Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 6, 1942

(Being the latter half of Part 7 and Parts 8 and 9 of the 1944 Retrospect, dealing with 1942) 

Editor’s Introduction: This is a continuation of the Retrospect of the 1936-1944 period which Desmond Greaves commenced in May 1944 to give an account of the seven years when he did not keep a Journal or destroyed the record.   In turn, only Sections 1 and 2, part of Section 7 and Sections 8 and 9 of this Retrospect survive. Sections 1 and 2 are given as Volume 4 in this edition of the Journal and are an account of the period when he came to London from Liverpool at the end of 1936 and got his first two jobs in the capital. This ends in summer 1937. Volume 5 is a Journal of a seventeen-day holiday tour of the South of Ireland which he made in July 1939, just a month before World War 2 broke out.  Volume 6 consists of the continuation of Section 7 of the Retrospect as well as Sections 8 and 9 and refer to the year 1942.  

He was working then as a chemist at Catalins, a company in Waltham Abbey, Essex, which had been established in 1937 to make resinous products akin to bakelite, a process that had been invented a decade before in America. Dr Riesenfeld, who had acted as consultant to the American company and was one of the inventors of the process, was technical director of the British company and is referred to below.  Outside his professional work Greaves was involved in political work in the Connolly Club, later the Connolly Association, and was invited to go on the national speakers’ panel for the Communist Party of Great Britain. 

Desmond Greaves always had an interest in Ireland and the other Celtic countries because of his Irish and Welsh family connections. He used go on holidays with his parents and sister to Newcastle, Co Down, when he was a child.  He refers in an earlier Journal volume to his having gone through what he called a “Celtic Twilight” period in 1931 when he was aged eighteen, wrote a poem on Cader Idris and started to learn Irish and Welsh. In later life he recalled that when he was returning from the cycle tour in the South of Ireland in July1939 which is covered in Volume 5, he read in the Daily Worker about the recently established Connolly Club and said to himself, “I must join that.” Other things supervened with the outbreak of World War 2 and he did nothing about it. Then sometime in 1940 he replied to a letter in the Daily Worker in which the dramatist Sean O’Casey criticised Ireland’s neutrality in the War. This led to what he called “a delegation” of Connolly Club people inviting him to join that organisation, which he did. That is how he became politically active on Irish issues. References to him appear thereafter in the monthly newspaper of the Connolly Club, Irish Freedom, which was renamed the Irish Democrat in 1945.  

Main themes: Retrospect of 1942 – Becomes chairman of the Connolly Club with Pat Dooley as organiser – Working on plastics in Catalins –  Quarrels of the plant executives – Jimmy Shields – Party work in Golder’s Green – On the CPGB national speakers’ panel and Colonial Bureau – KS Shelvankar, Krishna Menon, Z.Rado  – Wartime firefighting –  Holiday in Snowdonia –  His first Christmas home in Liverpool since 1939  

          Section 7 of the 1944 Retrospect continued

The comments passed by Don Musgrove [Connolly Club activist and member of the editorial board of Irish Freedom – Ed.] on JL Dooley’s [JL(Pat) Dooley, 1902-1958, journalist, first full-time editor of  Irish Freedom, later Irish Democrat – Ed.] call-up were pointed. For some reason there had been disagreement between Musgrove and Dooley. One day Dooley expressed himself in his usual forthright manner on the subject of “that bloody man” (meaning Musgrove), who had kept him waiting an hour outside Dulanty’s office [John Dulanty, 1883-1955, Irish High Commissioner in London and in 1950 first Irish Ambassador to the UK – Ed.]  while he made arrangements about his return to Dublin and his possible career in that city.  Then only did he introduce Dooley.  This was a sore point with Dooley for many months later.  Dooley had arranged with Lindsay Drummond that Musgrove should write a book on Ireland for him. In return Musgrove had conveyed the paper to him.  But this was all arranged between the two of them, and I had a most uneasy feeling all along that conversations were proceeding “between businessmen” behind my back.  This collaboration must have had its snags, for Musgrove handed over the historic documents to me rather than to Dooley, at the same time saying that I had acted as a “shit” towards him with my continued criticism and argument.  But it was not until I had become associated with the Irish movement that I realised how cross-grained and cantankerous human nature can be. 

“So there’s me bold Pat,” said Musgrove, “and I for one have no sympathy with him!”

“Why not?” I asked. “Well Pat Dooley has always been able to twist and fiddle things round to suit his own purposes.  As soon as there was a chance of him being called up, there he was, like a rabbit into the Air Raid Precaution. But now he looks as if he’s got himself caught good and proper.”

For me this meant staying in Golders Green over Christmas and doing the paper alone. Imagine my surprise, a few days after Musgrove had gone, when I was informed that Dooley was out of the Army, a free man again.   It appears that he was called up in error, but he owes the fact that the error was acknowledged to Anne Kelly, his wife, who was on the door-step of the War Officer every day for three weeks, indeed performed miracles of wire-pulling to get him out.

“I’m the luckiest man in England!” he declared, as he recounted his experiences one evening at his flat.  That same evening we discussed the January paper.  He had picked up my copy from the office and had gone through it, as I suspect, with the intention of making me furious or perhaps inducing a feeling of inferiority in me, for he had crossed out as much as he could, altered the phrases whenever possible, even created spelling mistakes, for which I should have been responsible.  All this had been done without a word of intimation, and was brought before me as a fait accompli by himself and his wife.  It was then that I saw for the first time the real Dooley, so aptly categorised by Don Musgrove.  I had most of the copy changed back to its original form.  We had no time to lay it out, but sent it to the printer as it was.  But Anne Kelly spent most of the evening descanting on the wonderful opportunity now being vouchsafed the Irish movement by the appearance of Pa’ Dooley (she came from Newcastle, and used the glottal stop).  I was rather surprised by the onslaught. I had no Musgrove – Bagenal Harvey was not present – and  suffered the fate of most people who are caught by surprise in a carefully prepared scene.

Next week the Central London branch of the Connolly Club held its meeting.  Dooley was there. Without any previous discussion he took control, as one might carry out a coup d’etat, sat in the chair, announced himself organiser at £2 a week and declared his intention (his intention that required no agreement) of moving the office.  Three days later he and Anne Kelly moved it to Premier House.  Later I discovered that this was because Ted Willis had promised to do the lay-out of the paper for him.  Almost without knowing it I found myself chairman instead of secretary, and among the London committee were Elsie Timbey, Jimmy Quinn and one or two more.  Certainly Dooley had carried out a durable coup d’état, and from that time on the situation was completely transformed.

I have said I saw the real Dooley, but that is not perhaps quite accurate.  What I saw was Dooley activated by his ambitious wife, and it was an odd coincidence that whenever there was on his part any display of ruthlessness or determination on his own behalf, she was sure to be in the picture driving him on.  He on the other hand had many very positive virtues, which may not become clear from a narrative of the many and increasingly severe personal clashes which I had with him.  He was a brilliant orator and had a ready pen.  He had all the appeal of the demagogue and could make people follow him.   And he had a flair for journalism which enabled him to lift Irish Freedom out of the rut it was in, and leave it a great tradition.  On the other hand he was egotistical to the last degree, easily flattered, and at the same time impulsive.  Under his guidance the paper advanced but the organisation declined.  His erratic behaviour, the bad example he set by breaking rules he himself made, created organisational chaos.  And at the same time he would injure the organisation in order to do a favour to some personal friend.  To these weaknesses, his wife added the vice of jealousy. He had no vices.  She supplied them.  It took me two and a half years before I could fight him on equal terms.

