Charles Bentinck Budd was born in Godstone, Surrey, on 16th August 1897. His father, Harry Bentinck Budd, had inherited a large fortune, but this had virtually disappeared by this time and his drunken behaviour had persuaded his mother to emigrate to Australia, leaving her son with an abusive father. (1)
At the age of sixteen he joined the Junior Division of an Officer's Training Corps in Salisbury. On the outbreak of the First World War he lied about his age to become a member of the 5th Dragoon Guards at the age of 16. (2)
He fought on the Western Front and was eventually commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal East Kent regiment. At the Battle of Loos in 1915 he was badly injured when he was hit by three machine-gun bullets, one of which lodged in his brain. Budd was invalided home with a silver plate in his skull and a severe disability pension. The secret files kept on Budd by the intelligence services suggested that this wound might have been responsible for his "unstable mental state". (3)
Charles Budd suffered paralysis of his right hand for the rest of his life. He also had intermittent bouts of blinding headaches and occasional loss of memory and found reading difficult. In 1918 he returned to France as an Acting Captain in the Labour Corps and was involved in the repair and maintenance of highways and bridges.
A strong opponent of the Russian Revolution he attempted to enlist in the White Army fighting the Red Army in Russia. When he was rejected on health grounds, he joined the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, serving in Dublin. In 1921 he formed a company producing pressed steel. When this ended in failure he moved to Italy where he exported flowers to Britain. While in Italy he witnessed Benito Mussolini gaining power. In 1925 the British government commissioned Budd to write a report on the regime. (4)
In 1926 Budd moved to Worthing and lived at Greenville House in Grove Road. Budd was elected Vice President of the local branch of the British Legion. Shortly afterwards, on 31st March 1930, Budd, standing as an Independent, where he defeated a long-established Conservative councillor to the Offington Ward of the West Sussex County Council. (5) The new member showed great impatience with his fellow councillors and attacked the local council for not doing more for the unemployed. "On one occasion, when councillors were discussing road safety, he declared that all speeding restrictions should be abolished; why, he reasoned, should the young slow down for the old?" (6)
Budd also used the local newspaper, The Worthing Herald, to attack what he called "Red-hot Jazz", a new form of music from the United States. Budd expressed his racist views by describing it as "jungle music". (7) He also made an attack on the "moral character" of Arthur Vivian Stewart, a local councillor and a nurseryman of Westover Road, took Budd to court and in October, 1930, was awarded £1,000 damages for slander. (8)
Budd's biographer, Michael Payne, claims that he was described by various people as "dislikable, vain, excitable, prone to wild talk, unstable and with a mental outlook bordering on the pathological. All agreed, however, that his military bearing, coupled with his general appearance - he stood at six feet, with dark brown hair and moustache, and piercing blue eyes - belied his psychological problems and endowed him with charismatic force." (9)
At an election meeting in Broadwater on 16th October 1933, Charles Bentinck Budd revealed he had recently met Sir Oswald Mosley and had been convinced by his political arguments and was now a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Budd added that if he was elected to the local council "you will probably see me walking about in a black shirt". (10)
Budd won the contest and the national press reported that Worthing was the first town in the country to elect a Fascist councillor. Worthing was now described as the "Munich of the South". Mosley now announced that Budd was the BUF Administration Officer for Sussex. Budd also caused uproar by wearing his black shirt to council meetings. (11)
On Friday 1st December 1933, the BUF held its first public meeting in Worthing in the Old Town Hall. According to one source: "It was crowded to capacity, with the several rows of seats normally reserved for municipal dignitaries and magistrates now occupied by forbidding, youthful men arrived in black Fascist uniforms, in company with several equally young women dressed in black blouses and grey skirts." (12)
The Labour Party in Worthing was very angry about the election of Budd and they passed a resolution with a view to forming a united opposition movement of the "liberal and democratic bodies of the town to meet on a common platform to combat the menace of Fascism". It was agreed to distribute anti-Fascist literature and propaganda and to link up with kindred organisations in order to form a nationwide front against Fascism." (13)
Frederick Clements organised a debate about fascism at the Worthing Christian Literary Institute on 3rd January, 1934. The speakers were Roy Nicholls, the chairman of the Young Socialist and W. J. Alfred, of the British Union of Fascists. Alfred argued that whether you like it or not, you will have fascism, for it is the next step in the social evolution to which you must come in your march of progress." (14)
Nicholas discussed the Fascist experiment in Italy and quoted figures that showed that the Italian workers were not being protected under the new regime. He argued that "Fascism is terrorism... Hitler believes in a narrow nationalistic spirit, and that means war". He pointed out that in fascist Italy, workers About a third of the people in the hall were fascists and constantly heckled Nicholls. Clements commented: "sought to make up their deficiencies of intellect by an excess of lung power." (15)
