Maria Josefina was 12; Francisco was 10; Herminio was 7 and Benita was 4 when they had to flee Spain at the start of the Civil War in 1937. There was one particular boat, ‘The Habana’, which carried 4000 refugee children from Bilbao to Southampton.

After the war, Francisco Franco prohibited the return of any war exhile for the following 15 years. These are the portraits of those former war refugee children who rebuilt their lives and decided not to come back.

Benita shows her passport with her first entry in Spain since she left in 1937

Paco Robles in his house in London

Benita Mendiola