Stewards (paramilitary organization)
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The Stewards also informally referred to as Blackshirts were the paramilitary wing of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). They served a similar role as the Blackshirts of the National Fascist Party of Italy and also wore black uniforms. The Stewards were officially an organization of guards that were to protect Oswald Mosley and eject groups of hecklers from the audience of speeches by BUF officials. In practice the Stewards physically assaulted hecklers and political opponents with truncheons of rubber or lead.
Olympia, June 1934
During a gathering of 12,000 BUF members at Olympia on 7 June 1934, the Stewards violently counterattacked an anti-fascist attempt to disrupt a speech by Mosley. The savagery of the attack - Stewards used knives and knuckledusters - led to Lord Rothermere, the owner of the Daily Mail, to withdraw the support of his paper. The resulting poor publicity also led to a decline in BUF membership.
The Stewards were extremely violent towards those that were, or were suspected of disrespecting the BUF or Britain, such as in the case when during the singing of God Save the King, BUF supporter William Faulkner had bent down to attempt to pick up his young daughter to hold her at the eyeline level of other BUF supporters as she was too small to see what was happening with the other supporters standing, but the Stewards saw Faulkner as bending down out of disrespect to the anthem and responded by physically assaulting him, beating him until he was made unconscious.
- David Stephen Lewis. Illusions of grandeur: Mosley, fascism, and British society, 1931-81. Pp. 115-117.
- David Stephen Lewis. Illusions of grandeur: Mosley, fascism, and British society, 1931-81. Pp. 115-116.
- Exporting Fascism: Italian Fascists and Britain's Italians in the 1930s Claudia Baldoli p.42