On 4th January, 1934, Budd reported that over 150 people in Worthing had joined the British Union of Fascists. Some of the new members were former communists but the greatest intake had come from increasingly disaffected Conservatives. The Weekly Fascist News described the growth in membership as "phenomenal" as a few months ago members could be counted on one's fingers, and now "hundreds of young men and women -.together with the many leading citizens of the town - now participated in its activities". (16)
A debate took place in January between Roy Nicholls a "Young Socialist" and a "Young Fascist" surnamed Alfred on the merits of fascism. The W reported that it was unimpressed the representative of the BUF: "Blackshirts always thunder - on the principle, apparently that if you say a thing often enough and lousy enough, people will believe it". On the other hand "the Socialists as a whole were extremely well-behaved". However, Nicholls had his faults: "Worthing's publicity seeking young socialist reminded me at times of a young rabbit, faced by the discerning eye of a hungry lion, who in the shape of Blackshirt Alfred made a consistent attack upon the noisy loquaciousness of his foe." (17)
Charles Budd also announced that local communists had broken into his offices at 27 Marine Parade and stolen 96 BUF badges, together with cigarettes and £2.2s.8d in cash. However, soon afterwards the police arrested Cyril Mitchell of 16 Leigh Road, Broadwater. Mitchell, who admitted the offence, was in fact a young Blackshirt, who had broken into the offices after a night out in the pub. He told the police, "something came over me… I had too much beer". (18)
On 26th January, 1934, Budd and William Joyce, the deputy leader of the BUF, addressed a public meeting at the Worthing Pavilion Theatre. Over 900 people turned up to hear the men speak. As the audience went into the theatre, they were handed anti-fascist leaflets by Worthing Labour Party. There was some heckling by opponents of Joyce in the auditorium as Blackshirt stewards lurked menacingly in the background. (19)
Joyce said the objectives of the BUF included world peace, a classless society, abolition of the House of Lords to be replaced by a senate, a shorter working day and better education. In his speech Joyce claimed that the Conservative Party was riddled with snobbery and the Labour Party preached a doctrine of class hatred. This would change under Fascism where a perfect society would emerge in which class prejudice would cease to exist. Joyce pledged to free British industry from foreigners, "be they Hebrew or any other form of alien." He added: "The English are great people but they are lacking a leader." Joyce ended his two-hour speech with: "Reclaim what is your own in the fullness of Fascist victory!" (20)
The following week Budd took out an advertisement in the Worthing Gazette: "You have heard Professor Joyce on Fascism - Now Join. Fascism means: Freedom from class war. Assurance of fair play. Safety from exploitation. Continuity of responsible government. Individual freedom. Security of national defence. Modern progress: Apply BUF, 27 Marine Parade, Worthing." (21)
The mayor of Worthing, Harry Duffield, the leader of the Conservative Party in the town, was most favourably impressed with the Blackshirts and congratulated them on the disciplined way they had marched through the streets of Worthing. He reported that employers in the town had written to him giving their support for the British Union of Fascists. They had "no objection to their employees wearing the black shirt even at work; and such public spirited action on their part was much appreciated." (22)
A Worthing Anti-Fascist Committee was established in the town. John Robert Peryer, of Allendyne, 24 Offington Gardens, a maths teacher at the Worthing High School for Boys (WHSB) became one of the leaders of the group. Also involved was Charles Barber, Worthing's first Labour councillor, and his wife, Marion Barber. They also established the International Friendship League, an organisation attempting to "foster peace and harmony between groups of young people from a spectrum of European nations." Peryer's parents were themselves refugees and along with his wife Harriet Peryer, spent their adult life in promoting international friendship. (23)
Charles Bentinck Budd gave an interview to the Worthing Journal, in November, 1933. "Fascism is the one thing that will save this country from the trouble for which it is heading! When I was put in charge of this area I was given to understand that I would find things slow in West Sussex; but now I find that people very eager and interested in our movement." (24)
Budd established branches of the BUF in Chichester, Bognor, Littlehampton, Burgess Hill, Rustington, Horsham, Petworth and Selsey. One of its most active members was John Sidney Crosland, the son of James Louis Crosland, the Vicar of Rustington, who also attended meetings. Crosland sold copies of the Blackshirt from the corner of Beach Road in Littlehampton and by early 1934 was selling 110 copies a week. Another active member was Jorian Jenks, a farmer from Angmering. (25)
It was arranged for Sir Oswald Mosley and William Joyce to address a meeting at the Worthing Pavilion Theatre on 9th October, 1934. The British Union of Fascists covered the town with posters with the words "Mosley Speaks", but during the night someone had altered the posters to read "Gasbag Mosley Speaks Tripe". It was later discovered that this had been done by Roy Nicholls, the chairman of the Young Socialists. (26)
The venue was packed with fascist supporters from Sussex. Surprisingly they were willing to pay between 1s.6d and 7s. for their tickets. According to Michael Payne: "Finally the curtain rose to reveal Sir Oswald himself standing alone on the stage. Clad entirely in black, the great silver belt buckle gleaming, the right arm raised in the Fascist salute, he was spell-bindingly illuminated in the hushed, almost reverential atmosphere by the glare of spotlights from right, left and centre. A forest of black-sleeved arms immediately shot up to hail him." (27)
