(25.12.20 – 25.7.02)
(left: Frank Watters pictured in the 1960s)
NOTE: THE FULL MEMOIRS OF FRANK WATTERS APPEARS ELSEWHERE ON THIS SITE - SEE `MORE' THEN `RED MEMOIRS'; A SHORT BIOGRAPHY FOLLOWS...
Frank Watters was born on Christmas Day in 1920 in the Scottish mining community of Shotts in Lanarkshire. His mother, Kate, was fond of saying that all the good people shared his birthday – Jesus Christ and Willie Gallagher, a long-standing Communist Member of Parliament. Maybe the statement summed up something about the family as a whole?
His father was a militant miner, universally known as “Paddy”. Frank’s grandparents had fled the poverty and political volatility of Ireland. Little is known of them, beyond a vague story of a threat of prosecution from a landlord in Ireland for “stealing” seaweed for food for the family. Paddy was victimised after the 1926 General Strike for the high profile he played, especially as a supporter of the Communist Party. After the strike, he was unable to find work as a result and was unemployed until 1938.
Frank’s mother, Kate, bore the main responsibility of raising four boys and three girls, of which he was the second youngest. (The first-born son, Patrick, died in infancy.) Poverty and illness were no strangers to the mining communities of the hungry thirties. The nine of them lived in a two-room cottage, with no domestic plumbing of any kind; the only lighting being paraffin lamps. The whole row shared a midden, an open sewer toilet, out back.
Such deprivation enhanced a quality of resourcefulness in Frank. He ran errands for the old ladies of the village, fetching them tots of whisky from the “snug”, in small jugs secreted under his coat, to consume by their fireplace. Walking greyhounds and performing the undignified task of a trip to the pawnbrokers for the otherwise embarrassed neighbours, all these initiatives earned him a few precious coppers, which he lodged with the local shopkeeper. He planned one year to buy wondrous gifts for the whole family and a football for himself. Normally, an apple and an orange in his mother’s stocking were his only joint birthday and Christmas present and that due to his elder brothers and sisters being able to find work. Alas, when the time came for payout, the shopkeeper told him that his mother’s grocery debts had cancelled out his own credit.
In fact, Paddy’s political and industrial activities initially prevented Frank and his brothers from getting a job in the pits after school. This background was certainly a key factor in his becoming a life-long Communist and trades unionist. All four brothers and three sisters shared similar views; indeed, one brother would become a long-standing local councillor in Shotts. “Vote Watters – Vote Communist” was the local graffiti on village walls for years afterwards! Whenever there was a `meeting of the waters’ – a reference to a fond family ballad – there would be a flowing of the whisky and detailed argument about political tactics and strategy in which all participated, younger offspring of the siblings included. Frank’s story is one of dedication to the struggles of working class people of all backgrounds. Whether you agree with Frank’s life-long passions or not, no one can surely fail to recognise the extraordinary nature of his life.
(Left: Frank in his later years)
He joined the Scottish Mineworkers' Union in 1937 and the Young Communist League at 18 and its `parent’, the CP, shortly after. Soon involved in the fight for adult rates at the age of 18 and better health and safety for young miners, he was involved in the formation of the Scottish Young Miners' Committee. Desperate to improve on his meagre state education, Frank was a regular student at the Scottish miners’ annual school, winning places to summer schools such as Beatrice Webb and Ruskin, at Oxford. There was also a strong tradition of self-education amongst Scottish Communist miners and Frank found himself directed by older men to a life-long deep attachment to the huge body of powerful dialect poetry of Robert Burns.
As an underground face worker, he was particular proud of his strong stance in winning miners to boost production as part of the war effort, every ounce of coal made the Red Army’s struggle against Nazism and racism easier, was his rationale. In this period, he suffered at least two serious accidents underground, leaving him with deformed feet and with only a stump of one finger – which he was forever poking vacantly into the air to hammer home a point! The latter accident saw him left unattended in hospital for hours, neglected for cost reasons and undervalued because he was only a `dirty miner’. This experience this left him – like many of his generation - a passionate advocate for the NHS.
Frank left the pits, after 18 years, in February 1953 to work for the CP. His wages were halved overnight. By the end of the year, he was transferred by the Party to work amongst the South Yorkshire miners. It is perhaps difficult at this distance in time to realise the immense importance of the miners in Britain’s trade union movement then, there were, after all, some three quarters of a million of them. Over the next 15 years, Frank was to play a decisive role in achieving a change in the nature of the leadership of the Yorkshire NUM. The CP became an influential force in the Yorkshire area of the NUM due to Frank’s talent for detailed organisational work in internal union elections, which had wider, national significance in the union.
Frank was one of a breed – mostly Scottish – who carved out for the CP a major role in the British trade union movement. The respect for the integrity and devotion of people like Frank eventually ran to the highest levels in the union movement. One such, Mick McGahey, Vice-President of the NUM and Chair of the CP, actually also came from the village of Shotts and he and Frank went to school together. Arthur Scargill, leader of the miners for the last two decades, was one of Frank’s young protégés in Yorkshire in the 1950s.
Their deep personal friendship was only broken in the early 1990s, when Arthur refused to accept Frank’s criticisms of his leading the breakaway Socialist Labour Party, splitting with the official Labour Party. Sadly, Arthur’s hostility to Frank greatly upset him, as he had many political disagreements in his life but never held them as personal antagonisms. However, Arthur’s wife, Anne Scargill, remained a firm friend to the end.
This nurturing of future leaders of trade unions was a special talent for which Frank was widely known inside the labour movement. A generation of leaders owed their status to his guidance – a score or more in the NUM, a dozen senior officials in the T&G, several in Unison, the FBU, ISTC and others.
Frank’s terrain on moving from Scotland was the entire South Yorkshire coalfield, which soon felt his presence. From the late 1950s, one Shotts-like place in particular, Armthorpe, near Doncaster, was turned under Frank’s tutelage into a `red’ village. Communist councillors were elected in straight fights with official Labour candidates. Other parties couldn’t muster the nominations to even stand. Only local government re-organisation in 1973 began to dilute this local strength. Frank would spend many happy New Year’s Eves, on his return to Yorkshire in the 1980s and 1990s, with his close friends, Dot and Eric Browne, who had both been part of the creation of `Red Armthorpe’.
In 1957, Frank married Freda Hartley, after meeting her at a CP event. Two years later, their daughter, Lesley, was born. Freda was the love of Frank’s life. Cultured and well read, she was admired by many for her humanitarian instincts. It was something of a catch for the rough and ready ex-miner! Even if his mother, a strict Catholic on these matters, disagreed with him taking up with a divorcee who also had a boy from her earlier marriage, `another man’s child’, and then marrying in a registry office!
Fund-raising for the CP and for strikers was always something of a forte of Frank’s. Even as a boy he had distinct commercial acumen. He’d often say that, if he hadn’t have been a Communist, he would have become a rich man! Now with a family to support, moving from Barnsley to Doncaster, Frank had to turn his mind to personal finances.
Too busy with politics to ensure that the funds for his wages were raised, Frank even took up a market stall at one point. Now, even though Frank has spent the best part of half a century away from his native land, he has always kept a distinctive Scots edge to his pronunciation. The initiated will know that the Scots/Irish name of Watters should actually be pronounced Waters. (Most people in the Midlands just pronounce it as it is written.) But Yorkshire folk, in their broad way of speaking, always called him `Whatt-ers’, with a hard sound on the double `t’. Hence the refrain for which he was once humorously famous, owing to this exercise in commerce: “Don’t go round in rags and tatters, get your shirts and suits from Frankie Watters!”
His innovative style also resulted in a cultural breakthrough when he helped to get the socialist black American singer Paul Robeson to the Yorkshire mining communities. Frank himself still retained a deep fondness for the singing of this extra special man and the experience motivated him in later years to engage in similar cultural projects, as well as cementing a life-long and especially deep hostility to racial hatred.
But Frank’s wages from the Communist Party were meagre and that was when he had them paid! Every penny had to be raised from local working class folk, so an offer for a guaranteed income from the Midlands Communist Party was greatly attractive for a man with a wife and two children to support. Thus, in 1968 Frank left Yorkshire for the Midlands where he was firstly the Birmingham and then the Midland District Secretary of the Communist Party. After a short while, his family were able to join him. As a “director” of the Party bookshop, he had been able to convince (the emphasis being more on the `con’!) a building society to loan him the capital for a pleasant home in the Maypole area.
