Posts Tagged ‘CND’

No More Hiroshimas

Thursday, August 6th, 2020
A prayer by Japanese monk Rev Nagase, from the Battersea Peace Pagoda, 2011

Most years if I am in London at the start of August I attend the London CND Hiroshima Day commemoration in Tavistock Square. This year, the 75th anniversary, I will be at the online event.

The US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime on a massive scale and lacked any real military justification. So far, despite a huge number of atomic weapons being manufactured and many billions spent on them and their delivery systems none have been used, though we now know that it was only the refusal of one Russian soldier to obey orders that saved us from nuclear annihilation.

The theory of nuclear deterrence never made sense, and over the years more countries have created their own nuclear weapons, mainly as a status symbol. US, UK, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea currently have them. South Africa is the only country which has given them up (several soviet republics handed them back to Russia when the USSR broke up) but around 190 countries including South Africa have now signed up the the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, confirming they will not develop them.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at United Nations headquarters in New York on 20 September 2017 having been passed with 122 countries in favour – but none of the nuclear states or other NATO members voted and the Netherlands was the sole vote against. So far only 40 states have ratified the treaty.

The London 75th Anniversary event is one of many around the world you can join in or view online. I’ve posted a few of my pictures from earlier years here, but there are many more on My London Diary – for 2004, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Jeremy Corbyn introduces the Mayor of Camden, Cllr Faruque Ansari, 2009
Hetty Bower, 105, holds up a Peace Card given her by a primary school class, 2011
Tony Benn speaks, 2011
CND Chair Kate Hudson, 2014
Flowers are laid at the Hiroshima Cherry Tree in Tavistock Square, 2015

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Easter Pictures

Sunday, April 12th, 2020

Easter is of course the major Christian festival of the year, but here in the UK is seldom one that lends itself to photography. There are rather more public events around Good Friday, some of which I have photographed over the years, but we have never had the kind of large-scale Easter Parades like that in New York and some other cities overseas.

Easter Sunday in Richmond Park, 2010

So Easter has usually been a rather quiet time for me, sometimes with an outdoor almost-dawn service and perhaps a long walk later in the day or on Easter Monday. This year for obvious reasons it will be a little quieter than normal, though perhaps I will take my allowed daily exercise with a walk or bike ride.

Pat Arrowsmith

Two exceptions to my normal pattern in have both involved visits to Aldermaston with CND. In 2004 I began on Good Friday in Trafalgar Square, where there was a ‘No New Nukes‘ rally, with speakers including Tony Benn, Jenny Jones, Pat Arrowsmith, Jeremy Corbyn and many more.

The march proper began at Hyde Park, with around 2,500 people beginning the first leg, and I started with them, but soon gave up, leaving them at Kensington High St station to come home and file pictures while they made their way towards Slough.

I had a day off on the Saturday as my son was visiting us and we went on a family walk in the lower Lea Valley – and I forgot to put any pictures from this on my web site.

Pat Arrowsmith on the march

On Easter Sunday I got on my bike and rushed to Maidenhead where I locked my machine up and met the marchers who were arriving after an early morning start from Slough. There were now only several hundred walking the full distance, and they took a brief break for tea and coffee and then continued on their way towards that evening’s stop at Reading. I walked with them for the next few miles until their lunch stop, and photographed them from a footbridge over the road as they walked on towards Reading. I had a rather long walk back to Maidenhead for my bicycle and then the ride home.

On Monday I was feeling tired and rather than the heavy camera bag with the Nikon D100 and a film camera I took just a small knapsack with a water bottle and a lightweight Canon Digital Ixus 400, all of 222g. This took only 4Mp jpeg files, though at 2272×1704 these were not hugely smaller than the 3024×2008 of the Nikon. It had a useful zoom range, equivalent to 36-108mm, but the autofocus was sometimes rather slow, giving a highly unpredictable shutter lag. I sometimes found I had given up and moved the camera away from the subject by the time it fired.

The results were generally quite acceptable, and could produce an excellent A4 print, with the jpegs which were generally bright and sharp, often looking rather better than some from the larger Nikon files taken using RAW. In 2004 RAW conversion software was at times rather primitive and probably I was even less skilled at using it.

I took the train to Reading, along with my wife and one of our sons, and we walked the 12 miles or so to Aldermaston where I photographed the rally and then walked at least halfway around the perimeter fence of the large site. Fortunately we then got a lift to the station for a train back to Reading.

In 2018 it was the 60th anniversary of the first Aldermaston March, and on Easter Sunday I joined the crowds there for a rally. As well as calling for the UK to abandon its ridiculously expensive and totally useless nuclear weapons (our so-called deterrent) it also had something to celebrate – A UN treaty banning nuclear weapons which was finalised in 2017 and had then been signed by 122 nations.

