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The Daily Worker October 5th 1936

Mosley did not pass: East London routs the Fascists.
Barricades Raised In Stepney Streets
Police Forced to Ban March

Sir Oswald Mosley’s challenge to East London yesterday resulted in the most humiliating rout of the Blackshirts. The trumpeted march through Whitechapel never took place – and never looked as if it could possibly take place. Instead, the Blackshirt marchers were escorted by thousands of police from Royal Mint Street at 4 o’clock – two hours after their scheduled time of departure – away from Whitechapel, westwards, not eastwards.

They marched to the Embankment, where Mosley left them. They asked the police officer in charge for permission to go to Trafalgar Square to hold a demonstration. They were told they could march to the Square if they liked. On the way they tried to march into Downing Street, but were turned away.

On arrival at the Square the police there informed them that no meeting would be permitted. Several Blackshirts tried to defy the police, and a number of arrests were made. The by now thoroughly dispirited Blackshirt hordes then marched off down the Strand.

The rout of the Mosley gang is due to the splendid way in which the whole of East London’s working-class rallied as one man (and one woman) to bar the way to the Blackshirts. Jew and Gentile, docker and garment worker, railwayman and cabinet-maker, turned out in their thousands to show that they have no use for Fascism.

The Fascists were due to assemble at Royal Mint Street at 2.30, while the Communist Party had appealed to the workers to throng Aldgate and Cable Street at 2 o’clock.

Hours beforehand every street between the Mint and Aldgate was thronged with people. Many of the side streets in this area were cordoned off by police long before the march was due to start.

No one was allowed to go through these streets unless he could satisfy the cordon officer that he had legitimate business there. The inhabitants were scarcely permitted to leave these streets at all.

In one of these streets where I managed to persuade an officer to let me through, I found a cafe packed with Blackshirts. I went in, and over a cup of tea I heard one of Mosley’s men and the proprietor talking. Said the former:-

„You can say what you like, I have had enough of being on the stones. This movement is bread and butter to me and I am not chucking it.“

At 1.30 two lone Blackshirts appeared in Royal Mint Street. They were told to stand against the wall and six policeman were detached to stand in front of them, hiding them from the crowed. Shortly afterwards a covered vanload of Blackshirts appeared. As the first two men dismounted the crowed was on them before the police could intervene, and in another second both were stretched out, unconscious.

Then the police activities started in earnest. From all quarters foot and mounted police appeared on the scene. Within ten minutes there were three baton charges in Royal Mint Street, and all the while crowed were being pushed back and more streets cordoned off


Eventually the Minories was closed entirely and the crowed pushed back half way down Cable Street. By this time Royal Mint Street itself was emptied of workers, and was occupied by about 500 police, and the assembling Fascist forces which came up mostly in closed vans.

No worker was now allowed within a quarter of a mile of the Fascist assembly place. But the workers everywhere were resisting strongly the attempts to force them off the streets which they inhabit and baton charges were repeatedly taking place in Great Alie Street, Leman Street, Cable Street and elsewhere.

Cable Street was a more than lively spot throughout the afternoon. The first incident in this sector was a baton charge at 2.30, to which the workers replied by a fusillade of stones. The outcome was three arrests, one of the arrests being a girl. All three had been hit around the head before arrest and were being dragged through the streets struggling desperately.

The crowed infuriated, made a sudden surge forward and after a hand-to-hand tussle succeeded in rescuing one of the men. Not only so, but three of the constables who had hold of him were compelled to take refuge in a shop where the crowed imprisoned them until reinforcements came up and released them.

By this time the blood of Cable street was up. Barricades were built in the street, and packing cases, a lorry and a couple of carts, to say nothing of the contents of a builder’s yard, were called into service to build it.

Paving stones were torn up and broken into convenient sizes to serve as ammunition, glasses and bottles were broken and the splintered glass ground into the road to impude the passage of the mounted. The police tried to stop these operations, but were powerless to do so.

In the meantime Leman Street from the L.N.E.R. station at the bottom end of Gardiner’s Corner at the top, was also a battle ground, and I estimate something like a dozen arrests took place in that street between 2.45 and 3.15.

