Mudcat Café message #2712141 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #123172   Message #2712141
Posted By: Jim Carroll
30-Aug-09 - 10:59 AM
Thread Name: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
Subject: RE: Folklore: What did you do in the war, Ewan?
Mike ,
Being of the left I am well acquainted with the confusion faced by MacColl's generation regarding WW2.
You will be aware, I am sure, of the hasty change of policy when the Soviet Union was invaded – one minute an Imperialist war – the next a fight against fascism. The Communist Party general secretary, Harry Pollit resigned over the issue.
Added to this was the ambivalent attitude of the Government of the day – "I have in my hand….."
It is worth remembering that Britain refused to intervene when Franco's fascists overthrew the elected government there. Some schools of thought claim that, had they done so Hitler may have thought twice about going to war altogether.
It is also worth recalling the actions of some of our 'betters' regarding Hitler's rise to power: The WINDSORS, LORD Rothermere (of Daily Mail fame), SIR Oswald Mosley… et al. We know that the early reports of the extermination camps were described by a number of MPs as "Lies invented by whingeing Yids".
On a more personal level, my father returned from Spain on the eve of 'The War Against Fascism', having been wounded and held prisoner there. He received no hero's welcome; rather he was met with excommunication from his church for fighting on the wrong side, was awarded a police record as "a premature anti-fascist" and became unemployed because of having being 'blacklisted' from his job. Unable to find work he became one of McAlpine's Fusiliers, the result being that I don't think my sister and I met him more than a dozen times before my tenth birthday,
I'm not claiming that the above was in any way the reason for Ewan's wartime non-activity. I discussed the war with him a couple of times, but only in general terms; I share Jim McLean's view that his actions were personal and none of my business. I do know that he shared my views on the ambiguities of the war, but I have no idea whether this in any way influenced his decision not to remain in the army.
There is another aspect to his actions. I know from discussions with his contemporaries in Manchester that he was put under pressure to leave the army in order to continue his theatre work "Because it was a more effective way to fight fascism".   This was a fairly common argument used by the left: I know a number of my father's friends were dissuaded from going to Spain because they could "do a more valuable job at home".
Sorry – reams to be written on this but packing calls!
SO'P
it was, after all, Ewan who copped the hand-over-the-ear pose from Arabic muezzin…….
You appear to be unaware that the act of cupping the hand over the ear to control pitch is a world-wide practice – there are even woodcuts of English broadside sellers using it!   
"despite his dictatorial insistence that we somehow sing our own."
I suppose if you repeat an inaccuracy often enough it MIGHT eventually be accepted – as you have, I am sure, read numerous times, Singers Club policy not MacColl's dictatorial insistence – read Peggy's letter on the Living Tradition website.
"I was on the verge of ordering at least one of the books mentioned on this thread"
Save your money; your mind is obviously locked and bolted.
Jim Carroll