In early 1939 , the Spanish Civil War , is coming to an end. For the Republic, the decisive battle of the Ebro has meant the loss of Catalonia and the practical annihilation of his army. The Prime Minister Juan Negrin , tries one last strategy ; lengthen the Spanish contest for the foreseeable war unite Europe can save the Second Republic . In order to avoid Negrin plans , domestic preparing a landing operation unprecedented . About thirty boats with more than 20,000 men, proceed from Castellón and Malaga to Cartagena . The so called " Expedition to Cartagena" fail and one of his ships , the " Castle Olite " , will never return . Of the 2,112 men engaged in the Olite , 1,476 die , 342 are injured and 294 taken prisoner. The sinking of the " Castle Olite " by batteries republican offshore Cartagena , on March 7, 1939 , is one of the darkest and least known of the Spanish Civil War .