Juley’s holiday journal 19th July 1984 – 3rd September 1984
When I first started to visit and stay at the camp I toyed with using different names when I was arrested and I have written them on the front of the journal: ‘Juley Howerd or Julie Howard or Christabel Pankhurst or Nancy Reagan or Penny George or Jenny Williams.’
Throughout my childhood my mum would give me and my two sisters an exercise book each at the start of the long summer holidays. Basically you had to fill it with any project you wanted and she would give you a pound reward at the end of August when you handed it back full. This became a habit that I hadn’t quite shaken off and in 1984 my exercise book for the summer is more a diary that shows that I was joining in life at the Greenham Common camp, but also visiting new friends from Greenham on long cycle rides (one to stay in Dorset, cycling about 50 miles a day) and joining in anti-nuclear actions in other places. I also cycled between Rugby and Greenham, sometimes sleeping by the side of the road over night when I had set out too late.
On Tuesday 31st July 1984
my diary records that I had been into the base. While others cut the hole and a tunnel through the barbed wire, patching it up again after us and taking our bolt cutters back to our camp, Felicity, Angie and I had gone in with leaflets. We were trying to leaflet the American soldiers’ houses. I wrote: ‘An American soldier saw Felicity and I, and took her, but I walked away and carried on leafleting. I was ‘caught’ about 20 minutes later and arrested by a MOD (police officer) and Angie (Zelter) was captured about 30 minutes afterwards. I gave ‘Christabel Pankhurst’ as my name and when interviewed gave an involved story about how we came in by microlight. We were thrown out of Indigo at about 3 o’clock. The women gave us a lift back to Orange – thank goodness!’
On the next night, Wednesday 1st August,
we went back to the leafleting (inside the base) at a section away from where we had been before. My diary entry:
‘Some Americans saw us after about 20 minutes. I ran and hid while the other two were caught. I heard an American shouting to them to put their hands up, lie down, or he would shoot. I assumed that he wasn’t bluffing, and decided what I would do if ordered to do the same. They didn’t see that he hadn’t taken his gun out either, until he stepped out of the shadows. (All American soldiers carry guns – both inside and outside of the base). Well, I stayed hidden for about 10-15 minutes while they walked past, then they found a flash-light so I walked away. I really didn’t want to get caught by Americans, so when I saw the headlights of a vehicle approaching I walked out along the road – fortunately it was a British driver! He got out before the Americans got to me – boy, didn’t they swear!
‘Back at Orange Gate (after being processed fairly quickly) we got a ride to where we had hidden our bolt-cutters, then were dropped off at the end of Orange Gate Road. We cut another hole (panel size) and went in again! This time we just walked along over the runway and up onto Orange Gate bunker – we asked the women to put the kettle on – then were spotted by the soldiers. We had hot drinks and then we were taken to the interrogation rooms and released through Indigo. We walked all the way back, as everybody was asleep.’
At the end of August I went to South Wales to visit US Brawdy (an American base just near RAF Brawdy.) I spent time on the beach and generally having a bit of a holiday but part of my time was spent in action against another nuclear base. On Saturday 25th August I wrote: ’After a day at the seaside (like most days) I went for a walk with Jiff’s map, which was really nice. The countryside around here is just exquisite.’ But later ‘we had a great action.’ I wrote with delight about finding a place close to the ‘main’ gate where you can ‘literally just crawl under the wire. About 15 of us did this while diversions went on outside. I climbed over the second fence to the sensitive bit with Jiff and miraculously found a gate open which we went through (route marked x …..x on plan). At x we were caught. I sat down and Jiff escaped. The MOD (police officer) holding me was very obnoxious. He grabbed hold of one of my ankles and whoosh my head hit the deck! ‘The End is Nigh!’ I thought; fortunately, as you may have guessed, it wasn’t ! We were marched out and chucked out of the front gate. Meanwhile some wimmin (about 8-9) had climbed onto a roof and were singing and generally dancing around. I climbed up and occupied the gate(!) for 43 minutes. When the police had got the roof wimmin down and thrown them out, they got their ladders and extracted moi-meme from my crow’s nest. After this we went around the back, ……. And sang the metal vibrations Spell. Very satisfying.’
The holiday journal came to an end on Monday 3rd September 1984.
On that day ‘I got up (by chance) at 8 o’clock and was having breakfast when Jay got back with the Brown Van (she spent the night at Yellow Gate.) After hanging around for a bit we went to get petrol, picked up Lorraine from Red and went to Yellow to pick up some stuff. From here we went to Eveline’s place, where Jay is going to keep her motorbike until it’s mended. From hence we drove to Newbury after coffee and got to court at about 12.20 pm. Barbara’s case had already started. Jay and Lorraine went back while I stayed until the end. She gave a very strong and very good defence and was found guilty on both charges, despite the fact that she was innocent of the heftier one. She was given 7 days and 14 days with a 7 day sentence to run concurrently with the 21 days left over from June 1983.[i]
After Barbara had been carried off, Naomi gave me a lift back to Orange. Once there I collected my knapsack, cycle, said goodbye to those who were around at the time and cycled into Newbury. Once here I had to do some shopping then visited the Quakers’ place and had my lunch down at West Mills before eventually finding a train to catch. Cycling back from Leamington (I didn’t have enough money for a ticket all of the way home) I acquired a puncture in the middle of a wood and had to walk some distance in the rain to the next house to phone up me old dad for a lift home! An appropriate end to the holidays. ‘
At the back of the exercisebook I had written out the words to some of the Greenham Common songs and drafted a letter to send to the ‘Campaign!’ magazine (CND). In this letter I relate what some Greenham women had done on Hiroshima Day. We had walked to RAF Burghfield, a few miles south of Reading. There, outside one of the entrances, we had set up a peace camp until Nagasaki Day. I appealed for help from anyone living between Burghfield and Coalport near Faslane to keep watch for the convoy which regularly made a monthly journey carrying old warheads from Polaris missiles down to Burghfield where they were refurbished. I wrote, ‘ It is vital that something should be done to stop the Polaris convoy, which carries live nuclear weapons on British roads.’ I gave my address as ‘Orange Gate, USAF Greenham Common, near Newbury, Berkshire.’ There was no USAF base at Greenham, and its correct title was RAF Greenham Common, but we always referred to it as USAF base as a way of highlighting the presence of the American military in the UK. I gave my address as ‘USAF Greenham Common’ for years. In fact I was awarded a grant for living expenses to attend University from the Peace Camp at USAF Greenham Common. Even West Berks council, it seemed, thought of it as an American airbase.
[i] I still see Barbara from time to time she lives near to me in Bristol, though she has changed her name following a long prison sentence that did her head in. Following her release she chose a new name reflecting her feelings of liberation.