We have the sad task of informing comrades and friends that our true and trusty Treasurer, Comrade J. Butler, has been killed by a flying bomb. The tragedy occurred at 7 o’clock in the morning, but he was not dug out of the debris until the evening. When found, there was a pencil behind his ear and a mutilated party account book nearby—so that he was already up and engaged on party work at the time. He certainly died in harness—a harness he gloried in wearing.
Butler was 58 years old, and joined the West Ham Branch of the Party in 1910. He early became active as a speaker, and was on the platform as recently as a fortnight before he died. He also became Literature Secretary for the Branch, and kept the job till the end. About 20 years ago he became Treasurer of the Party, and from that time onwards the Party absorbed all his energies—he had no other interest.
During his long association with the Party, Butler participated in the many long and vital discussions in the course of which the Party hammered out its policy on different problems; he has been a solid supporting pillar, reasonable, sound and universally liked. He was one of those rare people who shirk the limelight, do an enormous amount of work, and make no fuss about it. It was sufficient recompense for him that the work he was doing was for the cause in which he believed and hoped soon to see successful. H will be sorely missed. Absolutely straight, sincere, dependable, and a glutton for work, he was one of those who are not easy to replace.
Perhaps the writer may be permitted a personal note, as an old friend. He first met Butler about 1910 or 1911, when a group of enthusiastic young members, panting for knowledge and struggling to become speakers and writers, used to gather at Head Office. At that time the Party Headquarters consisted of a couple of squalid rooms at the top of some rickety stairs in Sandland Street, Bedford Row—it was wiped out in the Blitz. The Party had very small funds at the time and we used to have “family parties” folding the “S.S.” (it was delivered in sheets at the time), and discussing Socialist principles and all the knotty problems of the day. We also arranged among ourselves to visit various spots to hold impromptu meetings, from which we would disperse to our homes long after midnight. Then the Great War of 1914-18 came. The Party was opposed to it on Socialist grounds, and we were dispersed in different directions. When we resumed after the war, only a few of the group of our generation turned up again, but Butler was one of them, and was soon back at Standard-folding, discussing and routine work again. In his Branch he was also a tower of strength, helpful and informing to now members.
When Butler took over the Treasurership he watched Party finances closely, and always had the trust, goodwill and friendship of the membership. It is pitiful to think that after weathering the storms of the last war and the blitzes of this, now, when appearances suggest that the end is near, he should have been struck down by a fiendish product of the system to the fight against which he gave the best years of his life. The best tribute we can offer to his memory is to carry on as steadfastly as he did [for] the struggle for the triumph of Socialism.
Butler’s wife was seriously injured and his son slightly. We wish them a speedy recovery, and send them our sympathy in the loss they have suffered.