Friday, November 14, 2014

Obituary: Comrade MacHaffie (1931)

From the May 1931 issue of the Socialist Standard

It is with great regret that we record the death of Comrade W. E. MacHaffie (Mac), of the East London Branch, at the age of 47 years, on Thursday, March 12th.

Comrade MacHaffie joined the Party shortly before the outbreak of war in 1914. As a result of his activities during the War he came into conflict with the authorities and was sent to prison. Later, during transfer from one prison to another, he escaped. From that time began a struggle against odds which finally defeated him and undoubtedly shortened his life. The necessity of keeping "on the run" to avoid arrest, the difficulty of obtaining food because of the Government's rationing schemes, and lack of money finally reduced him to a shadow of his former self. Early in 1918, starvation, accompanied by a tubercular disease which he had developed, compelled him, after nearly four years of struggle, to give himself up to the police. From that time his life was constantly interrupted by periods of hospital and sanatorium treatment. Never willing to believe that he was really ill, he invariably discharged himself from these institutions as soon as he was physically capable of walking out, causing much consternation to the hospital authorities thereby. A few days before his death he assured the writer, who expressed concern at his deathly appearance, that he would improve his health with the arrival of the finer weather.

He could never be persuaded to take any part in the Head Office side of the Party's work. He was a "branch man" and was perhaps almost unknown by many with long service in the Party. Essentially a propagandist and educationist, he was impatient with cant and timidity of thought. Yet with patient skill he would spend hours explaining complex points to younger members of the branch he did so much to form, and encouraging them to do the work his health prevented him from doing.

He was a powerful and feared opponent; a kindly and generous friend; a fountain of knowledge and an almost inexhaustible source of information to hundreds who had come in contact with him inside and outside of the Party.

He will be gratefully remembered for a long time to come by those who knew him.
H. W.

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