The meeting was disrupted when a few hecklers were ejected by hefty East End bouncers. Mosley, however, continued his speech undaunted, telling his audience that Britain's enemies would have to be deported: "We were assaulted by the vilest mob you ever saw in the streets of London - little East End Jews, straight from Poland. Are you really going to blame us for throwing them out?" (28)
At the close of proceedings Mosley and Joyce, accompanied by a large body of blackshirts, marched along the Esplanade.They were protected by all nineteen available members of the Borough's police force. The crowd of protesters, estimated as around 2,000 people, attempted to block their path. A ninety-six-year-old woman, Doreen Hodgkins, was struck on the head by a Blackshirt before being escorted away. When the Blackshirts retreated inside, the crowd began to chant: "Poor old Mosley's got the wind up!" (29)
The Fascists went into Montague Street in an attempt to get to their headquarters in Anne Street. The author of Storm Tide: Worthing 1933-1939 (2008) has pointed out: "Sir Oswald, clearly out of countenance and feeling menaced, at once ordered his tough, battle-hardened bodyguards - all of imposing physique and, like their leader, towering over the policemen on duty - to close ranks and adopt their fighting stance which, unsurprisingly, as all were trained boxers, had been modelled on, and closely resembled, that of a prize fighter." (30)
Superintendent Clement Bristow later claimed that a crowd of about 400 people attempted to stop the Blackshirts from getting to their headquarters. Francis Skilton, a solicitor's clerk who had left his home at 30 Normandy Road to post a letter at the Central Post Office in Chapel Road, and got caught up in the fighting. A witness, John Birts, later told the police that Skilton had been "savagely attacked by at least three Blackshirts." (31)
According to The Evening Argus: "The fascists fought their way to Mitchell's Cafe and barricaded themselves inside as opponents smashed windows and threw tomatoes. As midnight loomed, they broke out and marched along South Street to Warwick Street. One woman bystander was punched in the face in what witnesses described as 'guerrilla warfare'. There were casualties on both sides as a 'seething, struggling mass of howling people' became engaged in running battles. People in nightclothes watched in amazement from bedroom windows overlooking the scene." (32)
The next day the police arrested Charles Budd, Oswald Mosley, William Joyce and Bernard Mullans and accused them of "with others unknown they did riotously assemble together against the peace". The court case took place on 14th November 1934. Charles Budd claimed that he telephoned the police three times on the day of the rally to warn them that he believed "trouble" had been planned for the event. A member of the Anti-Fascist New World Fellowship had told him that "we'll get you tonight". Budd had pleaded for police protection but only four men had turned up that night. He argued that there had been a conspiracy against the BUF that involved both the police and the Town Council.
Several witnesses gave evidence in favour of the BUF members. Eric Redwood - a barrister from Chiddingfield, that the trouble was caused by a gang of "trouble-seeking roughs" and that Budd, Mosley, Joyce and Mullans "acted with admirable restraint". Herbert Tuffnell, a retired District Commissioner of Uganda, also claimed that it was the anti-fascists who started the fighting. (33)
Joyce, in evidence, said that "any suggestion that they came down to Worthing to beat up the crowd was ridiculous in the highest degree. They were menaced and insulted by people in the crowd." Mullans claimed that told an anti-fascist demonstrator that he "should be ashamed for using insulting language in the presence of women". The man then hit in the eye and he retaliated by punching the man in the mouth. (34)
John Flowers, the prosecuting council told the jury that "if you come to the conclusion that there was an organised opposition by roughs and communists and others against the Fascists... that this brought about the violence and that the defendants and their followers were protecting themselves against violence, it will not be my duty to ask you to find them guilty." The jury agreed and all the men were found not guilty. (35)
Late on New Year's Eve, 1934, Budd returned home to discover his wife and son had left him. A fellow fascist officer from Lancing informed Budd that she gone off with Harry Jones, a blackshirt from Horsham. Budd found Jones and producing a revolver, threatened to shoot him if he refused to reveal her whereabouts. A petrified Jones did so, and Budd warned him that if he "interfered between himself and his wife again" he would be killed. Jones reported the incident to the police and on 4th January, 1935 appeared before Horsham Magistrates Court. (36)
A local newspaper reported that Jones told the court: "About five weeks ago he was told there were differences between Budd and his wife. He saw Budd and his wife, and offered to act as mediator. Budd said he would not have anybody interfering with his private affairs. Mrs Budd had left her husband, but (Jones) was not at liberty to disclose where she had gone. Mr Jones told of occasions when he said he was threatened by Budd because he could not disclose Mrs Budd's address. On December 31, he said, he went with Budd in his car to the Old Forge House, Lancing. When they were inside a room Budd closed the door, and producing a revolver, said: "If you don't get my wife's address now, I will take you to a shed and shoot you like a dog... You are a disgrace to Fascism, and if it costs every penny I have, I will follow you to the end of the world, and get you in the end."
