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Thursday, 4 February 2016

Web Page  No 2234

4th February 2016

Top Picture: Early CND Protesters
 Second Picture: The First Aldermaston March.

Third Picture: Bertram Russell

Ban the Bomb

The first atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6th August 1945. Three days later the second was dropped on Nagasaki and in these two instances hundreds of innocent civilians died and countless more had their lives blighted by the horror, by sickness and by loss.

During the late 1940s and 50s, first the US, then the Soviet Union and Britain developed and tested new atomic weapons with ever increasing frequency. Not only were there fears of nuclear war breaking out but there was growing concern and protest around the world at the health risks and environmental damage caused by these atmospheric tests. By the late 1950s, these fears had become acute.

In the 1950s Europe was gripped by a very real fear of nuclear conflict and, building on the work of earlier anti-war movements, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was launched with a massive public meeting in London in February 1958.

Shortly afterwards at Easter the first Aldermaston March attracted a good deal of attention and the CND symbol started to appear everywhere. From the outset people from all sections of society got involved. There were scientists, more aware than anyone else of the full extent of the dangers which nuclear weapons represented, along with religious leaders such as Canon John Collins of St Paul's Cathedral, concerned to resist the moral evil which nuclear weapons represented. The Society of Friends (Quakers) was very supportive, as well as a wide range of academics, journalists, writers, actors and musicians. Labour Party members and trade unionists were overwhelmingly sympathetic as were people who had been involved in earlier anti-bomb campaigns organised by the British Peace Committee or the Direct Action Committee. 

In the early years membership increased rapidly. CND’s proposal that Britain should take the initiative and get rid of its own nuclear weapons, irrespective of the actions of others – caught the imagination of many.
Multilateral disarmament was clearly not working, although CND also strongly supported the goal of global abolition. The US, Soviet Union and Britain, (and later France and China), were building ever more nuclear weapons. All attempts to control, let alone reverse the process broke down repeatedly. (As an example, negotiations for a treaty to halt the spread of nuclear weapons began in 1958 but the final agreement was not reached until 1968).

It was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 when the Soviet Union was discovered to be installing nuclear missiles in Cuba, only 90 miles from the Florida coast. This very nearly provoked a nuclear war and although the Soviet Union pulled back at the last moment, both sides had been severely frightened. 

It was at this time that college students and many other young people realised what a danger nuclear weapons were and how close we had come to nuclear war. At about this time every self-respecting student had CND badges on their duffle coats and duffle bags and the CND symbol with the slogan ‘Ban the Bomb’ was prominent everywhere. I remember a CND movement starting up at Portsmouth College whilst I was a student. I never joined but I did my bit by wearing the badge and turning up at rallies.

The first telephone hot-line was set up between Washington and Moscow so the leaders could talk directly to each other. The Soviet missiles were taken out of Cuba and shortly afterwards US missiles already based in Turkey were quietly removed. 

The next year a ban on nuclear testing in the atmosphere was agreed between the US, Soviet Union and Britain. For the first time the multilateral approach seemed to be working. International tension relaxed as the immediate threat of nuclear war faded away and CND numbers began to dwindle. 

From the mid-1960s, nuclear issues were increasingly replaced by anger over the United States' war on Vietnam. CND continued but as a much smaller movement. During these years, CND faced significant political challenges. Many CND supporters were Labour Party members and when CND’s unilateral line gained majority backing within the Party, it provoked a violent reaction from the leadership. When Harold Wilson won the 1964 Election, the new Labour Government simply ignored anti-nuclear feeling and continued with the previous Conservative Government’s nuclear policy. 

In 1960 the 
Committee of 100, led by the philosopher Bertrand Russell, was set up. In February 1961 4,000 protesters sat down outside the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall. In September, 1,300 were arrested in Trafalgar Square and 350 at Holy Loch in Scotland where the UK nuclear submarines armed with US-loaned Polaris nuclear missile were based. The authorities began to arrest and imprison the organisers (including the 89-year-old Bertrand Russell). There was strong support for the Committee of 100 but some of the leadership refused to accept any illegal activities. 

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You Write:

Bett Writes:-

Reading your Blog reminded me of some things from childhood, like the sirens being tested every Monday Morning. I can't remember what year they stopped that but I'm pretty sure it must have been about the beginning of the sixties.

Then there's the barrage balloon that used to go up every Sunday, I can't remember, if indeed I ever knew, where it was tethered, it may have been the meteorological centre or somewhere along the Bastion. In any event, one year it escaped its moorings, made a bid for freedom and disappeared into the Wide Blue Yonder, never to be seen again.

My other abiding memories are watching TV on a Saturday evening.  Series such as Champion The Wonder Horse (like a streak of lightnin' flashing 'cross the sky), The Lone Ranger (Hi ho Silver, away) and then Bonanza.  Everyone was madly in love with Little Joe but I preferred Hoss, there was something soft and gentle about him. Then later, we had Thunderbirds and weirdly, everyone fancied one of them! (It's a puppet). Virgil got the most votes but again, never being one for just a pretty face, I preferred Brains.

Do you remember bonfire nights and penny for the guy. Most people did their own fireworks displays, almost unheard of nowadays, with Jumping Jacks making off through the grass and penny bangers. Health and Safety would have a coronary just thinking about it.  You learnt to be careful. We always stood well back from the lit firework, shared jacket potatoes and hot chestnuts with next-door.  Next day you looked for the spent fireworks in the street.

I am puzzling over the names of the houses at Manor Court. I can remember Masefield and Sutherland, and there was Fleming as well and Elgar. I think Sutherland was blue and Fleming was Yellow, Masefield green which makes Elgar red!  

News and Views:

Griff points out this Highbury Celebration


I shall be showing a rare film of the building of the Highbury Estate that day. See you there.

On this day 4th February 1960-1965

On 04/02/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 04/02/1961 the number one single was Are you Lonesome Tonight? - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 04/02/1962 the number one single was The Young Ones - Cliff Richard & the Shadows and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 04/02/1963 the number one single was Diamonds - Jet Harris & Tony Meehan and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was Liz Taylor films Cleopatra.

On 04/02/1964 the number one single was Needles & Pins - Searchers and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Steptoe & Son (BBC) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the week was USSR tops medals at Winter Olympics.

On 04/02/1965 the number one single was You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - Righteous Brothers and the number one album was Rolling Stones Number 2 - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United

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