As recognition goes it may be rather tardy but it definitely a case of better late than never - the Spanish government is awarding citizenship to the surviving members of the International Brigades. Seven British pensioners will receive their citizenship at the Spanish Embassy in London on June 9. An eighth survivor, Les Gibson, 96, has declined because of poor health; the award is of course too late for veterans Jack Jones and Bob Doyle who died earlier this year.
Jack Edwards, 95, who gave up selling newspapers in Liverpool in 1937 to head for Spain said that he was “elated” at the Spanish recognition. Mr Edwards, who was shot in the leg during his service, said that despite the hardships he had seen and experienced, he had no regrets. “You were fighting for rights. You were fighting for something you believed in.”
According to the the Spanish government have overcome political sensitivities to implement legislation that granted citizenship to the volunteers from more than 50 countries who came to combat the rebel fascist forces. Only a few hundred men and women remain alive to benefit from the citizenship offer.
Over 2,000 British men and women joined the fight against Franco. Most had minimal, if any, military training and all were poorly equipped. They formed the International Brigades. Deployed to towns and villages along the front line, thousands of International Brigaders died, including 525 Britons.
Lou Kenton, 101; Sam Lesser, 95; Joseph Khan, 94; Paddy Cochrane, 96, from Ireland; and Penny Feiwel, 100 will also receive passports next month