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Veronica FordVeronica Ford ( ‘Jill’ )

In the Spring of 1970 I was 22 years old, near to finishing my degree at the University College of Swansea and living with my then-boyfriend Hugh Pearce (‘Jack’). We were both active in many left-wing campaigns, particularly against the war in Vietnam and against apartheid.

The South African Communist Party, at its congress in Boksburg, has today (14 July 2017) honoured the London Recruits with its Special Recognition Award. Ken Keable went to the congress, as a guest, to accept the award on behalf of all the Recruits and was introduced by Ronnie Kasrils. Here is the text of his speech.

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Ken Keable then and now.



Comrade chair, distinguished guests, comrades!

I am very proud to receive this award on behalf of all the London Recruits. It is a great honour for us all.

I am pleased to be accompanied on this platform by two other Recruits: comrade Ian Beddowes, who worked undercover in three of the frontline states and now lives in Johannesburg where he works on the staff of the SACP; and comrade Bob Newland, who set off leaflet bombs in Johannesburg in 1971 and spent eight dangerous weeks in South Africa in 1972, preparing for the arrival of a detachment of MK fighters by sea in a ship which, unfortunately, had to abort the mission because of engine trouble.

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London Recruits trailer from London Recruits. 

The report below came from an edition of The African Communist in 1981. It refers to leaflet bombs placed by London Recruits Will Gee and 'Simon'.

Interactive Website
A superb, interactive website about the ANC’s “London Recruits” was launched on 6 Feb 2015. Made for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London for its “Disobedient Objects” exhibition (now going on a world tour), it mixes interviews with some of the London Recruits with historical footage and reconstructions. It is technically innovative, so please be patient and give it a try. It works best using Chrome as your browser and you need to allow popups. It cannot be viewed on a smartphone.
 This website should prove to be an invaluable resource for historians, students, political activists and others. With significant primary source material, it is a truly unique resource.




Although published in February 2012, the book was officially launched on 11 July 2012 in a packed committee room at the House of Commons, London. The event was chaired by the Rt Hon Peter Hain MP (who is South African born and was a prominent anti-apartheid campaigner in his youth) and attended by the South African High Commissioner, Dr Zola Sweyiya, and by Ronnie Kasrils, the ANC official who had sent many of the Recruits on their missions. This amateur video was taken by one of the Recruits, who wishes to remain nameless. A few of the Recruits had just returned from a tour of South Africa, where they had been warmly received. Some of the Recruits present had never met before.

Among the speakers are Peter Hain MP, Ronnie Kasrils (SACP), Ken Keable (CPB, Editor), Sean Hosey (a YCL member who was arrested, tortured and jailed in South Africa), Katherine Levine (who smuggled arms), George Bridges, His Excellency Mr Zola Skweyiya (the South African High Commissioner) and Recruits John Rose (SWP) Mary Chamberlain andBob Newland.

The book records an inspiring episode in the history of the Communist Party, the Young Communist League and the Socialist Workers' Party, though it is important to note that some of the Recruits had no political label.

The video is a wonderful record of a historic and unforgettable occasion. About 100 people were present, including many more of the London Recruits who went on clandestine missions to South Africa from 1967 onwards to help the liberation struggle of theANC and SACP.

Leaflet Bomb

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The Secret War Against Apartheid

Compiled and edited by Ken Keable
With an introduction by Ronnie Kasrils and a foreword by Z. Pallo Jordan

The history of the Anti-Apartheid movement brings up images of boycotts and public campaigns in the UK. But another story went on behind the scenes, in secret, one that has been never told before. 

This is the story of the foreign recruits and their activities in South Africa, how they acted in defiance of the Apartheid government and its police on the instructions of the African National Congress. It tells of:

- ANC Banners that unfurled 
- ANC speeches that sounded through public places
- Buckets that exploded and showered ANC leaflets 
- Transportation of weapons, communications, logistics
- Helping ANC fighters to enter South Africa, 

- and more…..

Many recruits were Young Communists, others were Trotskyists or independent socialists; from the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the USA, and they all took amazing risks. 

Some paid a heavy price for their support. This is their untold story.

Royalties from this book will go to The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

ISBN. 978-0-85036-655-6 - 364 pages, 216 x 138 mm., paperback - Published in February 2012 - Price:£15.95