Bulletin. No. 11
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SPANISH RELIEF Bulletin of the National Joint Committee OFFICERS: Chairman: THE DUCHESS OF ATHOLL, MP.; Vice-Chairmen: THE EARL OF LISTOWEL, MISS ELEANOR RATHBONE M.P.; Hon Treasurer: VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD, P.C. K.C.; Hon. Secretaries: MR D.R. GRENFELL, M.P., CAPT. J.R.J. MACNAMARA, M.P., MR. WILFRID ROBERTS M.P.; Hon Administrator: Mr. G.T. GARRATT; Organising Secretary (Basque Children): MISS BETTY ARNE; Asst. Secretary: MISS OLGA MCCLELAND; 53 Marsham St., S.W.1. Tel Victoria 2168. ORGANISATIONS : Save the Children Fund, Service Council of Society of Friends, Spanish Youth Foodship Committee, Southern Spanish Relief Committee, Spanish Medical Aid Committee, Spanish Women's Committee For Help to Spain. BULLETIN No. 11 MARCH 1938 PRICE 1d THEY'VE NOT ALL GONE HOME The truth about the Basque children In this issue of the Bulletin we are able to enclose the audit account, for the first year's work of the National Joint Committee. We believe them to show a creditable record of activity. In one respect, however, they are misleading in that the financial situation in relation to the Basque children is not nearly so satisfactory now as it was then. We should like to take this opportunity of explaining exactly what the position of the Basque children is. Nation-wide Support We must all remember how, on 26th April 1937, a wave of horror spread through this country at the news of the destruction of the ancient city of Guernica, when insurgent aeroplanes bombed and machine-gunned the city and the people three hours continuously. From the threat that a like fate might fall on Bilbao, there arose an appeal to rescue the children. The whole of this country was stirred by the movement to bring the children here. Our own doctors went out to select them, being forced to carry on their work at night by the daily air-raids. They were besieged by parents begging them to rescue the children, and at length we brought away on the Habana, crowded to overflowing, these innocent sufferers of the war. We brought 3,826, and in the camp at Stoneham, a miracle of successful organisation, we began the care of the children, began to nurse them back to health and happiness. Gradually they were drafted away to homes in all parts of the country. We had given the National Government an undertaking that there would be no individual adoptions, no cost to public funds and no question of the children remaining permanently in this country— all were to be returned to their parents when conditions permitted. Well-fed, Healthy and Happy So the children were divided up among more than a hundred homes. In many places local committees undertook the complete care of the children for us; they have done wonders in maintaining their support. Perhaps one of the most moving details of the work has been the eager and self-sacrificing help given by the people of the distressed areas. By far the greater number of the children have been happy; they are well-fed and healthy. In spite of the terrible war conditions which they have been undergoing and the war neurosis from which many suffered - who can forget how, at Southampton, they threw themselves on the ground at the drone of an aeroplane? - less than one per cent have been any trouble to us. Late last summer, after the fall of Bilbao, the question of the return of the children was raised. As time passed it became clear that the Government 'planes were not bombing the town and the front moved further away. Our position was clear; children were to go home to their parents so soon as they asked for them and conditions were safe for them to do so. After long and careful enquiry, 1,220 have been able to go home, and 60 have gone to parents outside insurgent Spain. There are still here 2,500; we expect to have most of them with us for some time to come. No doubt a few more will be able to go home at the request of their parents; but in many cases their parents are now themselves refugees, either in France or in Government Spain. In other cases the parents are divided, one in Bilbao, one a refugee; and in others again the parents are untraceable. Not only the food and health conditions, but the terrible new series of bombing attacks would make us very reluctant to send any children to their parents in Government Spain until conditions change considerably.
|Archive collection||Archives of the Trades Union Congress|
|Archive folder||Basque Children's Committee: Minutes and Documents 1937-1939|
|Document title||Bulletin. No. 11|
|Issuing organisation||National Joint Committee for Spanish Relief|
|Document date||March 1938|