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Greenham Page Two
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A Guardian newspaper photo showing three of Thalia and Ian's banners
Early in the morning I had put up about 20 banners with others on the
fence and on the gates. As I tied the banners on the fence soldiers were
trying to smash and break my fingers...
The day we blockaded the all nine gates of the base was exhausting We
got up at 6.00am. there were hundreds of women at the blue gate and a
few partners standing observing. Children were there too. We sat and lay
down in front of the gates . row upon row of us The police picked us
up and more or less threw/dropped us in the ditch and on the grass
nearby. This went on and on until 4 pm, It took two police to pick up
small women but four to pick up the larger women . They has sweat
running down there faces after a few hours, dripping on us. We just
picked ourselves up and went back time and time again. I chose to wear
an army padded parka which was much too big and unfastened which made
getting a hold on me was very difficult. On one occasion my coat came
off and they slung it into the distance.Women thought it was me flying
through the air! We had also practiced going limp, relaxed which made
getting a hold and lifting us up very difficult..
Whilst all this was going on Linda Chalker a government minister had
instructed the Soldiers to remove the banners and take them into the
base and give them to her . They did this, banners all all neatly
folded . They had pulled them over the razor wire on the top of the
fence first having cut them off. The male family members saw this and
said to the police when the women realised the banners had been stolen
all hell would break loose so they handed back all but one of the banners
A young police told me he had just joined the force and this was his
first day in the job. He told me about his training and how they had
practiced picking up women with women in the force and how they were
told not to grab any part of a woman above the knees or the elbows.. He
seemed quite uncomfortable being in such close struggles with so many
women of all ages..
As 4 o clock approached there was a very long queue of base traffic
lined up ready to exit the base including an ice cream van. The police
eventually got us all pushed back to the side of the gates and kettled
us including my son other children and several foreign TV crews....
During all this chaos the men observing had nipped into nearby Newbury
and bought some super glue and filled the gate lock when the gates could
not be opened... The miltary had to go and fetch bigger and bigger
bolt cutters before they eventually were able to open the gates.....
both the police and the greenham women were absolutley drained of
energy was the adrenline stopped.... Thalia
CIRCLE OF GREENHAM 1981 - 2006
A cold Febuary Day 25 years on
The grim military fence gone , really gone!
Our familiar wild space, nine miles around the base
No longer ours, no longer ours
Our close womens friendships of years or hours
Those womens days, those womens ways
A world that could be for the world to see
The heat of our imaginations
Warm hearts, round smokey fires
The schisms and isms didn't bring us all down.
The Rainbow gates and police state
The price of fear cost our country dear
Earth bogs and police dogs
Military hierachies and military logs
Dancing on the silos, our days in the courts
All our love and support
Our womens land Yoko bought
Evictions, convictions, rain wind and snow
Caravans, tents and benders
We fought to the end - we would not go!
Soldiers full of doubt, saving to buy themselves out.
Fences are gone but men are back - what a surprise
Where women for peace once took a stand
Now a Gay rendevous for men before home to their wives
At dusk men in cars cruising past the garden of peace.
[ A poem conceived in an old cold camper van at the Green Gate on February 23rd 2006]
Thalia Campbell ©
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki - 60 Years on by Thalia Campbell
The first time I was aware of the two Nuclear bombs being dropped on Japan was when as a child of eight my Grandmother wrote letters to the newspapers on her old typewriter in her bed sit in our large Victorian house in Torquay and probably also to Freddy Grisewood's 'Any Questions'. I only took her ancient Typewriter to the tip when we moved three years ago.
The Hiroshima bomb was Uranium and the Nagasaki bomb was Plutonium. There are still debates going on whether the second bomb was needed, or an American experiment to see the difference or to frighten the Russians who were about to invade the Far East.
In the 1950's as a student I read in the news papers and listened on the radio to reports of CND demonstrating against Nuclear weapons. I remember the 90 year old Bertrand Russell demonstrating in Trafalgar Square and going to prison and the Committee of One hundred demonstrating at Greenham Common in the 1960's being piled into removal vans by the police, positively charming and amateur to what happens now.
In the 1960's as a young family we were living in the shadow of the new nuclear plant being built at Hinckley Point. In amongst all the excitement of the new jobs coming to the area I don't think I was the only one who worried about the safety of my preschool children. We were thinking about buying an idyllic thatched cottage in the shadow of the growing Nuclear Plant but in the end glad to move away to Southampton.
With my teenage children in the late 1970's I once again found myself under threat from the nuclear industry when living in Corris N. Wales. The Government was planning four nuclear dumps in Wales. The plan near us was to fill the empty Slate Quarries with Nuclear waste, almost in our back garden. The whole Community was out in protest. Entire villages turned out to Public meetings, and took part in direct actions. Julie Christie took a leading role. When the English Government Scientists came to check out the nuclear dump sites, They were blockaded in their Bed and Breakfasts by local cars. When they went to ask for help from the local welsh police they were always too busy to sort out this difficulty. When the English scientists got up in the hills to do their job they were surrounded by Welsh farmers in their land rovers with their dogs and guns and could not do their work. Finally after 18 months of more direct action Michael Heseltine announced in Parliament that Wales was not a suitable place to dump Nuclear waste.
People at the other planned nuclear dump site were worried too and out of all this came Nuclear Free Wales where all Councils voted to be Nuclear free, AND the march to Greenham Common. Ann Pettitt in Carmarthenshire had been protesting against the dumping and when we won she had the idea of marching to Greenham to protest about the first strike Nuclear cruise missiles soon to arrive from the USA. That's a whole other story.
