Marham Demonstration


I joined a coach party of demonstrators going to Marham air base from Hampstead. Thought it was the right thing to do but recall that I was probably the only one that I met on the outing that did not believe it would actually achieve anything.

When I reached the wire fence surrounding the air field, like everyone else I attempted to climb over it, but was firmly pushed back by a member of the armed services. As a pacifist, there didn't seem to me to be much point in doing anything else. As I was wearing a very visible, light coloured raincoat, BBC TV news film cameras at the time homed in on my brief and rather inadequate attempt to climb over the fence. Later that day I observed the police rough-handling one of the more vociferous but peaceful deomonstrators.

Air Force View
An alternative view of the demonstration appears here. In anticipation of this link disappearing, I quote from it

"In the summer of 1963 the Ban the Bomb campaigners decided to protest at Marham by attempting too take over the airfield and perhaps get to the aircraft. There were only a few hundred of them at the most and Marham is a very big airfield so their aim was a bit ambitious to say the least. They also had to face airman who had had their weekend leave stopped to guard the airfield so we were not too kindly disposed towards them. 49 squadron dispersal was just at the back of the officers' married quarters and so very accessible from the road. It was obvious we would be somewhat in the front line of the protest. We were told that they should be prevented from coming onto the airfield if possible but kept away from buildings and aircraft at all costs. We were also told that protesters should not be handled roughly as there may be cameras recording our actions and we did not want a public out-cry. We had our own thoughts about what we should do but saw the reason behind the order. In due course they turned up, shouted slogans, chanted songs and gave us some mild abuse. After some time they decided to invade the airfield by climbing over the wire fence. We successfully pushed them back without too much trouble. Female protesters found that they could get over the fence fairly easily but had great difficulty in getting back again. The male protesters made the mistake of giving us a bit of a rough time and running for the aircraft. This was seen by the rugby players as a wonderful chance for some practice and several protesters were brought down with tackles that would have done credit to Twickenham. Our last line of defence was the station police and doghandlers, they seemed a little disappointed that we were too successful as I think they also wanted to give their dogs a bit of exercise. ... One of Michael Redgrave's daughters was said to have been arrested protesting somewhere in our area ... Roy Lavis"