Edgar Young's papers have survived as a largely complete collection documenting all aspects of his life and work. They have been arranged into series of different types of records, with sections on two of the main organisations with which he was involved and the collected papers of his third wife regarding the anti-Vietnam War movement.
Young's diaries exist as a complete series for the years 1934 until his death in 1975. Recording only appointments and visits abroad, the diaries are useful nonetheless in tracking his movements in Eastern Europe, which he visited with regularity from the late 1940s onwards. Two early diaries have survived for 1920 and 1921, and these cover his period of naval duty on board HMS Pegasus [U DYO/1/1-2]. The information in these diaries is more substantial and documents the role of HMS Pegasus in Allied military operations in the Black Sea during the Russian civil war and in campaigns against Turkish nationalists.
The files cover various topics and comprise mainly correspondence and press cuttings. There are two files detailing Young's relations with The Admiralty, especially the furore surrounding his removal from the Retired List of the Royal Navy in 1952 on political grounds [U DYO/2/1-2]. His response to the publication of The fellow-travellers by David Caute in 1973, with its unflattering portrayal of his political activities, is revealed by file U DYO/2/6. The publication of his own book, Czechoslovakia: keystone of peace and democracy in 1938 resulted in a file of reviews and related correspondence [U DYO/2/10].
Leaflets and election addresses by Young and other candidates in the 1935 general election can be found in three files covering his campaign as Labour candidate in the Hull North West constituency [U DYO/2/17-19]. His membership of the Labour Party was brief and the events surrounding his expulsion in 1939 are significant and well documented. Four files of correspondence relate the history of his involvement in the Popular Front movement, from the initial campaign in support of William Mellor's selection as parliamentary candidate for Stockport, to the memorandum by Stafford Cripps, Cripps' subsequent expulsion and the organisation of the Petition Committee [U DYO/2/25-27 & 32]. Young's correspondence with Cripps is extensive and begins in August 1933 with his decision to enter politics [U DYO/2/25]. His selection as candidate for Hull North West and his own expulsion from the Party are also discussed with Cripps. A related file contains reports, minutes, correspondence and publicity material for the People's Convention which met in January 1941 [U DYO/2/31]. Young's pamphlet, A people's peace (1941), is included, with a programme of meetings addressed by Young in November of that year.
Carbon copies of Young's letters home to his family and friends during his service in the Royal Navy are available for the period 1922 to 1930 [U DYO/3/1-5]. These letters give particularly full and frank accounts of his activities and his opinions and cover several notable events in his naval career, namely his training in Paris as a translator and interpreter of French in 1924, the 9 months spent in Prague studying Russian in 1927 and his appointment to the staff of the Commander in Chief China Station in late 1930. File U DYO/3/2 contains a number of letters, addressed to a friend, possibly Pay Lieutenant DH Doig, which have been cut into pieces and heavily underlined in red pencil in a manner which suggests that Young may have been preparing an autobiography.
From the mid to late 1930s there are important single letters, particularly regarding German aggression towards Czechoslovakia [U DYO/3/12-17]. These include a copy of a letter dated 16 September 1938 which Young sent from Prague to Clement Attlee MP in the days immediately preceding the signing of the Munich Agreement. There is an interesting letter from KA Windisch of Jena in Germany about the growth of National Socialism and the reasons for Hitler's popularity, as well as a discussion of the idea of social credit and Young's 1935 election manifesto from his former comrade, Cecil Bransom of HM Signal School, Portsmouth [U DYO/3/10 & 11].
During the war, Young remained in London, working as a freelance journalist. His correspondence with his former neighbour Marjorie Robinson makes reference to his experience of bombing raids during the Blitz [U DYO/3/23]. There are letters about the establishment of friendship societies with Bulgaria, Romania and Czechoslovakia in the late 1940s and early 1970s, as well as a memorandum on the organisation of such societies addressed by Edgar Young to the Soviet Ambassador [U DYO/3/29, 34 & 98]. His support of the Soviet Union dates to the German invasion of the country in 1941 and there are letters from recipients of his pamphlet That Second Front (1942) [U DYO/3/25], a copy of which is amongst his writings at U DYO/4/44a. Unlike a large number of Communists and Communist sympathisers, Young continued to support the Soviet Union after its invasion of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. His reasons for this can be gauged through his correspondence [U DYO/2/22, 3/73, 77 & 81]. This includes the letters which he sent to the Ambassadors of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and East Germany in support of the Warsaw Pact suppression of the Prague Spring. This support was not unconnected with the decision to award him a Lenin centenary medal in 1971 [U DYO/3/84].