Many of those arrested had their heads cut open and faces streaming with blood. At least two policeman also had very serious face injuries from the stones flying through the air.

The police called every modern device into action to help them in their activities. Dozens of wireless vans were stationed at strategic points. Two planes were maintaining an aerial reconnaissance, whilst from every policebox plain-clothed men, who were as conspicuous as they would be inconspicuous, were keeping in touch with headquarters.

Shortly after 3.30 it became obvious that the police were going to make a desperate effort to get the Blackshirts off. Five hundred men who had been waiting in the Leman Street police yard marched out, and at the same time a similar number marched into Leman Street from the direction of Bow. From the direction they took the impression gained ground that they intended to try to force the Blackshirts Hounsditch way.

But whatever was the original intention, wiser councils prevailed. It was on the orders of the Police Commissioner himself that to persist in it would have meant the fiercest street fighting ever witnessed in London.

The East End workers had said: „Mosley shall not pass.“ They showed yesterday that they meant it. One of the most impressive features was that of the hundreds of thousands who thronged the streets, one could find no single person – Jew or Gentile – who was not hot in his condemnation of the Fascists and their methods.

A quarter of an hour after the parade should have moved off Sir Oswald Mosley arrived at Mint Street.

Union Jacks on decorated poles rose in the air and a forest o hands above the black coated ranks went up in salute as Sir Oswald, wearing the new Blackshirt uniform, with a peak cap, drove down the ranks in a car with two other officers of the movement.

As the car approached the outskirts of the crowed which was being held back by police, boos and cat-calls were raised and many started singing „The Red Flag“ and the „International.“

The East London Advertiser October 10th 1936


Cable Street Barricade


„They shall not pass“ was the slogan continually shouted In the East End streets on Sunday morning and referring to the Fascist march of uniformed men which had been advertised to take place during the afternoon. As the time for the march drew nearer, excitement grew, and great crowds gathered at the strategic points of the march,. A battle royal raged in the neighbourhood of Tower Hill as the Fascists arrived there to begin their march, scores at people were injured and then just as the march was due to start, Sir Oswald Mosley, Fascist Leader, was informed by Sir Phillip Game; Commissioner of police, that the march must be abandoned. The Fascists thereupon marched westwards to the Embankment, where they dispersed.

The meeting led, as the Mayors or East London had told the Home Secretary during the previous week that It would lead, to serious clashes. and had the march not been called off it is indeed difficult to say where it would have ended. The police had, assembled the biggest force ever seen in the East End, and constables came from divisions all over London. That even their concentration of seven thousand men would have been unavailing had the march continued was the general impression.


At two o’clock in the afternoon the Fascists began to gather at Tower Hill. The first part of Mosley’s bodyguard arrived in special vans with barred windows. As they jumped from these vehicles, the crowds‘ gathered on the historic hill surged forward. The mounted police were compelled to draw their batons and charge the crowd, driving them into side streets. Two Fascists were beaten up at Mansell street on their way to the meeting. „The Red Flag“ could be heard. Wireless vans passing through the streets reported the movements of the crowd. Sir Phillip Game had his headquarters in a street off Tower Hill. Overhead a police aeroplane flew, keeping observation.

A large number of men who had met at Aldgate to take part in the I.L.P. demonstration against the Fascist march, collided with a contingent of Fascists coming from Mark Lane station. Anti-Fascists attempted to occupy the Minories and a car bearing the slogan, „Mosley shall not pass,“ swept into Royal Mint street. Crowds surged round that and the police had to clear the road with a baton charge. Barriers were thrown across the road. By half-past three a hundred casualties, women amongst them, had been treated at Leman street police station.

About this time Sir Oswald Mosley arrived in a long black sports car. He was wearing a new uniform in place of the severely plain back shirt and trousers he has affected formerly. Now he was wearing a black military cut jacket, grey riding breeches and jack boots. He had a, black peaked military cap and a red arm band. As his car moved along the ranks of some 5,000 Fascist escorted by a guard of Fascists on motor cycles, the Blackshirts shouted out letter by letter. ‚M. O. S. L. E. Y. We want Mosley:“ Sir Oswald then reviewed his troops. He had a long talk with Staff Officer Moran, who had been struck during one of the earlier scuffles with a stick wound with barbed wire. He had been taken to hospital and returned to the parade. Sir Oswald was asked to see Sir Phillip Game, who informed him that in view of the large crowds and previous clashes, and the risk of further ones the procession would have to be diverted to the Embankment

Sir Oswald then led his army on a „West End“ march escorted by hundreds of constables.

