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Obituary: Bob Marshall

Sadly Bob Marshall died on 30 December at the age of 89. He was a long-standing member of the Party having joined the old Southend branch in 1945. Later he was a member of West Ham branch. He was a man of many talents and dedicated to the Socialist cause. He had been called up for military service when he was 17 and registered as a conscientious objector, but his case was not upheld and by his refusal to enroll got a prison sentence which he spent in Feltham Young Offenders prison. On his release he had to do alternative service and opted for land work and he, along with other COs were directed to work on various farms. He worked mainly in SE Essex, the Rochford and Southend area. Collectively the COs were not very productive. They spent most of their day debating with each other, as they held a rich collection of attitudes to war in particular and to varied social and political ideas in general: there were pacifists and believers as well as anarchists and socialists. He said this was the happiest period of his life except that he was strapped for cash.

When he finally left the land he joined the Crown Agency helping to look after the Empire.  Prior to the war he had been apprenticed in high class hand-made leather ware, and after the war continued to ply his trade in his spare time to augment his income, making wallets etc for Harrods and folders for Rolls Royce. He was a keen sailor and DIY enthusiast so he decided to design and build his own ten metre yacht in his garden. His ambition wasn’t to sail the oceans but to just potter around the creeks and backwaters of Essex. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to devote the necessary time to complete his boat until his retirement, some twenty years later, when it was lifted over the roof of his house on a huge crane and transported to the coast where it was launched to the cheers of dozens of his family and friends.

On his retirement he fulfilled another ambition to visit his twin brother in New Zealand by train. Trains, especially steam engines, were another passion, so he and his wife Daphne caught a train from London and with many changes arrived in Moscow, for a short stay before flying eastwards to join the Trans-Siberian Railway for three days to the Pacific coast, then by ship to Japan and air to New Zealand. They continued their circumnavigation after spending a few months with his brother by flying to the west coast of USA and crossing America by train. In his retirement in the 1990s he took on the post of Head Office assistant at Clapham for a number of years. He then had time to read a lot and to indulge in another love, painting. He was a talented artist in oils and acrylic, painting landscapes and seascapes featuring trains and boats.

He was a very gentle, private and quiet man who saw the inequalities in capitalism and contributed what he could to help change it. He will be greatly missed by his wife, family and friends.

DD