‘The aim of volunteers was not to establish communism in Spain, but to help the people hang on to democracy.’
The characters in my book Forgotten Women, were inspired to go to Spain for personal reasons and as a result of what they saw on the British Pathe news. Crowds of refugees escaping the bombing of their town, children crying and bodies lying everywhere. This was why many local Scots volunteered to join the International Brigade. Of course, some young men were seeking adventure or felt the need to escape from some problem back home. But hundreds of brave men and even women volunteered to help the Spanish people, believing in humanity and democracy. These comprised ordinary working and middle-class folk, students, artists, photographers and many others, both British and Scottish. They also feared that if fascism was not stopped in Spain, it would spread to a wider conflict across Europe and maybe to England. And with no support from the British government, they would make their own way to Spain.
It is 1936 and Spain is on
the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the
International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of
Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are
content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby
Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined
to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her
family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women,
inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into
battle against tradition and oppression.
Many Scottish Nurses went to help too. As Orwell states in his personal account of the Spanish Civil War - Homage to Catalonia, ‘Apparently there was no supply of trained nurses in Spain, perhaps because before the war this work was done chiefly by nuns.’ Possibly for that reason, their assistance was greatly appreciated, as foreign medical volunteers were much better trained. The Scottish Ambulance Unit made a vowed commitment to neutrality, pledging to treat the injured of both sides even if this sometimes proved difficult. The nurses too remained neutral.
Spanish women took on their husbands jobs once they’d joined up to fight. The government recommended families did this, thus enabling industry to continue, women having been granted more rights during the war. But as we know, the Fascists did not always approve of them working close to the Front, even when they were supporting the men by providing food and clean clothes. However, many brave women paid no attention to this attitude, some even fought alongside the men and were in need of volunteer nurses if they suffered injury.
Around 2,400 British nationals fought in the International Brigade in Spain and about 550 were Scottish. Very few had had training and ammunition was not easily available at first. There were some volunteers who had naively imagined the war would last only a few months, and when they realised that wasn’t going to happen, would escape and return home. Later, that was disallowed, although most volunteers fought hard to the end, many of whom never returned.
The moment finally came when Franco declared he’d won and all foreigners must leave. Those who did return home were often assumed to be communists, as a consequence of their support in the Civil War, and had problems finding a job. Some men went to join up and fight in World War II, many believing that if the British and French government had done more to help Spain fight for their democracy, Hitler might never have started that war. Mussolini too might have thought twice about what he did. Yet many Spanish lives had been saved thanks to the International Brigade, including evacuated children. But sadly, Spain’s problems continued for some time.
Friday, December 30, 2016
Born in Lancashire, Freda Lightfoot has been a teacher, bookseller and in a mad moment, a smallholder on the freezing fells of the Lake District where she tried her hand at the ‘good life’, kept sheep and hens, various orphaned cats and dogs, built drystone walls, planted a small wood and even learned how to make jam. She has now given up her thermals to build a house in an olive grove in Spain, where she produces her own olive oil and sits in the sun. She has published 45 novels including many bestselling family sagas and historical novels.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
As the year draws to a close, I'd like to thank all my readers for their support during 2016.
In the new year I'll have exciting news regarding six of my older books which are having a revamp with new covers, and I'll have a new website up and running!
Until then, please everyone have a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful 2017.
Monday, December 12, 2016
BETRAYAL AT CLEEVE ABBEY
The second instalment in the Flora Maguire Mystery Series
Flora Maguire is now happily married to Bunny Harrington and living in Richmond when she receives an alarming telegram informing her of her father's tragic death in a riding accident at Cleeve Abbey.
Heartbroken, she and Bunny return to her former home, where she was Governess to Eddy, Viscount Trent, and her father was Butler to Earl Trent.
Flora’s intention was to bury him next to Lily, her mother, who passed away when Flora was a small child.
Mystery surrounds the final resting place of Lily. No-one is willing to talk and, with her father now dead in a suspicious accident, Flora must once again strive alone to uncover hidden family secrets.
Review by Annemarie Brear
'....A wonderful book by Anita Davison. The story is rich in description and with great characters. I am really enjoying this series and Flora is such a warm character that you want to be friends with.
Anita Davison writes with skill to keep you turning the pages and wanting to know what will happen next!...'
Anita began writing novels set in 17th Century England, with a family saga set in Exeter during the Monmouth Rebellion and a biographical novel about Elizabeth Murray during the English Civil War in Surrey. Her fascination with the revival of cosy mysteries made her turn to the early 1900’s for inspiration where she found Flora Maguire lurking. The series of five novels was taken up for publication by Aria Fiction, a digital imprint of Head of Zeus Publishing.
Book 3 in the series, A Knightsbridge Scandal is scheduled for release in 2017, with two more stories scheduled for later in the year.
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