Buckley joined the Communist Party in 1943 when he was 17 years old and serving an engineering apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce in Derby. As he puts it: “It was on the night shift,” he recalls, “- we had to do it!” Alf Brown, the Night Convenor, was a Party member in the Derby Branch and presented Buckley with his first membership card. He soon became the appointed representative of the junior members of the AEU and was also a member of Derby Trades Council until he moved into the drawing office and joined the AESD union where he became secretary of the Derby No.2 Branch with some two thousand draughtsmen on the books.
Of local Communists and activities, Buckley recalls standing with veteran Communist Doug Coleman many times in Derby Market Place selling the Daily Worker on a Saturday morning: ” … what a lovely man he was and how he managed his speech impediment very well.” Roy Buckley also remembers the amusement felt on the left when the Jewish League of Ex-servicemen chucked local fascist Tommy Moran into the Derwent! Yet, the young draughtsmen in the Rolls Royce Drawing Office were also amused when the local Communist leader of the Associated Engineering Draughtsmen’s Association, Jim Potts, turned up to work “with a black eye that he had received when he was on his soap box in Derby market place and Tommy Moran threw a cabbage and hit him in the face”.
Buckley attended World Youth Festivals in Czechoslovakia in 1948 and in Budapest in 1950 – where he did a stint helping to build the new sports stadium. He still has one of the certificates given to all participants in this activity. He also travelled to Czechoslovakia with Alan Bush with a party from the WEA on a friendship visit, when Bush went on a trip to Lidice, probably to get the atmosphere for his music.
That was a “beautiful summer and I spent quite a lot of time with the young Pioneers who took me around with them in a lorry on their work projects. For them a new day had dawned. I visited the CP headquarters in the old Bank of Bohemia – lots of blue marble and fantastic Czech Glass Chandeliers. The comrades made me very welcome. I also spent some time in the offices of the party newspaper Rude Pravo and found time to tour the Gestapo Headquarters in Wenceslas Square, the torture chamber below ground was most depressing and I like to forget I actually went there.”
As secretary of the East Midlands YCL, Buckley was a frequent visitor at the District Party Offices in Nottingham and recalls that YCLers looked up to East Midlands Communist leader, Fred Westacott, as a “man we young ones in the YCL looked up to. He really did create an aura of respect”. Buckley once enjoyed the “exhilarating experience of being a support speaker on the platform in Chesterfield Town Hall, with Harry Pollitt our General Secretary as the main speaker. If I remember correctly the audience was around 600 and Bert Wynn the Chesterfield Secretary sat beside me as the chairman. (I was rather smug over the fact that as a young lad, in my speech I handled a few hecklers pretty well to my personal satisfaction. Didn’t want to let Harry down!)”
Source: Roy Buckley e-mail to Graham Stevenson