Personal and biographical information can also be gleaned - there is a useful letter to Max Hammerling in 1947 which summarises his activities since 1917, as well as comment on the death of Ida Sindelkova and snippets about his first wife, since remarried and known as Geraldine de Schoenberg [U DYO/3/30, 36 & 70]. Correspondence in the early 1950s with solicitors White & Leonard details his attempts to obtain the compensation due to Ida Sindelkova following the nationalisation of her land near Slapy lake in Czechoslovakia [U DYO/3/41].
Writings and indexes
This series begins with a collection of naval reconnaissance and intelligence reports compiled and received by Young whilst serving as Sub Lieutenant on HMS Pegasus during the last months of the Russian civil war [U DYO/4/1-3]. The reports relate to the operations of the British naval forces in the Black Sea and include the order for Operation MG in late June 1920. There is also a single report produced during Young's tour of duty in the Far East a decade later which recounts his meeting with the Soviet Naval and Military Attaches to Tokyo in October 1931 [U DYO/4/4].
The production of articles for the press and specialist journals formed the basis of Young's work after leaving the Royal Navy and failing to become an MP in 1935. His writings begin in 1933 after his return from service in the Far East, with a series of articles about sites of cultural importance in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) [U DYO/4/5-11]. These include the 'buried cities' of Sri Lanka, such as Anuradhapura, the Dieng Plateau in central Java and Sigiriya, the Lion Rock, in Sri Lanka. A detailed account of his journey through Indonesia in the early 1930s with his first wife is accompanied by 101 black and white photographs. Geraldine Young also compiled her own study of 'Some aspects of Bali and the Balinese'.
The files and bundles containing his writings have been arranged in date order [U DYO/4/12-131]. Young was systematic in his collection of published copies of his work and in retaining the carbon copy typescripts of those articles which were rejected. Interspersed amongst his articles are copies of the numerous letters to the press which with Young bombarded such journals and newspapers as the New Statesman and The Times. The pattern of his writings over the decades can therefore be studied, from his concern in the late 1930s with the growth of fascism in Europe and the fate of Czechoslovakia, through to his later concentration on aspects of shipping, shipbuilding, fishing and industrialisation generally in the Soviet Bloc. During the Second World War he covered naval and military issues for various regional and local newspapers, acting as naval correspondent for the Yorkshire Post in 1940-1941 and the Sydney Daily Mail in 1942 [U DYO/4/37 & 47]. A series of his articles was also published in The Sphere magazine [U DYO/4/22-31]. After the war, he wrote about the process of reconstruction in Eastern Europe, particularly in Czechoslovakia, East Germany and Bulgaria, drafting a history of the country during the period 1939 to 1948 [East Germany is covered by file U DYO/4/60 and the history of Bulgaria is at U DYO/4/61]. However from the 1950s onwards, his writings became less political, more specialist in subject matter and more technical in style. An early example is an article resulting from a visit to Vietnam with his third wife Amicia in 1959. This focuses on the position of engineers in liberated Vietnam and is illustrated by photographs of the Handong machine tool factory taken by Amicia [U DYO/4/84]. The bundles of articles about the Soviet passenger liner Ivan Franko and shipbuilding in Romania are typical of his work in the 1960s and 1970s [U DYO/4/93 & 127].
For the period 1948 to 1974 there is a series of small notebooks in which Young indexed all his published articles. Each article is listed by title, with bibliographic information, in date order [U DYO/5].
Lectures and speeches
These are largely comprised of the lectures which he gave during his period as Naval Liaison Officer for the transmitter section of the Wireless Department at HM Signal School, Portsmouth during 1932-1933 [U DYO/6/1-17]. The lectures formed part of the training programme for entrants into the Visual Signalling and Wireless Transmission branches of the Royal Navy. There are also reviews of the programme and related correspondence dating from his earlier work as Officer in Charge of HM Signal School, Shotley and as Signal Officer of HMS Ganges from 1928 to 1930. His later work for radio is revealed by several transcripts of broadcasts, such as those discussing his visits to Bulgaria and Romania in late 1946 [U DYO/6/20]. His experiences also formed the basis of an address on 'Life as I saw it behind the Iron Curtain' to the John Gulson Boys' Secondary School in Coventry, and a report of the occasion was compiled by school pupils [U DYO/6/21].