This time I put my bike on the train to Reading and enjoyed a pleasant country ride in good weather to the rally and then back from Aldermaston.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Thursday, January 16th, 2020
The Mayor of Camden Cllr Maryam Eslamdoust lays the first wreath at the Hiroshima cherry tree

Back on the 8th of August 1967, that year’s Mayor of Camden Cllr Millie Miller planted a cherry tree in Tavistock Square in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima twenty two years earlier on August 8th 1945. A second bomb was dropped two days later on Nagasaki.

By then Japan had lost the war and surrender could only have been a few days away. There was no pressing military reason to use these monstrous weapons, but they had been under development in the Manhattan Project which began in 1939 but only got into full swing in 1952. The scientists had developed two different types of bomb, a uranium-235 bomb codenamed ‘Little Boy’ and the plutonium based ‘Fat Man’.

Baroness Jenny Jones

The ‘Fat Man’ device, involving an explosion to compact a plutonium sphere to provide the critical mass for an explosion was complex, and it was decided a test was necessary to determine if it would work. This test, the world’s first nuclear explosion, took place on the 16 July 1945 in a remote desert area in New Mexico.

Planning for dropping the two bombs began in serious in November 1943 and was complex. Specially modified aircraft were needed because of the size of the bombs and a special base was built for the missions on a Pacific island. Originally Kyoto had been selected for a target for the first bomb, but the US Secretary of War ruled it out because of its cultural and historic significance and Hiroshima was selected in its place.

Shigeo Kobayashi, Japan Against Nuclear, reads the English translation of today’s speech by the Mayor of Hiroshima at the commemoration there

The Hiroshima bomb was the logical end of years of planning and scientific effort and was needed more to validate that whole process than for any particular military purpose. There was even less reason for the second bomb on Nagasaki given the destruction the first bomb had caused. Over two thirds of Hiroshima’s buildings had been destroyed, almost a third of its population killed immediately and another third injured. More were to die later from radiation.

Nagasaki was not even the intended target for the second bomb; cloud over Kokura saved it from destruction and instead ‘Fat Man’ was dropped on Nagasaki. It was roughly 1.5 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb but hills protected parts of the city and the destruction and death toll were lower with an estimated 35,000–40,000 people killed and 60,000 injured.

Rev Gyoro Nagase, Buddhist monk from the Battersea Peace Pagoda

The commemoration takes place every 6th August in Tavistock Square, with Camden’s Mayor taking part, as well as peace activists. It is the largest of several events in London and I now usually attend and have photographed it a number of times.

Hiroshima Bomb victims remembered


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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Anti-Christ at the Abbey

Monday, September 2nd, 2019

I can’t understand how anyone Christian could condone the service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate 50 years of continuous nuclear threat by British submarines armed with nuclear missiles.  It seemed obscene and blasphemous, a total negation of the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels.

I’ve never really been a pacifist, believing that sometimes in extreme circumstances it can be the lesser of evils to pick up weapons and fight. I think I would have been prepared to fight the Nazis in World War II, though the question didn’t arise, as Hitler gave up the struggle a week before I was born. And had I been in South Africa under apartheid I would have found it hard not to support the armed struggle, and if I could have been of any use to have taken a part in it. There are times when its vital to fight for justice.

But fortunately I’ve never been faced with difficult decisions like that, though I did turn down the offer of interesting research on explosives when I graduated. Our country has not been under existential threat since the defeat of Germany in 1945, and the wars in which we have engaged have seldom been just or even in any way sensible, fighting to hang on to our colonies or enlarge our commercial sphere of influence. Chasing weapons of mass destruction we knew did not exist.

Nuclear weapons in particular are pointless – and extremely dangerous. Weapons that would only be used when we were about to be anihilated whether or not we used them, unless they were used by accident – and we now know that such an accident was only averted when one Russian officer had the good sense to disobey his orders.

Nuclear weapons are also very expensive – and the vast sums to be spent on replacing Trident could be spent so much more usefully on so many other things – and end the cuts to vital services.

Rather confusingly there were two protest vigils taking place opposite Westminster Abbey while the service was taking place there, one by CND and the other by Christian CND. Both were on the opposite side of the road to the church, but separated by a few yards. Christian CND I think held a short service and vigil, while the main CND protest culminated in a die-in on the wide pavement – and I think some came from the Christian CND vigil to join them.

Police made it a little difficult to photograph this event, with photographers being moved from the road in front of the protest at various times, and both photographers and protesters were made to come down from a wall at the back of the pavement which gave a better view of the people entering the Abbey for the service. There was higher than usual security as a couple of royas were attending the service, though one CND protester did manage to walk inside the Abbey, though was fairly soon removed and brought back across the road.

More pictures: Die-In against Nuclear Weapons celebration.