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Letters and appreciation
Obituary: Bob Hockley
Sixty-four years ago, in 1942, Bob Hockley resigned as Treasurer of the local branch of the Peace Pledge Union in Southampton.
Not because he had changed his views, for he was as resolute as ever that “Wars will cease when men refuse to fight”. No. He had refused four times to attend a medical examination before being called up to the armed forces and had received a summons to attend the Court of Summary Jurisdiction.
He knew a prison sentence was likely and was paving the way for his impending incarceration.
Ardent cyclist and Quaker
Born on 26 November 1914, Bob was an ardent cyclist in the 1930s and during his many evening and weekend rides would debate with his friends on the current economic climate, on politics and religion.
He was attracted by the Quakers he met and in 1940 started to attend the Quaker Meeting in Southampton that was to be a main thread of his life until his sudden peaceful death on 31 July.
Prisoner of conscience
In 1942, six months' hard labour was his sentence. “Hard labour” meant no mattress on the bed for the first week in Winchester prison in cell B 4 84. He was left alone with a Bible, prayer book, one work of fiction and one non-fiction. Two days later Bob was transferred to Dorchester prison where for five weeks his carpentry skills were put to good use in the workshop and the nearby governor's house.
The remainder of his sentence was spent in Wormwood Scrubs in the company of other conscientious objectors with plenty of time to reflect on his pacifist views and read War and Peace and the journal of his beloved George Fox.
In 1958 at Easter time, Hugh Brock and Pat Arrowsmith, with Donald Soper and Fenner Brockway, led the first march to Aldermaston. Bob took his wife May and three small children - Elizabeth, David and Ruth - to walk the 50 miles from Trafalgar Square. The family walked for peace for a decade in this way each Easter.
When Bob and May moved to Alton in 1983 they supported a strong local peace group that held vigils every month in Alton High Street. At Greenham Common, May would regularly visit the women's peace camp and together they would hold a Meeting for Worship with the women protesters.
Bob was a fanatical supporter of the peace movement and devoted his life to the cause that he considered central to the wellbeing of humankind.