Bubnova Leda

Leda Bubnova

Leda Bubnova was born near St Petersburg about 1913, the youngest of a large family. Many of her siblings took part in the revolutionary movement. She studied medicine in Leningrad, the first member of her family to have higher education. While a medical student in Leningrad, she met a British Communist named James Gregory. They became romantically involved and, around 1937, they became engaged. Gregory was said to be close to Harry Pollitt.

With that connection, Leda was able to leave the Soviet Union for London where they married. She was very lucky in her timing, since her father, Andrei Sergeyevich Bubnov (March 23rd 1883 – January 12th 1940), had been a Bolshevik revolutionary leader in Russia. Although as a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee, he had helped organise the October Revolution, in the post civil war period he had for a period supported the Left Opposition. In January 1924, Bubov switched to supporting Stalin and was appointed as Head of Political Control of the Red Army. The he was elected to the Central Committee and replaced Lunacharsky as People’s Commissar for Education. But he was expelled from the Party Central Committee in November 1937, arrested and perished in the great purge. Bubnov was posthumously rehabilitated.

As for Leda, seeking to become part of British life, she joined the British Communist Party, went through the London Blitz and worked, among other things, as a translator for instruction manuals for the military hardware being sent to the Soviet Union. By the late 1940s, James Gregory began to have affairs and, though she found it hard to know which was worse, he also later became a Titoist. Perhaps for both reasons, the marriage failed and, when Leda was working at the Soviet TASS news agency, she came to know an athletic looking east-ender named George Cranfield, who was a telex operator. They married and in 1952, their daughter, Tanya Georgina, was born.

Leda remained a loyal member of the British Communist Party, retaining a deep affection for Russia and the Soviet Union. For much of the post-war period she lived in Muswell Hill and later worked as a guide for visiting Soviet delegations and tours. George worked as a newspaper sports writer. George died in 1997 and Leda died in Portsmouth in 2001.


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