SPAIN/UK | David Lomon – Last surviving British IB member
Source: Guardian Wednesday, 9 January 2013, 00:53
David Lomon, who has died aged 94, was the last known survivor in Britain of the International Brigades that fought in the 1930s in the Spanish civil war, on the side of the government forces, against General Francisco Franco and his German and Italian backers.
Born David Solomon in Manchester, he was the youngest of eight children of Jewish immigrants from Poland. During his teens, the death of his father brought his education to an abrupt halt, dashing David's dreams of becoming a doctor. The family moved to Hackney, in the East End of London, where David became caught up in the resistance against Oswald Mosley's fascist Blackshirts. Galvanised by his participation in anti-fascist demonstrations, David took the decision to leave his home and family to fight in a war in a country he had never seen.
Changing his surname to Lomon, he joined the British battalion as a machine-gunner and infantryman. After minimal training, he was rushed up to the front in the spring of 1938. He was soon captured by Italian soldiers and incarcerated in a Francoist concentration camp. Released that October, David returned to Britain, where he returned to his work as a clothing cutter and married Millie Levine, whom he had met through the Young Communist League.
During the second world war, David served in the Royal Navy. Working as a navigator's yeoman on a minesweeper, he was part of efforts to clear the Channel for the D-day landings. He was later posted to the Malaya Strait, where his flotilla lost two ships in an attack by Japanese kamikaze planes.
After the war, David joined a new clothing wholesale group in London. He remained at what became Barnett Lawson Trimmings for 35 years, retiring in 1982 as managing director. David's dedication to his work was exceeded only by that to his family: he was a devoted father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
In 2010, having noticed an article in Saga magazine on the awarding of Spanish nationality to eight British veterans, David made contact with fellow volunteers. He threw himself into the work of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, travelling around Britain and Spain. He remained proud of the efforts made by the international volunteers on behalf of the government during the civil war, so the Madrid's bestowal of honorary citizenship on him in 2011 was the cause of great pleasure and satisfaction.
Millie died in 1997. He is survived by his children Stanley, Yvonne and Irving, and seven grandchildren.