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Born in the east end of
In the early 1930s, Nat was in
Working as garment worker in the
But Nat Cohen had been charged with assault of a police officer, the one who had arrested them, and was fined and `bound over’ for 12 months, that is to say obliged to keep his nose clean for a year. On the strength of all this, Stepney International Labour Defence organisation went on to hold a conference on restrictions on free speech but, actually, Red Radio’s brushes with the police were mild in comparison to the repeated and violent experiences of the Manchester group of the same name.
Nat was a regular draw at Communist Party meetings and his family had fought Mosley's hated Blackshirts at every opportunity. Nat’s heroism is legendary - he was notorious in Stepney for his actions and words, so much so that Arnold Wesker mentions him in his play `Chicken Soup With Barley’: "That Nat Cohen," says one of his characters, "he's a right terror."
In the spring of 1936, with the Olympics due to be held in
It was just days before the Fascists rose in
Nat survived - and his bravery in the fighting had been so impressive that he was asked to head an English-speaking militia brigade which became known as the Tom Mann centuria, the first British unit. `Centuria’ was a label adopted by many of the early militia companies.
Nat Cohen met his future wife, Ramona, at the front. She was a Spanish nurse, whom he managed to smuggle out of
Nat fought through the war before being shot in the knee and having to come home – although his friend Sam Masters was not so fortunate and was killed in
He returned with Dolores and also a Great Dane dog - a stray he had found wandering the streets of
Nat and Dolores played a major role in bringing Spanish orphans to Carshalton in the borough of Sutton. The large house that accommodated them was known locally for many years as "The Spanish."
Later, at the height of the Second World War blitz, Nat heard that the Ritz Hotel was stopping
In his final years Nat lived in
Sources: Morning Star 17th July 2011; “Ideas, forms and developments in the British workers’ theatre: 1925-1935” Ian Saville, Ph. D,