At the Temple the police formed a cordon, allowing only Fascists to pass and on the Embankment the parade was dismissed.


Altogether some seventy arrests were made. They were made in between a score of baton charges in various places on the route. On Tower Hill during the early part of the afternoon, Fascists and their opponents of the I.L.P. and Communist sections, both had their own dressing stations. where casualties were treated. after it was over, iron bars, chair-legs wrapped with barbed wire, and broken bottles were picked up from the gutters.


There was tremendous excitement at Cable-street, down whose narrow width it was expected that Sir Oswald and his blackshirts would pass. There large numbers of people joined in the erection of a great barricade. A builder’s lorry was dragged from a neighbouring yard and overturned in the street. This was the foundation of a barricade which was added to with barrels, corrugated iron, lengths of timber, and piles of bricks. The police tried to stop the men, but were met with a shower of bricks.

As they retreated paving stones were torn out of the pavement and piled against the barricade to strengthen it. The police later returned with reinforcements, a baton charge was made, and when the street was clear again they had the task of taking down a formidable structure. Several hours later, piles of timber, bricks and barrels and iron roofing beside the road, and pavements with gaping spaces where there should have been stones, looked like the aftermath of a battle in Spain. Before the barricade, those who had erected it had scattered broken glass in front, to check the police horses.

The people living in Cable street were highly jubilant at the abandonment of the march and claimed that the news of their barricade had as much to do with it as the fighting at Tower Hill.


No Fascists reached Gardiner’s Corner but there were clashes there with the police also. There a great surging crowed awaited the coming of the Fascists. Someone tied a red flag to a lamp-post and someone else let off a firework.

The police found it difficult to control the crowd and a baton charge was ordered. The people were hemmed together on the pavement and in the panic there was a surge against the windows of Messers Kirtz the clothiers on the south side of the road, and their window was broken. as was also a big plate glass window in a shop on the opposite side or the road. Several people were injured here


It had been announced by the Fascists that the first meeting to be addressed by Sir Oswald Mosley would be opposite the Memorial Hostel Limehouse. A Blackshirt meeting was in fact started here and addressed by Blackshirt speakers for two hours. Every point of vantage was taken and a cordon of police was thrown across the narrow entrance to Salmons Lane. The meeting was in most of. its manifestations a good-natured one, the crowd heckling the speakers whose speech it was impossible for almost any of the crowd except those in the narrow front circle to hear. The speakers were surrounded by a ring of policemen.

As the hands of the clock on Limehouse Church neared five o’clock the crowd grew more thick, and there were shouts or „Get him off that perch,“ referring to the speaker. The crowd pushed forward towards him, and were sent surging hack by the police. A little later there was another rush forward by the crowd, and it was seen that the police ring was sagging under the strain. Mounted police who had been standing quietly on the outskirts of the crowd, then pushed. their way in among the people up to the speaker, and he was removed under police protection, leaving his stand behind him. The mounted police then rode among the crowd calling out „All over. There will be no march. You can go home.“ This was a big surprise to the people there who had not heard of the events of Tower Hill.


Sir Oswald Mosley had also announced that there would be a meeting at Stafford Road, Bow, at its junction with Roman Road. About 200 people gathered here to await the coming of the Fascists. Everything was very quiet the crowed at this meeting place being considerably less than at the junction of Mile End Road and Barrett Road, where a huge throng stood waiting for a long time. „I’m going to get my place now,“ said an onlooker, taking up his stand opposite the La Boheme at two o’clock, and she was one of the many who waited three hours for a procession that never arrived.

The Times Monday 5th October 1936




The proposed march of a contingent of the British Union Of Fascists through the streets of the East End of London yesterday, which had given rise to fears of disturbances, was prohibited by the police at the last moment. The Blackshirts had already been on parade near the Tower of London for an hour, awaiting the order to march, when Sir Oswald Mosley, their leader, arrived and was informed by Sir Philip Game, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, that it was impossible for the procession to follow the route planned or for the four meetings that had been arranged to take place.