Young combined freelance journalism with translation work after leaving the Royal Navy and several examples of his work, which concentrated on Russian scientific texts, have survived amongst his papers. One of his first translations dates from 1946, The reminiscences of an academic shipbuilder by Admiral AN Krylov; the remainder date from the 1960s and 1970s, and include the last piece of work undertaken before his death, the translation from the French of Voici l'homme, Dimitrov [U DYO/7/2-3 & 15].
A varied and unusual collection of photographs and photograph albums includes two framed black and white portraits of Edgar Young [U DYO/8/1-2]. The first shows him as a child, possibly in India, the country of his birth, whilst the second has been taken on board ship in his naval uniform, and therefore dates from the period 1917-1934. Photographs taken during his journey through Germany and Czechoslovakia to Prague in 1927 include views of the Vah valley and the Tatra mountains [U DYO/8/3-4]. There are almost 200 small black and white photographs accompanying the articles which Young wrote in the early 1930s during his travels through South East Asia with his first wife. These feature the landscapes, architecture and peoples of Sri Lanka and Indonesia [U DYO/4/5-11]. A number of loose photographs of Hindu temples in Cambodia and Thailand and of scenes in Wei-hai-wei, Shanghai and Peking are also available [U DYO/8/5-7].
During his visit to Czechoslovakia in spring 1938, Young travelled to the town of Liberec in the Sudetenland and as a souvenir, received an album of photographs of the local May Day rally [U DYO/8/8]. Another souvenir album documents the history of Bulgaria during the Second World War and includes maps and 18 black and white photographs of Bulgarian partisans, the uprising against German occupation in September 1944 and post-war reconstruction [U DYO/8/9]. Produced by the Central Youth Commission of the Fatherland Front, the album was obtained by Young during his first visit to Bulgaria after the war. In 1969, he travelled east of Leipzig to Bautzen, the capital of Lusatia. The Federation of Lusatian Sorbs presented him with an album containing photographs of Sorb people, as well as pen and ink drawings by Mercin Nowak [U DYO/8/11]. Young's own photographs of the occasion show Sorb children in national dress performing dances in the town square [U DYO/8/12].
Of particular interest are the press cuttings relating to Young's second marriage to the Czech academic Dr Ida Sindelkova in December 1939 and the inquest into her suicide some 10 years later [U DYO/9/8-9]. The history of his links with Czechoslovakia are summarised in a curriculum vitae sent to Pavel Stulzajter in 1972 [U DYO/9/10].
International Peace Campaign
Young's involvement with the International Peace Campaign began in 1936 when he toured East and Central Europe on behalf of the campaign. His credentials, issued in the form of a letter from the Chief Treasurer, General Prouderoux, are accompanied by a detailed day-by-day account of his journey, which took him to Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland [U DYO/10/1-2]. The majority of his papers relate to the first international conference organised by the IPC, which was known as the World Peace Congress and took place in Brussels in September 1936. There are publicity leaflets, information for delegates, lists of delegations from Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Soviet Union, the Baltic states, Britain and France, discussion papers, reports and resolutions issued by the Commissions on various subjects, transcripts of speeches, newspapers, pamphlets and bulletins, as well as similar material for the concurrent International Agrarian Conference [U DYO/10/7-36]. Another conference on the subject of aid to China and the boycott of Japanese goods was organised in February 1938 and two background memoranda about the boycott are available [U DYO/10/39-40]. Correspondence regarding the dissolution of the IPC and the objections voiced by Young and others, including Stanley Evans, can be found at U DYO/10/44-45.
Union of Democratic Control
The papers relating to Young's activities within the Union of Democratic Control, which date primarily from the late 1930s and 1940s, are miscellaneous and dominated by typescript reports and memoranda, as well as drafts of various UDC pamphlets [U DYO/11/8-30 & 33-34]. There are papers covering the reorganisation of the UDC in spring 1936 and agenda, minutes, circulars, financial statements and correspondence for the period January 1956 to January 1957 [U DYO/11/3 & 7]. A few anti-fascist leaflets from other organisations are included, such as the Manchester and District Anti-War Council and Neu Beginnen, a London-based group of German Social Democrats [U DYO/11/38 & 41].
