1970s >> 1974 >> no-833-january-1974

Obituary: Hilda McClatchie

Comrade Hilda McClatchie, who was just eighty years old, died on 9th November and was cremated at Golders Green on 15th November 1973. Hilda, the partner of Gilbert McClatchie (“Gilmac”) joined the Party in May 1912. She was the sister of Adolph Kohn, who up to the time of his death during World War II was a constant contributor to the Socialist Standard and a well-known lecturer and debater for the Party.

It was in the Socialist Party that Hilda and Gilbert met to form a life-long association. During the early part of the First World War Gilbert McClatchie was the General Secretary of the Party, but with the introduction of conscription in 1916 he, like many of the male members of the Party, had to go “underground” and live and work as best they could without identity papers (or at least genuine ones!) As opponents of the war they were liable to arrest and imprisonment, and indeed many members ended up in prison after appearing before farcical tribunals who swept aside any objection to the war unless it was based on religious-conscientious grounds. “Gilmac” escaped to Ireland—where he was born—whilst Hilda’s brother Adolph, as did several others, went to the USA. Hilda then became General Secretary and was one of the band of intrepid women members who played a large part in keeping the Party organisation in existence during that war.

Scotland Yard twice raided our premises in King’s Cross, once when an Executive meeting was due to take place. Hilda was tipped off in time and managed to keep the arriving members from getting too near to Head Office (some E.C. members used to surface from “underground” in order to attend these meetings). Twice she was interrogated at Scotland Yard on the whereabouts of some male members and attempts were made to obtain from her a list of Party members—without success.

On another occasion she was for some time cross-examined regarding an article written by Adolph Kohn in the USA and found on a seaman attempting to smuggle it into the country for delivery to the Party. She was very well-informed, and an active member until 1948 when she was stricken with an illness from which she never completely recovered.

To Comrade Gilbert McClatchie and daughter Jenny we offer our comradely sympathy.

Arthur and Phyllis George