Reg Groves


The Balham Group



This brief chronicle tells of the only struggle within the British Communist Party against that party’s final and absolute submission in the years 1929-32 to Stalin and the rulers of Russia. A confused, and certainly hopeless protest, it all happened a long time ago and is now no more than a footnote on the pages of our left socialist histories.

Yet it is right that it should be recorded; and the names remembered of the handful who spoke out against the destruction of true socialism and communism, and who did so when almost everyone else on the Left, especially the intellectuals, remained silent, or cheered on Stalin and the bully boys. And, if personal recollection – with its frayed edges and blurred vision – here takes precedence over such useful things as dates, details and documentation, it is because this can be a warmer way of recalling old friends, and catching sight of them, as it were, in the mood and atmosphere of the time. Some have survived, others have not – among them, Jim Barratt, Nell Dowdall, Frank Chalcroft, Henry Sara, Stewart Purkis and Billy Williams.

My thanks to my wife, Daisy, to Hugo Dewar and Harry Wicks for helpful suggestions and useful references; to David Chalkley; and to Duncan Hallas for nudging me into the writing of these reminiscences.

Reg Groves, August 1973


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Last updated on 17.10.2003