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Raid of the Falcons - Ibiza's darkest day in the Civil War

13th September 1936

We've already recounted the terrible tale of how 94 people including 18 priests were killed in Ibiza's castle on the evening of September 13th 1936, just a few months into the Spanish Civil War. Anarchists from the mainland ran amok in the castle with grenades and machine guns, killing the prisoners who were held there.

But that very afternoon came as a portent to those dreadful events when forty innocent civilians lost their lives when Ibiza town was bombed by the Italian air force! To aid Franco's cause Mussolini had sent a squadron of bombers to the Balearic Islands at the start of the war. Billeted in Palma's Grand Hotel the Italian airmen were known as the Balearic Falcons and flew their Savoia Marchetti bombers in raids over Catalonia and the Balearics killing over 2,700 civilians during the war.

Military log books from that fateful day show that 3 planes left their Mallorca base at 13:15, and loaded with fourteen 50 kilo bombs each, taking almost two hours to reach Ibiza because of the weight of their load – over 2000 kilos of destructive explosive. At 15:10 they made two passes over the town and harbour, releasing their bombs and causing damage, destruction and death.

Buildings around the harbour in the area of the Nautical Club, Formentera ferry station and Montesol Hotel were destroyed and ships sunk at their moorings in the port. Dead fish littered the water and houses were destroyed in the Plaza de la Vila in the walled town, and one of the bastions of the defensive walls – San Juan – was also damaged.

However, the biggest single tragedy of the day occurred when one of the bombs hit a restaurant, Fonda Can Cires, in Calle Castelar, which was busy with Sunday afternoon diners enjoying a day off work. All 20 people inside – men, women and children – were killed and contemporary accounts tell of their bodies lying lifeless in the street. Panic soon followed and thousands ran for their very lives to the countryside, San Antonio and Santa Eulalia to escape the danger in the town.

Now, after almost 80 years a photograph taken by one of the Italian bombers has surfaced in the Centre for Contemporary History of Catalonia. It shows an aerial view of Ibiza town just seconds before the bombers rained death and destruction on it. Whilst many of the 42 bombs fell wide of their targets and caused very little damage, it's the bombs that killed so many people which are still remembered today.

Read more civil war history here.

(Header photo: The Republican warship Almirante Antequera, entering Ibiza port in 1936)

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