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A brief biography of Harry Davies

by Graham Stevenson

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Born in 1887, Harry joined the Royal Engineers in 1914 at only 17 years of age. In 1919 his regiment refused to fight against the Red Army and was hurriedly demobbed!

He returned to the mines in south Wales and joined the Labour Party in 1920.  During the miners’ lock out after the General Strike in 1926, he was jailed and victimised.  But eventually he did get work only to suffer a bad injury after being given a dangerous job. Over the next twelve years he was virtually permanently unemployed.    

He joined the Communist Party in 1930 and moved to Nottingham in the hope of finding work in 1933. But the best he obtained was to become a leading activist in the National Unemployed Workers Movement.

Harry also became a writer of short stories, poems, and novels.  Extracts from his novel based on real life experiences, “Ten Lean Years: Unemployed Struggles and the National Unemployed Workers Movement in Nottingham” were only finally published in 1984. In this, he tells the story of how a benefit office was stormed by activists.

From 1940 to 1951, he was an engineering industry shop steward and convenor. But he became a full time Party city organiser after he had been subject to regular blacklisting.  He then went back to the building industry and was later active as a UCATT delegate in the pensioners’ movement.