Counter demonstrations against the Fascists were so great that the narrow thoroughfares about Aldgate were completely impassable, while attempts were made to use lorries as barriers to prevent the marchers approaching Whitechapel. „Mosley shall not pass,“ and „Bar the road to Fascism“ were chalked on walls and blazoned on banners. Shops were closed and many boarded.


The first serious trouble arose as the Fascists began to assemble in Royal Mint Street, where the procession was formed. Early arrivals were met by a large and hostile crowed. It was not until the police drew their batons that the street could be cleared. Mounted and foot police then kept the roadway open for the marchers, men and women in Blackshirt uniform with Union Jacks and Fascist flags, who, by the time the march was due to begin, numbered between 2,000 and 3,000. As they waited on parade a diversion was caused by the appearance on a roof of a man holding in his right hand a staff on which was mounted the sign of the hammer and sickle, together with the red flag. With his left hand he gave the clenched-fist salute of the Communists.

The incident gave rise to much good humoured chaff. There was also exchanges between the people on the footpaths and the Fascists. Many of the latter shouted in unison, „The Yids, the Yids, we must get rid of the Yids,“ and „We want free speech,“ while spectators retorted, „Go to Germany“ and „Down with Fascism.“


Cheers and the raising of hands in the Fascist salute heralded the arrival of Sir Oswald Mosley in an open motor-car. He wore the new uniform of his party – a black military-cut jacket, grey riding breaches and jackboots, a black peaked cap, and a red and white armband, indicative of „action within the circle of unity.“ Twice he drove the length of his marshalled followers, returning their salutes. He then alighted and, in a side street, had a long consultation with Sir Phillip Game and other high police officials.

On his return to the parade Sir Oswald Mosley informed his officers of the police decision, and after a brief interval marched at the head of the procession towards Blackfriars. Strong forces of police conducted the demonstrators, through the crowds on Tower Hill and along the almost empty streets of the City.

With drums beating and a pipe band playing the Fascists marched down Queen Victoria Street and on to the Embankment. A score of mounted police led the way. Crowds of people – weather sympathisers or not, there was no means of judging, since they made no audible comment – walked on either side of the procession outside the lines of marching police.


Opposite the Temple a double line of foot police had been poised right across the road and pavements. The uniformed Fascists were allowed to pass, but not the public. The column went forward till its head reached Waterloo Bridge. There it was halted, with the tail, opposite the Temple Underground station, and the men and women made a left turn. Sir Oswald Mosley drove along the ranks with arms upraised and xxx discussing the days events with his staff, he drove away towards Westminster. The parade broke up without further incidents. An attempt by some of the Fascists to hold a meeting in Trafalgar Square was stopped by the police.

In the meantime the anti-Fascist crowds remained in the streets east of Aldgate until they were fully assured that the Blackshirt march had been cancelled.

Daily Mail, October 5th 1936

London Baton Charges: Eighty Four Arrests

Reds Attack Blackshirts

Girls Among Injured

Eighty Four arrests, it was stated at Scotland Yard this morning, were made yesterday during three hours‘ disturbances in the East End of London, and in the later disorders in the Strand and Trafalgar-Square and on the Embankment.

Sir Oswald Mosley had planned a march of his Blackshirts from Royal Mint-street, facing the Tower of London, through the East End to four centres where he was to address his followers. Communists and others had resolved to attempt to prevent the march.

Comprehensive plans to preserve order, involving the cancellation of all leave and the concentration of 4,000 mounted and foot police in the area, were carried out by the authorities, with the result that the disorder was confined to sporadic outbreaks, in which batons were freely used and many people injured. Five hundred St. John Ambulance men were on duty.


The first Blackshirt contingent to arrive was attacked, and when Sir Oswald Mosley reached the point of assembly, he had a consultation with Sir Phillip Game, Commissioner of police. A decision was made to cancel the East End march and four meetings and for the Blackshirts to march in the opposite direction along Great Tower-street to the Embankment.

