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Fairburn was born in Leeds in 1923. His father was a maintenance engineer at Leeds Steelworks and Ron's first job when he left school at fourteen was in a gentleman's outfitters. Ron then worked at Fairbairn Lawson Comb Barbour Ltd as an office boy in the buying dept, moving to the Accounts Dept on the outbreak of war.
In the winter of 1941, Ron applied to join the RAF as he was keen to fly and had been interested by the development of the airships pre-war. He was sent to Cardington for assessment having been accepted as a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner. When Lancasters came on the scene he was given the new position of Flight Engineer, although he was aged only 19.
Operations against Berlin and Nuremburg remained vivid in Ron's memory all his life. Ron's logbook describes one raid to Berlin as a 'shaky do' and another, in November 1943, as a `fireworks display’. As a Staff Flight Engineer, Fairburn went on a conversion course on Stirlings, an aircraft which he liked and his role then was to supervise the newly-recruited Flight Engineers. When the war ended, Ron wanted to stay in the RAF and applied for a Short Service Commission but was unsuccessful.
In January 1947 he was demobbed and returned to Fairbairn Lawson Ltd, where he worked until 1959 as assistant to the Director's secretary.
He joined the Communist Party in 1946. During the late 1960s and onwards, Ron became committed to environmental recycling, something which he doggedly in personal and pursued practical terms from then on.
He also not only remained in the Communist Party, he joined the refounded Communist Party of Britain, of which he remained a member of the Party in Leeds until his death in 2006 at the age of 83. He was married with four children.
Phil Clegg, Leeds
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