Once upon a time she was manhandled and arrested by British police in a peace protest. But now Helen Tristram, one of the Greenham Common heroines, lives quietly with her secrets in Raumati Beach.
I know all this because I’m her husband and saw some of it happen, says Editor Alan Tristram.
Helen was living quietly as a Surrey housewife with two young children when women in her local CND branch decided to join the protests at Greenham Common, in Berkshire in the UK.
The American master plan
It was the early 1980’s and the UK Governmenty had enthusiastically backed a crazed plan by the Americans to base nuclear-tipped Cruise missiles and their launchers at Greenham Common.
This was bad enough, but the Americans then planned to deploy the missiles on trucks which would drive on public roads to hide from the Russians in the English countryside.
It sounds like Dr Strangelove gone mad, but that’s the truth of it,
So Helen and other women from the Weybridge/Walton-on-Thames area organised regular trips in their cars and vans to camp outside the airbase with hudnreds of other Peace women from around Britain,and further afield.
Trying to halt the nuclear madness
Their aim: To publicise and stop the madness which could result in millions of families dying in a nuclear holocaust.
The authorities, police and Special Branch spies tried to make things as unpleasant as possible for the women.
They were confined to a narrow strip of berm running round the base — with no water supplies, no toilets and little protection from the wind and rain.
So they erected so-called ‘benders’, or small tents, to live in; brought in water and made their own toilet arrangements.
Some heroic women lived there for months. Others like Helen arrived for a weekend with food supplies and encouragement for the permanent protesters.
And every now and then thousands of CND supporters from all over the UK, and Europe, would stage a major demonstration.
They were regularly portrayed in the British rightwing media as a crowd of feminist, lesbian women trying to subvert ‘defence’ polices.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
These women, including Helen, deserve their place on an Honours Board for Peace.
( to be continued)