Obituary: Jack Thurston

We regret to have to report the death of our comrade Jack Thurston on 1 September at the age of 84. He had been a member since 1933 when he joined the old Wembley branch and was subsequently, successively, a member of the Chiswick, Ealing and West London branches.

Jack Thurston was born in that part of England where the borders of Surrey and Hamphsire meet. The area bristles with military camps and his father had been a professional soldier. At an early age, soon after the first world war to end all wars, he too joined the army. He was first sent to Ireland where, as he used to recall, he witnessed the atrocities committed by the Black and Tans, and then to Egypt and the Sudan where he witnessed the atrocities committed by the British colonial authorities as when they ordered the public hanging of scores of locals in reprisal for the killing of a British soldier.

When he left the army he got a job as a painter at the Watney’s brewery in Mortlake. This was an anti-union firm and he probably got the job because he was ex-army but, unbeknown to the employers, amongst the workforce was a handful of socialists. Jack met one of them and eventually became a socialist himself. From that moment on he never ceased to argue the case for socialism, amongst both his workmates and his neighbours. For a while a Hounslow Group of the Party, composed largely of his neighbours, met in the large garage at the back of his house in Hounslow.

Jack Thurston will be remembered as a straightforward man who was an indefatigable campaigner for socialism.