Budd, in the witness-box, denied using any threat. According to the newspaper report: "He (Budd) learned from Jones on December 19 that Mrs Budd had rung up Jones on the telephone from London. He heard Jones had been to London to see her, but Jones refused to disclose her address. Budd said he did not threaten Jones, but pointed out to him that he had been mixed up in other people's private affairs, in one of which he was beaten up by one of the men concerned. He (Budd) told him that if he interfered with his affairs he would probably get similar treatment." The case was dismissed through lack of evidence. (37)
The monthly Worthing Journal was more hostile to Budd and the British Union of Fascists than most of the town's newspapers. In March 1935, it reported with pleasure the resignation of Superintendent Clement Bristow. It was seen by many as a consequence of his apparent sympathy for the fascist cause, for in court he had described fascists in the town as "very nice Worthing people". (38) A few months later it reported: "Fascism has come to Worthing, but Worthing has shown through its accredited representatives that it is not yet ready to submit to a Dictatorship." (39)
Charles Bentinck Budd continued to get support for the British Union of Fascists in the town. Lionel J. Redgrave Cripps, the Worthing architect, and his wife, spent three months in Nazi Germany in the summer of 1935. He commented that they were "simply amazed at the wonderful progress that has been made since we were last there five years ago." Cripps argued that "despondency and despair had been replaced by optimism, efficiency, unity, amazing energy and bursting vitality; the whole nation seemingly inspired with a new and great ideal in which all classes seemed genuinely to believe with the intensity of a religious fervour." (40)
Redgrave Cripps, was especially impressed with Hitler's Strength Through Joy programme. It was established as a subsidiary of the German Labour Front (DAF) on 27th November, 1933. It was an attempt to organize workers' leisure time rather than allow them to organize it for themselves, and therefore enable leisure to serve the interests of the government. Robert Ley, the leader of DAF, claimed that "workers were to gain strength for their work by experiencing joy in their leisure". (41)
In a letter to the Worthing Herald, Redgrave Cripps, argued: "The essentially constructive work done by Hitler in Germany during the very short period he has been in power is little short of miraculous. There is for instance, more practical Socialism for the actual workers and actually accomplished in Hitler's Strength Through Joy movement than anything that our English Labour Party has ever even dreamt of, let alone done. Also Hitler's wonderful new motorways are years ahead of our efforts in this direction. I only wish all my fellow countrymen in England could come here and see these wonderful constructive works for themselves... Germany today is a nation of young realists who believe in action rather than talk." (42)
R. G. Martin, the headmaster of Worthing High School for Boys, had originally been critical of the Budd's attempts to form a branch of the BUF in the town. At the annual dinner of the Old Azurian's Association, he said that he did not expect former pupils to join as they had "cold common sense among those who had the best education the town could offer." However, in August 1935, he controversially took a school party to Nazi Germany with their production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night . On their return, Max Fuller, the head of WHSB's Dramatic Society, reported that in Germany "Hitler is looked upon as the saviour of the country." (43)
The following year Martin invited 17 members of the Hitler Youth to visit Worthing High School for Boys. They arrived in April 1936. (44) Martin commented that the German boys were a "sturdy lot and are far more burly than their English counterparts". That afternoon they put on a display of gymnastics that Martin described as "stunning". Although he added their imposing physiques they lacked, the suppleness of his boys. (45)
The local historian, Freddie Feest, argues: "It has since been well documented that there were ulterior motives for most such visits and that German youth with strong Nazi-influenced motivation were surreptitiously – though with various degrees of success and reliability – collecting information, documents and photographs during their tours that might prove invaluable when the time came for Nazi forces to carry out an invasion of that country." Feest suspects that the visit was arranged because members of staff were sympathetic to fascism: "So, had R. G. Martin been duped by the Nazi propaganda machine into believing such a visit was merely culturally inspired? Possibly. Certainly, according to several former pupils, their headmaster and at least one other teacher involved with the trip to Germany were greatly impressed by and demonstrably sympathetic to many of the Nazi ideals projected during the two-way visits." (46)
Charles Bentinck Budd was not a successful Administration Officer for the British Union of Fascists in Sussex. He argued with most of the senior officers in the organisation. One report suggested "Budd's amazing unpopularity in that town (Worthing), more members have left the Movement than are currently in the Branch." On 27th November 1935, having divorced his wife, Budd resigned his position in Sussex and moved to Birmingham. On 22nd June 1936, he was appointed BUF Inspecting Officer for the Midlands Area. A few months later he became the BUF Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Ladywood, Birmingham. (47)
