THE defacing of the monument to the brave souls from North Lanarkshire who fought against fascism in Spain in the 1930s is sickening and disgusting.

The memorial in Motherwell’s Duchess of Hamilton Park was erected in 2012. An annual service is held to remember the 40 North Lanarkshire volunteers who “gave up everything … for the cause of all advanced and progressive mankind”.

Some lowlife ignoramus scrawled "Franco", "vermin" and fascist symbols on the monument which marks the remarkable contribution that Scots made to the cause of anti-fascism in Spain.

We suspect the vandal is not a National reader, but if anybody knows who did it perhaps they could pass on the following information – after they report the witless miscreant to the police, of course.

READ MORE: Memorial to Scots who fought fascism in Spanish Civil War defaced by 'disgusting' graffiti

The Scots who went to Spain did so because General Francisco Franco had toppled the legitimate government and installed himself as dictator. With armed assistance from Nazi Germany and Italy, Franco fought a brutal civil war against the Republican forces. Some 2500 volunteers from the UK went to Spain and joined the International Brigade to fight Franco’s forces, with more than a fifth of them dying in the conflict.

The Scottish volunteers, who were mainly working-class men from urban areas, mostly joined the British Battalion of the XV International Brigade. North Lanarkshire was home to at last 40 of the volunteers.

The first arrivals took part in the Battle of Jarama near Madrid in January 1937 and also in the Battle of Brunete in July. The Scottish contingent took heavy casualties in both battles.

Just inside the entrance to the cemetery in Tarancon near the site of the Battle of Jarama, there is a memorial dedicated to Allan Craig from Dundee and the other 38 Scots who died with him. That the North Lanarkshire monument is in Motherwell is very appropriate because one of the most famous of all the Scots who served in the International Brigade and other units in Spain from 1935 to 1939 was Ethel MacDonald who was born in the town in 1909 and was active in left-wing politics in her teens.

She was an anarchist by belief and when she arrived in Barcelona she made a name for herself by broadcasting on the local radio station run by a workers’ federation.

In one famous broadcast aimed at British appeasement, she said: “What are the actions of the parliamentary parties with regard to support of the Spanish struggle? They talk, they discuss, they speak with bated breath of the horrors that are taking place in Spain. They gesticulate, they proclaim to the world their determination to assist Spain and to see that fascism is halted, and that is all they do. 

“This is not the time for sympathy and charity. This is the time for action. Do you not understand that every week, every day and every hour counts. Each hour that passes means the death of more Spanish men and women, and yet you advertise meetings, talk, arrange to talk and fail to take any action.”

MacDonald became known as the Scottish Scarlet Pimpernel for her work in enabling anarchists to escape. However, she became disillusioned by the infighting within the Republic side and after criticising the communist secret police over the murder of volunteer Bob Smillie, she had to return to Scotland in late 1937.

As the Motherwell monument states, all those volunteers became local legends all over Scotland. The vandal, meanwhile, will live in infamy.