Havens East



2 April 1931

Spain becomes a Republic. The king goes into exile.

19 November 1933

No one can agree how to run the country. Violence breaks out throughout Spain.

17 - 18 July 1936

The Spanish Civil War breaks out. On one side is the elected Republican government, on the other the Nationalists who want to bring back the King and rule Spain. Many countries, including Britain, agree not to get involved but Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy did offer support.

21 September 1936

Francisco Franco becomes the leader of the Nationalist rebellion.

24 November 1936

Franco’s troops put the capital city Madrid under siege.

December 1936

Italian Fascist troops join Franco’s Nationalist forces.

March 1937

Franco’s army attack the Basque Country.

26 April 1937

The bombing of a town called Guernica by aeroplanes from Germany and Italy, helping Franco. 80% of the buildings are destroyed and many innocent civilians are killed or wounded.

May 1937

The Basque Children’s Committee (BCC) is formed in Britain after the Government is persuaded to accept almost 4,000 children so long as all the costs are covered by charity. Other children are sent to safety in France, Mexico and Russia.

12 May 1937

The coronation of King George VI (the current Queen’s father).

21 May 1937

Departure of a ship called SS Habana with 3,881 children plus adults to care for them on the journey. Two British ships sailed alongside for security. Most of the children were travelling with brothers or sisters.

22 May 1937

The Habana arrives in Southampton and the children think the Coronation bunting is for them! The children are examined by doctors to check that they are well and they have haircuts in case of headlice. The next day they get off the ship and are welcomed to a camp in North Stoneham.

June - September 1937

The tented camp gradually closes as the children are sent to colonies (or hostels) around the country. Some come to Cambridge, others to Norfolk.

22 June 1937

The children make a music recording! This included Basque folk songs such as the fisherman’s song ‘Boga Boga’ which became a kind of anthem for these Spanish refugees. In the following months, the children from the Cambridge colony toured the city and wider region with a programme of songs and dances from the Basque region. Their concerts were very popular with English people and the shows were widely covered in the local newspapers of the time.

1 April 1939

The Spanish Civil War ends with Franco now controlling the whole country. It is the beginning of a long dictatorship.

20 November 1975

Franco dies.

June 1977

Spain held its first free general election since 1936.