Will Gee - My Small Contribution to the Struggle

way out

This article was amended on 27 Jan 2017

I was born in NW London in 1956. My dad was in the Young Communist League (YCL) and Communist Party (CP) in the 1930s and 1940s and was an obvious influence in my formative years. My mother’s parents lived with us in a semi-detached house in Harrow. My mum’s grandfather was Scottish, and had three brothers. His eldest brother stayed on the family farm, my grandfather and his other two brothers set off for World War 1. My grandfather was the lucky one, he was gassed on the Somme and discharged in October 1916…his brothers did not come home. My mum was born 2 weeks before the end of the war – her unique name reflects both being a winsome lass and my grandad’s survival – she was christened Winnsom. Although my dad was a communist, I think my grandfather was the real rebel. He was a chauffeur, working for a variety of rich masters, but refused to let his wife or daughter (my mother) be employed in service as chamber maids or similar. This led to frequently falling out with butlers and housekeepers. As a result, my grandfather walked out of numerous jobs and my mother went to over a dozen schools.

I went to a top grammar school in Harrow, although didn’t really apply myself. When I was about 15 I became involved in the school council, and through that, Harrow Youth Council. I rapidly became exposed to broader political issues including CND and Anti-Apartheid. sport anc

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Bevis Miller (on mission with the late Graham Brown)

Bevis Miller (on mission with the late Graham Brown)

My first direct contact with the African National Congress (ANC) came via my mother, Gwen Miller. As the Daily Worker and then the Morning Star Bazaar Organiser (1961 -1972) she had been contacted by Reg September, the ANC representative in the UK. He was interested in fundraising for the ANC in London and had approached her for advice. Their contact grew into a romance and several years later they were married in August 1989, and I was proud to be one of their witnesses along with Dr Yusuf Dadoo. Thus Reg became my stepfather. 

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Danny Schechter attending the funeral of the ANC President, Chief Albert Luthuli

Here, just discovered, is a remarkable photo of Danny Schechter attending the funeral of the ANC President, Chief Albert Luthuli, in 1967. He was supposed to be keeping a low profile, just having distributed his ANC leaflets in Durban, but he could not resist attending the funeral. As a white man, he must have stood out a mile but was probably protected by the presence of foreign diplomats and journalists. He describes the episode brilliantly in his chapter of our book.

John O’Malley and Joy Leman

Ken Keable writes: I am delighted to publish this article that John O’Malley sent me in November 2013. It is written by John O’Malley with amendments by Joy Leman. At the time the book was published, in February 2012, I had never heard of either of them. I know that there are many other unknown Recruits still out there and I would be delighted to publish their stories on this website.
John and Joy arrived in South Africa on 19 January 1973 and left on 1 February.

London Recruits

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ANC leaflet used in August 1970

Here is the leaflet that the London Recruits distributed inside South Africa in August 1970. Ron Bell brought it back with him after he and his brother Tom distributed a few thousand copies, using leaflet bombs, in Cape Town, at the same time as other London Recruits were doing the same in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London.

It is the only copy that survives, and when Ron remembered that he had it and realised its importance, he sent it (via his brother) to the Liliesleaf Farm Museum at Rivonia, near Johannesburg, which is developing a special section devoted to the story of the London Recruits. The leaflet used very thin paper and we are grateful to the museum for sending us this good-quality digitised copy of this inspiring and historic document.

ANC leaflet used in August 1970

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