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Communist Party

72 hours before the Battle of Cable Street, local organisers of the party in East London  received these instructions from the party’s District Committee

“Let us have London white with chalked and whitewashed slogans – utilise every method of producing and distributing leaflets and rousing the workers to join in this big anti-fascist action. The agitation is being conducted under the following slogans:

‘Mosley is provoking civil war in East London’

‘Protest against Mosley’s military operations’

‘We want no Hitler torture or Franco brutality here’

‘End fascist hooliganism in East London’.”

Jewish Peoples Council Against Fascism and Antisemitism petition to Home Secretary

“We the undersigned Citizens of London view with grave concern the proposed march of the BUF upon East London. The avowed objective of the fascist movement in Great Britain is incitement to malice and hatred against a section of the population. It aims to destroy the friendship and goodwill that has existed for centuries among the East London population irrespective of differences in race and belief. We consider such incitement by a movement which employs flagrant distortion of truth and calumny and vilification as a direct and deliberate provocation. We make an earnest appeal to HM Secretary of State to prohibit this march and thus retain peaceful and amicable relations between all sections of the East London population.”

Fenner Brockway

Brockway was a leading figure in the Independent Labour Party. He relayed a message by phone to a government official to pass on to the Home Secretary during the protests on 4th October:

“There are a quarter of a million people here. They are peaceful and unarmed but they are determined that Mosley’s provocative march shall not pass. If you permit it yours will be the responsibility for the serious consequences.”

Aubrey Morris

Aubrey was a Labour League of Youth activist whose grandmother owned a beigel bakery in Cable Street.He helped to build the barricades

“When the first wave of mounted police arrived to clear the way, they were pelted from ground level with broken paving and cobble stones and from every window with missiles ranging from filled piss-pots to lumps of wood, rotten fruit and old bedding… the timely arrival of a large number of dockworkers from the surrounding area reinforced and helped sustain the resistance.”

Phil Piratin

Reflections after the Battle of Cable Street.

“In Stepney, nothing had changed physically. The poor houses, the mean streets, the ill-conditioned workshops were the same, but the people had changed. Their heads seemed to be held higher, and their shoulders were squarer – and the stories they told! Each one was a ‘hero’ – many of them were… the terror had lost its meaning. The people knew that fascism coudl be defeated if they organised themselves to do so.”

Joyce Rosenthal (Goodman)

“We never saw a fascist all that day. We never fought with the fascists. You were fighting the police. they were just hitting everyone. There were women going down under the horses hooves.”

Binnie Yankovitch (Yeates)

Five-year-old Binnie Yeates had a bird’s eye view of the action from her Sunday morning dance class on the top floor of Gardiners Corner. Binnie’s parents knew that an anti-fascist demonstration would take place that afternoon but assumed she would be safely home before then. However, Binnie and her friends were still dancing when the conflagration began:

“There was this incredible noise…[we] kids rushed to the window… The people were fighting the police… horses neighing and… rearing up… police hitting men with their truncheons… people shouting, running, throwing things, holding their heads with blood pouring down their faces. I never went back to dance class again.”