Frank’s ability to reach out to people of all kinds of opinions was surely proven when he was invited almost as soon as he had settled in the city by the Rector of St Martin’s in the Bull Ring to share a platform with Bishops and Archbishops at the church. After all, there had even been a vicar in South Yorkshire coalfield who regularly stood in council elections for the CP! The theme of Frank’s “sermon” was the unity of objectives between genuine Marxists and Christians. Canon Green defended his invitation to critical voices in the media on the basis of Frank’s devotion to peace, racial harmony and respect for all faiths. The Canon quoted the then Pope to the effect that Christians must “work with non-believers whose object is to do good”.
One of Frank’s outstanding initiatives was the promotion of the Communist Party’s Star Social Club, built in 1968, which sadly did not survive long after Frank’s return to Yorkshire in 1980.
Left: Frank on the far left at the bar in the Star Club in 1974 with the organisers of the Reggae Club. Ted Day, the regular bar man and carworker can be seen behind the bar.
The club united the diverse communities of Birmingham in musical and political endeavour. A weekly folk music club saw many famous names in the Irish community perform, including the Birmingham based “Drowsy Maggie” and members of the “Dubliners”. Members of the famous Campbell family, removed from Aberdeen to Sparkhill, were close to Frank. Ian and Lorna were pretty famous names in the 60s and early 70s, but not as much as the next generation of Campbells – the band known as UB40.
Such a degree of contact, coupled with Frank’s deep association with Irish Republicanism, which went back to his own father’s involvement, saw him reach out to the city’s big Irish community. Especially in 1972, in the wake of the dreadful shooting of 15 innocent protestors for civil rights - Bloody Sunday. A massive demonstration of 5,000 was held in Birmingham and Frank was at the centre of it. Then there was also the mobilising of the shop stewards’ movement in the car factories to oppose a fascist inspired assault on the Birmingham Irish after the dreadful pub bombings. Make no mistake, Frank was always opposed to terrorism – but he fiercely supported the minority Catholic community in Northern Ireland in their search for equal rights.
(Left: The Star Club, on the first floor, and the associated Communist bookshop, Key Books, on the ground floor in Essex Street, Birmingham - the centre of the left during the 1970s.)
Frank also ensured that the Star Club reached out to the big black community in the city. Twice a week the Reggae Disco took over. At its height no less than 500 young black people crowded into the outside streets, looking for entry, every Friday and Sunday night. It was the focus of the massive campaign in 1970-1 to free Angela Davies, a black American Communist framed on a murder charge and eventually released after massive protests all over the world. A special resonance existed in that she came from Birmingham, Alabama. The internationally famous Jamaican jazz musician, Andy Hamilton, based in Handsworth, dated his friendship with Frank from this time.
The Star Club was the organisational base for very many political campaigns, strikes and trade union demonstrations. In particular, it provided a forum for debate amongst local trades unionists and was the home for Key Books, at that time the only outlet for the purchase of trade union and socialist books. Every significant union in the city and the region found themselves gravitating towards Essex Street, off the Bristol Road, where the Star Club was based. Frank had particularly special personal links with officials from the builders’ (UCATT) and technicians’ (TASS) unions.
Given the ethnic composition of Birmingham, Frank was strongly concerned at this time, well ahead of opinion then, to promote the idea that the big general unions should take action to ensure that their considerable ethnic minorities were well represented in their leading bodies and officials. One young trades unionist from the city who was a beneficiary of Frank’s support was one Bill Morris, now famous as the black leader of the T&G. Frank followed his progress in the union for many years, so much so that he personally organised, from his base in Yorkshire, the design, printing and distribution of Bill’s election material when he ran for the T&G General Secretary’s position in 1991.
Frank’s interest in Bill arose from the vital political necessity of winning the Midlands’ trade unions to dump the racism that lay deep within their structures. Promoting black and Asian activists within the union movement was critical. In many factories and foundries of Birmingham and the Black Country, most union members were of black or Asian origin. But few shop stewards, let alone branch secretaries, district, regional, national or executive committee members were anything other than white. Frank kept close links and personal friendships with activists in the Indian Workers Association, even though – at the time – some had written off the established unions as inherently white racist bodies. Some robust arguments were had!
