Norman Green was born on 26th October 1906 in Ironbridge, Shropshire. His family moved to Coventry while he was still a young boy and he grew up there. He left school at 14 and went to work in various engineering and the car factories in Coventry – Morris Engines, Dunlop, Vickers, Gauge and Tool.
He and his friend, Reg Strong, became friendly with John Wilkie, a Communist Party member from Aberdeen and manager of the local Co-operative Insurance Society in Coventry. Wilkie was a well-read Marxist and gave the young men free Marxist classes. Norman became enthused and joined the Communist Party after experiencing periods of unemployment in his youth and seeing the consequences of capitalism on the lives of working class families in Coventry.
Having decided to visit the workers’ state in the Soviet Union to see things for himself, he paid two visits, in 1938 and 1939. Passing through the Kiel Canal on a Soviet ship, they saw German soldiers on the quayside giving the Nazi salute – a foretaste of the war to come. His visits to the Soviet Union gave him new enthusiasm for the struggle for socialism at home. Although in the 1930s there was still considerable poverty in the Soviet Union and many problems, he felt the party was tackling them and the people they met were, on the whole, optimistic about socialist achievements and potential.
After his mother’s house was flattened in the blitz on Coventry in 1940, the family moved back to Madeley in Shropshire, where he continued working in a small engineering factory. In Madeley he and his new wife, Marguerite (nee Renard, later Morgan – see separate entry) became active in the local Labour movement, set up a CP branch in the village and promoted the Daily Worker – quite an achievement in a place which had hardly heard of Communism and never seen a Daily Worker before! He soon got several of his workmates to join the Party and the branch began to grow.
Living in a small village and renting accommodation in a big house, there was enough space for visiting comrades to stay and the house became a ‘sort of convalescent home’ for over-worked comrades; Jack Cohen, then a Party worker in Coventry, and Isobel Brown, among others, came to stay and recuperate. Both Norman and Marguerite worked closely with the local Labour Party and helped in the post-war electoral campaign that resulted in a massive landslide for Labour. Marguerite was a good platform speaker and the Labour Party told her she would get a parliamentary seat pretty quickly if she joined them, but she remained true to the Party.
As a steward in his factory, Norman came into conflict with management after trying to get a proper rate of pay for a skilled engineer colleague. The case went to arbitration but the local engineering union official sent to defend him at the tribunal was a right-winger who hated Communists, so sided with management and Norman was sacked. On returning to Coventry, he found himself on a blacklist and couldn’t find a job in any of the local factories. He thus decided to leave factory work and join his friend, Reg, with the Co-op Insurance Society.
Norman remained a member of the CPGB until its demise, when he joined the CPB, which he remained a member of for the rest of his life. He also remained also a devoted reader and financial contributor to the Daily Worker/Morning Star. His council house was used for branch meetings and he was seen regularly on demonstrations, May Day marches and picket lines in the city.
He was remembered with much fondness by friends and neighbours, being always accommodating and helpful, doing jobs and offering help to neighbours in difficulties but never asking for remuneration; Norman Green died on October 4th 2001, aged 95 years old.
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