                         Section 8 of the 1944 Retrospect

I spent an unpleasant Christmas, working on the paper for the most part.  But having installed the telephone, I was rung up by Baker [A former fellow chemist from Bindley Robinson Processes/Epsom Oils; see Vol.4 – Ed.] who was staying with his brother in Edgeware, and he came down to spend the evening with me on Boxing Day.  He was a much more refined Baker than I had seen before, much better-dressed, more self-assured, well-mannered and, I suspect, more snobbish.  He declared that having divorced his wife, he was now married to Miss Walker from whose room Davies had tried to keep him when they were working together in Scotland.  

A month or so later I went down to spend a week-end with them. “And if you want to bring a girl with you,” said Baker in his invitation, for once his old crude self, “remember, I’ve got a spare double-bed.”  I received the impression that the thought that I was still a bachelor was slightly depressing to him.  He was living in comfort and was quite content with life and was far less interested in the BAC [probably British Chemists Association – Ed.].  He told me that Bewley was no longer manager of Bindley Robinson Processes. He had kept his stores’ accounts badly and there had been an investigation.  No suspicion of having been guilty of misappropriation fell on him, but he was transferred to Beryl Heath out of the way.  

About this time I went to Epsom and met Miss North [She worked for his former employers at Bindley Robinson Processes. Greaves now worked as research chemist for Messrs Catalins, a firm that made bakalite resins and associated products – Ed.]. This arose from a conversation with Davies over the telephone, which I made ostensibly to ask if he had ever made methyl pentanone, but really to find out the recent history of Synthetic Oils.  Myddleton [former chief chemist at BIndley Ribinson Proceeses, who had got Greaves a job there as a research chemist –Ed.]  had joined a Government department.  Walker was a factory manager in the Midlands.  According to Miss North she was now working part-time, and only she, Aiken, Davies and Whalley were there, with I suppose one or two boys.  Davies was more sunk in black pessimism than ever.  He had been associated with too many unsuccessful companies to feel happy about the future.  Wilkins was in the Ministry of Supply, doing work that any schoolboy could do, and intensely dissatisfied.  Miss North had carried out her threat and had never been to Clapham Junction since the war broke out. “There were bound to be bombs there,” she said, “Didn’t I tell you?”  But either she had changed or my more critical eyes detected what I could not see before: she was a much more case-hardened person than I had imagined, her features were more angular, her air of hard-bitten competence expressed itself even as she took out a cigarette for herself and lit it with a single quick gesture.  This air of complacent efficiency is not unusual among short-hand typists and secretaries who see a good deal of the inside, but take no decisions themselves and need not cultivate the more human aspects of business, such as they are.

My own condition at this time was only distinguished from that of Wilkins in that I was earning more money than before, namely £375, and was, whether the company wanted it or not, learning something likely to stand me in good stead, something of the plastics industry.  If anything at all should be deduced from this narrative it is that individual potentialities depend to a great extent on the circumstances which evoke them.  The depression of the time leading up to the war, and the early stages of the war, were a story of continual frustration, in which what was best in people was the more heroic for struggling against the deadweight of adverse fortunes.  The period from June 1941 [the time of the Nazi invasion of the USSR – Ed.] onwards, though full at first of Russian defeats, was psychologically different. There was a feeling that all that we did was for something.

True, when on February 15th Singapore fell [to the Japanese – Ed.] , and next day the news came that 60,000 British troops were trapped there, the public was shocked and horrified.   There was a sudden wave of disgust and defeatism. The Bentley’s man who adjusted the balances at Catalins could hardly do his work for complaining bitterly about the Government.   I was taking a series of classes for the Golders Green branch of the party, and there the tone was also bitter.  “What can you expect from our rotten Government?” they were saying.  The fact was that the colonial peoples were so anti-British that they did not wish to resist, so that this caused the defeats.  They showed a desire to limit discussion and “get down to business”, which is often a cover for avoiding difficult issues.  The only exceptions were two young girls, one of whom, Joan Bull, came home with me and drank coffee, and then rang up Harry Pollitt [General Secretary of the CPGB] with as gay and captivating an air as anyone could wish.  I entered into the discussion and tried to explain that the colonial peoples were anxious to defeat Fascism but were denied the means, and argued against the current defeatism.  When it came to the “getting down to business”, nobody wanted to do anything after all.   The joint group-leaders, two other girls, Miss Silver and another, had great difficulty in getting anyone to volunteer for anything.  But a sympathiser, a pale-complexioned lad with a very nervous voice, who was exempt from military service on account of tuberculosis, shamed them into showing some energy by asking them why they were inviting him to join a party which did nothing.  His name was Max Egelnick.

Most of the members were Jewish, and a very pleasant crowd I found them too, cultivated and hospitable.  I have the pleasantest recollections of the Golders Green group, and of the Hendon branch in general.  They used to hold gramophone recitals and socials and most of them were regular supporters of the Orpheum, then being run by Tom Russell, who had rescued from destruction the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Every day Apley’s car picked me up and took me to Waltham Abbey, and every day Apley grew more expert in devising delays and detours.  Riesenfeld had called himself technical director, but about this time began to adopt the title “Chief Chemist”, relegating Apley to an undefined custodianship of the laboratory.  This led to Apley taking up a more militant attitude for the time being.  He told now of his former brush with Riesenfeld. While Riesenfeld was away on holidays Apley thought to improve the moment by sending Devlin a memorandum in which he accused Riesenfeld of running the research incompetently.  He chose a good time for this as it was soon after the aliens had been arrested in large numbers, and there was a possibility of Riesenfeld being interned.  Devlin, whose policy seems always to have been of the most effete kind, told Riesenfeld as soon as he came back. The little Austrian accused Apley of disloyalty in a great schemozzle, and refused even to speak to him for three months.  Even now they had not entirely made things up, and Riesenfeld’s assumption of the title  “Chief Chemist”, though an apparent step downward, was at the same time removing an unpleasant chink through which Apley might conceivably crawl to replace him.

Riesenfeld was a congenital bully.  The boy, Shaw, was particularly favoured, as he had to take a “Rockwell hardness” schedule to “The Doctor” every day.

“This means absolutely nothing to me!” he would exclaim, jabbing the paper with his finger.  “I must have all the dates, not half of them.” Shaw said nothing.

“And what does this mean? Where is the test on the yellow resin?  I must have it!”

Shaw flushed. “You yourself gave instructions that it wasn’t to be done,” he said, beginning softly, suddenly losing his temper, banging the desk in the middle of the sentence, and then dying away as fear got the better of indignation. “Here are the figures you want,” he said, but Riesenfeld had turned his back on him and was striding over to Perryman to demand that a better control be kept over Shaw.  Then Riesenfeld went away.

