|ISSUE 51 SPRING 2006
- a real champaign moment
harry mister 1914-2006
Having a permanent slight limp,Harry was not required to prove himself a conscientious objector in the SecondWorldWar, and initially continued his chosen training in pharmacy. In 1941, however, his employers became involved in war work and Harry resigned – even though ‘they were such nice people’, as he recalled not long before his death.Humphrey Moore, who had stepped down in 1940 to make way for John Middleton Murry as editor of Peace News, and was now deputy editor, invited Harry to become circulation manager. In the face of withdrawal by commercial distributors and outlets from connection with what was seen to be a ‘’seditious’ paper, it was Harry’s genius to organise and enthuse a dedicated band of volunteers to sell PN on a thousand street corners around the country – and with 44,000 copies weekly at its high point, that was no mean feat.
At the same time Harry organised the distribution of PPU publications and developed a long series of Peace News monthly pamphlets. By the end of the war Harry conceived the idea, in conjunction with the essayist and dramatist Laurence Housman, of establishing a bookshop to promote the alternative new world of peace and co-operation which it was hoped would arise out of the ashes of war. Housman opened the shop named in his honour in October 1945, but Harry’s entrepreneurial ambition did not stop there. In 1948 he pioneered the idea of fundraising Christmas cards, under the trade name Endsleigh Cards – called after the street in which the PPU offices stood – and persuaded organisations such as Oxfam and Help the Aged to stock them. In 1954 Harry began publishing Housmans Peace Diary andWorld Peace Directory, now in its 53rd year as an indispensable tool for peace activists everywhere.
However, with the continuing rise of the nuclear disarmament movement, and the massaction Committee of 100 (Harry joining its first sit-down in February 1961) began to supersede DAC, tensions arose in the PPU as to concentration on a particular form of war rather than war itself. In April 1961 PN and Housmans parted from the PPU, much to Harry’s disappointment, because he had an abiding loyalty to both groups. Harry continued as business manager for PN and Housmans, but also served for many years on PPU Council. He saw no contradiction in PPU’s primary concern with the abolition of war and the service of PN and Housmans, although equally rooted in pacifism, to the wider peace movement. Peace also became a family concern, with Harry’s brother Alan serving as a PPU field worker, his wife Ivy working in Housmans, and his four children roped in to help in whatever way they could.
Harry retired from active involvement in Peace News in 1970, and from Housmans in 1980, but he continued as Company Secretary of the overarching organisation, Peace News Trustees Ltd, managing its properties (a second building was acquired in 1963 - later the home of CND and now of CAAT) and finances until his death.He was one of the last surviving links with the pioneering days of both the Peace Pledge Union and Peace News, but he has left behind a rich legacy of not only steadfast commitment to peace and nonviolence, but also of physical resources for the whole movement.
allen jackson 1918-2006
Allen Jackson,who died in February at the age of 87, devoted his life to the twin causes of education and peace. As a young conscientious objector in the SecondWorld War, he volunteered to be a ‘human guinea pig’ at the Sorby Institute, Sheffield,where Dr Kenneth Mellanby investigated the transmission of scabies (a prevalent disease in the crowded conditions of pre-war and wartime Britain), the most effective methods of healing minor wounds, and the effects of vitamin deficiency.One of the nurses employed to care for the voluntary patients became his wife Kathleen, and, as he said at her funeral three years ago,was to care for him for the rest of her life.Together, they became a partnership for peace as Kathleen played her own notable part in the Peace Pledge Union and the wider peace movement.
After the Second World War Allen and Kathleen lived for some years in the south west and became active in the Devon and Cornwall Area of the PPU, editing the local newsletter. Later they moved to London, and became joint wardens of Dick Sheppard House, the PPU headquarters, living in the basement flat (where a small annexe was built as a bedroom for their three small sons), supervising the needs of tenant organisations and arranging lettings of the meeting room.They also, of their own initiative, arranged regular evening discussion meetings on current issues to draw people into contact with the movement.
Allen served for many years on PPU Council, including three years as Chair.After finally settling inWelwyn Garden City, he and Kathleen became core members of the Welwyn Peace Group, organising many local activities, including a display about the PPU in the local library.
Having become a teacher almost by accident, and going on to be teacher of teachers, Allen was convinced that the core of education was preparation for life, and an essential component was education for peace.He therefore much encouraged the PPU’s own educational work.After retirement he developed a keen interest in photography, and especially delighted in recording photographically many peace events.