Tommy (T H) James was born in 1898 and began work in 1912 at Rotherham Main Colliery. After a spell in the army during world war one, he found himself unemployed and joined the Communist Party in November 1922, through joining the National Unemployed Workers Committee Movement (later NUWM) Hunger March.
Despite his Communist Party membership, James was a full-time organiser in 1924 for the successful Labour candidate in Rotherham. He was imprisoned twice, in 1926 and 1931, receiving three months on each occasion for `breach of the peace’.
James became a full time organiser for the Communist Party in Sheffield in 1930 and spent 15 months studying in the Soviet Union from 1934.
He became a recruiting agent for the International Brigades in 1936 and was an IB Political Commissar from 1937. (Pic right: Tommy James in Spain.)
In the post war period, he was especially active in the labour movement and in the struggle for peace. He had the honour of greeting Pablo Picasso on his visit to Sheffield for the 1950 World Peace Council, which was aborted by the then Labour Government in an act of political sabotage. (See pic below of Tommy with Picasso.)
Later, he was the President of Rotherham Trades Council and was posthumously made a freeman of the Borough of Rotherham in 1971, the year that he died.
Sources: Morning Star 17th February 1986; `Tommy James – a lion of a man’ Brian Lewis and Bill Gledhill ((includes a remininisence of Spain by T H James. `Pounded Earth (1939) Yorkshire Arts Circus (1985)
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