But his presence had jarred the harpstrings.  In order that all passengers of Apley’s car should be “on gas” on the one evening, it was necessary for Shaw to exchange with Arnell.  Today he refused to do anything of the kind.  Walker was Apley’s next choice, but with the bullet-headed curmudgeonliness of all laboratory stewarts, added to the rustic curmudgeonliness of Waltham Abbey, he also refused, however much Apley reasoned, cajoled and almost threatened.

“Very well, Walker!” Apley concluded sadly, “I’ll remember this.”

But Riesenfeld had been showing off at Walker’s expense also.  “You may wash your hands, Walker,” the great brain had said, “but that does not guarantee that they are clean.  You may have washed that sieve.  But I assure you that it is not clean.  So don’t come here telling me that you’ve washed it. Tell me, is it clean?   No.  Then wash it again and again until it is.  And don’t do anything silly, break the mesh, crack the enamel, or drop it, or break it,” and then he added seemingly quite inconsequentially, “There’s too much passing the buck here.”

He must have picked up the phrase from somebody, and he was very proud of his knowledge of English slang.

About this time Kay Beauchamp [1899-1992, leading CPGB figure; in its Education Department – Ed.] asked me to go to Bradford to speak at a meeting which one of the national speakers could not attend.  I succeeded in getting a seat at Kings Cross, surrounded by heaps of soldiers’, sailors’ and airmen’s kit of all descriptions.  There were still restaurant cars then, so I had lunch on the train.  Back in the compartment where all was smoke, bustle and talk, the troops were talking noisily about their lives, and their pay, but also about the women’s services which were very unpopular.  This was because as soon as a woman appeared near a camp, the men were subjected to a string of new restrictions.  Their tunics must be fully buttoned up for fear the sight of their necks, let alone their chests, might offend the modesty of the WACS [Women’s Army Corps – Ed.] or the WAAFS [Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – Ed.] or whatever it was.  They must only wear gum-boots at night, and must polish their leg-boots.  Worst of all, they objected to saluting women officers, and were adamant on it.

At Bradford Michael Carritt met me, and the first thing we did was to go to a social. He hated socials.  So did I.  But everything was so typically Yorkshire, so bluff and homely, so pleased to be there, making so few demands, that we were won over, watched the very poor fellow the SCR [Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR] had sent them (unlike them) and before we departed the gathering was talking of organising a miners’ band.  We dawdled through the next morning, but in the afternoon I spoke to the Wibsey branch.  Wibsey is right on the edge of the moors and everywhere was deep in snow.  Over a hundred and twenty people came, in spite of the weather, and the meeting was a success.  But it was very cold.  We looked, sitting on the platform, like the pre-Bovril stage of an advert on the hoardings.  We had tea with the chairman and his family, of four boys, the eldest the YCL speaker.  They all greatly admired their father and said he had made a good speech, “for once”, this afternoon, and they pulled his leg merrily until a dispute arose between the two youngest over which knife or fork belonged to whom, and who should sit where at the table.  The others lined up, like European powers, to the support of the contending parties.  Voices rose until Maura who had just come out of the kitchen cried, “Now then!  Give over your whittering, will you!” and all was quiet.  But there was not only “whittering”, said Michael Carritt, there was also “nattering“[namely chattering – Ed.] which, if anything, was worse.

I was again lucky on the return journey.  I had a corner seat.  A young airman on my left talked incessantly.  He was drunk.  He said that all the forces were agreed that some form of socialism would be necessary after the war; it was the only way to prevent a revolution.  The naval lad opposite was too young to have any opinions, and the army were busy talking about pay, leave and the ATS [Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army – Ed.].  I fell asleep as soon as the airman was quiet, and he got out at Retford.

The train seemed to reach King’s Cross in no time.  I got out into the cold air, and gradually moved with the crowd of heavily laden troops who worked their way slowly out of the station much like a glacier down a mountain-side.  I had a cup of tea at an appalling little snack-bar and then went to Euston from which I caught the first tube to Golders Green, sleepy, but full of a great enthusiasm for the enormous revolutionary potential of those baggage-laden crowds of men, whose broad open vowels were still echoing in my ears.

But on reaching Golders Green I found my water-pipes had frozen during my absence, for the first time that winter.  But as on previous occasions  the burst took place in the flat below.  I was of course met by the old man’s daughter, Miss Isom, in a state of fluttering excitement.  She was a shorthand typist, working at Guest Keen and Nettlefolds, unmarried though nearly fifty years of age, due to the necessity of looking after the old man.  He collected their rations, hauled the shopkeepers’ few remaining delivery bags, and potters about the house.  Their place was consequently in a state of permanent chaos, from which she endeavoured heroically to redeem it on the one Saturday morning in four she was allowed off work.  On one or two occasions she would clean my place too.

Everything takes twice as long when there is no water. The pipes had been laid round the very edge of the house, so that only the downstairs main tap had any hope of remaining free.  I had to tramp down to fill kettles, saucepans and buckets. I was therefore rather late reaching Waltham Abbey.  Apley had been “on guard”.  The subject of the exercise had been the very important one of “how to withdraw”.  Many were the sarcastic references to Singapore.  Apley wore a very glum face.  I first thought it was connected with the exercise, but it was due to a worse evil.  The car had recently shown signs of “pinking”, as he retarded the ignition.  But the carburettor had a damaged screw.  Now Apley could not endure the obvious.  He will always have a thing done as a personal favour, whether done by him or for him.  His wife worked at the Havilland aircraft works, and she arranged for the job to be done by “a very reliable engineer”.  It was finished on Saturday, and Apley and George spent the afternoon putting it back in the car.   When they turned on the petrol a thin jet sprang out two feet. The carburettor had developed a leak.  Various theories were advanced, but it was decided to make a further visit to the “very reliable engineer”.  Apley had to do a three-hour journey home by ‘bus.  To while away the journey he borrowed a pocket chess set from Polllard and played Arnell, giving him the handicap of a rook. 

Arnell also was not happy.  His sample shop was now a part of Plastic Fabricators, but he had not been made manager.  He asked Devlin when he was to be promoted and was assured that as soon as things “settled down” he could take charge.  Then he heard a particularly bumptious fellow whom Devlin had engaged after meeting him in a public house, declare that on the contrary, he was the manager.  Then he learned that the job had been promised to several more people.  The bumptious fellow had been a baker’s roundsman and a waiter in restaurant cars.  Arnell applied for his release.  Devlin raised his salary £1 a week and told him that he was “acting like a bloody schoolboy”.  But no decision was taken.  Rawlings had involved himself too thoroughly in scandal, however, and had to be sent “on the road” as a salesman, Plastic Fabricators being meanwhile run by the bumptious individual – but not as “manager”.

When Rawlings went there was no improvement in conditions in the shop.  The same half-starved children sat in doped conditions over the same machines.  But their lives were ligthened by little pleasantries.  The foreman would delight in sending one of the twins on fools’ errands.  He would appear, as he did on this day, with a plate of half-set resin, outwardly simulating human excreta, and ask Apley, “Is this yours?”


“But Mister so-and-so said it was.”

“No, you try Mr Perryman.”

