Sunday, September 14, 2014
Thomas Henry (Tom) Wintringham (1898 - 1949) was a British soldier, military historian, journalist, poet, Marxist, politician and author. He was an important figure in the formation of the Home Guard during World War II and was one of the founders of the Common Wealth Party.
In 1915 Wintringham was elected to a Brakenbury scholarship in History at Balliol, but during the First World War he postponed his university career to join the Royal Flying Corps, serving as a mechanic and motorcycle despatch rider.
At the end of the war he was involved in a brief barracks mutiny, one of many minor insurrections which went unnoticed in the period. He returned to Oxford, and in a long vacation made a visit of some months to Moscow, after which he returned to England and formed a group of students aiming to establish a British section of the Third International: a Communist Party.
At the start of the Spanish Civil War, Wintringham went to Barcelona as a journalist for the Daily Worker, but he joined and eventually commanded the British Battalion of the International Brigades. Some socialist commentators have credited him with the whole idea of "international" brigades. He also had an affair with a US journalist, Kitty Bowler, whom he later married. In February 1937 he was wounded in the Battle of Jarama. While injured in Spain he became friends with Ernest Hemingway who based one of his characters upon him.
On returning from Spain Wintringham began to call for an armed civilian guard to repel any fascist invasion, and as early as 1938 had begun campaigning for what would become the Home Guard. He taught the troops tactics of Guerrilla Warfare.