Challenge September 13th 1947- By Mick Noble - Recently de-mobbed from the forces
Thousands of East London house-wives fill this famous market, buying wares and collecting the Sunday dinner. The cries of the ' coster-mongers mingle with the gossip of the women and the yells of the children. Ridley Road—Sunday. The shops are closed. Gone are the stalls and barrows. But people are still there, people who hate fascism. People who once believed that Fascism had died with Hitler. Sunay, August 31, 1947, was a historical day for London's Youth.
The London Young Communist League (YCL) with the Hackney Branch in the lead, held the ground at Ridley Road for nine hours against fascist provocation. Forced to start the meeting at 4 p.m. (it was scheduled to start at 7 p.m.) the Y.C.L. put speaker after speaker on the platform. Youth from all walks of life denounced with great human feeling the increase in fascist activities in London.
Eighteen year old Betty Moss, of the Hackney Y.C.L., one of the earlier speakers, said: “The Housewives' League and the Tory Press may criticise the miners, but you will not find any of the rich class down the pits. Give London's Youth a chance and they will help to save Britain." Pete Richards, of St. Pancras Y.C.L., who sailed to France on D-Day, and was later wounded, made an impassioned appeal to a packed audience of 4,000: " Youth has a future if Fascism and Capitalism are destroyed in Britain," said Pete as thousands cheered
DOWN WITH FASCISM!
At that moment the fascists, masquerading under the name of the" British League of Ex-Servicemen," were holding a meeting not far away from the youths' platform. A flood of abuse against the Jewish people was let loose. The crowd's hostility increased. Suddenly from all directions police swooped down upon the fascist meeting and it was promptly closed down. Police, on foot and in motor vehicles, then rushed to the Y.C.L. meeting. John Goss, Secretary of the London Y.C.L., mounted the platform to the cheers of the crowd. As he spoke, hundreds of little Hitlers, including German P.O.W., began to march upon the Y.C.L. meeting.
As they drew near, they began chanting: "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? — M-O-S-L-E-Y! " and sang the " Horst Wessel," the song composed in a German brothel, as they converged on the meeting. But they were thrown back by the solidness of the crowd, who were keenly interested in the constructive policy which Johnny Goss was putting forward for solving Britain's economic crisis. " The fascists say you don't find Jews in the coal mines," said Johnny, " and yet the only London lads working down the same pit as myself during the 'war were Jews. But you won't find fascists down the mines. No honest-to-goodness miner would work beside them."
The chairman, appealing for a collection, said: "The Tories and fascists ridicule our appeals for money, but we are proud to receive the pennies and shillings from the working class, for this indicates that we voice the needs of the people. Give your answer to the fascists! " Twenty-eight pounds four shillings was collected.
The fascists on the, opposite side of the road, angered by their failure to break up the meeting, made a final assault. They" rushed the meeting, throwing bottles and fireworks, but were once again decisively routed. The people stood steady and calm. The police were compelled to arrest a few fascists. In past weeks it has only been anti-fascists and ex-Servicemen who have been manhandled and arrested by the police. The police have indicated in the past their sympathy for the fascists.
This changed attitude may be an expression of public agitation and discontent with
the actions of the police. The meeting came to an end as the crowd, thousands strong, sang the "Internationale" with great gusto. The fascists, who had earlier been singing the Nazi " Horst Wessel" insolently started singing the National Anthem. Before the crowds dispersed, 4,000 anti-fascists raised their voices in three tumultuous cheers, for the unity of the Labour movement, for a future for British Youth and the destruction of Fascism in Britain.
London's youth won a great victory on Sunday, August 31, But the last " Battle of Ridley Road" has yet to be won.