Worthing Journal kept up its attack on the BUP in the town. This included the policies of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. It claimed that the whole nation was in thrall to the "swastika... without which the Nazis seem unable to march, salute or shout." (48) One unnamed fascist sent in a threatening letter: "Kindly refrain in future from writing your filthy remarks and opinions in the Worthing Journal. It is quite time for such feeble minded scrawling to cease. The first step towards improving Worthing would be the extermination of people like you." (49)
Oswald Mosley returned to Worthing in November 1938. He claimed that he had received just as much persecution in England as the Jews had in Germany. Worthing Journal responded: "Mosley tried to make us believe that the treatment which he received in Liverpool, London and evening Worthing was as bad. If this is the case, Mosley is indeed a brave man. I did not realise that he had been chased down streets by howling mobs of lunatics, beating him and scrounging him as he went; that he had been spat on, trampled on, had all his property confiscated and then been sent to a concentration camp." (50)
In the spring of 1938 Budd visited Worthing and at the BUF's offices he met Enid Gertrude Baker, a prominent, zealous Fascist who lived at St Elmo in Goring Road. Within a few weeks she became his mistress. In public he referred to her as his secretary. (51) In July she visited Nazi Germany and wrote back to Budd that: "I am having a very interesting holiday and Deutchsland is a great country - the SS uniforms are just like ours." (52) Later that holiday she wrote that during a big parade Adolf Hitler "passed me twice" and she also saw Joseph Goebbels in his car. (53)
Budd fell out with Mosley over the role of women, who he believed should have the same rights as men within the movement. In 1939 he resigned from the British Union of Fascists and applied to join his old regiment. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War he was appointed Adjutant of the 44th Counties Division of the Royal Engineers, at its office in Brighton. (54) Budd claimed that he left the BUF on the outbreak of the Second World War. (55)
In May 1940 Winston Churchill became prime minister, and warned that a German invasion was imminent and announced the imposition of Defence Regulation 18B. This legislation, passed on 22nd May, gave the Home Secretary the right to imprison without trial anybody he believed likely to "endanger the safety of the realm". Over the next few weeks 1,769 British subjects were interned of whom 763 had been members of the British Union of Fascists. (56)
Of the 800 fascists British fascists arrested over 600 came from Sussex. (57) This included Charles Bentinck Budd, John Sidney Crosland, and Jorian Jenks. George Chubb, John Francis and Leslie Standing were others living in Worthing who were arrested. Doris Conley, the BUF's women's team leader, was also arrested and sentenced to six months' imprisonment for sending letters to a soldier urging him to desert. (58)
While in prison Budd's house in Grove Road was damaged during a German air raid. In May 1941, lawyers acting for Budd applied for a writ of habeas corpus at the King's Bench, claiming that he had been unlawfully detained under the Defence Regulations; they also raised the fact that he had volunteered to join his old regiment, and had been accepted. Budd claimed that, whatever his past political views, he was a patriot, ready and willing to fight for his country. The court found in his favour but in less than two weeks later he was re-arrested. Again he appealed, but this time without success. (59)
In June 1943, Budd sued two members of the government, Sir John Anderson and Herbert Morrison, for damages. According to one newspaper report: "Complaint that a former county councillor was put into a bug-infested cell at Brixton Prison, kept in solitary confinement, and paraded in public at railway stations under armed guard". Budd claimed this was unfair as ceased activities as a B.U.F. organiser in March, 1937. Budd lost his case. (60)
Oswald Mosley was released in November, 1943, but it was not until the following summer that Budd came out of prison. Although he was 46 years old, he applied to rejoin his old regiment but was refused. He married Enid Gertrude Baker after the war. By 1952 he was living at Wellings Farm near Ashurst and it was not until 1954 that MI5 decided he was no longer worth monitoring. He had been under surveillance for a total of 21 years. (61)
Charles Bentinck Budd died in Eastbourne on 8th April, 1967.
Despite local hostility, the Fascist branch in Worthing was one of the most successful in the south of England, a fact that Captain Budd was keen to stress in an interview with the press: "Fascism is the one thing that will sage this country from the trouble for which it is heading! When I was put in charge of this area was given to understand that I would find things slow in West Sussex; but now I find the people very eager and interested in our movement." In recognition of the hard work being done in Worthing for the movement, it was arranged for Mosley to hold a Fascist rally at the Pavilion in Worthing on 9 October 1934. In the meantime Captain Budd was once again grabbing the local headlines. He stormed out of the Town Hall when other councillors refused to give him the committee places he desired. And he attacked the Council fur its police of banning the Fascists from holding open-air meetings on the site of the old fish market near the pier. He protested that the Salvation Army was allowed to hold meetings there, so why not the Fascists, but was bluntly told that this privilege was only extended to religious bodies.
