Hundreds more Britons went to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s than had previously been thought, newly released files show. MI5 recorded the names of about 4,000 people from Britain and Ireland suspected of travelling to join the war, National Archives files show.

The previous estimate stood at about 2,500. Many volunteers were communists and of interest to MI5. One name on the list is Eric Blair, better known as author George Orwell. His experiences in the Spanish Civil War were documented in his book Homage to Catalonia.

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