had money but it was completely worthless. Mostly these Moors couldn't read or write and they were just forced to fight.''

She left Spain in spring 1939 as Franco's troops entered Barcelona. At that time Annie Murray found dozens of children in the city whose hands had been blown off by anti-personnel booby-trapped bombs dropped by Italian Fascist planes. The bombs were marked ``ciocolatti'' and as Barcelona children hadn't had chocolate for years they picked up these objects and got their hands blown off.

``The Spanish war had a terrific impact on me personally,'' Annie Murray declared many years later.'' It was the most important thing in my life.''

Grand-daughter of a Free Church of Scotland minister in Aberdeenshire, and daughter of a small farmer and active Liberal, Annie Murray was one of a large family of six daughters and two sons. After her return from Spain in 1939 she worked in Dulwich Hospitalin London, then in civil defence, and later she became matron of a children's nursery in Stepney before becoming an employee in the post office until her retirement.

In 1948 she married Frank Knight in London. They had no children. She and her husband moved in 1978 to the village of Cairneyhill, near Dunfermline. Her husband died earlier this year.

Annie Murray continued until the end of her life to take a close interest in Spain and in the various anniversaries and memorials marking events in the Spanish Civil War.

n Appreciation by Ian McDougall, author of Voices from the Spanish Civil War.