Neil Collins

The death in January of Neil Collins has left a gap in my own and many other
peoples lives.

Knowing Neil and Who he knew.

Neil Collins was one of those individuals that though involved in many campaigning groups and organisations over the years, was not someone who wroteall that much.

He was very knowledgeable about many aspects of the early history of the Anarchist and the Peace movements. I learnt a lot about this history and homed much of my radical political thinking while having long chats with him.
Neil knew or had meet many of the people involved in Freedom Press and pacifist circles.

At one time he told me about meeting Lilian Wolfe who had been a suffragist, involved in Freedom, and street sold Peace News right up to her death at 96.

He also meet Fermin Rocker who was the son of Rudolf Rocker.

Time Together

I first meet Neil in 1969 as we were both involved in the Peace Pledge Union [PPU ]. At one stage shortly afterwards I shared a house with him, his wifeTania, and others in Leytonstone. We were also involved in the E10 & E11 PPU

I was also though Neil that I first learnt about aspects of a Vegetarianlifestyle, and what it was to be an anti Zionist jew.

It was in the company of Neil, Tania, and the late John Hyatt, that I decided to become Vegetarian some 53 years ago.

Peace Campaigner

It was only by chance that Neil became involved in the Peace Movement. It was during 1962 that he happened to be passing by American Embassy in GrosvenorSquare where a regular demonstration was taking place about nukiller bomb test. Having taken a leaflet he came back the next week, stated that we agreed with what was in it joined the protest and many subsequent ones

Following on from this he became actively involved in the London Committee of 100. For example in protests outside of the CBW [ Chemical and Biological Warfare ] establishment at Porton Down in Wiltshire.

In the early 1960s he had been an accountant, but gave it up to train for social work. Though between the two he spent a while working upon the accounts of Housmans Bookshop. Thus he spent the rest of his life undertaking social Work in one form or another.

He was also on the board of Peace News for a while.

Other Campaigns and Other Activities.

Amongst other campaigning bodies Neil was also active in the following : –

– The Jewish Socialist Group.

– MERAG [ Middle East Research and Action Group ].

– Operation Namibia.

He was a part of the London support group on this project

– PARTIZANS [ People Against RTZ and Its’ Subsidiaries ].

He took part in some of the shareholders actions.

Social Campaigner

Perhaps the most impact upon society came from his interest in social issues and via his involvement in the local community.

His particular interests included both mental health and mixed race adoption issues.

He also co-run a local Woodcraft Folk group.

He was the first individual to win the London Compact Award because of his involvement in Voluntary Action Waltham Forest.

Neil Collins

September 8th 1941 – January 20th 2023

Soviet Afghanistan War Protest

On the 12th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, fellow pacifist activist Albert Beale and myself picketed the embassy of the then USSR about the war.

It being just after Gloom Day no one else was willing to join us with the protest.

Of course the embassy was closed that day, but we did manage to hand in a letter of protest.

It might also be added that for several years such protests had taken place in Denmark.

Given the current situation in Afghanistan, I wonder just how much different things would be right now if more activists had taken up the issue at the time.

Conscientious Objectors At Walton Prison.

Remembering the Conscientious Objectors held in Walton Prison.

Background information.

Merseyside Peace Network held an event outside of Walton Prison on March 2nd 2016 in order to mark the date conscription was first introduced in Britain during 1916, and to honour all the Conscientious Objectors which were incarcerated in the prison.

A second event was held on November 11th 2018 to mark the end of World War One, and remember them once more.

The Merseyside peace Network was planning to revisit Walton prison on September 18th, both to remember the Conscientious Objectors who were incarcerated in the prison, and all those who died in it during the Merseyside Blitz.

Now due to the need to social distance because of the corona virus, this event has been cancelled.

The prison was hit by bombs on three separate occasions

– On the night of September 18th / 19th 1940.

A bomb hit K Wing. Twenty Two of the inmates were killed.

– On the night of April 26th / 27th 1941

A bomb damaged both the Chapel and Gym.

– On the night of May7th / 8th 1941 a bomb hit E block.

Two Conscientious Objectors were killed.*

Desmond Ernest Bray, from Alvechurch, Warwickshire, a worker for Birmingham PPU.

