Peace Pledge Union and Change (MC)

Created < 2011, Changed 26/03/2020, 27/03/2020

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5 Peace Pledge Union and Change

In 2009 the last three first world war veterans living in Britain passed away. Henry Allingham, and Harry Patch particularly passed on there witness to us of that war. Harry Patch was described by Peace News (September 2009) as the world’s oldest pacifist.

 Harry Patch 110, 25/7/2009 – had no time for the Act of Remembrance on 11 November, an event he described as “just show business” – a marksman he made a pact with fellow soldiers to shoot to wound not kill – Peace News, September 2009, described him as the worlds oldest pacifist. He also said "I felt then, as I do now, that the politicians who took us too war should have been given the guns and told to settle there difference themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder". 

Henry Allingham 112, 18/7/2009 – once told the BBC: “War’s stupid. Nobody wins. You might as well talk first, you have to talk last anyway.”

  Bill Stone 108, 10/1/2009 – There appears to be nothing said about his view on war. Bill saw sinking of the German fleet at Scapa Flow, and was also at Dunkirk. He put his longevity down to his faith.

The last WWI veteran to be involved in the action Claude Stanley Choules died in Australia 5/5/2011 aged 110. He had also been at Scapa Flow. There is one other an RAF canteen waitress still living at this time.

They lived through a time when to receive a white feather for cowardice was dreadful, that was before and during the first world war.

Through a time between the two world wars when 20% of the population signed the peace pledge. Warnings such as the 1935 film “The 39 Steps”; where the character Richard Hannay foiled a German/Zionist plot involving a sinister character who’s eyelids blinked like a bird of preys. There are different versions of this story probably to suit the audience. Nevil Chamberlain’s negotiation of peace, bought time for the country to re-arm for another war is my fathers view (J H Lohmann), but the real reason was to bring people around to the idea that Britain would have to enter in to another world war. Chamberlain took Britain to war, then was succeeded by Winston Churchill in 1940, who was not popular until after the war had started.

* The Peace Pledge Union was formed in 1934, when 103,000 people responded to a letter to the Manchester Guardian in support of call to pledge not to fight in war. That was within days of the letter being published. 

BBC Radio 4, 14 December 2009; “Things We Forgot to Remember” Neville Chamberlain’s 1938 declaration of  ’peace for our time’.  The program was on Nevil Chamberlain appeasement presented by Michael Portillo. 

It comes at this historical event from in a way that I have also been thinking about that is; Not only was so called appeasement buying time for rearmament, my dads perspective, but also time to bring a near pacifist British nation around to the idea that there will have to be another war, my own interpretation. Michael also says how subsequently Prime Ministers Thatcher and Blair could not be seen to be appeasers. 

I am told that When Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer he funded many military items (all done secretly). Note Bletchley Park, Martlesham Heath, Radar, Hurricane, Spitfire. (M. Pitt  SGR) 

I am told that aircraft pilots were being trained at public schools for war four years before the start of WWII. (H. Owen) 

An opportunity to help a German military to overthrow the Nazi government was not taken up. In any case the undercurrent spiral of fear was surely too strong to prevent war. But also British Nazi sympathises who would have gone in with Hitler in war against the Soviet Union did not occur either but our alie the Soviet Union, who sacrificed so much in that war, became an enemy not many years after the end of WWII. Overwhelming Nuclear War capability under US General Curtis LeMay and NATO. In USSR was refused entry as a partner into NATO and the WARSAW PACT was formed in response.

This was a time when a small change would have caused a short term marked change in the course of history but no one can judge where we would be by now because ultimately a thousand year of Nazi rule may have by now collapsed anyway. The spiral of hate and fear exorcised in a way that has not occurred completely now is unlikely. Whatever though past war tends to be glamorised, by old men who want to avoid thinking about what there part of it involved, leading to future cycles of war. Of cause old men do remember relive as if cursed in their old age.

I was told of an old gentleman who as a young man was very good solidier, he may have fought tanks, anyway he killed lots of young men like himself as he was good at it. In old age he went over and over regretting what he had done. Of cause had been conscripted during WWII to do that but that was no conciliation. – My father met him when he was employed during the 1991 consensus to find people who had been missed. My father said he found people and places that had been missed off the census before hence the interesting story and perspective from that very old WWII soldier.

