This article was translated by John R. Bopp
The second of three articles we’re dedicating to the blog posts by Sarah Richardson for the Tyne & War Museum’s blog on the relationship between Newcastle and the Basques during the Spanish Civil War
During the Spanish Civil War, and seeing the passiveness (if not outright support) of the conservative British government for the insurgent group, civilian society got together to support, even with humanitarian aid, the people who were suffering the consequences of war on the Republican side. They organized under the name “Foodship for Spain” and they set up groups throughout the United Kingdom.
As we said in our last entry, in which we also spoke about the relationship between the population and the sailors from Newcastle and the Spanish Civil War in the Basque Country, it was the pressure of these groups, backed up by the accounts of the Bombing of Guernica from certain British journalists, that managed to get a small change in attitude from the British government, which opened the doors to the arrival of Basque War Children in Great Britain.
On this occasion, we bring you an article on human bravery which is to us extraordinary. It’s a new tale from Sarah Richardson, published on the Tyne & Wear Museum’s blog, tying in with the exhibit “Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War”:
In this post, the author tells us of the role played by those support groups in helping the Republican populace in the Civil War and the hard work of the ships and sailors from Newcastle in getting in supplies and transporting out evacuees to the French Basque Country. It’s the perfect complement to the article we published a while back that tells of the visit of some of these sailors to the recently-destroyed Guernica, just before it fell into the insurgents’ hands.
Those people, most of them anonymous and moved by solidarity and commitment to those who were suffering, were and are true Friends of the Basques.
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums – 26/5/2015 – Gran Bretaña
Newcastle foodships rescue Basque refugees in the Spanish Civil War
Over days and weeks in May 1937, a group of Newcastle cargo ships steamed out of Bilbao, their decks crowded with refugees. They were taking part in a massive rescue scheme for Basque civilians during the Spanish Civil War. Starving refugees, like these pictured in the North Mail of April 26th, had flocked into the port of Bilbao from surrounding areas as General Franco’s Nationalist forces advanced and bombing raids intensified. Following the destruction of Guernica on April 26th, and the fall of the key defence town of Durango, near Bilbao, two days later, thousands more refugees thronged the roads to the port city.