G - I

Gibson Les

Les Gibson

Gibson was born in Fulham in September, 1913 and left school at 14, in 1927, and for the next seven years he prepared wild fowl in a department store, Barkers of Kensington, where unpaid overtime was compulsory.

His sister, Gladys, was a key figure in the Labour League of Youth and, although this was very influential on him, by the age of 17 he was a street corner speaker for the Young Communist League. “I read every pamphlet I could because I had to keep up to date with everything, if only to deal with the crowds and the hecklers I had to deal with."

His days in the dank basement in Kensington ended when a doctor warned him his health would suffer and his next job was plasterers' labourer.

In 1935, he was at a meeting of the Young Communist League when a wounded member of the International Brigade spoke of his determination to return to Spain. Les asked him how he could get to Spain. He and a companion ran the gauntlet of detectives at London's Victoria Station and Dover. In Paris, they were sent to separate safe houses and were eventually smuggled over the Pyrenees into Spain.

When his camp came under fire from artillery he was forced to dive into a slit trench somebody had started digging, but it was barely four inches deep: “I could feel pieces of shrapnel whirring across my back and missing me by fractions of an inch. I would have been cut to pieces if I hadn't squeezed in to the shallow trench."

Back in the UK Les served in the Army during the Second World War.

Source: Mike Miners 27th June 2008