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Obituary: Jim Spittle

Many members will be saddened to hear that Jim Spittle, who had been enduring a painful illness for some time, died during the first days of October.

He joined the party in 1921, at first the old West Ham Branch and later, when he moved to west London, what was then Wembley Branch. Jim worked for Watney’s and it was there that he met, and persuaded into the Party, Jack Thurston, who was to become his close friend and neighbour for so many years.

My first memories of Jim are of my new, nervous days as a Party member. This was just after the war; the Party was growing and we came in rude and demanding. Jim took it all quietly; we soon became impressed with this man who was always to be relied on to turn up, wherever we were having a meeting, whatever the weather. I never saw him in an overcoat; he cycled everywhere.

After his retirement Jim moved to Suffolk, at first in his own bungalow but then, when his wife died, in with one of his children. He still travelled up to stay with Jack Thurston whenever he could and on these visits it was always a great pleasure to see him at the Branch. Until the last days he kept his physical toughness, cycling each day five miles there and back to get the milk.

Jim was no speaker or writer and he was modest enough about his considerable knowledge to keep it mostly out of sight, to be shown only when he was convinced it needed to be. If there is such a thing as a backbone in the Party, he was part of it. When Socialism is here, it will be peopled by men like Jim Spittle; would that there were more like him today.

Ivan