Kenneth Coney, described as “young”, from Coulsdon, Surrey.

 ‘They were booth allocated noncombatant service by their respective CO Tribunals, and both accepted medical examination, inevitably leading to call-up to the Non-Combatant Corps. They were sent to Dingle Vale Barracks, a makeshift conversion of Dingle Vale Schools, on the outskirts of Liverpool. There they refused orders, leading to courts-martial and imprisonment.

– Desmond Bray was serving his second sentence, 6 months

– Kenneth Coney was serving his third sentence, not known, but would likely have been at least 6 months.

The effect of the bombing was to completely destroy their bodies, so they could not be buried. Because of that, they are formally commemorated on the Commonwealth War Grave Commission Memorial, naming hundreds of soldiers not able to be given graves, erected at Brookwood, Surrey.’



World War One



Percy Reginald BAINTON Continue reading Conscientious Objectors At Walton Prison.

Anti Militarist Resistance in Japan – 1926 to 1945

By way of an introduction

References to pacifist and radical actions within Japan during the period 1919 to 1945 are not well covered within any English language publications.

It would be really good if this was not so.

Thus this is not a definitive study of just what happened during this period, but a starting point for anyone who wishes to know more about the subject.

Please note that the dates referred to below are those of publication, and not unless specificity stated the dates when the events occurred.

War Resistance

The following reports were published in War Resisters International [WRI ] periodical War Resistance.

– July 1926

Japanese Students Resist Military Training

At Meiji Gakuin College in Tokyo, 117 students voted against the introduction of military training at the university against 82 votes in favour of it. The result was that military training was not established at this university. In other colleges where it exists,it is becoming increasingly unpopular.’

— December 1926

Japan Message to Youth.

Sent by The World Peace Society,

with an address in Tokyo.

– 1931

The WRI sections include the:-

‘Group within the General Workers’ Union of Japanese

– June 1931

In a letter the Japanese General Workers Union [ Kanto Jppan Rodosha Kumiai ] of Tokyo expresses solidarity with WRI.

– Autumn 1932

There is a short report Women of Japan.

‘ Difficult as has been the situation in Japan, there have not been lacking brave souls who are prepared to run great risks on behalf of peace and anti-militarism.’

– Autumn 1932


– Spring 1934

There were reports about Dr Toyoshiko Kagawa, who is referred to as the ‘Gandhi of Japan’.

– Summer 1937

A letter is published from Tokyo under the heading: –

Difficult Work in Japan.

In it there are references as to the problems faced by pacifists.

‘It is not really practicable for us to form a group of WRI members at present for under present frenzied inspection by police a definitely illegal group could not exist, or at least, could not be active.’

– Summer [ July ] 1938

Under the Heading Japan – A few Letters get through there Is a brief report of the situation in the country.

The letter quoted states that: ‘ six university professors are under arrest for their anti-war attitude’.

– Autumn 1942

The Children’s League of Peace and Goodwill carried on steady work up to Japan entering the war.

– Summer 1946

A report two page report was published under the title:-

Japan before the war, 1939.

– 1958

The Anarchist Federation of Japan published various pacifist articles.

At their 5th annual congress they read out a letter by WRI co founder Harold Bing.

Peace News

– May 14th 1938

Under the heading – Japanese Refuse War Service.

In a letter from Japanese Anarchists:-

‘ Since the War broke out mare than three hundred of our comrades have been arrested in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and other cities on that they translated and printed the publication of the International Anti-militarist Bureau, and distributed them.’

Other Examples

From the Japan Times – March 4th 1996

‘Pacifist Documents from 1932 Found.

Documents sent from pacifist groups and activists in china and Britain protesting the Japanese military provocation in Shanghai in early 1932 were discovered among items left by the late lawmaker Tomi Kora. ‘

Chiune Sugihara

Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomatic vice-consul Lithuania. During the World War Two. He helped about 6,000 Jews flee Europe by issuing transit visas to them so that they could travel through Japanese territory.

