Lou Kenton obituary

My friend Lou Kenton, who has died aged 104, was the oldest surviving British member of the International Brigades (IB) and a remarkable political activist with 40 years’ membership of both the Communist and Labour parties. Born in Stepney, east London, to Jewish Ukrainian refugees, he was moved to join the Communist party in 1929 by the prevalence of antisemitism. A printer in Fleet Street in the 1930s, he was convenor of the Printing and Allied Trades Anti-Fascist Movement; was one of the brave hecklers at the Blackshirts’ rally at Olympia, west London, in 1934; and was in the thick of things at the battle of Cable Street in the East End in 1936. He joined the IB in 1937 as an ambulance driver, but he also distributed supplies, evacuated Basque children and raised funds back in Britain. His first wife, Lillian, an Austrian refugee, also went to Spain and worked as a nurse. They later divorced. The defeat of the Spanish Republic left Lou briefly depressed, but at this time he met his second wife, Rafa, whom he married in 1941, and with whom he spent the rest of his long life.

via guardian: Lou Kenton obituary

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