An account of the meeting at Earl’s Court, London in July 1939. From John Charnley, Blackshirts and Roses, Brockingday Publications, London, 1990, pp. 84-85

The Earl’s Court 1939 rally

British Union was now involved in a peace campaign and demands on me increased as we were pressed to make even greater efforts to avert war. In July 1939 our Campaign culminated in the largest indoor political meeting ever held anywhere in the world, at Earls Court, London.

It was, needless to say, the most spectacular political meeting I ever attended. There had been a rehearsal on the afternoon, Sunday July 16th, but it didn’t have any particular impact, since the hall was more or less empty except for a small number of stewards. The whole orchestration of the meeting was in the hands of John Hone, which is not generally realised.

I was positioned in the top gallery, and the atmosphere of the evening, as the time of the meeting approached, was intense. Proceedings opened with a fanfare of trumpets, followed by the pageantry of the British Union Drum Corps leading the massed flags and Honour Standards of hundreds of branches.

It was a huge hall, with a vast audience, most of whom were anti-war even if they were not all pro-Mosley. The people began to stand up and cheer.

The cry “Mosley... Mosley... Mosley... Mosley” echoed down the hall, rising up to the balcony in an ever-increasing crescendo of sound.

The suddenly the whole audience was on its feet. They clapped, they roared, they cheered. And Mosley hadn’t even arrived! When the standards stations were taken up at the front of the hall, there was absolute silence. The roll of drums and a searchlight drawn down the centre of the hall, and in the far distance you could see the figure in black.

The uniform had been abolished, but there stood Mosley in a dark suit, black shirt and tie. He marched down the centre aisle unescorted, and as he did so the cheers began to rise, developing and expanding until I thought the roof would come down! This was the man upon whom we had pinned our hopes, the man who could save our country and Empire, and lift our people from poverty and demoralisation to ever greater heights!

He made his way towards the most unusual plinth upon which he was to speak, a sort of boom projecting into the auditorium. The people were shouting and cheering, and just going mad. He raised his hand, and slowly... silence. Then he began. I think it was the finest speech he ever delivered. At many points he had to stop speaking because of the wave of applause.

Moseley’s great theme was peace, but he also addressed the other issues which had dominated his 7-year crusade in British Union, notably the power of international finance.

‘We have shown over and over again in infinite detail how the money and credit of the British people, created by the exertions of the British people and by no other force on earth, has been used for their own destruction in the equipment of the Orient with its sweated labour to undercut and to destroy the West; in order that usury, international usury, may draw its dividends and its interest by destroying the country of its origin through the equipment of our world-wide competitors against us. We have shown again and again how the British Empire, as well as the British people, the British industrialist and the British worker, has been relentlessly sacrificed to this international power; how the whole of our international trading system, how our conflicting party system, and our foreign policy above all, is maintained for one reason and for one reason alone – that the money power of the world may rule the British people and through them may rule mankind.’

A BUF rally in 1936. Crowds of up to 50,000 would attend to hear Mosley speak

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