Arthur Francis George Hirst

Arthur Francis George Hirst (1912-1973) – Sussex Brigader 

Arthur Francis George Hirst

Arthur Francis George Hirst was born on 11 February 1912 at the Lying-in Hospital, Endell Street in St Giles, Middlesex. In 1931 he was living in Brighton and married Ella Box, who gave birth in 1932 to their son Terence Hirst (Terry). In 1935 he joined the Communist Party and was living at 66 Conway Street, Hove, when he volunteered to join the International Brigades in February 1937. He was a taxi-driver and motor mechanic.

Conway Street, Hove – no. 66 is now sadly demolished

Hirst entered Spain on 21 February 1937 and was enrolled with the International Brigades at Albacete on 24 February 1937.  He was then sent to the transport Section of the Brigades (Auto park), and was missing for a short time during the Jarama battles.   He worked with Dr Reggie Saxton at Granen in Aragon as part of the Republican medical services in the 35th Sanidad.   He was wounded in the arm sometime in 1938.  He took up Spanish Citizenship, but had to leave Spain with other surviving members of the British Battalion when they were repatriated in December 1938.

On November 2, 1937, the Sussex newspaper Evening Argus [4] published an article:

Hove volunteer says I am ashamed that I am English

Arthur George Hirst, a Hove man who joined up to fight for the Spanish Government, has written to friends from Albacete where there has been heavy fighting

He tells how he was once posted “missing” and in another part of the letter he declares:—

Since I have been in Spain, for the first time in my life, I am ashamed of the fact that I am English. The Spanish people have such a distrust for England that they almost refuse to believe us when we tell them where we are from, the more illiterate peasants insisting that we are Russians.

Mr Hirst, speaking of the new-found unity in Spain, adds: “I only wish the British Labour leaders were here.” Mr. Hirst reveals that he has been wounded, but he says:– “We are not heroes. We came here to carry out the job of giving a check to International Fascism, and although the job is unpleasant at times, it must be carried through.”

He tells friends he hopes to be home within a month.”

Ernie Trory writes: On the 12th December [1938] we welcomed home comrades Anton Miles and Bill Sill (…) A few days later we were proud to welcome home comrade Arthur Hirst, who had been driving a mobile hospital unit in Spain for over two years.

From 1941, Arthur worked as a taxi-driver and lived with Hilda Trory in Moulescombe, Brighton.

In March 1942, Hilda gave birth to a son, Joseph, and in September 1946 to a second son, Daniel.  In May 1951 Arthur and Hilda were married in Brighton.   They later moved to Lewes, Sussex and, until 1966, Arthur ran the Landport Stores at 34 Lee Road, Landport Estate, Lewes.  In 1963 Hilda gave birth to a third son, Paul.

Arthur Hirst on the Brighton seafront

In 1966 the family moved to a house at 8 Offham Road and Arthur opened an antique shop at 12 Malling Street, Lewes.  Arthur died in 1973 at his home in Lewes, Sussex.

Paying tribute to Arthur Hirst on 18 September 2001

2 thoughts on “Arthur Francis George Hirst

  1. I am so impressed by the amount of informative detail in this biography of Arthur Hirst. There should be members of the Hirst family living in the area, as Arthur left four sons.

  2. Hello Pauline

    Yes I am Arthur Hirst’s son Daniel.
    I think most of the information on this page was taken from my Wikitree page:

    I now live in the South of France and my two brothers Joseph and Paul both live in Sussex.
    Arthur’s oldest son Terry (from his first marriage) died not very long ago in Kenya where he had become a famous artist and cartoonist.

    Feel free to contact me if you want any more information or have any other information to share!



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