Michael Carritt

Michael John Carritt was born on 3rd January 1906, the eldest son of four brothers and two girls, the brother of Gabriel Carritt (see separate entry). Coming from an academic background, he was educated locally in Oxford and at Oxford University.  Finding jobs hard to come by after university from 1928, he eventually became a civil servant in India, leaving in November 1930 for Mumbai to become an assistant district officer in Midnapore, now in West Bengal, India. 

This, despite being an avid reader of Marxist classics, which would be banned for importation in the Raj by the General Communist Notification of 1932 under the Sea Customs Act. In 1985, he published Mole in the Crown, an account of his time in India. He rose to become as sub-divisional officer, holding magisterial powers, in Tangail (now in Bangladesh) from 1933. 

His archived notes of meetings in 1936-7 with underground Indian Communist leaders form an important record of the history of that party. The meetings dealt with both organisational and political matters and were held out of doors in Calcutta’s open parks. The notes were used at the time for the preparation of reports to the international Communist movement and its press, Inprecorr in particular. At one point,  Carritt had access to the correspondence of the Governor General for Bengal and was able to leak police intelligence reports on Indian Communists, weakening the Empire’s surveillance operations. 

After resigning from the Indian Civil Service in 1939, he went on to be an active member of the Communist Party in Bradford, assisting Ben Bradley (see separate entry) on developing Party policy on India, authoring an India League pamphlet in 1940 and a Communist Party pamphlet on the subject in 1941. 

During the war, Carritt held the responsibility for developing a substantial group of Indian Communist students in Britain and he continued to write about India until independence. He and John Saville (see separate entry) campaigned from Britain for Arthur Atwood (see separate entry) and others, who had led the Drigh Road RAF Mutiny. Saville had been  involved with the Forces Parliament at Deolali along with Bert Ramelson (see separate entry). The successful Attwood Defence Campaign had leading civil liberties lawyer D N Pritt working for it, pro bono. 

For much of the 1950s, Carritt taught philosophy for the Workers Education Association in Brighton  Towards the end of that decade he became University Staff Tutor in Philosophy at Oxford. Ending his career as a lecturer in the Centre for Continuing Education at Sussex University, he had been one of the original tutors from Oxford when Extra Mural Activities were transferred there. Michael Carritt died at the age of 84 in 1990 in Ploughley, Oxfordshire. 

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