Last reunion for war heroes who came home to fight the fascists

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They returned from war hailed as heroes. But the demobbed British Jews who won medals defeating Hitler were horrified to see fascist salutes on the streets of Britain.

Oswald Mosley, whose British Union of Fascists preached anti-Semitism before the war, was released from internment in 1946. His Blackshirts, dressed like Nazi stormtroopers, were revived. Jewish houses were daubed with the letters PJ – Perish Judah. Jews were beaten and taunted in the streets: “Not enough Jews were burned in Belsen.” Something had to be done.

In April 1946, 43 men and women – war heroes including Gerry Flamberg, who won the Military Medal at Arnhem, and Tommy Gould, a submariner who won the Victoria Cross – formed the 43 Group.

Morris Beckman, another founder member, now 88, explained. “The authorities were doing nothing; we were seeing newsreels of Auschwitz. We decided that as trained troops we would ‘out-fascist the fascists’.”

Last week, around 40 of the surviving street-fighters who fought British fascism to a standstill in a five-year guerrilla war held a last reunion to consider their achievements.

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