 Perryman, who was always working, would glance round at the poor creature and explode with rage, “I’ve no time to be bothered with this!” Then wondering how to get rid of him, he would appear to relent and say, “Ask Mr Edelman.”  Then the thin pink-faced creature would approach Edelman, who would send him to Pollitt.  He would suggest McFarlane, and would take him to the door – “that’s him, that fat fellow working on the stills.”

“Tell us what he says!” Apley would call out across the room.  A few minutes later he would come back with the air of one who has made an important discovery.

“What did he say?” asked Apley. The child got as near the door as possible, then ran to the doorway and scarcely looking round, shouted, “Stick it up your arse!” and slammed the door behind him.  

Another time he would come for the “long weight” or a “glass hammer”, or the steak and chips that Mr Apley had cooked for him.  Sometimes he would be sent on the usual round, or if people were busy, they would gruffly order him back and he would be set to work again, dumbly, half-consciously, operating his punching machine.  He and the girls would work a few weeks, then go sick with dermatitis for a few days, come back again, and then work till it developed once more.  Round the walls were idle machines, some through workers being sick, others from Silver, the bumptious one, being ignorant of how to get them going.  Arnell was to set this chaos in order, but without being allowed authority to instruct, nor the right to place responsibility on Silver.

Devlin suffered from a nose disease and was continually sniffing.  When angry he sniffed twice as fast.  The young man with a weak heart, the electrician’s son who wanted his release, was called a “bluddy ignorant whippersnapper”, ordered out of the office and told “stay where you bluddy well are!”   This story was recounted by Miss O’Brien, Devlin’s secretary, who stayed till eight every evening typing letters and listening to sniffs.   Though she hated Devlin she hated “the foreigners” more.  In the end she left through migraine.  Pollitt was refused the electricians’ rate.  His father is a full electrician.  He is not.  “But these damned foreigners get the rate!” says Miss O’Brien.  “There are too many of them.  They do not work but they get all the money.  Why don’t they go back to their own country?”  This feeling was quite widespread.  After all there were enough of them to make an international club, and backward workers did not understand how it came about.  There was Szymogi and Rado, Richter and Gruss, all Czechs, Riesenfeld Austrian, Romstein German, Davidoff Russian, and the Lancashire representative was a nice quiet little Indian called Dandeki, the only civilised man on the sales side – presided over otherwise by the Swiss Marti.

“It’s a bloody fifth column outfit, this!” said Walker.

“And this way the Catalin wheels went round, everyman’s hand turned against everyone else’s, mutual suspicion, jealousy and antipathy.  The laboratory was the only department relatively free of it, and here Riesenfeld was upstairs every day trying his best to set one against another.

One day in March a small squat Yorkshireman spoke to me while waiting for the ‘bus.  His name was Walker and he had been engaged as a salesman.  He had qualifications as an engineer, but formed a little company to exploit one or two textile patents he had taken out, but until a few months previously he had been running a business as an auctioneer and valuer.  He was, in short, just the sort of man Devlin would be likely to pick up.  He was made chief engineer when Szymogi left.  During Szymogi’s last days which he spent making calculations on his new furnace which would burn all the fuel without secondary air, Walker used to walk around as it were sniffing the air of the machine shop and saying, “Szymogi’s all right but you take him up to one of those big plants in the North of England, and why, man, he’d be lost.”

Walker’s first job as chief engineer was to enlarge the machine shop.  For reason or reasons unknown he secured the ear of Devlin and was allowed to do more or less what he chose.  In April it was announced that a new chemist was coming, one who had been engaged by Devlin, named Dreyer. “He must be a clever man,” said Walker, “D’you know, he used to run his own business.”  When Dreyer came we assumed that he had been introduced by Devlin to spy on us.  “There’s the stooge,” we said.  But very soon we found that we were entirely mistaken.  Devlin had decided that there was money in paint.  Dreyer was a paint chemist, a German refugee from Westphalia who had lived in Cologne. He was Jewish and had escaped just before war broke out.  HIs father and mother were got over just in time, and he declared that when he met them coming off the boat at Dover, he did not recognise them.  His father, sixty years of age, had been beaten up, and his mother had become an old woman before her time.  His sister was a domestic servant, as this was the only employment she was allowed to take.  Dreyer joined the AScW [Association of Scientific Workers – Ed.] and became one of our best members.  At first he was told not to accept any direction from Riesenfeld, and that cunning gentleman was at first too wily to give him any.  But Devlin gave no lead either.  The work for which he was engaged was never done; instead he took over Pollitt’s work of analysing and imitating “Pheenoglaze” and this made him extremely dissatisfied.  

Then, first by asking advice, then by asking questions, Riesenfeld gradually wormed his knowledge out of him, meanwhile restricting his action as much as possible, and then he began his old technique of sending his own suggestions back to him as instructions, thus weakening him to the point where he could begin to talk to him, and even to come near bullying him, as he now regularly bullied Edelman.

Edelman now suffered badly from dermatitis and was frequently compelled to take time off.  He had a singular lack of savoir faire, a strange helplessness for a communist.  I told him that there was only one cure – keeping clean – and I recommended the use of hot water.  “But that makes it irritate more!” said Edelman. “I know,” said I, “but if it removes the irritant it is worth it.” Whenever the slightest speck of the sticky resin was on my fingers I immediately washed it off. “You’re always at that tap!” commented Walker. “I bet you before the summer’s out you’ll be covered with the rash, right up your arms.”  He was never free from it himself. “You’ll get it,” said Apley, Pollitt and Edelman. “Don’t worry,” said I, “I wouldn’t have it!” – and I wouldn’t either.   Edelman had lost half his hair thanks to it, and now had developed the high forehead of the typical Armenian.  Like so many continentals too, he had no diplomacy and didn’t know how to protect himself.  He was very conscious of being a Jew, and was always expecting anti-semitism.  Yet one thing must be said for him, that he was generous to a fault, and all his weaknesses were amiable.  He was devoted to the party and spent his life canvassing and pushing leaflets through doors.  His brother had been killed in Spain.

Walker ran like a virus through the works.  He introduced some kind of fervour for work among Taylor’s “benighted cunts”.  His technique was to explode with rage and bully and intimidate them into acquiescence.  One day he taught McFarlane his position.  The next he had a set-to with Marti for ordering samples without his permission.  Almost without effort he tackled and defeated the bumptious Silver, who was unceremoniously sacked from the factory and who could be seen every Friday calling at the gate-house for his wages, since the National Service Officer had not agreed to his release.  Next he fought Perryman and inflicted a minor defeat on him, also on the grounds of interfering in engineering business – something which had grown up while Szymogi was paying no attention to his job, and the first check of any kind was administered to him by Edelman.  By then he had acquired the reputation of an enfant terrible, and most people were heartily scared of him.

