Winifred was born in 1898 in London of parents who were both firm left-wing Labour Party supporters. By the time she had become a teacher in the east end of London in the 1920s, she had become supportive of the Communist Party, though was still a Labour Party member.
By around 1930, she had met and would shortly marry Ralph Bates, who would become a well known writer (see separate entry). They made lengthy stays in the mountainous regions of Spain, during the course of which Winifred learned to speak and read Spanish.
Winfred became highly active in the Friends of the Soviet Union and then formally joined the Communist Party in 1934. Her other areas of activity included the Workers’ Birth Control Clinic and the Maternal Mortality Group. She also went to Paris as a delegate to a conference organised by Women Against War and Fascism.
Whilst Ralph was in the International Brigade, she– was unemployed and she and her son, born around early 1935 had to rely on funds from the Dependants Aid Committee. Winifred was active in Aid Spain meetings until Ralph returned from Spain as wounded and she cared for him.
His desertion of her, for a new life in America, as his books began to be published internationally, more or less as the war in Spain came to an end clearly left her distressed in more ways than one.
During the Second World War, Winifred became a shop assistant in the Co-op, and then found work in Manchester Corporation’s Electric Works. After a second marriage, when she became Winfred Sandford, and her second daughter was born in 1941.
Winfred remained a member of the Communist Party, being very active in campaigns for workers’ rights and family allowances and died in 1996.
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