Luis Cicero was a survivor of the Spanish Civil War who moved to Cardiff in the 1940’s. Cicero’s father was a political radical man and did not believe in bringing his son up as a Catholic so the Luis naturally moved towards Socialism and specifically the UGT.
In 1936 he enlisted in the Militia where he became a captain.
He escaped for the first time on a small fishing boat to France where he contacted the Pro Republicans. In the end of 1937 he returned to Spain and enlisted in the Loyalist Army, then sent to protect the mercury mines (the largest source in europe) – a highly prized strategic material.
After the enemy advanced (Rojos republican offensive) Luis fled and trekked through the nights to reach Bilbao and stowed away in a ship to Canada where he became a sailor BUT then the ship he was on was sunk by German forces 200 miles away from Glasgow. He was rescued but interned as an “enemy alien” when trying to jump ship, however when this happened in Cardiff and the International Brigade Association heard that he had fought for the republic and obtained his visa and his release. He stayed in the Esplanade Hotel, Penarth before visiting a house on Luisa Street in which his future wife (Mary Sanchez lived) looking for a job. BUT as an “enemy alien” he had to report to the police on a daily basis but the couple were given work at the miners union office in the office.
When he returned to his home town in Spain he found his brother was imprisoned and the rest of his family had been evicted by enemy forces and the new tenant claimed to have obtained the property lawfully and had the correct paper work. 17 of his former companions were executed.