Hibuksha, victims of those two nuclear bombs on Japan came to Wales in the 1980s to tell us their story.
In the mid 1980s there was Chernobyl. Friends had a Geiger counter we were sharing to test our surrounds for radioactivity. We were in our garden at the time of Chernobyl using it and wondering about our high readings!!! There are still farms in Wales unable to sell their sheep now.
To commemorate 40 years since Hiroshima Justine Merritt a retired American teacher organized the US Peace Ribbon Project of tea towel sized art works depicting
"What I cannot bear to think of as lost for ever in a nuclear war" to be wrapped around the Pentagon. The project ended with Washington brought to a standstill with 17 miles of Ribbon pieces.
To day we are planning a new generation of Nuclear weapons whilst asking other countries to stop their nuclear ambitions.
For evil to Flourish all it needs is for good people to do nothing
If you are looking at these Greenham pages you might like to know where some artifacts
and oral histories are:
Imperial war museum ...audio tapes by Ian and Thalia
Royal Armouries Leeds Two banners 1 "state terrorism no no no" and 2 "its never too late to have a happy childhood"
National Library Wales .... most of Ian and Thalia's collection
South Glamorgan Archives - letters about the sculpture.
3 banners in New Zealand others in Haiti, Canada, Oregon Chicago and City Hall New York, Australia, Bolivia/ Columbia and Oberhausen Germany and in other countries.
2 banners in the Robert Owen Museum on the River Clyde in Scotland
And an attic and garage full of banners and papers needing archiving and a home.
Britain needs a peace Museum.
After the March from Cardiff to Greenham Common in 1981 and the setting up of the Womens' Peace Camp to protest against the siting of American nuclear ground launched Cruise Missiles the women decided to march from Cardiff to Brawdy in West Wales. We were going to protest against the US Underwater Acoustic Facility designed to track submarines.
About 127 women and children including many from the Greenham March set out in summer 1982. Our route took us through the Welsh mining valleys. We were supported with great love in the mining communities. We zig zagged up and down the valley sides hosted in chapels and village halls by local councils, trade unionists, womens organisations, political parties and peace groups . We had a welcome in the Chapel in Ystradgynlais where Eunice Stallard a Greenham stalwart lived. And a tearful emotional welcome in Onllywin community hall with songs speeches, prayers and food. On the road near Carmarthen a car full of young white South African men drove past and screamed abuse at the march. They drove off only to return with bull whips which they used to bull whip women and children from their car windows
We had a night in the grounds of a big house about 20 miles from the base at Brawdy . About a dozen of us set off in a furniture van converted into a home to arrive and blockade the base. We set up our blockade our personal belongs arrived with Brigg Oubridge .
No police were there and were very surprised we had arrived a day earlier than we had told them, Ann Pettitt teased them.
Hours later the local bobby arrived on his bicycle he sat and talked with us and complained that most of his time was taken up with drunk and drugged American Servicemens wives all he could do was take them to the base as they were granted immunity under the visiting services act.
There were some plump well fed security service personel there to greet us , To me they looked very similar to those who shadowed us on the Greenham March hiding in shop doorways and popping up hiding behind cars with cameras.
The American fire brigade turned out and began laying hose to wash us away. Our local policeman said I will arrest you if you do they are not on American soil they are in Wales..
The Americans withdrew.
The march and our supporters caught up with us after a large rally with speeches on the beach. The separate march from Aberystwyth arrived. Banners were put up and a web woven across the gates The police formed a line and refused to let the big group of marchers and supporters come and be with us . We made speeches. Poems were read and police had tears in their eyes . Any one could have their say. Ending in mass weep in,in the Welsh Revivalist tradition.
Christian CND set up a large wooden cross on the road side verge opposite the base and others planted a cherry tree.
14 women chained themselves to the big anchor on the grass out side the base. They remained there for four hours singing and chanting. When the women police tried to catch us and stop our activities they were hampered by medium heeled shoes and tight skirts . They threw off their shoes and hitched up their skirts but still failed to catch us in our comfortable shorts trousers and sandals. The male police cat called and wolf whistled "we can see your knickers" to their female colleagues. After four hours when they did cut the womens chains off the anchor ,one police woman broke a girls finger, she was distressed at what she had done and was taken away in tears.
While all this was going on a small group of women rushed into the base with a post card we had written to Ronald Reagan deploring the fact that he was on holiday in UK instead of being at the disarmament talks at the UN, and posted it in the Base Post Box.
The American personnel had to climb over the walls with all their belongings to gain access to their base as we had blockaded their only entrance. Each shift they carried two mainframe spools of computer tape.
After four days the police decided to remove us. They put our sleeping bags and belongings on the wide verge opposite the base and carried us with good humour and gently deposited us on our sleeping bags. Ian went out live on Radio Wales live from the local telephone box describing the events.
The event was then front page news.
Image Ian Campbell ©
in the 1980s greenham common women from all over the world were running rings around the military and the police and Michael Heseltine threatening to shoot us if we continued to invade the base. The labour Party and the trade unions made real efforts and changes to empower women ... not without controversy!!! There were the all women shortlists and the alternate and equal policy which meant that
1.committees had to try to have equal numbers of men and women
2. delegates to bodies ought to be alternately a woman and a man.
This had a dramatic moment in our Ceredigion CLP as the man who thought he would go as as of right to Labour Conference with no discussion was reminded of this new policy and I was sent instead. WOW
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