W S Ainsworth was born on 17 January 1917 in Birmingham to William and Emily Ainsworth. Young Bill met his wife Gwen met at a Young Communist League camp in 1935 – probably one held by Birmingham Communists. His twin brother, Fred, was also in the Communist Party and the two did everything together.
But when the war broke out, the brother volunteered for the navy with the aim of carrying out political work in the forces at a time when the Party had characterised the war as basically imperialist. Acting Able Seaman Frederick John Ainsworth was 24 years old at the time of his death when he lost his life due to the sinking of the battleship Hood, in early 1941.
Then the Soviet Union was invaded and the Party now changed its line on the war, which triggered Bill during a period of mourning into life-long hostility to the Party.
Bill himself served in the army in Germany and on return became enamoured of the Revolutionary Communist Party, an early Trotskyist formation. This had been against the Second World War and, after it, focused on giving revolutionary propaganda directed at Axis prisoners of war, which was a criminal offence. Ainsworth was twice fined for this in Birmingham.
Despite this, he was a shop steward in a Birmingham car plant.
When the RCP broke up he was, by 1950, in the Socialist Review Group, an early forerunner to the SWP. Indeed, Bill Ainsworth’s house in Perry Barr, acted as the secretariat of the new grouplet. His approaches to the 4th International that the line of the SRG that the Soviet Union was a State-Capitalist country did not go well.
Although he was a meticulous editor of a cyclostyled paper, the endless internal bickering and difficulties within the group seemed to wear on him as the early 1950s evolved. He appears not to have continued with this affiliation.
Although later quietly living and working in Lincoln, in retirement Bill helped form the first West Midlands Local History Festival in 1989 and was then much involved in local history, being editor of The Birmingham Historian and an acknowledged expert on Bingley Hall.
He died on 27th December 2008, aged 93, having a humanist funeral.
Be the first to comment