The disorder in Royal Mint-street began half an hour before the time appointed for the parade. Soon after the first contingent of about 100 Blackshirts arrived three of their number and one civilian lay unconscious on the roadway, and the police were charging the crowed with batons.

The three Blackshirts had been struck on the head with legs of chairs wrapped with barbed wire and were bleeding profusely. Two named Baily and Higgott, were taken to hospital by ambulance, but the third, Mr. Thomas P. Moore, from South Wales, insisted, after first aid, on carrying on with a bandage around his head. The civilian had been struck by a milk bottle.


For an hour and a half there was a struggle between the crowed and several thousands in Aldgate, Whitechapel-road, Leman-street, Commercial-road, and other thoroughfares. The resolute tactics of the police – who made baton charge after baton charge and instantly arrested any person leading an onslaught against them – prevailed.

An early clash occurred when organised Communists, singing and shouting, set out in a body down the Minories to march to Royal Mint-street. Mounted police with baton drawn, reinforced the mass of police on foot, and the Communists were driven back to Aldgate, where they merged in the crowed.

Scrap Iron Missiles

Time and again sections of the crowd tried to burst through the cordon of police holding them back, and yielded only when mounted police, galloping to the trouble spots, charged at them.

With bells clanging ambulances drove through the streets to pick up the injured persons – among them were many women – and tend them. Shop windows were smashed as the crowds were pressed back across the pavements, and cracks of blank shots, fired by irresponsible people added to the clamour.

Gradually the police established order, until the only rowdy was at the junction of Whitechapel-road, Leman-street, and Commercial-road. Amid a deafening din several busloads of police reinforcements arrived.

Missiles were hurled at them, and a bag of pepper was bursed in front of one policeman’s horse.

Many people in the crowed wore red tabs in their button holes. Every time a bus or tramway-car load of policeman arrived they were greeted with ironical cheering, booing, and the Communist salute – the clenched fist.

Lorry Overturned

There was an exciting moment in Cable-street, off Leman-street, when police ran to spot a lorry had been overturned to serve as a barricade against the Blackshirts. They chased a band of men who, as they ran, dropped paving stones and lumps of scrap iron, which they had presumably collected for use when the Blackshirts arrived.

Between 2 and 3 p.m. nine persons including a girl of 19, were admitted to London Hospital. A boy not more than 14, walked into the hospital with a head injury. Later two more young women were admitted to the hospital. Both had their hands tramped on in a stampede.

When the Blackshirts reached Temple Station a man threw something at Sir Oswald Mosley. Three policeman pounced on the man and led him away.

Last Night’s Meetings

Both the Blackshirts and the Communists held meetings in the East End last night. There was a Communist demonstration a Shoreditch Town Hall, while the Blackshirts held an open air meeting in Pitfield-street, a short distance away.

Morning Post, October 5th 1936

Many Arrests in London 2500 Fascists Turned Back by Police

Tense Situation Saved by Sir Phillip Game

The much advertised March of Sir Oswald Mosley’s, British Union of Fascists through the East End of London was cancelled at the last moment yesterday afternoon on the instructions of the Commissioner of Police, Sir Phillip Game. . . .

. . . At this time some 2,500 Fascists had formed themselves into a procession along Royal Mint-street, isolated and closely guarded by police. In every surrounding street dense crowds were being held back by cordons of mounted and foot police.


. . . Sir Phillip Game’s sudden decision, backed up by the admirable behaviour of about 3,000 policemen, averted what had seemed a few hours earlier assured disorder of a most serious kind.

As it turned out, the afternoon involved a score of broken heads, some considerable damage to windows and paving-stones and 84 arrests.

The worst disorders of the afternoon occurred in Cable-street, E.1., which is a continuation east of Royal Mint-street, . . .

. . . Here a builder’s yard was looted, and a lorry removed for use to barricade the street. This was reinforced by sheets of corrugated iron, barrels, and any other debris that came to hand. Paving stones were torn up, broken and added to the mess.

When police arrived they were met by a shower of stones, broken bottles, refuse and chairs thrown from windows overlooking the road.

Two shots from blank pistols were fired to scare the police horses, but were almost unheard in the crash of broken glass from unshattered windows.

