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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.

Buy book here

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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