Born on February 8th 1905, in Aston Road, Birmingham, his family moved to near Blaenavon, South Wales, when he was four years old. Having left school at 13 years, Jack briefly moved in and out of various labouring jobs until he settled on coal mining for thirteen years. He was involved in all the major battles of the period, including the general strike and its aftermath. He was married in 1927, unfortunate to be laid off shortly after and then intermittently unemployed.
Jack joined the Communist Party in 1928 and became secretary of the National Unemployed Workers Union for the Abersychan branch, near Pontypool. He became involved in the Party’s successful campaign to win a council seat for Roly Hanson, who was followed as a councillor ten years later, and then for many years afterwards, by Goff Miles.
In this period, Jack was only briefly employed only for a period across 1933-4 but Party work kept him busy; he had a Daily Worker round of 36 papers. In January 1936, he attended by his own account a “six-month Communist Party school”, although where and what this was he did not elaborate. Following this, he volunteered to go to Spain but was turned down as unfit, arising from long years of malnutrition and illnesses associated with poverty.
In 1938, with rearmament boosting the economy, he found work on the construction of an ordnance factory. In 1940, he followed the rearmament boom, like so many others, to Coventry, where he was able to obtain work in Warwickshire Flour Mills for very many years. It was a hard job, carrying heavy sacks, amidst an unpleasant environment – flour got in every crevice you could imagine and some you never knew existed – and more established workers in Coventry would not put up with it. He became the TGWU workplace branch secretary and, although there was pressure from on high to prevent him holding this office, no-one in the branch wanted him to give it up and so he stayed in situ.
He went to the Standard Motor Company in 1949, for a better paid job in a more congenial political environment. He became a stalwart of the Party’s factory branch for the next two decades, retiring slightly early on medical grounds in 1969. He wrote his own memoirs in the early 1970s, which were privately published.
Source: Jack Gadsby “Memories of a worker in South Wales and Coventry” CRIS Resource Centre, Coventry (no date, circa 1977?)
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