HARRY LAWS Born 1911, Harold Laws was a former resident of Peterborough who was killed while fighting with the International Brigade in Spain when the insurgents recaptured Teruel from the Government forces on 17 February 1938. Originally from Southampton, Harold came to Peterborough from Worcester in 1935 at the age of 25 to work as a turner (lathe operator) at the city’s Baker Perkins engineering works. He held strong political views and after a short time in the Labour Party he joined the Communists with whom he had been associated in Southampton. Being a keen cyclist, Harry joined the Clarion as soon as he moved to Peterborough, taking part in club runs and sometimes going on touring excursions with two or three friends. In 1936 he left Peterborough for Stratford, London, and then worked in Birmingham before leaving to join the International Brigade in October 1937 to fight against General Franco’s Fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War. Whilst in Peterborough he lodged with a Mrs Garner of Rock Road and was great friends with the family of Mrs Barber on the same street. He wrote several letters to Mrs Barber, one sent from hospital in Albcate, Plaza del Altazona, after being wounded in the arm at Teruel in December 1937. He wrote, “I only fired five shots, and I don’t think I hit anything, but Franco’s men got me.” Another letter spoke of the amazing countryside, “We appear to be bang up against the sky, thousands of feet above sea level. Mountain tops are quite close, only two or three hundred feet away, usually immersed in clouds.”
On 17 February 1938, the very day Harry died in Segura de los Baños, Mrs Barber received a letter dated 5 January. “We have had a hard time lately,” he wrote and added, “but I have enjoyed it, this is a wonderful army and the morale is very high.” After his death the Clarion sections within the East Midlands area (especially Peterborough, Nottingham and Leicester) collected together and purchased the Harry Laws 50 mile Cup, which is still awarded each year by the Peterborough-based Fenland Clarion Cycling Club.Steve Clarke Photo: Harold Laws (Peterborough Clarion Cycling Club) courtesy of www.international-brigades.org.uk Photo 2: The Harry Laws 50 mile Time Trial Cup, still awarded each year by the Fenland Clarion Cycling Club
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