Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Penny Feiwel - International Brigade in Spain

Penny Feiwel was the last of the British women who served as volunteers on the side of the Spanish Republic during the civil war of 1936-39.

She was one of about 75 women from Britain who joined the International Brigades following the military coup launched by Francisco Franco and other generals with backing from Hitler and Mussolini. Like Feiwel, known in Spain by her maiden name of Phelps, most of them were nurses and worked in makeshift frontline hospitals in conditions of great hardship and danger. Phelps herself suffered serious injuries in a bombing raid that put an end to her service in Spain.

In 1992 she published her memoir, English Penny, under the pen-name Penny Fyvel. In 2009, she and a small group of surviving International Brigade veterans attended a ceremony at the Spanish embassy in London to be awarded Spanish citizenship. Ambassador Carles Casajuana told them: "Your efforts were not in vain. Your ideals are part of the foundations of our democracy in Spain today."

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