Alfred John Smith/Patrick John Lynch: One man, two volunteers

Alfred John Smith/Patrick John Lynch: One man, two volunteers

Some people are described as ‘larger than life’. That description might be applied to Alfred John Smith, also known as Patrick John Lynch, and possibly A J Long, although there is no listing on the IBMT database for anyone of that name. A man with so many names warrants at least two entries in the IBMT volunteer database and so he has, with separate but identical cross-referenced entries for Alfred John Smith and Patrick John Lynch.

There is even uncertainty about when and where he was born. His year of birth may have been 1907 or 1914.  As Alfred James Smith, he gave an address with a Mrs Folkard, of Shelland Green, North Woolpit, and as Alfred John Smith, lived in Oxford and worked for Morris Motors. He joined the Labour Party in 1926 and was a member of the AWU.

He enlisted twice, firstly under his (probable) real name of Alfred John Smith on 2 August 1937, Brigade number 1226.  Only a month later, on 17 September 1937, he was listed by Special Branch as having returned from Spain.

On his return he was charged with breaking and entry and theft from an office in Portslade and bound over for 12 months by a court in Lewes. His wife’s address was given as 64 Cowper Road, Hove, which is where the Sussex connection comes in. A press report said: ‘He denied that he deserted from the International Brigade. He said he was sentenced to death, but escaped from the Spanish side.’ In fact, he was repatriated the first time as being ‘useless’. It added that he had applied for an assisted passage to Australia to join his father there.

It is thought that he used the alias of Patrick John Lynch, an asphalt layer, to return to Spain on 5 January 1938, and enlisted with the Mac-Paps, Brigade number 1551. He deserted in Aragon on 3 April 1938 and was arrested on the frontier. He was sent to jail either in Castelldefells, south of Barcelona, or in Figueras, on the border with France. When he was repatriated on 2 July 1938 he went under the name of Alfred John Smith. On this second occasion he was again arrested for ‘office breaking’. He was described in International Brigade records as being an: ‘Unpolitical rotter in the fullest sense’.

There the trail ends and we have no more idea when or where he died than on his entry into the world.

For further information on sources, see the entries on the IBMT volunteer database.




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