“That man’s got to be watched!” said Apley, and sure enough he chose Edelman as apparently the weakest vessel in the laboratory proper.  This involved him in leaving his proper territory and passing some criticisms of Edelman’s work in public.  Edelman said nothing at the time, but as Walker was going out he walked up to him and said, “If you have any criticism of what I am doing, make them to Dr Riesenfeld who is responsible.  In any case I don’t like the manner in which you spoke to me, and I’d thank you not to do it again.”   The laboratory was electrified.  Walker flushed angrily and began to bluster. “What the bloody hell…” 

“Don’t swear at me,” said Edelman, and turned his back on him. The “weakest vessel” was actually one of the stronger ones.  Walker was completely nonplussed and walked out of the laboratory, shouting over his shoulder, “Never mind, I’ll get even with you!”  But he never tried.  The word ran round the factory like wildfire, that Walker had received a check, and when the time came to appoint a laboratory representative it was Edelman whom the AScW members chose.

Baffled in the laboratory Walker turned his attention to Riesenfeld. He was now in charge of plastic fabricators, a second in command being found from somewhere.  He used to have tea every evening with Pollitt the electrician, the most lugubrious man (it must be) in the world, and together they would denounce Riesenfeld. “I’ll break him!” said Walker. “Do you see what he’s doing?  He’s deliberately sabotaging the place.  You see how the business is going down. They’ve sold nothing for months.  He intends to buy it up himself!” 

But Riesenfeld was a tough nut to crack. He sat tight and did and said nothing.  Business was bad.  He asked Devlin how to remedy it, what to make, and Devlin could give him no advice.  A new salesman, Martin, was engaged to “push” Catacol but found that the Government departments were using Beatle and would not pass it as saleable. Without this phenol supplies were cut off and Riesenfeld had the problem of making the resin from cresol [an organic compound – Ed.].  Any competent chemist could have solved the problem in a few weeks, but Riesenfeld would not allow experiments.  It was ultimately solved a year later by Perryman, who did the experiments without telling Riesenfeld.

While the struggle with Riesenfeld was proceeding Walker introduced his son, Derrick, into the laboratory.  Taylor senior had had a serious quarrel with his young nephew, a cheeky slight little boy of 15.  The youngster had dropped a valuable tool and cracked it, or chipped it, thus losing seven days’ work or more.  Taylor was drunk as usual. He glowered at him.  The youngster started to grin saucily, whereupon the old man dealt him a blow on the cheek which knocked him down.  At first Walker proposed sacking the boy, but Riesenfeld decided to bring him into the laboratory as Apley’s assistant.  I wanted an assistant and said so; but I was promised the next one, who proved to be Derrick Walker.  I was not very impressed with him when I first saw him.  He was of the squat red-nosed type like his father.  He did not appear very intelligent; certainly he had not the verve and vivacity of young Taylor. But it soon became apparent that I had got the best part of the bargain. 

Derrick Walker had some good engineering experience.  He had been to a secondary school, and would have had matriculation but for his complete inability to learn French, which I put down to his being, as he said, completely tone deaf.  For a while old Walker was at his zenith and used to discuss the boy’s work with me.  I always got on well with him and managed this by a simple but effective stratagem.  I said the boy was intelligent and could learn a lot in the laboratory if he was given the chance. This was true, but Walker as a businessman understood the principle of “do ut des” and we struck up a sort of tacit alliance. This did not please Apley.  There were two camps forming, one of Devlin and Walker, the other of Riesenfeld, Marti and Stacken, to which Apley was steadily drifting.  Only Riesenfeld’s continual humiliation of him in front of other people, by sheer tactlessness prevented him from being much more decided.

The tactics Devlin pursued at this time was to try to degrade Riesenfeld out of the names of the executives.  Two years previous Riesenfeld had been “technical manager” controlling chemical, engineering and research. The managing director, then, was an energetic fellow called Lusty who proved too energetic for the board of directors and was removed in favour of Devlin.  Devlin by sheer chance came when the luxury market was booming. He refused war contracts for the sake of trumpery articles, but as for the first time in its history Catalins then showed a profit, he was the darling of the board.  He used this strengthened position to deprive Riesenfeld of his control of engineering and maintenance.  Now his proposal was to put him in the laboratory.  “Devlin thinks it’s time that that Austrian bastard did a stroke of work,” said Walker.  It was proposed to give him the balance room.  But the balance room was over the lead furnaces.  Riesenfeld went sick for a fortnight, and then secured a doctor’s certificate stating that it would seriously injure his health if he had to work in or near an atmosphere of formaldehyde, but that any proximity to lead might be fatal.  The idea had to be dropped, and soon afterwards Walker met his fall.  An Austrian boy was appointed in the machine shop, then transferred to plastic fabricators.  Some dispute over wage-rates arose.  Walker was called in and when the boy – no doubt belonging to the Austrian Centre – refused to give in Walker sprang at him like a wild cat.  “So you won’t work you fucking lazy little bastard!”

“Don’t swear at me. It is not good.” After this Walker seized him by the throat, having completely lost control of himself. “I’ll murder you, you bastard!” he shouted.  They had to be separated, and next day Devlin wrote Walker a note saying that he must relinquish control of plastic fabricators, and that if there was any repetition of such a display of temper, he would send him “on the road” again.  Walker was diabetic.  Next day he walked round the factory showing people two bottles of pills. “Do you know,” he said, “I must have taken the wrong medicine yesterday.  It’s an extraordinary thing what an effect drugs have on you!”  He never recovered his position and spent the next nine months moping round the factory with nothing to do. 

In the spring of the year Jimmy Shields  [1900-1949, leading CPGB figure, head of its International Department for a period – Ed.] came out of his sanatorium.  He contracted tuberculosis years ago in his home town of Greenock and went to South Africa with the intention of recovering his health.  But he found the party in such a state that he was drawn into the task of reorganising it and became Comintern representative for Africa.  When he returned to this country he plunged again into political work.  His work bore a peculiar individual stamp, which arose more from his extraordinary personality than from anything else, for despite years of experience which harden most people, he preserved his human interest in individuals and all the many-sidedness of his youth.  

Last year at Woolwich Bert Williams had said, “He’s dying, poor fellow,” but again he recovered and gave further examples of his unique ability to sum up a discussion.  Subjected to his quiet sifting all the dross in others’ contributions fell away and there, as it were smelted and purified, there lay in one crucible all the positive good they had put into the party. Ben Bradley [1898-1957, secretary of the League Against Imperialism in the 1930s  – Ed.] had taken charge of the colonial bureau, but was greatly relieved to see Jimmy Shields back again.

“The doctor told me I might get well by spending the rest of my days in a sanatorium,” said Jimmy,” so I thought things over. The revolution is coming in two years.  I can last that long.”  He smiled. “Harry Pollitt laughs at me when I say that.  But Stalin said one year.  Well double it, call it two. Of course they wanted me to go back to South Africa again.  But I wouldn’t.  I say the revolution is round the corner.” 

Over the telephone Esther Henrotte [a friend of Greaves’s, author of a pamphlet on cooperation in the Soviet Union – Ed.] told me that the doctor had told Jimmy he had only two years to live, but that he didn’t believe it. “The will to live is the essential thing,” he said. “And even then”, said the doctor, “you must keep off spirits, cut down beer, smoke as little as you can and, ‘Are you married?’ – ‘Yes,’ “well, keep down on that, too.”