Further Reading

Hane, Mikpso


A Short History

Oneworld publication

London 2013

See in Particular these sections with chapter Six: –

Socialist-Communist Movements


Women Activists

Crump, John

The anarchist movement in Japan

2nd edition

Anarchist Communist Editions

London October 2008

Chapter two covers the period 1912 – 1936

Greenpeace [ London ] Protests During The 1970s

Anti Nukiller Protests During the 1970s

This is not a definitive history of the Greenpeace [ London ] group, but just small part of it.

French Nukiller Bomb Protests

During 1973 Greenpeace [ London ] organised the London to Paris march against the French nukiller bomb tests at Mururoa in the Pacific.

The march was attacked by the French CRS [ riot police ] at the boarder between Belgium and France.

Though some people did manage to cross over the boarder at other points, and took part in the Paris Protest which followed this event.

During both 1973 & 1974 the group organised many protests outside the French Embassy, and a number of die-ins too.

The group organised a number of protest marches about the French Nukiller Bomb tests during 1973 and 1974.

I spent a lot of my time upon these various protests, leafleting sessions, and organising the Greenpeace [London ] protest marches which took place during 1974.

On August the 4th 1974 the group organised a march from Hyde Park Corner to Trafalgar Square where a rally was held. It was the one and only time I ever spoke in the square.

Starting to campaign upon nukiller power

During 1974 and 1975 the group started looking at the issue of Nukiller power. which took a while to do so, as at that stage there were very few books or articles upon the dangers they pose.

It was because of the follow up work upon the import of uranium [Yellowcake] to be processed Capenhurst and Springfields that the group become of interest to the SDS spycops.

Now follow this on by looking at the spycop public inquiry.

Honour The Many Brave Conscientious Objectors Of WW1.

1916 – 2016

Military Service Act came in to force on March 2nd 1916. As a result many brave conscientious objectors ended up in Jail.

Next Wednesday [ March 2nd at 11.00. ] there will be an event to honour these men outside of Walton Jail in Liverpool.

That is where many of those brave men were incarcerated.

This includes people such as Fenner Brockway.

The event will involve a reading of the names of COs who were held in Walton jail, and some of the many WW1 COs from the Merseyside area.

After that there will be a brief name reading of just a few of the many COs who are currently held in prison throughout the world 

This will be a unique event.

Please lets others know about it and come to it if you can.

The Sharpness Action – July 1979.

For many years I have told the story about going up a dock
yard crane.

This is the first time that I have ever written about just what
went wrong upon the action, and just how it effected me.

Of necessity this is very much a personal account.

To my knowledge there has never been any academic account
of the action.


July 4th 1979.

This was a direct action that took place in a dock yard where
low level nukiller waste was being loaded on to a ship to be
dumped at sea.

It was one of those actions upon where every part of the
planning went wrong.

Some of us on the action had never meet before, and there was
no attempt to do any NVDA training before we set out for the

Most of us on the action were stopped and held by the police
on the way to the docks.
& thus no one landed up in the place they were supposed to be.

It also involved going up a dock yard crane,
and the unplanned action of various people sitting in front of
a dock side train.

Needless to say,
& whatever the intention ,
the whole concept of support people and affinity groups did
not come in to play.

Various people who had never intended to climb up the cranes
were on them when the police started to carry away everyone
else who was in the area,
and then the real fun bit kicked in to place….

What Went Wrong.

The action was part of a campaign by the Seven Side Alliance
to stop drums of low Level nukiller waste being loaded upon a
ship at Sharpness Docks and then dumped at sea.

The Seven Side alliance was made up of Anti-nukiller groups.
The largest of which were from Stroud & Bristol.

A small demonstration had taken place at docks during the
loading of the boat during 1978,
but only by people from Stroud and the immediate area.

I had meet some of the people who were going to take place on
the action before, but many of us on the action had only meet
for the first time the night before.

Of necessity the group in Stroud undertook a coordinating
roll on the action,
and so most of the planning for the meeting was as much of a
briefing about what had been done so far in preparation for
the action as anything else.

Thus we had to rely very heavily upon the local knowledge of
those who lived within the Stroud area.

There was no Nonviolent training for the action,
and no thoughts were given about any contingency planning.

As an aside:
It might also noted that such NVDA (Nonviolent Direct Action)
training which had taken place in the UK during the 1970s,
was aimed towards running demonstrations,
rather than this kind of more dramatic action.

