John Gilbert Lawton, on leaving school, went to work on his local newspaper. He joined the Communist Party in the 1930s. He was soon in London, on the Daily Worker, covering stunts organised by the National Union of Unemployed Workers, among them a sit-in at the Savoy hotel. At the end of the Spanish civil war, he helped look after refugee children in Huddersfield.
Gilbert was working on the Press Association desk in London in December 1941 when news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor came through. He was probably the first person in England, outside government circles, to learn of the Japanese attack. He spent the rest of the war in Huddersfield, working in local engineering factories. After the conflict, he worked as a subeditor on the Yorkshire Evening Post in Leeds, where he continued to compile the crossword for 27 years after retirement, until his eyesight failed in 2002.
His father had been a piano tuner and Gilbert Lawton wrote music in his spare time. He was also an ardent cyclist and moors walker, Francophile and a collector of thousands of pub names. Lawton died aged 95, still a convinced Communist.
Source: Guardian November 29th 2005
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