July 1936 military uprising in Melilla

July 1936 military uprising in Melilla

July 1936 military uprising in Melilla
Part of the Spanish Civil War

Map of Spanish Morocco
Date July 17 – July 18, 1936
Location Melilla, Spain
Result The rebels seized Spanish Morocco
Nationalist Spain Second Spanish Republic
Commanders and leaders
Colonel Juan Seguí
Colonel Saenz de Buruaga
Colonel Juan Yagüe
General Gomez MoratoSurrendered
General Manuel RomeralesSurrendered
Commander Virgilio Lerez RuizSurrendered
? ?
Casualties and losses
? 189 civilians and soldiers executed

The July 1936 military uprising in Melilla was a military uprising in Melilla, Spain, that occurred July 17–18, 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War. The rebels seized the main garrisons of the Spanish Army in Africa and by July 18 had crushed the resistance of the army officers loyal to the Republican government. The supporters of the Second Spanish Republic were detained or shot.


  • Background 1
  • Coup 2
    • July 17 at Melilla 2.1
    • July 17 at Ceuta and Tetuán 2.2
    • July 18 2.3
    • Start of the Nationalist repression 2.4
  • Aftermath 3
  • Notes 4
  • Bibliography 5


One of the main goals of the July 17 coup was to secure Spanish Morocco, because the Spanish Army of Africa was the main shock force of the Spanish Republican Army. Their members were Spanish regular soldiers, the Spanish Legion, and Moroccan mercenaries, Regulares. Most of their officers supported the plot and rejected the liberal democracy. Only a handful of officers, such as General Manuel Romerales, the Commander-in-Chief of the Spanish Army in Morocco, General Gomez Morato, and the High Commissioner, Placido Alvarez Buylla, were loyal to the Republic,[1] and the Spanish workers in Morocco had no weapons and were isolated from the Moroccan population.[2]


July 17 at Melilla

The leader of the plot, Emilio Mola, had ordered the Army of Africa to revolt at 5 a.m. on July 18, but the plan was discovered by Republican officers of Melilla on July 17, and the leader of the plot in the city, Colonel Segui, decided to start the rising on Melilla and arrested General Romerales.[3] The rebels seized the radio station and proclaimed the estado de guerra.[4] The Legionnaries, the Regulares, and the Assault Guards in Melilla joined to the rising. Seizing key buildings, they crushed the resistance in the working class quarters. General Romerales, the major of Melilla, the government delegate, the aerodrome commander,[5] Virgilio Lerez Ruiz, and all those who resisted the rebellion were shot.[6] When General Morato discovered the rising, he took an airplane to Melilla, but he was arrested by the rebels as soon as he landed.[7]

July 17 at Ceuta and Tetuán

Then Seguí telephoned to Ceuta and Tetuán and sent a telegraph to Franco at Las Palmas.[8] Colonel Yagüe, with the II Bandera of the Spanish Legion,[9] seized Ceuta while Colonel Saenz de Buruaga, with the V Bandera of the Spanish Legion,[10] took Tetuán. The rebel troops in Ceuta occupied the working class districts and killed prominent unionists and the major of the city,[11] and in Tetuán, the Foreign Legion seized the Casa del Pueblo and executed the union officers and all persons found with arms.[12] Furthermore, Colonel Beigbeder, gained the support of the Grand Vizier of Tetuán, Mulay Hassan, and Moroccan volunteers started to join the rebellion.[13]

July 18

In Larache the coup started at two o'clock in the morning of July 18. Several engagements followed in which five assault guards and two rebel officers were killed, but by dawn the town was in the hands of the rebels.[14] By mid-morning the only remaining centres of resistance were the High Commissioner's residence and the air force base at Tetuán (Base de Hidroaviones del Atalayon). The rebels threatened to bomb both and after a few hours the defenders surrendered to the Nationalists;[15] all of them were executed, among them the High Commissioner and the Major de la Puente Bahamonde (Francisco Franco's cousin).[16] The same day, the workers of Tetúan and Melilla attempted a general strike, but were crushed by the insurgent troops.[17]

Start of the Nationalist repression

On his secret instructions of June 30 for the coup in Morocco, Mola ordered: "to eliminate left-wing elements, communists, anarchists, union members, etc".[18] The same day as the rising all the members of trade unions, left-wing parties, Masonic lodges and anyone known to have voted for the Popular Front were arrested.[19] On the first night, the Nationalists executed 189 civilians and soldiers.[20] On July 20, the Nationalists opened their first concentration camp in Melilla.[21]


By July 18, the Spanish Army of Africa had seized all of Spanish Morocco and crushed the resistance. The same day, Francisco Franco started the rising in the Canary Islands. Then he took a plane, paid for by Luis Bolín, and flew to Casablanca in the French Morocco.[22] On July 19, Franco continued on to Tetuan and appointed himself chief of the Spanish Army in Morocco. Nevertheless most of the Republican Navy remained loyal to the government. The loyal ships patrolled the Straits and Spanish Morocco was isolated from the rebel held cities in Andalusia (Sevilla, Cadiz, Cordoba and Granada). Nevertheless with the aid of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the Nationalists managed to transport the Army of Africa's troops to the mainland and start their advance towards Madrid.[23]


  1. ^ Jackson p. 232
  2. ^ Beevor p. 56
  3. ^ Thomas pp. 204–205
  4. ^ Jackson p. 232
  5. ^ Thomas p. 208
  6. ^ Thomas p. 205
  7. ^ Beevor p. 57
  8. ^ Thomas pp. 205–206
  9. ^ Thomas p. 206
  10. ^ Thomas p. 206
  11. ^ Beevor p. 56
  12. ^ Jackson p. 232
  13. ^ Thomas pp. 206–207
  14. ^ Thomas p. 206
  15. ^ Jackson p. 232
  16. ^ Beevor p. 57
  17. ^ Jackson p. 232
  18. ^ Beevor p. 88
  19. ^ Thomas p. 205
  20. ^ Beevor pp. 55–57
  21. ^ Beevor p. 64
  22. ^ Beevor p. 63
  23. ^ Beevor p. 64


  • Beevor, Antony (2006), The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936–1939, London: Penguin Books,  
  • Jackson, Gabriel (1967), The Spanish Republic and the Civil War, 1931–1939, Princeton: Princeton University Press,  
  • Thomas, Hugh (2001), The Spanish Civil War, London: Penguin Books,