Tamara Philipps, or more formally `Lady Milford’, was the wife of Wogan Phillips, the Communist `lord’ (see separate entry). Before that marriage she was the widow of Bill Rust, the legendary first editor of the Daily Worker (see separate entry). But she was born as Tamara Kravets in Georgia in 1913, then part of Russia and for decades afterwards the Soviet Union.
In the melee of war, revolution and civil war, she was separated from both parents at an early age. Tamara would tell friends in her late years how she was “mothered by the Soviet Union”. During the 1917 Russian revolution she was given the task of helping to ferry food parcels across town, often consuming them on the way due to hunger. Tamara displayed the consequences of these origins throughout her life. Seemingly always frail, her outward form betrayed an internal firmness of spirit. One close friend, on her death, described her as having “a sparrow-like frame, with bones of steel”.
Tamara met Bill Rust in 1930 or 1931, when he was working in Moscow, and his marriage either had already ended or was about to do so. They soon married and set up in London to enable Bill to become editor of the Daily Worker. Now Mrs Tamara Rust, amongst other things in a busy life, she played tennis excellently, being by nature a highly energetic person. She took part in junior Wimbledon in 1935, winning some trophies.
She was the key organiser in 1941 of a project to extend women’s rights through a voluntary “Women’s Parliament”. A number of regionally based bodies took off, including one in London. That `parliament’ saw 345 women attend the first meeting on July 13th. Tamara also produced two pamphlets during the second world war – “here women enjoy freedom!” for the Russia Today Society and "Equal Pay for equal work" for the Communist Party.
Some five years after Bill Rust’s early death in 1949, Tamara married Wogan Philipps, the only member of the House of Lords to be a Communist Party member. The couple lived in the Gloucestershire countryside for more than two decades in a farmhouse remodelled by the progressive Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin. In 1982, they moved to London and bought a house in Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead. She was active with the Movement for Colonial Freedom and the anti-apartheid movement. Tamara was devastated by Wogan’s death in 1993 and she herself died at the great age of 95 in 2008.
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