Remembering Greenham Women – #IWD2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day we are remembering the women of Greenham Common.

During LGBT+ History Month we were scouring our archives and came across a recording by a former Pinkie about the great work of the Greenham women. We thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate International Women’s Day.

It all started in 1981 with a march to RAF Greenham Common by a group of men and woman to protest against the decision to deploy US Cruise Missiles on British soil at the airbase and people stayed. It soon became “women only” with some women staying for many years. The base was surrounded by a nine-mile fence and the groups of women camped outside the various gates into and out of the base which were re-named after the colours of the rainbow (eg “blue gate” “orange gate” etc).

“I wrote this song to celebrate and recognise the triumph of the Greenham women who stayed for years. Despite of the intimidation, the bad press, the bullying and sometimes even suffering violence against them, they didn’t give up and they didn’t go home till the missiles were removed. These were brave women who came from all walks of life but a large majority of them were feminists and lesbians. It’s part of our woman’s history…. we must not forget.!!”
Rosa MacCormack (former pinkie)

The Greenham Newsletter, Winter ’87-’88.

Some, but by no means all of the woman there were lesbians and homophobia was very common in the popular press in the 1980’s. There was a strong feminist aspect to the camp which was influenced by the Suffragettes. Conditions at the camp were very basic. Woman created  a safe space where they could get involved in non-violent direct action. The women were however subject to abuse by some of the local residents and  evictions by bailiffs.  Many were arrested and several served prison sentences.

One of the most famous episodes was when 30,000 woman held hands around the base and another when a group danced on the silos! 

It was an important protest and the Cruise missiles were eventually removed. The Common has now been restored to the public and the efforts of the many women who protested and camped in the 1980s were an important factor in that. The women have been compared to “Extinction Rebellion” and many were profoundly affected by the Peace Camp. 

In the words of Rosa’s song:

Greenham woman don’t you go home, Greenham woman you’ve been there too long, Greenham woman in the danger zone, Greenham woman stands alone.. oh no.

They tried so hard to get their voices heard, tried so hard but no one hears a word.

The bombs, the guns, the soldiers and war games, and the politicians do this in our names.

Greenham woman don’t you go home….

Soldiers burst into their tents at night, A helicopter searches with a light.

Women climb the fence to get around and the soldiers come and knock them to the ground.

Greenham woman don’t you go home…. 

Children are the future of our world, they need a safe and loving home, they need a planet they can call their own so their mothers will not leave them without hope.

Greenham woman don’t you go home…. 

Standing on the frontline for peace, standing firm and standing fearlessly, soldiers try to scare them all away.. but while the bombs are there, the woman stay.

Greenham woman don’t you go home…. 

People demonstrating for world peace, come and join us stand defiantly, to stop the arms race stop the bloody war, to stand and shout we ain’t gonna take no more.

Greenham woman don’t you go home….