Tuesday, July 13, 2010

South London Anti-Fascists at Olympia

Continuing the occasional series on South London anti-fascists, we turn now to the British Union of Fascists notorious rally at Olympia in West London in June 1934. This was Oswald Mosley's first big attempt to hold a choreographed political rally along the lines of those deployed by Mussolini and Hitler, so it was very important to his opponents that it should not go according to plan. And indeed it didn't - not only did anti-fascist protestors in and out of the hall disrupt proceedings, but the extreme violence used by the BUF's stewards to eject hecklers showed the party's true face and scared away some of its wavering 'respectable' supporters.

Court reports show that a number of South London anti-fascists made the journey across town for the occasion, so let's just salute a few of them here:

- Charles Larry, 24, motor mechanic, Grenville Buildings, SE [not sure where this was], was charged with 'wilfully damaging an omnibus'.

- Alfred Goddard, 27, 'described as a bricklayer, of Longford Road, Camberwell, charged with insulting words and behaviour was fined 10 shillings'

- 'James Jeffereys, 20, described as a student, of Jerningham Road, New Cross was fined 10s for using insulting words, and 40s, for obstructing the police. A constable said that he was trying to disperse a hostile crowd around a man who was bleeding from a wound in the head. Jeffreys, who appeared to have adopted the role of leader, shouted: "Down with these dirty Blackshirts. Let us get together. Come on comrades, gather round". Jeffreys said that he asked the policeman why he did not do his duty and stop the obvious "beating up" that was going on before his eyes'. He told the court 'Fascists were hitting people about the head with fists and weapons, and were twisting their arms and forcing them out of the gates of Olympia'.

Source: The Times, 9 June 1934

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