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Annual commemoration remembers child refugees

Hundreds gathered at the International Brigade memorial on London’s Southbank on Saturday I July to remember the 2,500 volunteers from Britain and Ireland who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

They heard speeches from Len McCluskey, General Secreray of Unite, and Tosh MacDonald, President of ASLEF, who both praised the inspirational example of international solidarity set 80 years ago by the International Brigades.

Another moving contribution came from Herminio Martinez. Aged 7, he was one of the nearly 4,000 child refugees who arrived in Southampton in May 1937 to escape Hitler’s terror bombing of Guernica and other towns and cities in Spain’s Basque Country.

Herminio Martinez with a photo of the ship Habana bringing him and nearly 4,000 other child refugees to Southampton. (Photo: Andrew Wiard)

He thanked the British people who had cared for the refugee children, while noting that the Conservative government had only reluctantly let them enter the country and on condition that no public assistance or funding would be provided. 

Meirian Jump, manager of the Marx Memorial Library and grand-daughter of International Brigader James Jump, lays a wreath.
(Photo: Andrew Wiard)

Wreaths were laid at the memorial for the more than 500 who died in Spain and a minute’s silence was observed by the estimated 350 people present.

Music was provided by Maddy Carty and Na-mara, who led the singing of 'Valley of Jarama', known as the song of the British Battalion.

Members of the Clarion Cycling Club set off for Barcelona after the commemoration in London. Their ride will remembers the Clarion cyclists who fought and died in Spain.

Posted on 2 July 2017.