James ‘Jim’ Francis Brewer, born in Rhymney, South Wales in 1913, was a student at Ruskin who would go on to fight against fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War.
Jim’s father was a miner and, at age 14, he left school to join him in the mines and became interested in Trade Unions and the Labour Party. By 1934, he had earned a national scholarship and chose to attend Ruskin College, graduating with a Diploma in Economics and Political Science in 1936.
In solidarity with the Asturian miners and the general Spanish population, who had been brutally suppressed by Franco, Jim travelled to Spain in 1937 (at around the same time as fellow Ruskin student Kathleen McColgan) and served in the Anti-Tank Battery as a member of the Machine Gun Company. He quickly increased in rank, becoming a Quartermaster, and fought in pivotal battles across Spain including in Brunete, Teruel and Ebro.
He withdrew from Spain in late 1938, having received an award for his service from the Spanish Republican Government in exile. Following the war, Jim continued his political activism, holding positions such as Constituency Chairman, Senior Councillor, and Secretary of the Trade Council until his death in 1993.
Jim was interviewed at length in 1987 for the Imperial War Museum’s archives: