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Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Peter Kerrigan

Wilfred Macartney was an unpopular commander of the British Battalion. It was decided by the Communist Party of Great Britain that McCartney should be recalled to London and that he should be replaced by party member, Tom Wintringham. On 6th February, 1937, Peter Kerrigan went to see McCartney. Kerrigan later recalled what happened during this meeting: "I visited him in his room before he went back to have a talk with him about the situation with the battalion and so on. It was the intention that he would come back. This was about mid-January but he had a big, heavy revolver and I had a rather small Belgian revolver, and he said: Look Peter, how about you giving me your revolver. I am going through France I don't want to lump this thing about. I said all right. He asked to show me how to operate it. I took the revolver in my hand but I can't say for sure whether or not I touched the safety catch, or whether it was off or not, or whether I touched the trigger, but suddenly there was a shot and I had hit him in the arm with a bullet from the small Belgian revolver. We rushed him to hospital, got him an anti-tetanus injection and he was patched up and off he went."

Charles Sewell Bloom, an intelligence officer at the International Brigade Headquarters, had a different opinion on the shooting: "We were going to the front and Wilfred McCartney didn't want to go back. He said he was going with the fellows to the front. Peter Kerrigan and the rest of us thought he shouldn't, and it so happens that he shot him in the arm to make him go back to hospital. That was the only way to get him back because we didn't want to give him a bad name."

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