Memories of George Brown
Jack J L Jones
With some comrades before the Battle of the Ebro, Spain, 1938.
I knew George Brown very well in the early to mid 1930's. Whilst I was a very active trade unionist and later a Labour Party councillor in Liverpool, he was the District Organiser of the Communist Party in Manchester. We had many contacts and meetings through the Trades Council and other bodies and organisations on the Left in those closely related big industrial cities where unemployment was rife.
I respected him greatly for his fine upright character, his speaking abilities and his Irish charm and his dedication to the cause. A strikingly fine man in every way. Although I was not a member of the Communist Party we shared many ideas and ideals together for a better kind of society and it was the General Strike of '26 that had got us both involved in politics. I also knew his brother Bob Brown very well, he joined me on the 1934 National Hunger March to London.
George got married to Evelyn very shortly before the outbreak of the war in Spain. I had met her with him previously and also greatly admired her as a stalwart activist against the rise of Fascism, she was after all arrested for fighting Mosley's thugs in Manchester, and also bravely aided people to escape Hitler's Germany. George like myself, with his influential position, became early on a recruiter for the International Brigade, encouraging young men to go out and fight in the defence of the Republic against Franco, and indeed Hitler and Mussolini who were supporting that terrible Fascist invasion. Shortly thereafter he felt overwhelmingly that he himself had to go. Sadly leaving Evelyn only months into their marriage, but undoubtedly with her full belief and support behind him.
He quickly gained a great reputation in the Brigade in Spain with his concern for the welfare of his comrades and his position as Commissar. It wasn't long before he was fighting on the front line in one of the great battles to save Madrid at Brunete. There he was shot and killed by fascist troops who had used civilians as cover. A terrible blow to his family and friends and most especially Evelyn.
Later that year I myself volunteered and led a group of comrades over the Pyrenees to eventually fight at the Battle of the Ebro, where I was wounded. Repatriated to recover I met up again with Evelyn and together we did what we could to aid the starving Spanish people - especially organising a great food-ship campaign - and with our mutual feelings love and respect for the memory of George were quickly drawn together and married.The rest is history as they say - but George was with us in spirit as a great comrade and guiding light throughout our long and active 60 years of marriage and no greater friend or inspiration could one have had.
Extract from a letter home