Beale, Albert

Beale, Albert

Albert Beale

8 November 2023Blog

A brief appreciation of long-time peace campaigner Bill Hetherington

Many of you will have encountered Bill Hetherington during your peace movement campaigning; I'm sorry to have to tell you that he died on Sunday night (5 November '23), having been ill for some time.

Those of you who've had a long involvement with British peace organisations will have known him for a long while - his activism goes back around 60 years.

He was a direct actionist in Britain in the 1960s, and has been involved in pacifist activism ever since. Internationally, he…

11 December 2020Comment

Pacifist, engineer and BWNIC defendant

Albert Beale writes:

I got to know my friend and comrade Chris Roper 45 years ago when we were amongst a group of 14 pacifists and anti-militarists who spent nearly 3 months in the Old Bailey facing notorious conspiracy charges relating to the distribution of leaflets to servicepeople encouraging - and helping - them to 'down tools' [sometimes referred to as the BWNIC (British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign) trial, see …

1 December 2016Comment

Long-time PN columnist Sybil Morrison restates some pacifist truths, including in the context of the then-recent Suez Crisis.

The large number of hypothetical questions addressed to pacifists is due to the fact that in the last resort the reliance upon muscular strength rather than argument, upon some kind of force rather than reason, upon military weapons rather than upon negotiation, is commonly accepted by almost all the people of the world – and that any moral stand against it immediately rouses fear and a corresponding resistance to the idea.

The fact that the use of force only settles who is the…

1 October 2016Comment

Two members of the Pacifist Youth Action Group, hitch-hiking to India to spend a period at a Gandhian project, stopped en route to join an international workcamp undertaking post-war reconstruction in Italy. Then, as now, such work both deals with some of the legacy of war and also – by its international co-operative nature – helps to undermine the causes of future wars. They sent back a report to Peace News.

Construction – not destruction – is the battle-cry in Affile.

Service Civil International has invaded Affile, 80km from Rome, but this is an invasion with a difference. Affile, which was once a battlefield, is now being assaulted with bricks and shovels, sledgehammers and barrows. Construction not destruction is the new battle-cry as young people from many nations set forth with heavy boots and light hearts.

The founder of SCI was Pierre Ceresole of Switzerland, who…

1 August 2016Comment

Attempts by pacifists to look back at the slaughter of war from an anti-militarist perspective – and official unhappiness at the puncturing of nationalist myths – have a long history.

Europe’s first International Nonviolent March for Demilitarisation took place in north-east France from August 4 to 10. People from 15 countries called for the conversion of military structures to civilian use, a nonviolent people’s defence rather than a suicidal military one, the abolition of military blocs, the liberation of objectors and total resisters to conscription, and civil rights for members of the forces.

The climax of the march was the afternoon of Sunday August 8, when –…

1 June 2016Comment

From the outset, PN carried otherwise little-known information about pacifists and other peace campaigners in other countries. The second issue was no exception.

Though it goes by the formidable title of ‘An Appeal’, a pamphlet by the War Resisters’ International is in reality a valuable addition to the all too meagre information that is available concerning the heroic stand that is being made by pacifists in countries where the penalty for such views is exile, imprisonment, torture, or even death.

In French Guiana, France, Lithuania, Italy, Rumania, Germany, Yugoslavia, Poland, Switzerland and elsewhere it is the same story. ‘I may be…

1 April 2016Comment

For many years, PN played a central role in British opposition to nuclear power generation, especially because it combined a political with a technical critique of the nuclear industry. It also, as over many issues, provided ‘nuts and bolts’ advice for campaigners. Here, PN co-editor Linda Peirson gives some tips.

Every three months, I take direct action against nuclear power. It doesn't involve sitting in the road, cutting fences or trespassing. I simply withhold 11 percent of my electricity bill, like hundreds of others involved in the Consumer Campaign.

The campaign is based on the fact that, quite apart from all the other arguments against nuclear power, the nuclear generation of electricity is more costly than other methods. Most other Peace News readers, like myself, will…

1 February 2016Comment

In line with its counter-cultural aims when moving its editorial office out of London for some years, PN gave regular space to ‘Woody’, who called for a commitment to alternative ways of living, rather than oppositional politics. He provoked much debate from correspondents.