War and oppression leaves old scores that have to be remembered and settled for eternity. Martin Luther King put it well in;

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….The chain reaction of evil–hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars–must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.” Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963

I am advised by more than one source that the Hurricane was the real work horse, and faster and cheaper to make, and a lot stronger than the Spitfire (L Docksey SGR). The British propaganda was the most important and the name Spitfire had a connection to British aviation superiority back to the Schneider Trophy in the 1920′s in which the Supermarine Spitfire’s (not a fighter plane) outflanking the German planes in its ability to climb, and turn. In 1936 the Supermarine Spitfire’s engine was enhanced with the famous Rolls Royce Merlin engine used in many British WWII aircraft and American Mustang where the engine was built under license. British engineering, that is balancing specification with production and cost constraints very well so we had superior in computing but adequate balance of quality and quantity in aviation and nearly everything else.

Most German technology, except enigma, was superior technically but their planes required more skill to fly and production quantities were lower consequently. A point made well post-war mythology, I am not sure about the literal truth though, That German machines guns fired bullets down the same hole they were so accurate where as British machine guns scatted them around causing more damage. The Rolls Royce Merlin Engine tended to stall in a steep dive because of the simpler conventional carburettor compared to German aircraft. The Rolls Royce Merlin Engine used a low efficiency super charger rather than a turbo charger even though turbo charger technology was developed well before in WWII (1905 according to

There was modification, a small hole, to the Merlin engine carburettor to overcome this stalling and balck smoke problem when the plane dives.

RADAR is reckoned to have been a significant asset during WWII for Britain as it was more highly developed than German version, which I believe was a simpler VHF ranging system called Neptun J-2. The acronym RADAR was coined in 1941, the principals were known about with the development of radio, and cathode ray’s in the 19th century. Significant landmarks were a German patented published before WW1 for detecting ships entering a harbour. The development of the thermionic valve in WWI. The magnetron 1921 - 1940. 1936 British technical paper describing the use of the technology to detect aircraft up to 70 miles away. At the outset of WWII German reconnaissance planes looked for British RADAR but did not find it though it was in place, reason for missing it is unknown (Bletchley Park lecture 2008). My father told me that the first German spotter plane, observed, at the beginning of the war triggered all the air raid sirens in the country – this was the phony war before real engagement occurred.

It is said (number of TV documentary’s) of Hitler that his flaw was to control everything, whereas Churchill’s orders that made during the night when he had been drinking were often ignored. Consequently the key strength was that the British system was more robust than any of its individuals and the system allows a bad order’s being disobeyed.

Of cause Germany engineering was similarly excellent in other areas like rockets and tanks, and US’s engineering improved, there Liberty ships were not up to much but by the end of WWII there Supper Flying Fortress Bombers could nearly fly around the world and the Nuclear age was born. Social change occurred and expectation changed.

De-La-Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, East Sussex, After the renovation in 2005.

I found it impossible to capture the beauty of the gentle curves of the naturally lit staircase or the building. Socialist was popular amongst the middle and upper classes Lord De-La-Warr built the beautiful pavilion in Bexhill when he was the socialist mayor of that town in 1935. (link does not work)

The Communist Party was right of the Liberal Party during the 1930′s, and was the only party to advocate opposition to the Nazi movement in doing that supporting the Soviet Union - Lord Dennis Healey said 25/01/10 on Radio 4.

It was working people many with no-political persuasion who went illegally to fight for the people in the Spanish Civil War in 1936 See “Archive On 4″ 27/02/2011. Evidently people would fight a good cause having seen the black shirts and the bullying hate they brought but people would not fight for glory or be cannon fodder for there country.

That BBC programme suggested some links including these;

I have also heard stories, and we have to be careful, we don’t do all that we say necessarily, Or say all that we do, And sometimes we only say what we wish we had done. British tank crew new not to take on a German Panza, but to get away (J. Lohmann). A British soldier fired his rifle at American planes exasperated with friendly fire. But most interestingly officers gave themselves first class accommodation on a cruse ship used for carrying troops to Africa many cabins per officer. The ordinary soldiers were put down low in the holds having to queue for a cup of water then queue again for another cup of water. In due course A chorus of the Red Flag began to be sung and the accommodation was subsequently shared out. (G. Lott).

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