A few months later going home in the tube with me Jimmy Shields collapsed.  I rang Esther Henrotte who told Robson, and he gave him a good talking-to.  But it was of no use.  He insisted on continuing to work, and maybe he was right, for he easily outlasted the two years prescribed. 

The prospects of Catalin steadily decaying during the spring, I decided to have my holiday early. At Whit I cycled to Southsea, but was caught in violent rain and drenched. Then three weeks later while cycling along Western Avenue, I was struck in the rear by a car, trying to avoid an army waggon, and thrown into the ditch.  I picked myself up, scratched and bruised, but with no bones broken.  I secured the address of the driver, placed the matter in the hands of Seifert the solicitor, and finally secured £10 damages.  But there was considerable delay in restoring the bicycle.  I therefore had to spend the holiday walking and chose North Wales as the most suitable venue, though I had intended had the bicycle been available to go to Scotland. 

My first port of call was Llanberis, where I stayed with Phyllis [his sister – Ed.].  She had left Rhos-herwaun several months ago, and preferred Llanberis, not unnaturally, because it was nearer Bangor and larger and there were other teachers in the vicinity.  She was made senior teacher for that district, had dignity without too much responsibility, since her pupils were few and therefore get on tolerably well.  Her only trouble was that the wet climate didn’t suit her, as she was repeatedly catching severe colds.  She told me that the Liverpool evacuees, those who were not too stupid, were learning Welsh.  She had become quite adept herself, and from saying a few words now and again when she left Liverpool was now able to write a letter, and in testimony of this fact she left a note to her landlady in that language before my very eyes.

I left her on the Monday and climbed Glyder Fawr. Unfortunately just five yards from the road at Pen-y-gwryd I twisted my ankle and could do little more than limp on towards Aberglaslyn.  I fell in with two students from Cardiff University who had spent already a month hiking round the youth hostels.  They had had a similar misfortune and one of them was limping almost as badly as I.  We decided to go together to “Snowden range” youth hostel.  This was the first time I had patronised one of these establishments since Whelan introduced me to “Ogwen Cottage” in 1935. This time I received a very favourable impression, possibly from the bright weather and more congenial companions. The boys were strong naturalists and spoke Welsh fluently. They accompanied me as far as Aberglaslyn next day, from which I went on through Tan-y-Bwlch to LLanfestiniog. From there I went through Trawsfynydd to Bwlch-drws-ardudwy and so to Harlech.  

I went the last few miles with a lad from Birmingham, who had taken his bicycle over the mountains and decided it needed wheeling the rest of the way.  He was a rather skilled small-tool worker from “old Birmingham,” and interested in philosophy!  We went to Mocknas [Name unclear – Ed.] in the evening.  Next day I returned to the top of the range at Y Llethr and walked down the entire length, over Rephwys and the Bwlch-y-rhwygr [Names unclear –Ed.] to Barmouth where I stayed the night.  Although I recalled so well the delightful holidays we had there years ago, the town was too commercialised for my liking, and what was so much worse, commercialised from Birmingham, that centre of all that is most vulgar and conservative in England.  Next day I took the ‘bus to Pennrhyn-dwdraeth and Blaenau Ffestiniog, and then walked over the back of Moelwyn and over Snowden to Llanberis where I spent another two or three days with Phyllis before returning to London. Meanwhile Seifert secured me £12 compensation for damages suffered in the accident.

I received visits from Wø, now in the airforce, and De, now in the army, shortly after my return.  Wø was quite happy, as a groundsman. De. was profoundly dissatisfied as a private in the RASC [Royal Army Services Corps – Ed.]  doing clerical work.  I noticed an increase in the rather cynical selfishness which the ardour of youth had to some extent overlaid when he was in Wimbledon.  He said that he was now feeling very sleepy, which he thought was due to the desperately monotonous work he was doing.  He offered to help me with some of my researches but was moved away before much could be done about it.  Ke, he said, was at Bridgewater where he had become secretary of the party branch. Psz. was in Reading engaged to a distinguished journalist.  I rang her up as I had heard this journalist had just been to Eire.  To my chagrin and embarrassment she replied in bitter tears that her engagement was off.  She had been jilted again. Our misfortune on this planet is that our happiness is contingent on the chance behaviour of people we chance to meet, and that we do not live long enough to adjust what has gone wrong, and thus our experience is not much good to us.

I attended a tutors’ meeting held in Marx House and organised by Chloe Davies.  There a rather intellectual-looking young fellow made a good contribution, and as we both lived in Hendon and he belonged to that branch also, we went home together.  This was the beginning of an important association, as he undertook to do all my paper-cuttings and filing, and later in the year when he got married, his wife also helped.  His name was Brian Stedman (BJS).  He had come from a rather bourgeois family, had run his own car and had quite a remarkable organising talent.  He was a planning engineer, and although only 21 and looking no more than 18, he had quite a responsible position in Handly-Page’s undertaking in Cricklewood.  His parents were violently opposed to his marriage, insulted his fiancé when he took her to visit them and used to ring him up at dead of night to create tearful scenes and making hysterical remonstrances. 

As a result of the success of the Bradford meeting I was put forward by the London District Committee for the panel of National speakers, and so every month I visited some town, for example Ashford (Kent), Bournemouth, Poole, Stockton-on-Tees, and so on.  In Stockton I met David Goodman whom I had previously met in the train in November 1939, also Jim Keshan who had attended a party school and become the NE coast (or Tees) organiser.  At Taunton I met Spatsky, now a sergeant in the army, quite cured of his political wobbles, and by all appearances very well respected by his fellows. 

I also spoke at Ilford where I met George Barnard (GB), married to Helen Davies.  They still knew John Edge [The Liverpool friend with whom Greaves shared a flat in East London in 1937; see Vol. 4 – Ed.] and said he was “burrowing deep underground”.  He had an extraordinary inclination towards conspiracy.  Later I met Edge himself, twice in a week on Leicester Square station.  The second time I was with Shelvankar [KS Shelvankar,1906-1996, Indian intellectual and later diplomat – Ed.] who asked, “Is he a civil servant?” (About this time Shelvankar was involved in the periodical struggle with Krishna Menon [Indian politician, later Defence Minister under Nehru – Ed.].  That brilliant but egotistical character, rendered jealous by Shelvankar’s increasing popularity as a speaker, had issued round the India League branches an instruction that he, Krishna, must be invited to address meetings.  Some idolized him and obeyed. Others hated him and infuriated him the more by inviting Shelvankar.  But Shelvankar dislikes fighting, and let things be.)   The second time I saw Edge he was thinking of joining the army.

My political activity had one amusing repercussion in Catalins.  Apley asked me one morning if I had been speaking in Hyde Park. I asked why he asked me.  “Well Sladen was in the car with me yesterday and he said that Devlin mentioned it at the board meeting that you’d been speaking in Hyde Park on an Irish platform – he didn’t mention it in a nasty way.  But the point was that Nichol said, ‘There are too many of those damned Irishmen about,’ and Devlin is Irish himself!”

Of course Devlin mentioned it also to Walker and he stopped me in the street.  It was before his fall.  “By the way” (by the way!), said he, “did you ever speak in Hyde Park, Mr Greaves?”

