WWII: Upper class protected British fascist leader Mosley, whilst supposedly fighting fascism

The Second World War in Europe is often presented as a war against fascism though this is conflated with a war against the nations of Germany and Italy and by default with Germans and Italians. The VE day celebrations today will be presented as those of a nation united against the Nazis. However, numerous anti-fascist Germans or Italians were interned in poor conditions in the UK whilst the British fascist leader Oswald Mosley, although interned, was better treated and released early. Upon the […]

Set the people free – opposition to ID cards [postponed til further notice]

David King will outline how during the Second World War the government introduced compulsory ID cards as part of their emergency measures. It was not until seven years after the War that ID cards were finally withdrawn. Clarence Willcock was instrumental in this process; his refusal to show his ID card when stopped by the police in North London in 1950 raised questions about their use in peacetime Britain and contributed to the withdrawal of the cards in 1952. David King's talk will be followed […]

Stolen Paradise [postponed until further notice]

The post-war squatting movement in Bristol

During the summer of 1946, thousands of British families took the law into their own hands to temporarily solve their housing problems by "requisitioning" empty military camps. This mass-squatting movement was rapid, spontaneous and entirely working-class in character. While it was often driven at ground level by women, the movement soon developed a formal leadership structure dominated by ex-servicemen who had served as NCOs and warrant officers. Bristol, with particularly acute housing […]

Censured

The prejudice faced by biracial GI babies and their mothers

Censured Front Cover
Mike Richardson’s intriguing account of his aunt, Beatrice Richardson and her biracial daughter Gillian, brings into stark relief the racism and sexism that existed in Britain during and after the Second World War. Sexual relationships between white British women and black American soldiers were regarded with disapproval both in the governing establishment and among many ordinary people. The women, the men and their children faced innumerable obstacles. Censured reveals the extent to which the […]

The South West Tribunal

Conscientious Objectors in WWII

Foreword During the Second World War, over 60,000 men and 1,000 women applied to register as conscientious objectors (COs) in England, Wales and Scotland. Although this was at least three times as many as in the First World War; it has remained something of an under reported history. The experience of First World War and Second World War COs vary in a number of ways. Sympathetically framed legislation and the fact that the tribunals came under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour rather than […]

Who would know that Britain has been almost consistently at war since WW1?

As part of the Lunchtime Lecture series organised by Bristol Libraries visual artist Jude Hutchen will present the ideas behind her current exhibition at the Central Library: ‘A Colour Chart for Killing – the legacy of World War One ‘the war to end all wars’, part of the ‘Commemoration, Conflict and Conscience’ festival program. Imagery from the housing market and home decorating is plundered to provoke questions about personal responsibility for mass violence, through connecting our quality of […]

Hitler’s British Traitors

The Secret History of Spies, Saboteurs and Fifth Columnists

By Tim Tate
Regardless of the 2015 publishing date given, this book is currently (last checked December 2018) just available in hardback, and must have been withheld due to the ongoing release of new official documents, as these terminated only in 2017. 'Hitler's British Traitors' covers a subject that was largely considered either taboo or dismissed with contempt until recently, namely the idea that if Nazi Germany had managed to invade Britain, particularly when they had a potential capability to do so in […]

Women and Conscientious Objection to Military Service

Quaker Meeting House, 126 Hampton Road, Redland, Bristol BS6 6JE A free event on women and conscientious objection to military service. Note: Registration is required for this event, details here. Speakers will include:- Professor Lois Bibbings, University of Bristol, author of Telling Tales About Men: Conceptions of Conscientious Objectors to Military Service During the First World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009) will look at how World War 1 Conscientious Objectors were […]

Lady Blackshirts

The Perils of Perception – suffragettes who became fascists

Lady Blackshirts Front Cover
During the 1930s a small group of ultra-nationalistic women, who considered themselves feminists, joined Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. Surprisingly some of these women were former high ranking members of the suffragette movement. Over 50 regional branches of the British Union of Fascists, with Women’s Sections, opened across the United Kingdom. The branches were established to promote and normalise the ultra-right and to position fascism as an acceptable political choice within […]

Army of Shadows

By Joseph Kessel

By Joseph Kessel
Front cover of Army of Shadows
  My partner brought me this book for Xmas. It was priced at 2/6, about 12p in today’s prices. I hoped she paid more than that, but this classic is priceless. This copy was printed in 1959, but the original was written by Kessel in 1943, and it about the French Resistance to Nazi occupation. The German army had invaded France, and an armistice was signed near Compiègne on 22 June 1940. Life continued as normal at first, but the German war machine took more and more. France was partitioned […]