McGuire was a Branch Secretary of the Dundee Young Communist League (YCL) who died in Spain. He lived at 15 Tait’s Lane, Dundee and was recruited into the YCL by Hugh Sloan. A radio engineer and a member of the Shop Assistants’ Union and delegate to the Trades & Labour Council, McGuire left for Spain in January 1937 with Tom Clarke.
His death was minuted at a Dundee Trades & Labour Council Executive meeting of March 17th 1937. A letter of condolence was sent to his mother and a minute silence held at full meeting of the council on March 24th. He was one of three Dundee brigaders honoured at a memorial meeting in the Foresters Halls on April 4th (along with Stalker and Tadden), which was reported in the Dundee Courier the following day. A programme printed for the meeting carried photographs and short biographies of the three.
In a letter to the Dependants Aid Committee, McGuire’s mother wrote; "Many thanks for the photograph of my dear son’s grave. I hope the day is not far away when I shall be able to go and see his last resting place. That day will be when his comrades have swept the Fascist murderers out of Spain. My family are happy to know that Willie and his comrades are not forgotten."
So intense was Dundee’s support for its Brigaders that the Jute & Flax Workers Union were promoted to pass a resolution in March 1937, which demanded “that the speeches made by Mr Ernest Bevin and Sir Walter Citrine at the recent International Conference on Spain, be published. We repudiate any suggestion that they were speaking for our Organisation as we were never consulted.”
William McGuire became a heroic figure to Dundonians, never more so that when he was immortalised by Harry Pollitt, who often spoke and wrote of meeting Brigaders who were badly wounded and in field hospitals in Spain. Of William McGuire, who Pollitt met as he lay dying of wounds sustained in the battle of Jarama, he went on record as saying: "Another chap, a member of the YCL in Dundee, was obviously dying. He asked me for a pencil and paper, and wrote this little note: ‘Please send my watch to my mother. Long Live the YCL!’ McGuire died on February 28th 1937.
Sources: World News August 1938 [MW}; Mike Arnott, Secretary Dundee TUC