Escaping the Front: Desertion, Dissembling, and Defection

Matthews James

in Reluctant Warriors

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199655748
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949953 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Escaping the Front: Desertion, Dissembling, and Defection

Show Summary Details


This chapter examines serious breaches of discipline in both Nationalist and Republican armies. These threatened their systems of recruitment and their capacity to retain conscripted men within the armed forces. It examines the motivation behind decisions to defect and desert, and also looks at the opportunities outwardly to conform to mobilization, while simultaneously procuring the safest possible posting within both armies. The chapter also focuses on both sides’ attempts to limit the number of men avoiding military service, including via self-mutilation, and examines the measures for ‘recycling’ deserters and prisoners of war. These men were monitored and, if their conduct and background checks allowed it, they were enlisted to fight in their captors’ army. While this was practiced by both sides, it was particularly important for the Nationalists because they captured more enemy soldiers than the Republic.

Keywords: desertion; defection; self-mutilation; indiscipline; avoiding military service; recycling; prisoners of war

Chapter.  15860 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.