Bill Alexander (politician)

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William Alexander (13 June 1910 – 11 July 2000) was a British communist activist known for his involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

Born in Ringwood in Hampshire, Alexander studied at the University of Reading, then became an industrial chemist and joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). He was a prominent anti-fascist activist and was present at the Battle of Cable Street.[1][2]

In 1937, Alexander volunteered to join the British Battalion of the International Brigades to aid the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. He arrived shortly after the Battle of Jarama, and joined an anti-tank battery, soon becoming its political commissar, and received a citation for bravery at Belchite. For the Battle of Teruel the following year, he was made a captain and commander of the whole British force, but he was wounded and invalided back to the UK in June.[1]

Back in Britain, Alexander was made the CPGB's Merseyside Area secretary. He attempted to join the Sandhurst Military Academy early in World War II, initially being refused a place on account of his CPGB membership, but his case was taken up by the Duchess of Atholl and he was eventually permitted to attend, and graduated as the top cadet. He served in Africa and Europe, and was eventually made a captain.[1][3]

Alexander stood in Coventry East at the 1945 and 1951 general elections, but lost his deposit on both occasions. He was Midlands Area Secretary of the CPGB from 1947 to 1953, then Welsh Area Secretary until 1959, when he was made Assistant General Secretary of the party.[1]

In 1967, Alexander stood down from his CPGB post, and instead became a chemistry teacher at Sydenham School. After retirement, he was involved with the Marx Memorial Library, holding its presidency from 1989 until 1996. He ran the International Brigade Association, and wrote extensively on the Spanish Civil War, publishing British Volunteers For Liberty, No To Franco and contributing to Memorials Of The Spanish Civil War.[1]

Alexander remained a member of the CPGB until the party's dissolution, and was prominent in opposition to what he regarded as revisionism during the 1980s.[2] During the 1990s, he spoke in favour of environmental causes.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Richard Baxell, "Bill Alexander", The Guardian, 14 July 2000
  2. ^ a b Graham Stevenson, "Alexander Bill", Compendium of Communist Biography
  3. ^ a b "Bill Alexander", Daily Telegraph, 20 July 2000
Party political offices
Preceded by
Alun Thomas
Secretary of the Welsh District of the Communist Party of Great Britain
Succeeded by
Bert Pearce
Preceded by
Bill Wainwright
Assistant General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain
Succeeded by
Reuben Falber
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