It was the people who were supposed to be doing some of the
support rolls that could not get away from Stroud:
because the vehicle they were in started to malfunction.

None of us from outside of the area were provided with a maps
of the area,
though I do recall been shown a sketch map of the docks.

We only ever managed to get something like an hour & half
sleep upon the floor before setting out for the action.

Being stopped by the police and held for 1hour & 40 minutes
on the way to the docks was something that had never built in
to the planning scenario.

Neither had we ever dreamed that we would have to push a
police vehicle along the road after we were released.
This was due to the police vehicle having run down its
batteries while we being held in the middle of a very narrow
country lane.

Once released and overlooking the docks we expected the
place to be full of the police,
but the first of them only turned up some 20 minutes after we
entered the docks.

It had also been decided that a press release would be put out
at the time we were scheduled to arrive at the docks, but no
one had thought about what would happen if this action was

Thus one of the group had to make a phone call to make sure
that this call was not made until we had entered the docks.

It was at that stage that things seemed to take on their own

No one had though about checking out if anyone who planned
to go on the action might just happen to suffer from vertigo.

When we entered the docks it was still early dawn,
and everyone who was with me just wanted to go run for a
crane and climb up it.

At that stage I just froze.

It must of been some sort of self preservation instinct that
kicked in. Though in retrospect that seems like it being very
sensible indeed.

No one had any hard hats, slip proof footwear, life jackets, or
any kind of safety harnesses with them.

These were the days before anyone ever really gave much
consideration to health and safety issues.

Later on others arrived everyone at the docks and went up on
to the cranes, and then down to the dockside again:
– Myself included.

Thus when the docks was cleared by the police: –
No one was in the position that they had planned to at.

The dockyard train turning up hauling the drums of nukiller
waste was an unexpected occurrence.

No one had given any thought as to what might be done if this
might happen, and thus the sit down in front of the dockside
railway train was a totally spontaneous action.

After this happened those on the sit down were carried on by
the police & dumped down the road.

At this stage there was one on the action who had any list
names of who was were still in the docks,
or any contact addresses for them if things went wrong.

We had all left our bags in a house in Stroud, as a just in case,
and the only really useful phone number I had was that of a

This being in the era before mobile phones, it was only the
public phone near to the docks that was available for us to

There was also no local contacts that we could call upon for
help within the Sharpness village.

When the police cleared the docks and carried away those
who did the sit down there was only one guy from Stroud and
myself to do any contact work with others.

When the guy from Stroud went off to chase the police car
that had driven off with those who had sat in front of the
dockyard train, it left me as the only person to observe what
was going on at the dock yard gate.

It might also be noted that no real thought had been given
about how we might record the action. I had the only camera
on the dockside, and thus I took the only photos which exist of
this event.
( The photos are now with my archive at the IISH in Amsterdam. )

Within the next couple of hours a lot of local supporters
turned up, as did some of the press.

While the docks were closed to us outsiders,
and people were on the cranes,
there was a lot of people milling in front of the dock gates.

As vehicle went in or out of the dock gates people were sitting
down in the road,
but the police would just pick them up and dump them on to the
grass verge.

It happened so many times that those of us who were by the
gate became very blase about the whole thing.

Yet again this was an unplanned for action.

Something else which had not been planned for,
was a small boat which got in docks and was apprehended.

As luck would have it no one was arrested that day,
but those on the cranes were held by the police before being

Getting back from the action.

How we might all get back from the action to pick up our bags
was something else which had been overlooked,
Thus it was just a matter of luck who was around and able to
give us a lift back to Stroud.

To this day I have no idea just how one would make the Journey
from Sharpness to Stroud by bus.

In the evening I went back on the bus with the group who were
from Bristol.

I was staying at Bristol at the time.

You can imagine just how tired we all were by that stage.

What happened on the Friday.

The demonstration on the Friday involved just a small number
of people.

While one group of people held a symbolic protest at one side
of the docks,
another small group went in to the docks from the other end.

The intention was that the group who got in to the docks
would chain themselves on to the lock gate which gave the
ships access to the River Seven.

If the idea of people chaining them selves to the dockyard lock
gate had taken place, then we may of had some of the same kind
of logistical problems to face as a few days earlier.

