The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga, is based on true events and real people. For example, Thora Silverthorne of Blaenafon, Wales.
In 1936, Thora volunteered to go to Spain as a nurse. There, she became a matron in a hospital established in a primitive farmhouse.
“I had done a lot of operations before,” Thora said, “but in Spain it was quite different. We dealt with seriously injured people. Once we treated 700 people over five days. We were under fire. We had a Red Cross on the roof, but were warned, ‘take it down – it’s the first thing the fascists will aim for.’”
On her return to Britain, Thora helped to establish the first union for nurses, the National Association of Nurses, in 1937.
Today, I’ve been scanning my reference books looking for names for my Spanish Civil War Saga. It’s an international story featuring characters from America, France, Ireland, Spain and Wales. The right name is important and often it can suggest facets of a character. For example, one character, a nurse, was going to be docile and a support character. However, when I found her name, Adele Lazard, she stepped forward. Now, she’s going to Spain as a nurse, but really she wants to fight at the front.
Pictured: Two women and a man at the Siege of the Alcázar in Toledo, 1936.