The Club became renowned for the vital role it played in the now historic battle of Saltley Gate, during the 1972 national miners’ strike. Frank invited his old friend Arthur Scargill to bring his flying pickets from Yorkshire to demonstrate outside the massive coke stockpile at Saltley Gas works. Scores were put up on the floor of the Star Club and, in a calculated attempt to engage Birmingham trades unionists in support of the picketing, appeals were generated in Labour and working men’s clubs for volunteers to put miners up in their own homes. The political thinking behind such a move was pure Frank. He even organised a friendly baker to donate so many pies, not a few of which ended up on lorry windscreens! But there was little violence then, the strike was pretty popular, devoted as it was to boosting the then dreadful pay of miners. Little wonder then that tens of thousands of Birmingham factory workers poured into Saltley to demonstrate solidarity, causing the authorities to close the coke depot. Within weeks, the miners had won their strike. Thus emboldened, they would be back again within two years, causing Ted Heath, the Tory Prime Minister, to call a general election, which he lost to Labour.
Frank was always a dynamo of energy in whatever he did. His commercial acumen was always at work for the movement and the Party. Not only did he market the Star Clubs ability to put on special licences for union social events, he catered for massive Cypriot weddings. He became known as the `Badge King’, when he utilised the city’s Jewellery Quarter’s virtual monopoly on badge making to produce most of the well-known campaign badges of the 1970s. The campaign against Ted Heath’s anti-union laws saw the appearance of the ubiquitous `Kill the Bill’ badge, hundreds of thousands of which were produced, that helped virtually eliminate the TUC General Council’s weaker `Stop the Bill’ slogan. After the CIA inspired military coup against the left unity government, led by General Pinochet, `Solidarity with Chile’ badges were produced in a dozen languages and sold across the globe.
Wherever workers were in struggle Frank's organising ability was brought to bear. Fire brigade workers were in conflict with government pay policy in 1977, after which decent pay structures were won. Frank was immediately at their side, winning such admiration that, even up to 2001, Frank was a regular honoured guest at their union’s annual conference. In 1980, Frank was involved in the steel workers' strike, organising accommodation and support groups. He gained such respect that he received a range of special awards from the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation and is still thought of with high regard in that union. The importance of this is best gauged by the fact that the organised left has always been very weak in this union, underlining a special feature of Frank’s style of work, whereby he wrote off no section, faction or outlook when it came to working together for the good of workers.
In 1977, Frank’s wife, Freda, was cruelly cut off in her prime. At the age of 52, she died of cancer after a mercifully brief illness. Freda had been a spirited activist in her own right. An assistant social worker, working with the elderly as a carer, and early feminist, she was highly respected for her intelligence and independence of mind. She was herself a committed Communist, who was able to counter Frank’s inability to organise himself (he was forever organising everybody else!) by ensuring he kept body and soul together. Freda juggled the meagre finances of their household and was always there to discuss the politics of his latest campaign and to give support and spirit to him. As Frank has written, “those 20 years which I shared with a stout-hearted Yorkshire lass with a loving personality mean much to me”. It was perhaps a dignified understatement about the cruellest of blows.
This was a period when internal differences within the Communist Party became so sharp that it would split several times and then, after damaging internal conflict, haemorrhage membership, loosing much of the influence people like Frank and many others had won it over decades. Extraordinarily, Frank found himself in trouble with the CPGB EC, by then dominated by the “Marxism Today” faction, for writing a supportive article on the miners’ strike in the Morning Star. An error in quoting the wrong provision in rule meant that his intended removal from key Party committees, notably the “Mining Advisory”, constitutionally should not have proceeded. At the 1987 Party Congress, despite the vicious atmosphere, over a third of the delegates backed him.
He was then asked to recant and refused, after 2½ years the disciplinary action was dropped, but he was kept out of the Mining Advisory. Although understanding the plight of hundreds of Communists who had been unjustly expelled or excluded from the Party, he did not agree at that point with the setting up new parties and continued to argue for struggle within the CPGB against the controlling revisionists.
Feeling closer to the views expounded by the newspaper, the Morning Star, Frank became its regional circulation representative in 1979. In 1980, he decided to transfer back to Yorkshire, performing the same function there. A social event to mark his moving attracted no less than 400 people from all walks of life and opinions.
Actually, the success of this event must have whetted Frank’s appetite for more, since he went on to organise for himself major events for his 65th and 75th birthdays! Then there was the testimonial for his 80th birthday, which attracted several score of unions, branches and individuals to contribute towards a few glasses of “half and a half”`- Frank’s favourite tipple of a half pint of lager and a fifth of a gill of whisky! Actually, Frank’s special talent for organising social occasions went far beyond arranging his own commemorations. All workers in struggle could be sure of his help in setting up fund-raising events. Miners, ambulance workers, the P&O seafarers and many others benefited from this side of Frank.
