Bring back some good or bad memories

January 5, 2020

40 Vintage Pictures From Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in 1981 and 1982

On the 5th September 1981, the Welsh group “Women for Life on Earth” arrived on Greenham Common, Berkshire, England. They marched from Cardiff with the intention of challenging, by debate, the decision to site 96 Cruise nuclear missiles there. On arrival they delivered a letter to the Base Commander which among other things stated “We fear for the future of all our children and for the future of the living world which is the basis of all life.”

When their request for a debate was ignored they set up a Peace Camp just outside the fence surrounding RAF Greenham Common Airbase. They took the authorities by surprise and set the tone for a most audacious and lengthy protest that lasted 19years. Within 6 months the camp became known as the Women’s Peace Camp and gained recognition both nationally and internationally by drawing attention to the base with well publicized imaginative gatherings. This unique initiative threw a spotlight on ‘Cruise’ making it a national and international political issue throughout the 1980s and early ’90s.

The presence of women living outside an operational nuclear base 24 hours a day, brought a new perspective to the peace movement - giving it leadership and a continuous focus. At a time when the USA and the USSR were competing for nuclear superiority in Europe, the Women’s Peace Camp on Greenham Common was seen as an edifying influence. The commitment to non-violence and non-alignment gave the protest an authority that was difficult to dismiss – journalists from almost every corner of the globe found their way to the camp and reported on the happenings and events taking place there.

Living conditions were primitive. Living outside in all kinds of weather especially in the winter and rainy seasons was testing. Without electricity, telephone, running water etc, frequent evictions and vigilante attacks, life was difficult. In spite of the conditions women, from many parts of the UK and abroad, came to spend time at the camp to be part of the resistance to nuclear weapons. It was a case of giving up comfort for commitment.

The protest, committed to disrupting the exercises of the USAF, was highly effective. Nuclear convoys leaving the base to practice nuclear war, were blockaded, tracked to their practice area and disrupted. Taking non-violent direct action meant that women were arrested, taken to court and sent to prison.

The conduct and integrity of the protest mounted by the Women’s Peace Camp was instrumental in the decision to remove the Cruise Missiles from Greenham Common. Under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the missiles were flown back to the USA along with the USAF personnel in 91/92. The Treaty signed by the USA and the USSR in 1987, is in accord with the stated position held by women, in defence of their actions on arrest, when it states :

“Conscious that nuclear weapons would have devastating consequences for all mankind.”

A number of initiatives were made by women in Court testing the legality of nuclear weapons. Also, challenges to the conduct and stewardship of the Ministry of Defence as landlords of Greenham Common. In 1992 Lord Taylor, Lord Chief Justice, delivering the Richard Dimbleby

Lecture for the BBC, referring to the Bylaws case (won by Greenham women in the House of Lords in 1990) said “…it would be difficult to suggest a group whose cause and lifestyle were less likely to excite the sympathies and approval of five elderly judges. Yet it was five Law Lords who allowed the Appeal and held that the Minister had exceeded his powers in framing the byelaws so as to prevent access to common land.”

The Camp was brought to a close in 2000 to make way for the Commemorative and Historic Site on the land that housed the original Women’s Peace Camp at Yellow Gate Greenham Common between the years 1981 – 2000.










































15 comments:

  1. USAF Law Enforcement who served at Greenham Common in the late 1980s.

    These women could have blended in with a modern Occupy mob or homeless encampment,
    and you'd never have noticed the difference.

    They didn't bathe, there was trash everywhere (so much reverence for Mother Earth),
    and they saved up their urine and menstrual blood to fill up bottles and balloons,
    which they threw at police and military personnel whenever they invaded the base
    (which I saw them do on two or three occasions).

    And some of them had children there with them -- even in the winter when it was raining -- which the British authorities didn't seem to regard as any kind of child endangerment issue.

    Dirty nasty lunatics, every last one of them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you are blind to the bigger picture and why they committed them selves - even while mothering if they had to.
      You, Anonymous, have no compassion and no understanding of the bigger picture of the state of the planet. You are blinkered and you don't even know it. Pity.

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    2. I was one of the kids who went there. You are talking rubbish. All the women looked out for each other, and for all the kids. It was a valid protest against a real threat. And it was a great demonstration of people-power. Rain is not 'child endangerment', funnily enough. And, y'know, we had coats.

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    3. I was there. And it was to stop the BIGGEST child-endangerment of all time: nuclear weapons. Anonymous, you still lack a sense of perspective after all these years, but then it's not exactly what they teach you in the military, is it?

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    4. Pity no one bothered at Faslane to the same degree (peace camp is still there and is the longest running peace camp on the planet ). CND no longer operate in Scotland so where is our massive support . I remember Greenham common and what those women did was outstanding .

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    5. Spent many many weeks there - child endangerment? You have got to be kidding. YOU need to open your tiny blinkered mind, Mr anonymous, and see the bigger picture.

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    6. The USAF base at Greenham common was Unlawful. It was in itself a massive form of litter and was a provocation to the Eastern bloc countries. The Women were not "dirty nasty lunatics", they were a cross section of UK Women and your trollish denigration of them shows that you lack the basic respect and judgement appropriate to any kind of "law enforcement" .

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  2. The group was supported by the Soviet Union and at times members of the Spetsnaz commando teams were infiltrated do recon.

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    Replies
    1. [citation needed]

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    2. Hahahaha....utterly ridiculous, there was no Soviet involvement, but our phone was tapped by the British government simply for for being CND members. So much for privacy rights

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    3. No. It was the British Police doing the infiltration, illegally collecting intel on peaceful protest groups since 1968 (at least).

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  3. Anonymous - How dare you call me and other women who went to Greenham "dirty nasty lunatics"!
    I was, and still am a professional person, a qualified nurse who wanted to preserve life ad peace on this earth. Despite being villified by the right wing tabloids, Greenhaam women succeeded in drawing the world's attention to US nuclear weapons , Weapons capable of mass worldwide destruction, being sited on common land in the UK. Totally immoral act by USA with British government sanction.

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  4. Ah yes, now look where Cruse missiles are being used today.......

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  5. The reach was beyond just the common itself. We were part of a north American tour of Greenham women - She came to Saskatoon Saskatchewan and we put together a convoy to head up into Northern Saskatchewan to protest at the site where the Cruise missile test launch was supposed to end. I made one of my longest lasting friends on that rip. Initially she didn't like me because I was a doctor's wife. But we went on to more "lunatic" adventures - lunatic only that the odds stacked against us were so high BUT - we did it anyway. And still fighting. I reckon that first nasty comment is one of those bots designed to open floodgates of hate. However is behind it, we ain't going anywhere. so you better get used to our vile presence.

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  6. My Mum was Marie Bowland. anyone remember her ?, she did a world peace trip, traveled all over. Was at Greenham. We organised Burtonwood peacecamp. Altrincham. Peace. x

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