“No, never”, I said, “Why?”

“I heard of somebody who had seen you.”

“Impossible. And even if I did it would be nothing to do with anybody else, and I can assure you that what I do in my own time is my own business.”  Walker was satisfied, and like a “sensible man”, his curiosity satisfied, he dropped the subject.

But the appearance of Sladen in Apley’s car was to become something regular.  That gentleman had sent his wife and family to Berwick where he had lived years ago.  He was not a celibate by nature and wished to take a flat which he ultimately found on our route.  So now each morning we had to pick him up, and every evening drop him. As soon as he was out of the car, Apley would denounce him in the crudest possible terms.  But he treated him with profound deference while he was present.  For some time this deceived us into the belief that they disliked each other, until we discovered that they belonged to the same tennis club and played “squash” together. Sladen proved to be even more objectionable than we had thought.  He told us with pride that in 1926 he was an articled accountant and had driven a bus in the general strike for £5 a week. “And that”, he said with a chuckle, “was a damn sight more than those fellows were getting for it!”  But even his wit was mirthless, and he could never smile if he tried.  I should have preferred not to have such a companion, but since the Green Line ‘bus service was discontinued I was more dependent on Apley. Pollitt had found apartments in Waltham and likewise George had moved into the district, and there was therefore ample room in the car. 

As the year drew on I became friendly with Dreyer and particularly with Rado (ZR), the draughtsman.  His friend Richter who suffered from stomach trouble had been forced to leave Catalins, and in the back-end of the year I used to go for a walk with Rado and Dreyer while Rado explained that he wanted to take two things back to Hungary with him, September and October, which were Britain’s best months and Hungary’s worst.  Although of Czech nationality he had come from that part of Hungary ceded to Czechoslovakia by the Treaty of Trianon.  He was a lieutenant in the Czech army at the time of Munich and was one of those to whom safe-conduct was guaranteed.  Although the pledges were broken he escaped to Poland with his wife, a Sudeten German, and came to England.  “Exile in England is not exile at all,” he said.  He was intensely political, had an excellent grasp of European politics and obviously, though I never asked, was a party member, as also, so I learned, was Richter.  He was chairman of the Hungarian Club in London and told me of his many troubles with “that fool Count Karolyi [1875-1955, Prime Minister and President of Hungary in 1918-19 – Ed.] who could be the leader of the next Hungarian Government but is a typically sectarian social-democrat and can’t see his own opportunity even when we push him into it.” 

His comments on the affairs of Catalin were always shrewd and to the point.  His “savoir faire” was extraordinary.  He managed always to keep peace around him. “Walker is a fool,” he said, “he is making trouble for himself.”  And sure enough Walker did.  It was Rado, not Szymogi, who  designed the split mould, but he had never cared when Szymogi had appropriated the invention.  Likewise he invented a device for baking the tape off catalin rods, but when Taylor of the machine shop did not make it, he did not worry.  He wasted none of his energy on inessentials, and often have I wished I could appropriate some of his steady Eastern temperament. 

I was thrown into his company more still when in December Sladen (through Taylor) informed me that I must firewatch.  The duties I was performing as a warden in Hendon were becoming increasingly onerous.  I therefore consented after a show of sham reluctance and also arranged that G.D., Rado, Edelman and myself should be on duty together.  Later Derrick Walker was drawn in, and the little Russian Davidoff, now walking round the factory exclaiming, “Look at what my people are doing!” also came with us at times.  

We were quite an international gathering, and sometimes we had even Bernstein, to make it more representative still.  When Walker was deposed a rather pleasant big hearty fellow called Archer was engaged to manage plastic fabricators, and when Taylor left to join the salesman who had been refused permission to represent the firm in the plastics industry committee, he began to arrange the firewatching and did us the favour of keeping our little group intact. 

Like Walker, Archer was promised the moon by Devlin.  “I can do what I like,” he told me at lunch, “you see, I think I’ve got the old man’s confidence.”  As if such a thing were possible.  As Rado saw it, Devlin also was a fool.  His experience with Silver had taught him nothing.  One day Apley gave him a lift and he said, “It’s all because that fool at the Labour Exchange in Waltham Cross doesn’t know his bloody job.  He thinks he’s there to help the workmen, but I told him straight last week, he’s there to help the employer.”  Devlin had quarrelled with him so that now he received only the sweepings of the labour market.  But he could learn nothing and when his next dispute arose he sent Walker to represent him, something which infuriated Sladen as his supposed second-in-command, and at that an official of the company.  His secretary left, but he secured the services of Palmer’s wife. At the same time the plastics control began to refuse him cresol, and the smell of formaldehyde gradually evaporated as one by one the stills were closed down and the plant became completely idle.

One day Apley approached me. “This is highly confidential,” he said,”but I want your opinion on it as a party member. Riesenfeld, Marti, Sladen and I are thinking of resigning.”


“As a protest against Devlin’s mismanagement. He’s the cause of all the trouble here.”

I replied that surely there were less drastic forms of action.  What about a joint production committee, a works committee, and so on?  He replied that Sladen “didn’t believe in that” and wouldn’t have it. I refused then to express an opinion on the wisdom of such a course as affecting only individuals, but it was only afterwards that the fact that he was inviting me to join the conspiracy dawned on me; he took my reply as a refusal, and I noticed from then on an air of greater caution in his dealings with me.  He was afraid I would talk to Devlin. 

This was how things stood at Christmas, when I spent the first Christmas in Liverpool since 1939.  Things had changed, but only in the oldest generation.  AMM, whom I had met for the last time in the summer, and UCB had died on the same day, both well over eighty years of age.  AMM [a grandaunt – Ed.] had left her money among the members of the family, but AEG [his mother – Ed] had detected Dorothy Greaves [an aunt – Ed.] in some rather suspicious transactions and both she and Mary Greaves  [another aunt – Ed.] had broken off relations with her. U.Basil Wiltshire [Mary Greaves’s husband – Ed.] had been so overcome by the loss of his life’s work when the Cooperative Society’s buildings in Portsmouth were burned down, that he suffered for a time with acute nervous depression, and then fell ill and was compelled to retire. CEG [his father – Ed.]  was to retire next year, and was working hard so as to secure the maximum pension. His politics were no better.

Wx, who in 1931 had said, “What’s wanted is a war to kill off the surplus population,” had been nearly killed himself and had changed his ideas  about war.  His house was destroyed, his furniture blown up, and to make things worse, since there was now no difficulty in disposing of Portland cement, his job as a sales representative was coming to an end. Mary Greaves also had suffered some minor damage and was boring the world with woeful stories of her “poor blitzed house” without spending a halfpenny of her £100,000 fortune to repair so much as a chipped brick of it.  FB was now transferred to Devon. SC was now Liverpool organizer, with Leo McGree and Tommy Ward in evidence. Pat Devine had replaced Bill Whittaker at Manchester. 