The night of 9 October proved to be a desperate affair, one local newspaper describing the night's events as more akin to revolutionary Spain than one would usually expect in an English town. As Mosley addressed a carefully vetted audience in the Pavilion, an angry mob gathered outside. The meeting, stage-managed to the least detail, was disrupted when a small hand of intruders let off a number of squibs, and had to be ejected by hefty East End bouncers....
After the rally, Mosley, accompanied by William Joyce, left the Pavilion and, protected by a large body of blackshirts, crossed over the road to Barnes's cafe in the Arcade. Stones and rotten vegetables were soon crashing through the windows of the cafe. Boys were observed firing peashooters at the beleaguered Fascists, while some youths were taking aim with air rifles. Meanwhile a group of young men climbed onto the roof of the Arcade and dislodged a large piece of masonry, which plummeted to earth through the arcade, landing only feet away from the Fascist leader. Things were getting too hot for the Fascists, who made a run for it, up the Arcade into Montague Street, then into South Street. Their intention was presumably to reach either their headquarters in Ann Street, or The Fountain in South Street, known as a "Fascist pub", but they were ambushed on the corner of Warwick Street by local youths. Hearing the row, more Fascists hurried down from the Fountain to go to Mosley's aid. Fights broke out, bodies were slung against shop windows, and startled residents threw open their windows to see a seething mass of entangled bodies desperately struggling for control of the junction between South Street and Warwick Street. Only the arrival of a large force of police defused the situation. Several blackshirts were arrested and led away to the cheers of the crowd.
Mosley made two more public appearances in Worthing during the 1930s. On both occasions the police visited the houses of several local young men during the days before, confiscating catapults and air rifles. These meetings were, however, more low-key, and the Fascists never again tried to march en masse through the streets of the town. The antipathy felt towards the Fascists again manifested itself on 5 November 1934. During the previous days several Worthing boys and men known to be hostile to the Fascists had been waylaid at night and beaten up. Bonfire Night saw several cases of retaliation. At least one blackshirt was thrown in the sea, and others had to run the fiery gauntlet. Cars were stopped, and passengers scrutinised before being allowed to pass on. A group of nearly a thousand people gathered outside a hotel, where it was alleged a number of Fascist leaders were staying. A plentiful supply of squibs and crackers were thrown up at the windows, as the crowd howled its fury. Presently a window opened, and several buckets of cold water were showered down on the besieging party. The arrival of the police prevented an escalation of the disturbances, but not before Worthing had truly resurrected the spirit of Bonfire Nights past.
Superintendent Bristow's comment, quoted in the national press, that the Fascists were "just very nice Worthing people", caused a certain degree of embarrassment, and he retired from his post a few months later. Due to the perceived improvement in the law and order situation in the town, the police had not for some years been Issued with helmets, caps being considered quite adequate. From 1935-37 the police were reissued with helmets. Bonfire Night remained a problem, and after the war became extremely disorderly, culminating in a serious riot on the night of 5 November 1958, after which stringent measures were taken to suppress the wild excesses of the "Bonfire Boys" once and for all.
The case in which allegations of assault were made against members of the Fascist movement concluded at Brighton Police Court yesterday.
The defendants were Charles Henry Bentinck Budd, Grove Road, Broadwater, Worthing, and Kay Frederick and Frederick William Knowles, who gave the address of the British Fascist organisation, King's Road, Chelsea.
Frederick and Knowles were summoned on the allegation of assaulting Mr. Walter Faulkner, who was said to be chairman of Brighton branch of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. Budd answered a summons charging him with assaulting Mrs Jessie Stephens Faulkner.
The case was a sequel to a meeting held in the Dome, Brighton. Budd was found guilty of a technical offence, bound over for six months and ordered to pay three guineas costs.
Knowles was fined £3, with £2 costs, or twenty-one days. Frederick was found not guilty.
Still anxious to speak to the people of Worthing himself where, he had become convinced, his movement had built up a strong position, and he himself would receive a warm reception, Sir Oswald announced that he would address a meeting at the Pavilion on October 9. Prior to the event, those supporters who wished to meet him, briefly but privately, were invited to apply in writing to Captain Budd, who from amongst their number selected those with the most "serious and earnest enquiries to make." Also to be admitted into his presence were representatives of both the BUF Sussex and Hampshire HQs, who would use the occasion to present their leader with a portrait of himself embossed in relief on a bronze plaque.