In his last years, he was much immersed in raising funds, medicines and even children’s toys for Cuba. There is an extraordinary photo of muscular FBU conference delegates holding vast numbers of cuddly toys that Frank had cajoled them into buying from local shops, in order to send them on a ship to Cuba! This style of work not only raised much needed finance for good causes but also encouraged social interaction, which in turn helped build solidarity and enhanced consciousness. Frank was all too aware of this process, it brought families and communities into action, deepening understanding and involvement in working class struggles. The very process of having a good time and enjoying vibrant cultural experiences helped people make connections.
Arriving back in Yorkshire in 1980, Frank settled down to combining his new role with his long-held talents. As a circulation representative, few people could claim his zeal in ensuring that union conferences and demonstrations were covered with Star sellers. Indeed, his talent for a sale was so great that many delegates walking to a conference gave in on sight of him! But it went wider than that. In the 1982 health workers' dispute, he played a vital role in bringing the four unions involved together, helping to win them unlimited support and days of action by Yorkshire miners. During their 1989-90 dispute, Barnsley ambulance workers recognised Frank's unstinting efforts on their behalf when, they presented him with an inscribed brief case. He was also involved in raising over £36,000 for the seafarers' hardship fund during their dispute with P&O Ferries. The national Peoples’ March for Jobs, whereby hundred of the unemployed marched from town to town in protest at Government inaction, saw Frank as one of the organisers of the Yorkshire leg. Frank’s friendship with yet another progressive vicar, the Reverend Rodney Marshall, began during this time. He also became an elected Director of the Co-op in Barnsley.
But, of course, it was the Herculean struggle of the miners in the big year long strike to oppose pit closures, in 1984-5, that saw Frank’s unstoppable energy at work in his finest hour. Yorkshire was at the centre of the conflict and local miners were the most solid in the country. Frank was known to be everywhere, keeping up morale and disseminating good advice. In 1987 Frank was made an Honorary Member of the NUM, a rare honour shared with Nelson Mandela, in recognition of his life-long service, but also for his crucial role in the battle for Saltley Gate and his work in the 1984/85 miners' strike. The Midlands Area NUM also marked their appreciation of his efforts in 1972 with the presentation to him of an inscribed miner's lamp.
Frank formally retired at the age of 67 from employment with the Morning Star and there was another of his mammoth celebrations to attend! But he never retired from being active. Far from it, illustrative of his perennial determination, is the fact that he learned to swim, for the first time in his life, at the age of 67. His motive was to be able to swim with his grandchildren and the affair was sufficiently unusual to warrant a half page article in his local newspaper.
Just so was his second marriage at the age of 69. The Yorkshire regional TV magazine programme, Calendar, ran a five-minute piece on the wedding. Frank had met his bride, Esta Meltser, in Bulgaria towards the end of the 1970s. A former teacher of English from the Soviet Union, she and Frank shared holidays for years. It was almost a fairy tale wedding. Their relationship took the form of her spending part of her time in Barnsley and part in Sverdlovsk, her Siberian hometown. Difficulties arising from the political and economic upheavals of recent years in Russia, affecting her son and grandson, coupled with Esta’s own aging, saw them agree to her staying permanently with her family about 5 years before Frank’s death was to occur.
Frank was a keen observer of events in the former USSR. He could be said to be a child of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. As he himself wrote, he was never disillusioned. After the 1991 dissolution of the CPGB, Frank joined the Communist Party of Scotland, as an `expatriate’ member, emotionally recalling that that was what he had joined in his youth. He also worked increasingly closely with the nationally re-established Communist Party of Britain, especially in recent times. As a staunch supporter of the Morning Star, he supported the staff when they battled against attempts to sack its editor. He looked supportively to the renewal of the CPB under new leadership and was excited by its increasing focus on and support in the trade union movement.
Frank’s most durable achievement was to write and have printed his own 200 page memoirs, entitled “Being Frank”, which he dedicated to his two grandchildren. Publishing this in 1992 at his own financial risk, he sold no less than 5,000 copies – a remarkable print run by any standards. His self-publishing was sponsored by 35 MPs, 8 MEPs, 11 Barnsley councillors, the entire NUM executive, the leadership of unions such as the T&G, NUPE (now part of Unison), the Fire Brigades Union and MSF. Frank, a man able to call John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, a personal friend, was also able to get John Smith, the then leader of the Labour Party, to be photographed with him to promote his memoirs. The book is now out of print, every copy sold helped Frank enjoy his seventh decade, taking holidays to Cuba, Russia and the Czech Republic and imbibing the odd glass or two of the amber fluid from Scotland!
