“I AM a survivor,” declares Penny Feiwel.

She’s also an expert in understatement.

Just months away from her 100th birthday, the Bournemouth pensioner is about to be honoured for her heroic role in the Spanish Civil War.

As one of the last British survivors who helped fight Franco’s fascist-backed rebels, Penny is to be offered joint nationality.

She travelled to Spain as a nurse, purely on humanitarian grounds, and her experience and spirit earned her lieutenant rank as well as the name by which she became widely known – English Penny. Honouring the handful of remaining British members of the International Brigades with duel nationality has been talked about before, but Penny said the new gesture had still come out of the blue. “It is a great honour,” she said.

“I am very proud.”

Sadly, a recent illness means Penny won’t be able to travel to Spain to receive her honour, but the memories of her time there remain vivid.

“I was as green as grass when I went out,” she said.

“But I was given great responsibility out there because most of the nurses sided with Franco. We were treating soldiers straight off the front line.”

Penny went to Spain, aged 25, after losing her job at a London hospital for helping treat hunger marchers.

“Another nurse said to me ‘Don’t you know there’s a revolution going on out there?’,” said Penny.

“Before I knew what was happening, I was being measured up for who knows what and I was off.”

Fearless Penny nursed casualties from both sides between 1936 and 1938 before her war was ended during a rebel bombing raid.

“I’ve no idea what happened when I was injured,” she said.

“I just remember waking up and someone was treating me.”

Penny suffered shrapnel wounds across her arms and body, though it transpired she was lucky to survive the raid, as many others didn’t.

Penny’s injuries forced her to retire from nursing, but it was while she was recovering in Hastings she met dermatologist Michael Feiwel.

Three months later, the pair married and at the start of the 1970s, they moved to Bournemouth, where Penny’s sister Louisa lived.

With its jaw-dropping views over Poole Bay, the 15th-floor West Cliff flat would command astronomical figures now.

But Penny, originally born and bred in London, recalls: “It was very cheap for us to buy at the time.”

The peaceful scenes she is now able to watch from her window are a world away from the conflict in which she took part.

But Penny still looks back fondly on her two years helping the republican cause.

“It was a wonderful experience,” she said.