Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 16:00 UK

Spanish honour civil war fighter


London man gets Spanish war award

A London veteran of the Spanish Civil War is to be awarded dual nationality for his effort in fighting fascism.

Sam Lesser, 94, of Brixton, south London, was one of more than 2,000 British and Irish men and women who fought between 1936 and 1939.

Mr Lesser said he fought against General Francisco Franco's forces as "a gesture of solidarity".

The surviving members of the International Brigades are to be honoured in a ceremony next month.

'Hour of need'

The conflict began in 1936 with an attempted coup against the democratically-elected government of the Second Spanish Republic.

It ended with victory for Franco's forces supported by Adolf Hitler's Germany and Italy's fascist leader, Benito Mussolini.

Mr Lesser, who was 21 when he fought in the war, said: "It was a gesture of solidarity.

"But we went to fight with the best of our ability even though we did not have the weapons and we were totally outclassed by the massive weapons and armed forces that were sent from Hitler's Germany and fascist Italy.

He said he welcomed news that the Spanish government would honour surviving members of the International Brigades.

"It is a gesture of the Spanish government and of the Spanish people of the gratitude that our personal experience has shown they still have for what we tried to do...helping them in their hour of need."

The ceremony will be held at the Spanish Embassy in London.

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