Wright, Jim

Born 29 November 1919, James Alfred Wright was a Luton-born engineering worker who joined the Communist Party in 1936 following the Battle of Cable Street, in which he participated at a shop boy working in Aldgate. He was dismissed for insubordination and returned to Luton where he found work in Vauxhall Motors. 

In the early Phony War stages of the Second World War, he undertook clandestine party work in the North East before volunteering for military service. He served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in India and, as part of the 14th Army, saw combat in Burma. He never spoke of his experiences there, except to express pity for the Japanese soldiers he helped capture. At the time, he welcomed the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan (as helping send him home and avoiding what was feared to be a bitter battle) but later came to hate nuclear weapons. He became a lifelong supporter of CND, went on the early Aldermaston marches and anti-war marches until his eighties and made a point of visiting Japan in his retirement.

In Colchester barracks and later India, he was part of clandestine party groups and during his time in India was in military prison for refusing to obey orders when mobilised against Indian insurgents. He was in contact with the CPI and proudly possessed a copy of the Selected Works of Marx Engels and Lenin which he bought there.

Upon demobilisation he went back to Vauxhall Motors, worked in the press shop and was active in the party branch and shop stewards committee.

He married Win (Winifred Irene) Bruce, a dressmaker who worked as secretary to CPGB South East Midlands district secretary, Betty Matthews. She was the daughter of veteran Whitechapel SDF and BSP member Fred (Frederick Wallace) Bruce.

When, as a measure to weaken shop steward power, General Motors introduced, a new Management Advisory Committee, the party branch was divided on whether to contest the elections for this body. But, after much discussion, and at the urging of convenor Harold Horne (see separate entry), the branch decided to fight for the unions to participate, Jim was elected and the unions won all the seats.

He left Vauxhalls in 1963 and worked at a variety of jobs, never really retiring until his eighties and maintaining his party membership until the dissolution of the CPGB; he died on 30 May 2013

Nick Wright

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