How East Anglia became home to Basque refugee children in WW2

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It's a story that has been eclipsed by the horrors of the Second World War. In the years leading up to WW2, thousands of children from the Basque region of Spain were sent to England to escape from the civil war raging in their homeland.

4000 children arrived in Southampton in 1937 and were dispersed around the country with many ending up in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk.

They were initially welcomed, but some communities were wary of them because of their political knowledge. Around 50 so-called 'bad Basque boys' ended up in camp at Oakley Park on the Norfolk and Suffolk border and became very well known for their football skills.

A photo from the Havens East online exhibition. Credit: Havens East

Dr Jeannette Baxter, Anglia Ruskin University put together photos of the refugees for the Havens East project. She said: "The niños [boys] who came over are now, at best, in their early 90s, so their story and heritage is at risk of being lost for generations. We wanted to play a small part in preserving that heritage"

Most of the refugees returned to Spain in 1939, but a number remained in the UK and settled here.