Miss Drape’s First Class

Image from ‘Glimpses of Old Whithorn’. Page 31.

Miss Drape’s First Class, Whithorn School, 1921. Jack Brent is in the first row, third from the right.

‘Good to be Alive’

‘Good to be Alive – the story of Jack Brent’ by Stanley Harrison. This biography of Jack Brent was published in 1954, three years after his death.

Jack Brent

Born 1912. Lived in Isle Street, Whithorn, with his brother, John, and their grandmother. In 1933-6 he lived in London and changed his name to Jack Brent. He was influenced by the “Daily Worker” and discussions with those in his lodgings. In 1936-7, Jack was accepted as a volunteer for the International Brigade, to fight on behalf of the Spanish Republic against the fascists. The British government pursued a policy of “non-intervention”, hoping to keep Britain out of any war.

1937, Battle at Jarama, to defend Madrid against the Fascist advance. A call for volunteers to go out and collect the wounded, many of whom had been shot as they emerged from their trenches. Jack Brent was shot through the spine as he was bending over a wounded soldier. He never walked again without the use of crutches. From 1937 to his death in 1951, he had thirty operations, including an amputation of his leg, and ultimately of his other foot, and many skin grafts. He lived in almost constant pain, particularly in his last years. On his return from Spain, he joined the Communist Party.