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Levitt Victor

Victor Levitt

Levitt was born in east London, to Jewish parents and a mother in her mid-40s and suffering greatly from ill health. His brother, Fred, had been born in the Ukraine eighteen years earlier, and a sister had died at 13. Another brother, Henry, was born in England in 1911 and became a leading trade union general secretary. The death of his father, when Vic was only 14, was made more bearable by Fred and his wife Rachel taking on responsibility for the family.

In his teens, Vic joined the Communist Party and became a leading activist in the pre-war period. His voice was heard almost daily at Spouters' Corner in Wood Green, north London, from the early 1930s onwards. He took part in anti-fascist demonstrations and was at the Cable Street in 1936.

Vic married Joclyn in September 1939, and he joined the RAF three days later. He passed a series of tests demonstrating outstanding aptitude as a potential pilot, but was repeatedly thwarted because of his activist history. Only after the MP for Wood Green asked questions on three occasions in parliament was he allowed to proceed to pilot training. He qualified among the elite at the RAF College, Cranwell, as a pilot and, unusually, also as a navigator. He ended the war as an instructor at Cranwell.

Having later qualified as a teacher, as a passionate swimmer he persuaded the local council to create the new post of swimming teacher for the schools in Edmonton, north London, and to keep open the then Knights Lane swimming baths during the winter. He found this a conducive niche and occupied it as a swimming coach in Edmonton north London for much of the rest of his working life. He died aged 91 in 2010.

Source: Guardian 18th January 2010