J.S. Williams (Dowlais)

Scope and Content

Personal papers 1927-1939; Communist Party material c1931-c1934; National Unemployed Workers Movement material 1931-1934; Hunger March material 1932-1936; United Front material 1932-1934; Merthyr Council of Action material 1931; Spanish Civil War material 1937-1939; National Council of Labour Colleges material c1929-1930; South Wales Miners' Federation records c1923 and 1923; miscellaneous material c1924-1937.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Samuel Williams (of Dowlais), more commonly known throughout his life as 'J.S' or 'Jack Williams the Communist' was born in Bethseda, Caernarvonshire in 1900. He and his father moved down to the South Wales valleys at some point in the early years of the twentieth century and he worked as a coal hewer.

J.S. Williams probably joined the Communist Party during the early-mid 1920s. He became unemployed in 1926 and remained unemployed for the rest of his life. He devoted his energies to the Communist Party, the National Unemployed Workers' Movement and the Workers' Educational Movement. He was a National Council of Labour Colleges tutor and a student at Coleg Harlech. He served on the South Wales District of the Communist Party of Great Britain and was actively involved in the Hunger Marches of 1931, 1934 and 1936, leading the latter one when Lewis Jones was forced to return to South Wales.

J.S. Williams was involved in the recruiting and processing of volunteers in South Wales for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. In 1937 J.S. Williams joined the International Brigades along with fellow Merthyr men Evan Peters, Lance Rogers, Tim Harrington, Roman Rodriguez (who was killed at Brunete in 1937) and Griff Jones to fight in the Spanish Civil War against fascism. However, whilst in Spain he became seriously ill, spending time in a Spanish Republican hospital before returning home to Merthyr. He died on the 13th October 1938 of pneumonia and cardiac failure.

Source: Introduction to the handlist of the collection by David Egan.

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