Amicia M Young
Amongst the papers of Edgar Young are those of his third wife Amicia Bassadone documenting her involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement of the mid to late 1960s. These papers are significant for a number of reasons. A large proportion of the material comprises duplicate records of the British Council (later Campaign) for Peace in Vietnam (BCPV), of which Amicia was a founder member and Secretary. The offices of the BCPV were broken into in mid-1968 and its records destroyed; hence the importance of the surviving papers of its members. Amicia's papers are particularly useful for studying the organisation of the campaign, not simply the public face of demonstrations and rallies. Minutes of the Council and Working Committee of the BCPV are available for the period 1965 to 1969, accompanied by reports by the Secretary and monthly accounts [U DYO/12/4-5, 7 & 9]. The early history of the movement is traced in two reports, one by Amicia herself from May 1968, focusing on the BCPV, and the other dated 14 March 1969 and more general in scope [U DYO/12/16 & 7c]. Together with minutes and notes of the founding meeting of the BCPV in April 1965 and drafts of the constitution, these are useful sources for tracing its origins [U DYO/12/1-2 & 3]. National conferences were held by the BCPV from 1965 into the early 1970s - the fullest papers survive for those held in 1966 and 1968 [U DYO/12/14-15].
Amicia's particular involvement focused on four areas. Firstly she was a trade unionist and attended the founding meeting as a representative of the Association of Scientific Workers. There are therefore papers from the Trade Union Sub Committee of the BCPV on which she sat [U DYO/12/12]. Secondly as a scientist, she took part in the Books for Vietnam campaign, as documented by her correspondence with scientists in London and Paris in 1966 and 1967 [U DYO/12/53]. Her main contribution to the BCPV was as Secretary during 1968 and her correspondence is particularly useful for this year [U DYO/12/48]. She served concurrently as Secretary of the National Vietnam Campaign Committee (NVCC) and was involved in the amalgamation of the two organisations in early 1969 [U DYO/12/22]. Finally she was also active at a local level as Secretary of St. Marylebone Committee for Peace in Vietnam and in this capacity lobbied MPs and the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson [U DYO/12/55].
The papers include numerous press releases, circulars, bulletins, leaflets, petitions and other campaign materials produced by the BCPV, the NVCC, the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Group 68 and women's groups opposed to the war [U DYO/12/27-28, 34-44, 56, 57-97]. Two of the major events organised by the BCPV are covered, the drafting of the British People's Declaration for Peace in Vietnam and the peace trip to Boulogne on 22 September 1968 [U DYO/12/32 & 33]. A photograph of the meeting at Boulogne is included amongst the papers, and there are also five small photographs of another unidentified French anti-Vietnam War rally and a photograph taken in the BCPV offices of a woman thought to be Amicia Young [U DYO/12/117 & 120]. Visually outstanding is the series of some 19 posters advertising rallies, demonstrations and other events, including Vietnam Day on 30 June 1965, the march to the United States embassy in Grosvenor Square on 22 October 1967 and the largest demonstration against the war in which 100,000 people marched to Hyde Park Corner on 27 October 1968 [U DYO/12/101, 99 & 107].
The miscellaneous section contains some unusual items, mainly relating to Edgar Young's interest in Czechoslovakian affairs. These include two portfolios of maps of the country under German occupation dating from September 1938 and March 1940, as well as a carbon copy typescript about conditions following the German invasion of the Sudetenland which makes reference to refugees and the establishment of a concentration camp at Liberec for political detainees [U DYO/13/14, 15 & 5]. The transcript of a speech to the League of Nations Assembly by Senor Alvarez del Vayo discusses the League's response to the Spanish civil war, whilst conditions in post-war Hungary and the Soviet Union are covered by the report of a British parliamentary delegation in 1946 and a manuscript detailing a visit by Rev. Dr EEV Collocott in July 1952 respectively [U DYO/13/1, 8 & 9]. There are several poems scattered throughout the collection, two of which relate to Vietnam, 'Cease-fire' and 'To whom it may concern', both by Adrian Mitchell [U DYO/12/79 & 4/95]. The reverse of a typescript on Pan Slavism by Vlado Clementis and Petr Hron includes poetry in the original Czech [U DYO/2/11a].