Thomas W J


W J Thomas

Thomas was a Communist Party member from Port Talbort, South Wales, who fought in the International Brigade in Spainagainst Franco's fascists.

One year into the Second World War, in September 1940, Thomas took it upon himself to increase Daily Worker circulation. “I went right into action only on Wednesday,” the paper reported him as saying. “I obtained that evening in less than two hours, fourteen regular readers, and on Thursday evening nine daily readers and four weekend readers … these new readers are not the kind to take the Daily worker today and leave it off tomorrow, I have got a list of local trade union branch officials. And what a list ! About 35 new readers for our great Daily Worker.”

The Daily Worker circulation manager, Eric Gower, stated: “The splendid job of work he is doing is a challenge to all the lads who served with him in Spain, if they will put the same energy and determination into fighting  for new readers for the Daily Worker as they showed in their glorious struggle for freedom and democracy in Spain.”

It is uncertain just how many Welsh people went to Spainto fight or nurse, with numbers claimed varying between 170 and 200; but over two-thirds were from the mining valleys of South Wales. Some sources claim that only 21 were killed, others put the figure at as many as 40. Whatever the true numbers, Welsh volunteers fought and died bravely for freedom.

As a Welsh Communist bard declaimed in remembrance of a son of Wales who fell in Spain fighting for the International Brigade:
“He fell exalting brotherhood and right,
His bleeding visage scorched by fire and smoke”

Main source: Daily Worker 6th September 1940

Michael Walker

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