Garber Joe


Joe Garber 


Joe Garber


Joe Garber was born in Bethnal Green on 19th September 1911, where he lived at 7 Dunk St, Whitechapel, and attended JFS School. His family were Jewish immigrants from Russia of a left-wing disposition.


At the age of 14 years he was awarded the Royal Humane Society Medal for saving the life of a man who fell in the Thames at Tower Bridge. Joe served in the Merchant Navy from 1928-31.


After returning to the east end of London, Joe joined the Communist Party and was involved in the campaign against Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists in the East End of London.


Joe Garber travelled to Spain and joined the International Brigades at Albacete. He manned a heavy machine gun with Yank Levy at Jarama where he was wounded in the groin. He recalled in a newspaper interview in 2000 the following:


“My first battle was the bloodiest of the whole war, at Jarama, near Madrid. Oh, it was horrible. It was like a Hollywood film. We were issued with machine guns, German Maxims, water-cooled things. We had dug ourselves into this escarpment and the bastards, loads of them, came up howling. They had these Mauser grenade rifles. I had a lump in my throat but I let fly at the bastards with my machine gun and they all dropped down. I was really enthusiastic. We had come to our enemies now, not just the Spanish – they were bloody Germans. And there were a bunch of Italian Black Arrows too. I let fly and got a couple of them as well. The battle lasted a fortnight. On the third day, over 200 of our boys lay dead out of 600. That's where I copped it. [Guardian, 10th November, 2000]

After recovering in hospital he rejoined the frontline and was badly wounded at Brunete while defending Madrid. During the war in Spain, he was close to Churchill's nephew, Giles Romilly.


He became an Intelligence officer of the IB. Joe Garber has insisted that he and others were always quite clear that George Orwell was an MI6 agent informing on British volunteers whom he visited in hospital when wounded.


Garber served in the British Army during the Second World War. He was in the Royal Army Medical Corps and then the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC). Due to his maritime experience, he found himself in the SOE smuggling arms to Balkans and Albanian partisans 1943-44 with allied Italian Commandos.


He is also reputed to have helped smuggle weapons to the Haganah, a secret organisation created in 1936 as a protection force for Jews who emigrated to Palestine. Joe Garner has also been linked to the so-called "Red Orchestra" espionage groups in Nazi-occupied Europe that aimed to provide information to the USSR, although in what precise way is unclear.


After the war he worked in the cosmetic wholesale trade.


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