"Hear Mosley at the Pavilion," ran the Fascist advertisement in the local press in heralding his forthcoming appearance, below which, in an accompanying box, was depicted a simple but striking line drawing in ink of the Fascist leader. In company with a score or so members of his Defence Force, he duly arrived from London in a black lorry, the windows of which had been covered in protective wire netting; but even though the vehicle also contained several so called "ambulance" men, who were regularly on hand at rallies to treat casualties, he was hardly expecting any serious trouble. However, in looking upon Worthing as a relatively safe and peaceful haven for himself and his followers, in contrast to the Socialist cauldrons of London and the industrial cities of the Midlands and North - a town, in fact, ever more receptive to, and supportive of, his Fascist creed - he was soon to be disabused of such a misguided notion. An inkling of what might transpire during his sojourn in the Borough might have been gathered from the sensational daubing of paint on the facade of the Town Hall, during the night prior to the meeting, of the slogans: "Damn Mosley! Fight Fascism! No more War;" or from the tarspattered Georgian facade of the BUF HQ on Marine Parade and the similarly besmirched crazy paving at the home of Captain Budd.
The following evening, as the meeting inside got under way, the crowd gathering outside the Pavilion grew steadily larger, with accompanying shouts and cat-calls, the sharp explosions of firecrackers and the whooshing of rockets; while more emboldened individuals hammered continuously on the bolted doors of the auditorium and on the iron supports of the Pier beneath it. But at this stage the kerfuffle appeared more akin to high-spiritedness than violent disturbance, with even the watchful black-shirted stewards generally Ignoring the commotion. To David Bernard Trent of Park Road, the whole affair seemed to be a joke on the part of the crowd - which, he further observed, was just as well, for at 7.30 p.m. lie could discern just four policemen in attendance. Posted by Superintendent Bristow, as far as these youthful looking 'Bristow Babies' were concerned, they were faced by a peaceful gathering simply letting off a few fireworks.
Within the Pavilion itself the meeting went off in an orderly enough manner - although hearing that the event might be stormy at least one lady arrived having taken the precaution of concealing a Life Preserver in her attire - for although the house was packed the audience was largely composed of Fascist supporters, including contingents from London and all parts of Sussex. Prior to the actual start, a file of black-bloused young women had formed up in the Foyer to hail the arrival of their leader, but prudently he had entered the theatre by means of the stage door at the rear. With less foresight his mother had entered by the front entrance where she had been startled by a fire cracker being thrown at her. Finally the curtain rose to reveal Sir Oswald himself standing alone on the stage. Clad entirely in black, his great silver belt buckle gleaming, his right arm raised in the Fascist salute, lie was spell-bindingly illuminated in the hushed, almost reverential atmosphere by the glare of spotlights from right, left and centre. A forest of black-sleeved arms immediately shot up to hail him, but finding himself completely blinded, the dramatic effect was immediately shattered by his opening words requesting that the centre beam be switched off..
Again the police intervened to restore order and with shouts, accusations and insults ringing in his ears Sir Oswald was enabled, in company with his mother and bodyguards, to reach Marine Parade. His immediate destination was Barnes Cafe, almost directly opposite, but before entering it he led his troops, attired in their heavy boots and riding breeches, fists clenched and elbows stuck out, in a defiantly ostentatious and provocative march around the adjacent South Street traffic island. Several tomatoes were thrown at them, but an easier target was provided by a group of Fascist women crossing Marine Parade at the same moment. One tomato struck the unfortunate Winifred Collins on her left eye, an experience which she afterwards described as "very squashy." Mary Hodges, on the other hand, was struck by the filthy and hostile language hurled at her by many of the onlookers; while her companion, Florence Spiers - herself hit on the head by a tomato - noted that the crowd was very far from being "the nice friendly one composed of old ladies and cripples" she had been led to expect.
Gathered at last in the comparative safety of the Cafe, which had been gained amid a cascade of fire crackers, nevertheless, from outside the Blackshirts continued to be subject to a barrage of taunts and threats, which included: "Come out Mosley and show yourself, or we'll come in and get you;" "Come out you dirty coward;" "Down with'em, kill'em;" together with the chant: "One, two, three, four, five, we want Mosley dead or alive." To avoid being struck by
tomatoes being thrown in at them, a number of which had already bespattered the waitresses, or wounded by pellets being fired from an air pistol by a youth of about sixteen from the Esplanade's balustrade, those inside the Cafe shut the windows: but as these began to be smashed by stones from the beach, Sir Oswald, following a hasty discussion with Joyce, ordered his second-in-command to create a diversion by leading his own fifteen or so bodyguards in a march up South Street to the branch HQ in Warwick Street.
