A YOUNG nurse is one of 200 or so people from Wales whose fight against fascism in Spain is explored in a new book.

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the return to Wales of the men and women who joined the International Brigade and volunteered to fight for Spain's democratically-elected republican government against Francisco Franco's fascist army during the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.

And a new book from Cardiff-born author Graham Davies profiles these Welshmen and women, one of whom is Margaret Powell, who grew up on a farm in Llangenny, on the border of Monmouthshire and Powys.

Having trained as a nurse and finished midwifery training, she was accepted by the Spanish Medical Aid Committee and left for Spain in early 1937.

There, she served as a frontline nurse in Aragon, Teruel and the Ebro, assisting in thousands of operations, which were often performed in the light from a cigarette lighter.

After the war, when she tried to return to Wales, she was detained in an internment camp in France – one of two main routes for International Brigade fighters on their way home.

"The problem for the French was what to do with the people coming into the country," Mr Davies explained. "There was quite an ambivalent attitude on their part."

While more than 150 Welsh volunteers returned home, at least 35 died during the brutal conflict.

In his book, You Are Legend, Mr Davies had tried to collect the stories of as many of those fighters as possible, although some volunteers vanished after the war's end and many more were reluctant to talk about their experiences.

"When the Welsh volunteers returned home they were greeted in their communities as heroes, but many felt betrayed by the British government and were at first unwilling to share their experiences. However, as time went on, historians began to carefully curate the individual pieces of this fascinating jigsaw, which I've assembled into one remarkable story of idealism and bravery."

He added: "The most rewarding thing [about writing the book] was realising there were so many politically-aware young men and women willing to make the sacrifice for what they believed in – the fight against fascism," he said.

Mr Davies' book is available from bookshops and online.