Lou Kenton (1 September 1908 – 17 September 2012) was an English potter, who served as an ambulance driver with the International Brigade and was its oldest surviving member at the time of his death.
Kenton was born in Stepney, east London to a Jewish Ukrainian family who had escaped the Tsarist pogroms. His father died from Tuberculosis when he was young, and as he left school aged 14 he worked in a paper factory where he first encountered anti-semitism. This led him to join the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1929.
In early 1937, Kenton left Stepney to join the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. His wife, an exiled Austrian nurse from Nazi Germany, shortly followed him. When he arrived at the International Brigades headquarters in Albacete, he applied to join the International Brigade's Medical Unit. It was from there that he spent nearly two years in action as an Ambulance driver on the front lines, as well as distributing medical supplies to hospitals across the country. He left for Britain in late 1938 on an 'Aid for Spain' fund-raising mission to raise money for a new Ambulance but by the time his tour was over, the International Brigades were withdrawn.
After the International Brigades were withdrawn, Kenton was hugely depressed. One of his missions was to hand the Basque refugees given asylum in the United Kingdom back to the Spanish authorities. It was "the first time I saw the fascist police in their three-cornered hats. All the children were in tears and all of them were hanging on to me as we checked each one and handed them over."
Kenton remained a devout communist, working tirelessly on trade union organisation, unemployed marches and party activities until 1968 when the Prague Spring was suppressed by the Soviet Union. He then joined the Labour Party and remained a member for the rest of his life.
From 1980 Kenton produced commemorative pottery for the trade union movement and for radical causes. His work has been commissioned by Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Tobacco Workers' Union, Society of Graphical and Allied Trades, Trades Union Congress, areas of the National Union of Mineworkers, the People's March for Jobs, the International Brigade, Greater London Council Peace Year, National Council for Civil Liberties, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and the Greenham Common women's campaign.
Kenton had two children and two grand daughters.
On 26 May 2009, it was announced that Kenton, aged 101, was to be the oldest of seven British pensioners who were awarded Spanish passports at the Spanish Embassy in London on 9 June 2009.
- Lou Kenton is 100!!!
- Lou Kenton
- Deborah Haynes Spanish Civil War volunteers are granted citizenship 70 years on The Times
- Lou Kenton holds his Spanish passport
- Spain Honours Foreign Veterans Of The Spanish Civil War (Lou Kenton)
- Thomas Walters; Lou Kenton; Joseph Kahn; Sam Lesser; Penny Feiwel; Jack Edwards; Patrick Cochrane
- Lou Kenton (Telegraph obituary)
- Obituary: Lou Kenton (1908-2012)
- 'I shall never forget it, as long as I live'
- The Spanish civil war remembered
- Untitled dissertation (many references to Kenton)
- J to L - Compendium of Communist Biography by surname
- International Brigade: 70 Years On. London July 15, 2006
- International Brigade Memorial Trust newsletter Issue nine / September 2004 pp4–5
- Spain repays its debt of blood and honour
- Jews Who Served in The Spanish Civil War
- Band of brothers: Seventy years ago, these British volunteers risked their lives to fight fascism. Why has their heroism been overlooked until now? (Start of seven-page article that includes a profile of Kenton)
- Band of brothers (page 6)
- Spanish Civil War: English and Irish International Brigade veterans honoured with citizenship
- Spain honours British war veterans (Al Jazeera video)
- Sam Jones Spain remembers: war veterans honoured The Guardian (includes video)
- Lou Kenton is 100!!! Photos