An 1937 Italian Battle of Bilbao Campaign Medal
An 1937 Italian Battle of Bilbao Campaign Medal - Silvered bronze, very high relief, 32.5 mm, extremely fine. Footnote On June 11, 1937, the Basque forces had fallen back to the city of Bilbao, which was defended by a series of rushed fortifications called the "Bilbao's Iron Ring." The Iron Ring was poorly designed for defense. It was quite an antiquated defense concept akin to First World War fortifications, so it was vulnerable to modern warfare weapons of its time such as aircraft and artillery, and only 30,000 troops were defending it (it was conceived to be defended by 70,000)—therefore the Iron Ring was rather easily overcome by Nationalist forces. The ring was breached by an infantry assault supported by heavy air and artillery bombardment (150 guns and 70 bombers). On June 12th, the Spanish Republican Army launched a diversionary attack against Huesca, in order to stop the Nationalist offensive, but the Nationalist troops continued their advance. On the night of June 13th, the defenders evacuated most of the civilian population from the city. On June 18th, General Ulibarri withdrew his remaining troops from Bilbao and the Nationalists occupied the city on the following day. The city's bridges had been destroyed to hinder the attackers but the city remained mostly intact.