The police made several baton charges, in which a number of the crowed and two policemen were injured.

When the police tried to remove another barricade nearby, a crowed standing on a railway bridge crossing Christian-street bombarded them with glass bottles . . .

This statement was issued by the London District Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain

„East End workers, supported by all London in united action, have barred the road to Mosley. Gentile, Jew, Catholic, Protestant, Labour and Communist, men, women and children, determined that Fascism shall not pass here, have given Mosley the most humiliating defeat ever suffered by any figure in English politics.

„East London workers have not only defeated Mosley, they have demonstrated that English people have no time for any sort of toleration of Fascism. East London has torn neutrality to shreds and given a lead to the whole labour and democratic movement to move into action against Fascism. Neutrality must go! Spanish democracy must be armed!

„The mass action of the working people has exposed the pro-Fascist attitude of the Home Office, which sought, to the last moment, to enable Mosley to march, and which is responsible for the baton charges and arrests made to-day.“

This statement was issued by the British Union of Fascists

„The decision to ban the Blackshirt march and all our East End meetings today was immediately obeyed, because the British Union obeys the law and does not fight the police. The leader of the British Union places on record the fact that this is the first occasion on which the British Government has openly surrendered to the Red terror.

„The British Union has held countless successful meetings in East London without any disorder, and has strong branches of local members in all East London constituencies.

„On this occasion Socialists, Communists, and Jews openly organised, not only to attack the meetings but to close the streets of London by violence to members of the public proceeding to these legitimate meetings. The Government has taken no action against the organisers of this violence and illegality. On the contrary, it has banned the march and meetings of the British Union. Under the Present Government, therefore, free speech can be prevented by anyone who cares to organise violence against it in defiance of the law but with impunity from the Government.“

This statement was issued by Scotland Yard

A Fascist assembly was held in the East End to-day and, largely owing to one of the finest days of the year, many people were attracted to it, including a large number of women and children. Prior to the arrival of Sir Oswald Mosley disorder broke out among those who had collected to oppose the Fascist march and resulted in a number of arrests. In view of the very large crowed the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis decided that the procession through the East End should not be permitted, owing to the great likelihood of further breaches of the peace. The Fascist procession therefore was escorted to the Temple Station, where it dispersed. A portion of it reformed and caused minor disorders in Trafalgar Square and the Strand.

Both the Communists and the Fascists held meeting in the East End of London last night. There was a Communist demonstration at Shoreditch Town Hall, while the Blackshirts held an open-air meeting in a street a short distance away.

Shoreditch Town Hall was packed, and loud-speakers had to be erected in Hoxton Square so that the speeches could be heard by an overflow crowed. The Town Hall doors were guarded by a strong force of police, and the crowed in Hoxton Square was almost entirely surrounded by uniformed constables, while in several side streets were omnibuses which had carried contingents of police to the district.

The Fascist meeting was surrounded by a strong force of police, and when the meeting ended the Blackshirts were escorted by the police to their headquarters in Shoreditch. Throughout the evening the streets were crowded.

This statement was issued by the Mayor of Stepney

The Mayor of Stepney (Councillor Mrs. H. Roberts) watched the Limehouse meeting from the balcony of the Limehouse Town Hall. She said later to a representative of the East London Advertiser:-

„I have never seen the people of the East End so thoroughly roused and angry during the whole of my long experience. I understand that many have been hurt, and cannot but think that all this could have been avoided had the Home Office and the Commissioner of Police done before the, march what they were compelled to do during the march. Masses of police from: A, L, R, N, W, and D Divisions have been drafted in, some coming in bus loads. The coming and going of police, mounted and on foot, ambulances and even fire engines, made one wonder whether the Borough was in a state of war. I must say that the behaviour of the police, as far as I have seen it, has been extremely good. From my point of vantage at Limehouse Town Hall overlooking Salmons Lane, I could see that the people were extremely good humoured. Two speakers kept Mosley’s platform for some hours. Though I knew at 6 o’clock that the procession had been abandoned, the speakers were apparently unaware of this fact because they continued to keep the fort for the general who did not arrive. Eventually a good natured rush by the crowd compelled the speakers to leave and they were escorted away by numerous policemen.

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