Saturday, December 01, 2007
Among the 4,000 Basque children in the “heartbreak ship” which sailed to England from Bilbao nearly three years ago were tow little sisters Francisca and Manuela
Soon after their arrival their parents were reported killed but the two little girls found refuge and parental love in the house of Mr and Mrs Leonard Mayers of 22 Bempton Drive, Ruilip, London who are a childless family.
The children had seen friends and neighbours killed by bombs in the street and at first they could talk of nothing else.
By kindness and patience their new parents helped them forget and they were given English names Peggy and Molly.
Given same Birthday
Although they appeared to be twins Peggy instead she was the elder. So Mrs Mayers fixed their ages a year a part, but gave them the same birthday 1st August
Peggy and Molly were taught by Mr and Mrs Mayers to read, write and speak English. They were taught English sums, later they went to school
They forgot the horrors they had seen in Bilbao, they even forgot they were Spanish To everyone they meet they say they are English
Now aged Eight and seven Peggy and Molly are happy and contented they are popular with their teachers and schoolmates and were invited to four Christmas parties
Mr and Mrs Mayers were preparing to make the adoption legal when the war interrupted proceedings
Dead parents Return
They have not yet been told of the problem which faces the English mother and father to whom they are devoted
For news has just reached Mr and Mrs Mayers that the dead parents have returned to their home and want their daughters back again
The thought of parting with them breaks our hearts said Mrs Mayers they regard us as their real parents and have forgotten they were ever were Spanish they have even forgotten their Spanish tongue
“They are happy as the day is long with us and Peggy has lost a nervous frown she had…..We believe they are better off here in England than they would be in Spain but we would make any sacrifice for their good”
The Uxbridge Advertiser January 12th 1940