                             Section 9 of the Retrospect

The work I was doing among the Irish at this time might well have belonged to another world to that which has just been described.  The characters were different and never interchange ­– except for the solitary incident of Devlin in the park – and yet for all that there was an odd parallelism, an esthetic if not a substantial parallelism which helped to colour the whole of this period.  On leaving Woolwich [where he had worked for a short period as a chemist at Woolwich Arsenal  – Ed.]  the intellectual weaknesses caused by the crisis and my experiences of 1937 had been largely removed.  I was older.  I was more hardened.  The emotional weaknesses were greatly improved, and there was a state of fair weather.  If I had not been compelled to accept the first presentable job that offered itself, and if I had not been so involved in the Irish work as to stay in it after a year, rather than risk leaving London, then all would have been well.

As it was, two simultaneous frustrations in entirely separate fields dragged out the already five-year-old depression by another two years.  But if I showed anything now it was because the strain of working all day at Catalins without the slightest recognition, acting as air raid warden four nights a week, spending one weekend in four down country, keeping cuttings for the Irish Bureau and attending the Colonial Committee was too much for me, and I tended to grow irritable.  

The manner of my introduction to Pat Dooley also was not conducive to a spirit of cooperation.  I put it off as long as I could, but in the end was forced to fight in self-defence. The battle went gradually in my favour, but for all that the strain affected my health and for the years 1942 and 1943 I almost began to feel that age was beginning to lay its fingers on me.

The burst of culture of 1940 died out again, though I did gradually write twelve quatorzaines [an irregular sonnet – Ed.] begun in 1941 during the blitz.  I finished them towards the end of 1943. Like Alan Morton however, I was overshadowed by the war, made too busy, given no leisure and no peace of mind, unfortunately neither at work nor in the Connolly Club.  The immediate effect of Pat Dooley’s taking over was a general stimulus. He infused a new liveliness into the discussions of the Central London Branch and the London Committee.  He took a speakers’ class which was attended by Elsie Timbey, Bob Fairley, Steve Farrelly, Pat Clancy and many others.  His improvements in the paper greatly increased our prestige. 

But later on the less pleasant traits began to reveal themselves.  He organised a large meeting in Liverpool.  He had become friendly with Henry Harrison and wanted to impress him [1867-1954, Protestant nationalist, former Irish Party MP, secretary to CS Parnell, decorated in World War 1, opponent of Partition, with General Sir Hubert Gough founded the Commonwealth Irish Association in 1942 – Ed].  He insisted that Harrison should stay at the Adelphi [Liverpool’s leading hotel at the time – Ed.].  The meeting was only a moderate success and the loss of £10 completely wrecked the Liverpool branch, which never recovered. But Dooley had won Harrison as a friend for life.

[End of what survives of the Retrospect begun on 3l December l944 –Ed.]   

(c.10,000 words) 


Retrospect Parts VII (contd.), VIII and IX for 1942, written in 1944  

 Greaves, C.Desmond:

 –  Aesthetics, verse: Retrospect 7

 –  Assessments of others: Retrospect 7 and 8

 –  Connolly Association/Connolly Club: Retrospect 7 and 9

 –  Holidays/cycling trips and tours: Retrospect 8

 –  Industrial experience: Retrospect 8

 –  Ireland and Irish affairs: Retrospect 7 and 9

 –  Irish Democrat (Irish Freedom): Retrospect 7

 –  Political development: Retrospect 8

 –  Profession, professional work:  Retrospect 8

 –  Self-assessments: Retrospect 7-9

 –  Wales and Welsh affairs: Retrospect 8

 –  World War 2: Retrospect 8

Organisation Names Index

Association of Scientific Workers (AScW): Retrospect 8

Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB):  Retrospect 8

Catalin and Co.: Retrospect 8

Personal Names Index 

Beauchamp, Kay: Retrospect 8

Clancy, Patrick: Retrospect 9

Devine Pat: Retrospect 8

Dooley, James Larkin (Pat): Retrospect 7 and 9

Dulanty, J: Retrospect 7

Edelman, M: Retrospect 8

Edge, John: Retrospect 8

Fairley, Bob: Retrospect 9

Farrelly, Steve: Retrospect 9

Goodman, David: Retrospect 8

Harrison, Henry: Retrospect 9

Harvey, Bagenal: Retrospect 7

Henrotte, Esther: Retrospect 8

Kelly, Anne: Retrospect 7

McGree, Leo: Retrospect 8

Menon. Krishna: Retrospect 8

Morton, Alan Geoffrey: Retrospect 9

Musgrove, Don: Retrospect 7

Pollitt, Harry: Retrospect 8

Quinn, Jimmy: Retrospect 7

Rado, Z.: Retrospect 8

Shelvankar, KS: Retrospect 8

Shields, Jimmy: Retrospect 8

Stedman, Brian: Retrospect 8

Timbey, Elsie: Retrospect 9

Loose-leaf notes inserted in Retrospect (Book 6) and used presumably to help in reconstructing it


 1942:  (l) The Catalin set-up;  (2) Wood Green;  (3) Golders Green – wardens etc. Welsh holiday;  (4) Catalin to 1942 Xmas in Liverpool; (5) Irish to Dooley coup d’etat; (6) Colonial Bureau to same

 Saul Ickens (?AC)


Alexandra Club   Bethnal Green    Slightly sluttish



Worcester after McEvoy

Ilfford     Dec.  2nd Front period, 1942

Plymouth    Sep. 1943

Southport   May 1943

Bournemouth   Oct. 1941-2

Bradford Feb 1942

Stockton (?AC)

Plymouth Sep 1944

Hull Jan. 1944

Taunton (?ASC) Jan 1943

Ashford  June 1942  (Cherries)

Manchester Marx House  Nov. 1943

Bristol Oct. 1944

Glasgow March 1943     April 1944

Birmingham  Oct. 1944  April 1942

Sheffield  March l942?

Page 2 of Notes

VII Sept- Dec 1941   AEG and CEG   @ raids

Wales  Wood Green  Catalin 

GG – old man

Irish – Power, Flanagan, Keehan, Quinn, Orr – JLD to Portsmouth HJLD and January paper – Musgrove goes … JLD seizes power, I do chairman, he secretary.

J.S. – sanatorum

BB  Manchester to Bradford.

Dulanty and JLD. Mu’s book

Alan Morton back to London with FBd (later Freda Morton)

VIII. In 1942

JLD – Quinn.  JLD and Hv. Dublin CP!     Book NRG


Page 3 of Notes


1939 Founded

194O    Mv (McI), Prend, Hv, (ET) Power, Blitz, IRA, Flanagan, Hogan, Barr, Griffith, Madge Carroll


1940 change line on war – Barr etc. 

1941  June Conference.  Building up of paper!  F.Campbell

           JLD, Quinn, PC, Madge Carroll, Hv, ET

           Struggle to carry line through?

1942     Building jobs era

1943    Advisory. Lodgings allowance.  FC, PD, 

 Sept. Conference…Trends, Friendly ?   Continuation. Complete review

         CG Sec.

1944  Return to London  Flying bombs   October London Committee


194O Paper 7000

1942  paper 14,000

Contact and postage in Eire


Nil till 1944-45


1939-40 up

1940-41-42 down 



1939 up

1940, 1941 down  (arrow symbols are given in notes for up, down etc.)

1942 – on level                

1942 – rising

 1944 up

 1945 up

Page 4 of Notes