A new book has been published which celebrates the achievements of Welsh maritime heroes during the Spanish Civil War.

Outwitting Franco, the book’s title, describes the acts of bravery of Welsh cargo vessel captains in the war, which lasted from 1936 until 1939.

One of these was Captain William Roberts from Penarth who delivered 4,000 tonnes of food to the city of Bilbao when it was blockaded by rebel military forces.

In 1937, Francisco Franco, a general who rebelled against the Spanish republican government and became a dictator after the war, attempted to stop supplies from entering ports in the Basque country, Spain’s north coast.

During the blockade Captain Roberts sailed his boat, the Seven Sea Spray, out of port in Southern France against the advice of the British Government.

His 21 year old daughter Fifi was on board.

They arrived in Bilbao on April 19, 1937 with nearly 4,000 tonnes of food including salt, wine, olive oil, hams, honey, flour, beans, and peas.

The book’s author, Graham Davies, called Captain Robert’s achievement “remarkable”.

He said “tens of thousands” of people watched as Captain Roberts entered the city, cheering and waving old handkerchiefs.

The blockade of Bilbao meant that conditions were poor and its inhabitants were starving.

The Basque Government imposed a ration which consisted of a pound of soup paste, two pounds of rice, half a pound of sugar, a pound of chickpeas, and less than a pound of cabbage, which was meant to last for two weeks.

After their arrival, Captain Roberts and his daughter were invited to dinner with the Basque Ministers of Finance, Commerce and Supplies.

Captain Roberts was also presented with a cigarette case embossed with the Basque flag and a message of thanks inscribed on it, while his daughter received a bracelet.

The book also follows the story of Captain David ‘Potato’ Jones, from Swansea, who was captain of the Cardiff Registered Marie Llewellyn.

It follows the author’s previous book which researched the history of Welsh volunteers who took part in the International Brigades during the civil war.

Mr Davies said: “The mythology was that the blockade of Bilbao was breached by Captain Potato Jones from Swansea.

“But he actually failed. It was Captain Robert’s who did it”.

Mr Davies spent time conducting research in Bilbao, Durango, Gernika, and Alicante where he consulted Spanish historians and met with descendants of those involved in the civil war.

Outwitting Franco: The Welsh Maritime Heroes of the Spanish Civil War can be purchased on Amazon for £8 in paperback.

Alternatively, it can be purchased digitally for £6 on Kindle.