Canadian civilian member of Communist Party of Great Britain in GB, 1939-1941; NCO served as driver with 7th Royal Tank Regt in Libya, 6/1942; POW in Libya and Italy, 1942-1943; escaped and evaded capture in Italy, 1943
REEL 1 Recollections of period as member of Communist Party of Great Britain in GB, 1939-1941: attitude towards declaration of Second World War, 3/9/1939; attitude of party towards war, 9/1939; public attitude towards war; reaction to Neville’s Chamberlain’s delay in declaring war, 9/1939; disagreements in party over attitude towards war from spring 1940 onwards; reaction and attitude towards German invasion of Soviet Union, 6/1941; belief in ultimate anti-Fascist victory. Aspects of period as NCO with Royal Tank Regt in GB and Middle East, 1941-1942: call up, 5/1941; political discussions with ABCA in army.
REEL 2 Continues: further details of call up to Royal Tank Regt, 5/1941; troopship voyage from GB to Middle East via South Africa; contact with South African Communists; story of his challenging of General over talk of Russian visit; Communist activity in army. Aspects of operations as NCO with 7th Royal Tank Regt in Libya, 1942: opinion of Matilda Tank particularly the gear system; memories of Battle of Knightsbridge, 6/1942; his escape from Tobruk, 6/1942; capture by Germans. Recollections of period as POW in Libya, 1942: confinement in Benghazi cage; theft of his valuables; contrast in attitude of German and Italian captors.
REEL 3 Continues: question of Italian corruption over rations; POW book racket; scramble for cheese rind; organising political classes and other classes; POW obsession with food; POWs’ views on post-war British society; incident of challenging Italian propaganda and his subsequent punishment; character of Marxist lectures given to POWs; POW retaliation against racketeers and collaborators; prior recollection of Egyptian attitude towards British.
REEL 4 Continues: reaction to surrender of Tobruk, 6/1942. Recollections of period as POW in Italy, 1942-1943: removal to Tripoli for transportation to Italy; Italian sailor’s exploitation of POW hunger; arrival in Palermo, Sicily; treatment received from Italian civilians; black market in POW clothing; arrival of Red Cross parcels; POW suffering from beri beri; anti-war attitude amongst Italian guards; contents of Red Cross parcels; POW theft and system of tribunals; demoralisation after fighting during Battle of Knightsbridge, 6/1942; difficulties with South African POWs; difficulty of escape; Italian attitude to camp administration; work duties.
REEL 5 Continues: political discussions with Italian officer; POW construction of kiln; removal to camp near Ancona; shooting of POW by guards; reorganisation of Communist activity. Recollections of escape and evasion in Italy, 1943: plans from breakout from camp on Italian collapse and attempts by officers to prevent it, 9/1943; conflict of loyalty for Communist officer; re-capture of some escapers; plan to reach Allied lines; relations with Italian civilians; encounter with American evader group; plan to rendezvous with Allied ship.
REEL 6 Continues: aid received from Italian civilian; failure to find Allied ship; flight from Pescara; help received from partisans; amusing story of Italian requesting chit; thwarting of attempt to meet Allied ship; break-up of partisan group; construction of anti-aircraft shelter for peasants; encounters with German troops; regaining British lines; discussion with Italian Communist; return to Italian family who sheltered him with presents.
REEL 7 Continues: size, composition and role of partisan band; arms carried by partisans; desire of Italians for end of war; effect of POW experience; opinion of Italians; question of treatment by Germans as Jew; effect of his political convictions in abstaining from racketeering in camp.