On July 22, 1936, barely days after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, the insurgent forces bombed the town of Otxandio in Bizkaia. The town was holding its annual fiesta and was full of people; 61 people (24 of them children) were killed, and many more injured, in the attack that sadly counts as the first airborne bombing of a civilian population on European soil in history.

According to eye-witnesses, some planes started flying over the town that July morning. They bore the insignia of the Spanish Republic, against which the military uprising had just taken place. They were flying low and the pilots even waved to the people beginning to gather in the main square because of the fiesta. naturally the planes attracted special attention among the children of the town. Then everything changed as the planes suddenly started dropping bombs, destroying everyone and everything in the town center. The attack lasted for 25 minutes.

One of the pilots involved in the attack was Ángel Salas, from another Bizkaian town, Urduña. Following Franco’s victory in the war, the pro-Franco authorities in Urduña named him an honored son of the town. At the emotional gathering in Otxandio, yesterday, to remember the event on its 80th anniversary, the current mayoress of Urduña publicly expressed her apologies on the part of her town for this and that the name of Salas would be removed from the list of its honored citizens.

See a report on yesterday’s memorial by Basque public television (in Spanish) here.