In his 80th year Frank gradually reached the point where he could no longer keep up the old pace. Walking became more and more difficult for him, home care assistance was laid on. His social worker turned out to be the daughter of a retired Communist union convenor in Coventry! Even after changing her job, she kept in touch with Frank, so well had she and he got on. But Frank’s health was worse than he would admit. Typically, he kept quiet the fact that he had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, arising from prostate cancer. He was the last of his generation and loosing, one by one, all of his brothers and sisters, their partners and a nephew affected him greatly. This has been a tightly knit family, but he was comforted by having the love of all of his nephews and nieces, especially with two of the latter living and working close by in Yorkshire.
But his health deteriorated to the extent that he eventually welcomed the hospitality of Valley Nursing Home, in Birmingham, having moved from hospital in Barnsley. Typically, he arrived in time for the St Patrick’s Day parade! Frank, the working class hero, was so pleased when he discovered that the Matron used to collect glasses at his Star Club in the 1970s and, of course, she and her family remembered him well. “One of his own”, he thought, to look after him in the final months of his life.
Even so, it was a wrench leaving the sheltered accommodation in Barnsley, which he loved living in, especially as it was just across the road from his beloved Swaith Working Men’s Club. But his consolation was that his new home was only ten minutes drive away from his beloved grandkids, Ben and Joanne, then aged 17 and 15. He was so proud of them, not just in the way all grandparents prize their grandchildrens’ unique talents, but also because they were going to carry on the fine Communist traditions of himself, Freda and the wider family. His grandchildren joining the reconstituted Young Communist League more than six decades after himself was a matter of great satisfaction to him. He listened with interest, even in his final illness, to their reports of Ben’s role on the YCL EC and Joanne’s phenomenal ability as a `Challenge’ seller on the recent massive peace demonstrations that they both attended. Hearing of each of their insightful spoken contributions to the YCL Congress, he expected nothing less. Chips of the old block indeed!
Frank’s room at the nursing home was decorated with many memories of his long and dedicated life as a bit of a rebel! These displays of a life of struggle helped to stimulate the curiosity of the nursing staff to the history of beliefs of the most remarkable patient they had ever had. Whether it was a nurse from South Africa, or an assistant from Poland, he had something relevant from his long experience to communicate.
Amongst the memorabilia was a picture of Harry Pollitt, hung on the wall above his bed, “none better” said Frank; no Pope above the bed for him! Also, a large portrait of Robbie Burns was placed on one wall. Frank would have been amused with the thought that not only did he share a birthday with Gallagher, but also that he and Burns shared the same day of passing away, July 25th! Ever the one to note meaningful coincidence, he would have been delighted if he had known that he was laid to rest for the period before his funeral in the central Co-op Funeral home –- literally across the road from Saltley Gate.
Like all of us, Frank had his irritating human foibles! Being larger than life even in death he cast a shadow of irascibility, being picked up for his first night in the chapel of rest by the wrong Co-op society, before having to be moved to the correct one! Being moved from the Conservative, middle-class area of Sutton Coldfield to the working class stronghold of Nechells, the area where Saltley Gates were, would have met with his approval. He had many funny stories about the funerals of old comrades. Indeed, he was renowned as the chief organiser and eulogist of many of them, as his own bulk file of funeral orations will testify.
No one can doubt the sterling quality of his commitment to working class struggle. “The seeds are already sown … the politics of ordinary people will never leave us... Fear not, those of you who are confused and uncertain”, he once wrote in his autobiography. “Being Frank” was its title and, as he himself ended it, “Being Frank has meant being fearless…”
Frank Watters was certainly both frank and fearless in his life-long dedication to the interests of ordinary people all over the world.
Out of interest, it may be worth noting that the following appeared in the Daily Worker, just after Frank’s 15th birthday:
Six thousand Lanark miners in eleven pits struck today against the drive of the owners for overtime. With the fear of a national stoppage before them, the owners are straining every nerve to pile up a huge reserve of coal. Overtime is the order of the day. Pits are being worked on Sunday. Production is being speeded up. Now the miners in the Shotts area have decided to call a halt. All eleven pits belonging to the Shotts Iron Company and the Coltness company stopped work, demanding time and a half for working over-time. This demand has been turned down by the companies.
Daily Worker January 4, 1936