Yet again no one who had volunteer to undertake this action
was wearing a hard hat, life jacket, life jacket, or safety

I didn’t volunteer to take part in this action as I’m not a

After that week there was no follow up meetings for those of
us who were upon the action,
No follow on support too .

With just 3 exceptions,
I never meet any one else who was on the action from that
week on.

When I got back to London on the weekend there was no real
immediate emotional support awaiting me,
and no one who was near me with whom I should share this as a
common experience with.

What I did find that helped me was to write a long account of
the action which appeared in the Anarchist Periodical
Freedom – July 28th 1979 .


The next year there was another action just outside of

A scaffolding tower was placed upon the small railway line
just outside of the docks. This held up the transportation of
the nukiller waste drums to the ship.

In 1981 the dumping of nukiller waste was suspended,
and has never been resumed.

My own take upon being involved within any NVDA as a result
of being on the Sharpness Action.

While this account might be a good one to show just was might
go wrong on an action,
and thus show the need for some proper contingency
there is also something else which needs to be said.

It is not just the need for proper planning,
and NVDA training for an action which needs to be considered.

It is the follow up,
and follow up support for those who take part in actions
which really needs to be worked upon by those who engage
upon NVDA.

Things Can Change, But Not By Me Living In the Past.

Things can change,
but it might take some time for radical social changes to
become really noticeable.

I was thinking about this the other day as I reflected upon just
how few people smoke these days.

One of the things that I have always noted about politics is
that a lot of what goes on is very much based in terms of
debating the struggles the past.

Now it might all be very fascinating to a debate what we ( I ) did
in the past, but you just can’t keep doing this and expect to
maintain a clear view upon just what the current issues or
political problems might be.

Having been involved within the peace movement for over 40
years I recognise this danger within myself, but the question is
just how do I get rid of the kind of historical baggage which
comes with a long history of activism?

One of the reasons that I gave my own archive to IISH in
Amsterdam, was so that it might free me from this kind of
looking back on the past,
and thus free myself up in order to get on with some new

By and large this seems to of worked for me,
but it would still be worth while if I could do a couple of oral
history recordings within the next year or so.

That way I wouldn’t be tempted to start playing the grand old
veteran in about 20 years time,
but still get to record what I’ve done in the past.

What I don’t want to do is write up my own autobiography.

Now I might like us to note various dates in my own history,
but I would not like to write them all up.

Writing up ones own history is very much like trying to proof
read ones own work:
It’s best left for someone else to do it for one.

So now I’m looking for someone to sit down for a few hours
with me in front of a microphone.

After that it will be time for me to really concentrate upon
something new.

I’ve seen too many activists surrounded by their old paper
documents, which can hold them to thinking about the past.

I’ve also noted just how nice it is to live in a place which is not
ones own political archive.

I know just which of these two lifestyles I want to enjoy in my
old age.

Just FYI :-
What sparked me to write this has been some of the recent
work I have been doing in terms of changes with some of the
projects in which I am currently involved,
but more on them at some other stage.

Pensions & Library Workers.

Here is The Deal.

Library & Information workers get below average incomes,
but most will get a pension after years of service.

Such pensions are based upon years of hard work on low pay,
and the below average wage which they may be receiving at
the point of retirement.

The deal being that one will put up with such low pay in
exchange for a pension that will lift one above the penury
which is the state pension.

Now some clever investors are claiming that this is an
unreasonable deal for the tax-payer.

Well you can’t have it both ways!

Either you start to pay the real economic worth of library
workers during a working life,
you pay what is not an unreasonable pension.

Though it might also be remembered that:

– All pensions are paid for over a working life time by those
who receive these pensions.


– A pension is a form of savings during ones working life, which is withdrawn in stages after one retires.

So it is not the tax-payer who is funding these pensions,
but the workers themselves.

If anything does need to be done in terms of pension reform,
then it should be the ending the spouse or partners

Such an allowance is a form of Discrimination against single

This would also release a lot of money which could be better
used to make sure that everyone who has a pension might
continue to do so,
and increase the level of pension pay-outs for all.

Enough said …….. We are not all overpaid bankers.