Uruguay steamer prison ship, Barcelona, 1938

Reference: CT142

Stationery post card Edifil 77n addressed to Preventorio E "Uruguay", this is, the steamship Uruguay in Barcelona harbor, used as prison under the SIM administration.

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Stationery post card Edifil 77n addressed to Preventorio E "Uruguay", this is, the steamship Uruguay in Barcelona harbor, used as prison under the SIM administration.

The original name of this steamship was Infanta Isabel de Borbón, it was built in Dumbarton (Scotland) in 1913 and it was acquired by Compañía Transatlántica to offer a regular line Barcelona-Buenos Aires.

In 1934 the steamer was acquired by the government of the Spanish Republic and renamed "Uruguay". After the failed Catalan declaration of independence of October 6, 1934, the Catalan Government and 2,500 others were jailed in this ship, transformed into a prison.

After the defeat of rebel military in Barcelona during the July 18, 1936 coup, rebel generals Manuel Goded Llopis and Álvaro Fernández Burriel were jailed in this prison ship until their execution.

Uruguay prison ship was under the administration of Servicio de Información Militar (SIM) during the war, and thanks to this post card we know it was labeled "Preventorio E" by the SIM.

The steamer hosted prisoners of very different nature during the war: falangists, fascists, and also ideological enemies of Stalin. Life was hard in the ship: dirt, rats, food shortage and brutal treatment. Many of its prisoners were extrajudiciary executed.

During the air raid against Barcelona's harbor, on January 16, 1939, the ship was sunk by the rebel air force. Prisoners who could escape the bombing and sinking had different fates: some were liberated, while others were executed. The steamship was refloated after the war, in July 1939, but it never sailed again. Its wreck was sold in 1942.

This stationery post card is addressed to Rafael Corbella. We can't tell much about this person, as we have found records from three different people sharing this same name: one was vice-president of centrist political party Partit Republicà d'Ordre de Catalunya, another one was judge in Barcelona, and the last one was a writer and musician from Vic. The first two are more likely to have ended in Uruguay prison ship, due to their responsibilities.

The card is uprated with a 5c stamp Barcelona and has no postmark. Stamps are cancelled with blue pencil. The address has two parts:

Preventorio E. "Uruguay" and Muntaner, 55, bajos, Barcelona. This last address, Muntaner 55, was the SIM's post office, where the correspondence for prisoners in labor camps and prisons was directed to be forwarded, and where outcoming correspondence was received for delivery to the mail.

The text on the back is dated in Can Rull (a neighborhood of Sabadell) on August 31, 1938. This is the transcription and translation:

Can Rull, 31-8-38,

Querido Rafael,

Seguimos bien. ¿Quieres ropa? Dime cual. Tengo toda la de Pins. Hoy haré diligencias para ti. Recuerdos. Tuya,


It is written in a telegraphic style. Probably, incoming mail for prisoners had a certain word limit for the texts. It is known outgoing texts had limits in most prisons and labor camps ruled by the SIM. This is the translation:

Can Rull, Aug 31, 1938

Dear Rafael,

We are fine. Do you want clothes? I have all [clothes] from Pins. Today I'll do diligences for you. Regards. Yours,