Celebrating our history: Peace Pledge Union

IssueOctober 2009
Feature by Emily Johns

The Peace Pledge Union was formed in 1934 in response to a letter to the national newspapers from Dick Sheppard calling on the population to “renounce war and never again, directly or indirectly... support or sanction another”. By the outbreak of war in 1939 about 86,000 men and 43,000 women had signed this peace pledge.


In the winter of 1939 PPU women throughout Britain marched against the war calling for negotiations. Resonant of today’s SOCPA laws, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police banned the London march as politically-motivated. The ban was imposed in accordance with an order issued under the Defence Regulations by the Home Secretary on 28 November, prohibiting “processions of a political character” in the London area for three months dating from December 2.

Six PPU officers were prosecuted in 1940 for inciting disaffection among the armed forces when the PPU published the poster, “War will cease when men refuse to fight. What are YOU going to do about it?” They were bound over “to keep the peace!”

Other members were harassed by officialdom in a variety of ways, such as being arrested when speaking in the open air or selling Peace News in the streets.