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A Soldier’s story – Division Azul

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In 2008 I came across the life story and records of a Spanish volunteer in the Division Azul. It is a rather sad story that starts in the 1930’s and only ends in the late 1990’s. I have a mass of documents (including 62 letters) and photographs that provide a fascinating insight into the minds & life of those that went off to fight on the Eastern Front in Russia.

Pantaleon Moreno Villalba, a student aged 20 and resident in Valencia volunteered to join the Division Azul on the 29th October 1942.  He is recorded as enlisting in the 1st Division Espanola de Voluntaries with documentation from the 3rd Legion Tropas de Aviacion in Madrid.


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Pantaleon is the soldier on the right in each photo. He is wearing Spanish uniform i.e. Carlist beret, probably Falange blue shirt.

He starts training a few days later on the 4th November 1942 in Logrono in the La Rioja region of northern Spain. Whilst in training he keeps in touch with his parents in Valencia by regular letters. The contents are the usual greetings and always with Arriba Espana,Viva Cristo Rey!, & Viva Franco at the top of the page.  


On the 31st January 1943 he starts a long journey to Russia via Germany – his next letter is dated 11th February and the address is Feldpost 15997-D. Reading between the lines he is based somewhere near Leningrad/Novograd and has been promoted to Cabo (corporal).
The next month he sends his parents a copy of ‘Hoja De Campana’ (see photo) the battlefront newspaper for the Spanish on the Russian Front. He mentions the newspaper in several letters and proudly points out that his unit is photographed on the front cover.
On the 7th of May 1943 he manages to write 2 letters but later on the same day he is killed in action. He managed to last 3months.

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In the documents there is a letter from the commander of the Division Espanola dated 27th June offering condolences and saying that he died a glorious death in action against the enemy. He was buried in the military cemetery in Slutzk (I believe this is a town near Novograd – spellings are difficult). On the 14th July the Gobierno Militar in Valencia Del Cid (military fortress) sent another letter confirming the death.

His personal affects included various Catholic estampas, newspaper cuttings and other documents. His parents were given a military pension.
There are also a set of photos dated 1946 and clearly show a grave marked with the soldiers name but no idea who took them – possibly an ex comrade or they were supplied by the cemetery.


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With his mother & brother in Valencia, when a young boy, football team and a Falangist recruit.

Valencia played a prominent part in the Spanish Civil War – it was the capital of the Republican government towards the end of the war and responsible for a huge output of cultural propaganda. By 1939 and the end of the war Franco’s ‘fifth column’ came out into the open and took control of the city. Many of the middle classes had kept a low profile during the war and had experienced great hardship but with Franco’s victory many youngsters joined the Falange and later the Division Azul.
See Third Reich


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Group photos with his unit and the last photo taken in Russia dedicated to his parents and brother (bottom right hand corner) 26th April 1943. He was killed 11 days later.


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In 1997 the soldier’s sister visited Russia to see the battlefields and to commemorate the deaths - some of the photos show some pretty impressive artwork.