The Purged Volunteer?

The IRA in the twilight years 1923-1948
By Uinseann MacEoin
Argenta Publications, Dublin, 1997, ISBN 0951117246

This book deals with the history of Irish Republicanism during the 1920’s to the 1940’s and is primarily composed of interviews with members of the Republican Movement.

There are a series of references to the Spanish Civil War in this book, but one of the most interesting is contained in the section concerning Neil Goold-Verschoyle.

Neil Goold was a communist who had lived in the USSR from 1934-39 and had later been interned in the Curragh Internment Camp in the Free State, the South of Ireland, during the Second World War. Among other relatives he had one unfortunate brother called Brian.

"Brian however, perhaps influenced from Russia by Neil whom he had visited there, departed for Spain in the autumn of 1936, the civil war having then commenced. Aged 26, he was a radio specialist and he may have sought to offer his skills to the republican cause. Falling foul however of one of the many factions then in Catatonia, he was arrested and extradited to the Soviet Union where he died in a Stalinist prison camp.

His name is said to have been mentioned in some book although, almost certainly, he did not survive World War 2. It is extraordinary therefore that this harsh treatment of younger brother Brian did not cause Neil to deviate from communism."


Can anyone supply information on this victim of Stalinist purges?
If so, please contact me, Ciaran Crossey at

Home Page

Further notes on  Goold-Verschoyle

Extracts from: I was Stalin's Spy

By W G Krivitsky

Published by Ian Faulkner Publishing Ltd, Cambridge, 1992
[The book was first published in 1939]
ISBN 1857630076 - Pages 115-116

I do not know the number of anti-Stalinists executed in Loyalist Spain. I cold describe scores of individual cases, but I shall confine myself to one probable victim who may still be alive. The few facts which I shall relate may help his family to save him. A young Englishman, a radio engineer named friend, had a brother in Leningrad, married to a Russian girl. He was an enthusiastic anti-Fascist, and Soviet Russia was the land of his dreams. He succeeded, after long efforts, in gaining admission to the Soviet Union, and took up his residence there.

When Soviet intervention began, he was dispatched to Spain as a radio technician. Early in 1937, a report arrived at the Moscow headquarters of the OPGU to the effect that friend was showing "Trotskyist sympathies". I knew the boy, and there is no question that he was whole-heartedly devoted to the Loyalist cause and to the Soviet Union. True, he had associated with Socialists and other radicals, which was only natural for a young Englishman unaware of the invisible Chinese Wall segregating the Soviet personnel from the Spaniards.

Later I asked one of the OPGU officials in Moscow about him, and was answered evasively. On further inquiry I learned that friend had been brought home as a prisoner to Odessa. I was told of the trick by which he had been taken. The OGPU in Spain had lured him on to a Soviet vessel, pretending that he was needed to repair the ship's radio transmitter. Friend had no suspicion that the OGPU was after him. Once on board, he was seized. On April 12, he was put in the dungeons of the OGPU in Moscow. To this day, his brother in Leningrad and his family in England do not know what happened to him. Nor have I been able to learn whether he was executed as a "spy" or lives now in a remote concentration camp.

This extract would echo the piece carried by MacEoin, with the obvious problems of the persons' name and nationality. Presumably anyone living in Russia would be a strong contender for using a pseudonym. Presumably the author may not be able to distinguish English and Irish accents. McGarry cites this book in his book on Spain to give information on Gould.

Extract from

7000 days in Siberia 

by Karlo Stajner

Published in 1988 by Canongate Publishing Ltd, Edinburgh. Originally published in Serbo-Croat in 1971. Joel Agee translated this edition.
ISBN 0862412080 - Page 51

The story of Goold-Verschoyle is of particular interest. This young Irishman had joined the republican Army as a volunteer during the Spanish Civil war and worked as a radio technician for the Barcelona radio station. When he noticed that the NKVD was gaining more and more influence in the republican Army, he reported to his commander that he was a republican but not a communist, and since he now appeared to be fighting for a communist, not a republican Spain, he asked to be released from service. The commander told him that he would have to wait a few days until a replacement was found.

Several days later, a soldier approached him and asked him to come to the harbour, where there was a ship with defective radio equipment. 

Goold-Verschoyle took his tool bag and boarded the ship; it was a Soviet freighter. He had scarcely stepped into the cabin where the defective equipment was supposed to be when the door shut behind him and he found himself in the company of two members of the Communist Youth League. The ship departed and didn't stop until it reached the harbour of Sevastopol. There the Irishman and the two Komsomol members were arrested by the NKVD and taken to jail. Later they were transported to Moscow, where they were accused of being British spies and were sentenced to 8 years in prison.

The author of these notes says of himself that he was born on 15th January 1905 in Vienna, moving to Yugoslavia in 1922 and from there to the USSR in 1932. He was arrested on November 4th 1936 in Moscow and spent the next 20 years in a series of concentration camps. His "crime" was being "a Gestapo spy" and of involvement in the murder of Kirov.

On page X11 of the introduction to his book Stajner says that "in Austria, he was, from the end of the First World War, a typesetter and a member of the directorate of the Communist Youth League. He worked at the Youth Section of the International. In the twenties, he enjoyed excellent relations with Yugoslav communists and came to work in Yugoslavia. In Zagreb, following party orders, he founded and directed the printing press which issued the party's clandestine publications. He collaborated with a number of revolutionaries of the period, carried out different missions, travelled, was imprisoned in Zagreb, Paris and Vienna, worked for the Comintern in Berlin, and finally, in 1932, under orders from the Yugoslav Communist Party, left for the USSR. A month after his arrival in Moscow, where he immediately presented himself to the Balkan section of the Comintern, he was named director of the printing press and publishing house of the Communist International. He worked there for 4 years, and still held that post when, in 1936, he was arrested."