As they left the Cafe, in company with a contingent of Fascist women and local supporters, they were indeed, as they had anticipated, immediately accompanied by a sizeable section of the crowd, which immediately broke into boos, shouted insults and chants of The Red Front. Both groups broke into a run, during which, in attempting to protect a Fascist woman, a Blackshirt, Mr. Chamberlain, was knocked violently to the ground. "Go home and wash your husband's shirt and cook his dinner," bellowed an incensed man at the equally dazed woman. On gaining the western entrance to Warwick Street, the Blackshirts found it blocked by a further, larger, and even more hostile group, many among which mockingly raised their arms in the Communist salute. Deciding to detour through Market Street, here, too, they found the roadway and pavements thronging with people, several of whom, spoiling for a fight, were only too eager to embroil themselves in brawls with the beleaguered Fascists. They were not to be disappointed, and as one hefty Blackshirt was sent sprawling into a shop doorway by punches from an equally robust "civilian," the battle of Market Street commenced. Immediately several bedroom windows were flung open as startled residents in their night attire peeped from behind curtains at the melee below in terror and amazement.
Meanwhile, just as Sir Oswald was preparing to slip away from the Cafe - before it could be further damaged and in order to quell the growing alarm of the proprietor and the several remaining women Fascists - word reached him of the dire predicament Joyce and his men were in. Darting out onto the pavement and breaking into a double, Sir Oswald and his cohort of bodyguards sped east along Marine Parade before turning left into Bedford Row and thence to the eastern entrance to Market Street where, with himself as the spearhead, they immediately charged from the rear the mob assailing Joyce's force. Caught completely off guard by this unforeseen sally - subsequently dubbed by the national press as the "Charge of the Black Brigade" - the crowd, faltering, began to break up and disperse, and within minutes the re-united and reassembled, bloodied but undaunted Blackshirts were able to turn their attention to the clearing of Warwick Street and the relief of their beleaguered HQ.
Here too the crowd was dense, numbering nearly four hundred - a situation Police Sergeant Heritage described as "very ugly" - and as the cavalcade of Blackshirts attempted to march back and forth, cries of "We'll give Mosley a hot time" and "Come on lads, get stuck into them" heralded the outbreak of further violence. Warwick Street - dubbed by the community the "Bond Street of Worthing" - was soon a seething, howling, mass of struggling bodies but in a series of powerful rushes, during which numerous people were knocked to the ground, thrown aside or sent thudding against shop windows, the hefty, disciplined Blackshirts finally began to cut swathes through, and break up, the unruly mob. But not before sustaining several casualties themselves, amongst whom was Sir Oswald, who in trying to gain the door of the HQ received a punch under his left eye and a second to the jaw; an action which spurred a gang of Brighton roughs to press toward him, only to be baulked by those Fascists gathered at the doorway hurrying to rally around their leader...
Robert Poore, meanwhile, an Italian Post Office messenger living at 26, Loder Gardens, when initially confronted himself by Black-shirted assailants, had pleaded with them that he "did not understand British;" to which came the sardonic reply that they did not understand Italian, a sarcasm followed by the delivery of several Weighty punches to his head. Sustaining severe facial cuts, he too was removed to hospital. Not one child was hurt, however, the police having had the foresight to order home any amongst the spectators long before any violence threatened. One boy disappointed not to have been present was nine-year-old Clifford Skeet, who had previously overheard his uncles Norman and Edin Williams, both members of the local Territorial "C" Company 4 Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, discussing at the room they shared at their mother's boarding house at 17 West Buildings how they intended to "sort the Blackshirts Out."
With the arrival of more and more police detachments drafted in from outside the Borough, by 11 p.m. the battle of Warwick Street, too, drew to a close. Now, with only sporadic boos and shouts being directed towards the Blackshirts the atmosphere among the crowd quietened - pierced only at one point by an enthusiastic cheer as Police Constables Ridge and Griffin escorted Bernard Mullens, a Chelsea Fascist, to the police station on suspicion of his having taken part in the assault on Robert Poore. There, nursing a damaged right hand himself, Mullens denied the charge, but nevertheless was remanded in custody for a week - unlike the assailant of Captain Budd who, despite the hitter's forceful demands that a charge of assault be made upon him, was merely cautioned to leave Warwick Street and return home.
At the same time a summons was issued against Sir Oswald for assaulting Jack Pritchard of 81 Ham Road, outside the Pavilion, although the Fascist leader protested that he had merely been protecting himself from a "violent rough" who had lunged forward and punched him on the left cheek bone. He had been pushed from behind, retorted Mr. Pritchard, had fallen forward, and it was then he had been thumped. To prevent a second punch he had caught hold of Sir Oswald's sleeve, but had then been the recipient of several more hefty blows from behind. He also denied the allegation levelled at him by Captain Budd that he had confided to a "certain man" that the police were using him as a "pawn in their game," or that if he had been in Sir Oswald's position himself he would have acted to protect himself in a like manner.