Woody says, ‘the basic or primary condition of existing society is that we are all living against each other... mutual hostility’. But this hostility is often about something – like quarrels over the distribution of resources. Rather than backing the poor against the rich, for Woody, ‘a radical situation arises only when a section of the would-be stampeders holds back’. The poor must hold back!

Woody seems to be reacting... against Marxism and the…

1 December 2015Comment

PN produced an issue devoted to the verdicts and the aftermath of the Old Bailey trial in London of 14 pacifists and anti-militarists including PN staff involved in a campaign to give leaflets to soldiers about leaving the army; the conspiracy charges meant there was no upper limit to the prison sentences they faced.

‘Some Information for Discontented Soldiers’, a leaflet produced by the British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign, is not an incitement to disaffection; that’s official....

Someone in the Department of Public Prosecutions now has a very red face. Not only has the main attempt to stamp out communication with soldiers failed, but it has given an embarrassing amount of publicity to soldiers’ lack of rights and their ignorance of those they have, and also to the existence of…

1 October 2015Comment

PN reported on the Old Bailey conspiracy trial of 14 pacifists and anti-militarists – many with PN links – accused in connection with the leafleting of soldiers.

‘How do you plead?’

‘I plead for peace in a world of war, love in a world of hate, free speech for all, and an end to politically-motivated trials in this country.’

‘I shall have to have a medical report on you if you’re not careful.’

Exchange between judge and defendant at the opening of the trial.

The trial of the 14 people charged with conspiracy to incite disaffection began on September 29, with a valiant attempt to get the conspiracy charges…

1 August 2015Comment

The letters pages in Peace News have long been a forum for debate on pacifist ideas: the August 1955 issues were no exception. Sid Parker, individualist anarchist, contributed to and edited political publications over many decades; pacifist Denis Barritt lived in Northern Ireland - including during “the troubles” - opposing all armies, ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’.

Anarchist position

There is one paragraph [of a Peace Pledge Union document in a previous PN] with which…

1 June 2015Comment

As the Second World War’s killing ended – in the European theatre at least – news emerged from recently-liberated concentration camps and extermination camps. Much of this PN report was based on a visit to Buchenwald a few weeks earlier by a London-based Swedish journalist.

The details of the treatment of German conscientious objectors which we print below give the first detailed factual reply to the oft-repeated war-time question – ‘What would happen to any conscientious objectors in…

31 March 2015Comment

Peace News faced difficulties – both practical and political – whilst trying to continue as a pacifist publication during the Second World War. Although there have been threats to the existence of the paper occasionally since then, such problems have never been as frequent as during that era:

Messrs WH Smith & Sons distribute 10,250 copies of Peace News every week and other wholesalers, between them, 12,200.

Sir Arnold Wilson [a well-known…

1 February 2015Comment

Being open to issues, perspectives and debates largely ignored by other political papers has often been a distinguishing feature of Peace News. Sexual politics, including men’s reactions to women’s increasing commitment to feminism, has been an example of this. Here, Paul Seedhouse describes his own move towards change.

I think of an issue: the state of the world, for example. I expect myself, and I am expected, as a man, to analyse rationally and objectively, to present solid arguments, to take decisive steps, and above all not to get emotional. Actually I’m totally ignorant and confused and feel like crying about the mess the world is in. I can’t admit that I don’t know; I can’t cry because I’m a man.

Because I’m a man, I cannot admit when I’m sad, hurt or humiliated. I cannot be joyful, or give…

25 November 2014Comment

The distinguished physicist, astronomer and mathematician, Arthur Eddington, was a First World War conscientious objector and life-long pacifist (and a keen cyclist, devising the Eddington Secondary Number which measures a cyclist’s achievements; his own E-number was 84). One of the pieces Peace News published to mark his death on 22 November 1944 looked at what he’d written to explain his continuing pacifism during the Second World War.

In 1940, the Ministry of Information published a leaflet containing extracts from articles or statements by Dr CEM Joad, Bertrand Russell, Dr Maude Royden, and AA Milne, under the title ‘It’s different now’. The leaflet suggested that pacifists should abandon views they held previously and join the war effort.

Sir Arthur Eddington was one of the four equally prominent pacifists who explained in Peace News on Nov 8 1940, under the heading ‘It’s still the same’, why they had not…