UK refuge for Basque war children

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In 1937, 4,000 Basque children were brought to Britain to escape the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.

Even before they arrived there was controversy about the operation, as many people believed such an act would contravene the UK's stance of non-intervention in the war.

However, after the destruction of Guernica by German bombers, there were increasing fears for the safety of the civilian population in nearby Bilbao.

The children were cared for by a massive mobilisation of voluntary effort. It was while helping to look after a group of them at a colony in Oxfordshire that the mother and father of former Conservative MP Michael Portillo first met. Mr Portillo senior was among those who had fled from Spain.

The story of The Basque Children was scheduled to be told by Michael Portillo on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT on 7 November.

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