Obituary – Walter Carr (1918 – 2015)
Walter was one of the few remaining nationalists who was active pre-War, with Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF). And like OM he was interned (under the second phase of Defence Regulation 18B) in May 1940 with over a thousand of his Blackshirt comrades.
After World War Two Walter again became active with OM in his post-war Union Movement (UM), and like many in the UM went into the League of St George in the early 1970s.
From the League Walter joined the National Front (NF) but only after John Kingsley Read (whom he did not like – to put it mildly!) had departed to form his rival National Party.
Walter (and his son Michael) soon got an active NF group going in and around the Worcestershire town of Kidderminster.
I was living in Worcester and joined the NF in September 1977 (shortly after the battle of Lewisham and the Ladywood by-election the month before). However there was no NF group (then) in Worcester, so I was invited by the neighbouring Kidderminster group to attend their monthly meeting.
This I did (with another YNF member and ex-school friend Ian Russell), and the rest as they say is history! The meeting was held at a traditional Banks pub – the Corn Exchange – just outside of “Kiddy” town centre.
As 17-year-olds going to our very first political meeting, both Ian and I were a bit apprehensive of who and what we might expect to find as we entered the pub! If memory serves me right, the first person we met as we entered the pub was Walter’s son Michael, who warmly greeted us and bought us a pint each of Banks bitter (we did not worry about all that pub ID stuff in those days! – If you looked 18 you got served, end of story).
As we entered the “Snug room” – where the meeting was being held, I met Walter Carr for the first time. He was the group’s local NF organiser, and must have been about 59 or 60 then (which at the time seemed ancient to me as a young lad of 17!).
A few weeks later I went on my first NF march which was in the Manchester/Stockport area (the same day as Webster staged his “one man march” through Hyde). I sat by Walter on the coach, and he (and his son Michael) took me under their wing(s) so to speak.
This was the first of many NF marches, demonstrations and rallies up and down the country that I would attend with Walter and Michael Carr, up until the 1979 General election (when I quit). I remember Walter buying a set of three or four sewn union jack flags, complete with brass flag poles, so that he and Michael could go in the flag party at the front of NF marches. When I asked him why he had gone to so much trouble and expense, he said that he had to, as “that as where you picked up all the internal (gossip) on what was really happening inside the NF leadership”!
I remember how shocked I (and many others) were, when travelling by coach to a march in London, Walter suddenly told us that Martin Webster was a “poof” (homosexual) and many other members in London were “queer”, and in fact the “queers” had taken control of two key branches (I think Wandsworth in the south and Islington in the north). To say that we were all flabbergasted would have been a massive understatement. I did not think we had any “poofs” in NF as we were meant to be anti-queer. How very wrong I was!
Even though we set up our own Worcester NF group in 1978, I worked quite closely with Walter and his Kidderminster NF group for the next couple of years. Unlike most branches and groups who held monthly meetings, Kidderminster NF held fortnightly meetings. These meetings very rarely had formal speakers, but even so they were still interesting and attracted a wide range of NF members (and other nationalists) from around the West Midlands – not just Worcestershire.
I later realised why. Walter would bring along all sorts of radical publications from both Britain (League Review, NS News and British Patriot) and the USA (The Thunderbolt, White Power and National Vanguard) – all by the way were proscribed by the NF’s (then) national activities organiser Martin Webster (who would have had a fit if he had seen them being sold there!). Walter would do a roaring trade out of his stocky brown briefcase that he would bring along to almost every meeting.
Myself and the other members of course bought copies of Spearhead and NF News, but Walter’s publications were a lot more interesting – and racist!
At the infamous 1979 General Election, Walters’s group stood two candidates – Albert Luckman in Kidderminster (1052 votes – 1.7%) and Capt. Ray Adshead (who later went on to be the BNP’s first West Midlands organiser) in Ludlow (354 votes 0.9%). For a small group this was an excellent effort, but I expect Walter put more than his fare share of pound notes towards the costs.
The general election was a disaster for the NF, who lost all their deposits in the 301 (or 303) seats they contested, and not long after the party split up into four or five factions. Walter left the NF and joined the faction based mainly in the Midlands, led by Anthony Reed Herbert. It was first called the British Peoples Party (BPP), but soon changed its name to the British Democratic Party (BDP), as Reed Herbert did not want his new moderate party tainted with a name linked to a pre-war “Fascist party” – although I doubt this would have bothered Walter!
The BDP did not last long, and after Reed Herbert was “outed” on a World in Action TV programme (selling/buying guns) – he fled to the Irish Republic, where he stayed for many years.
Walter got back in touch with his former leader John Tyndall, who by then had formed his own party the New National Front (NNF). Walter along with JT’s West Midland organiser Keith Axon organised a meeting to launch a Worcestershire NNF, which was held in the Corn Exchange pub (but this time in the much larger upstairs room).
If I remember right, eight of us went from Worcester – in two cars. The room was packed out and everyone seemed keen to get behind JT and the NNF. Like Walter I decided to join the NNF and give it go.
However, as any nationalist who was around in those days will tell you, it was bloody hard work even to keep what you had – let alone make any progress. A few months later the NNF merged with a few other nationalists and formed the British National Party (BNP).
From what I can remember it all started to go wrong after we attended the BNP’s “Support the Falklands” St George’s Day march in London in April 1982. The turnout was very poor – maybe only 300-400 turned up (however it would get a lot worse, with fewer than 100 turning out the following year). Walter’s son Michael and a few other Kiddy members refused to go on the march, due to its small size (remember they were use to attending marches of well over a thousand by the “old NF”) and that was it. There was a massive fall out between the local, regional, and national BNP leadership and Kiddy BNP ceased to exist from then on.
Walter had got tired – bored even – of British nationalist politics, and he joined Ben Klassen’s World Church of the Creator organisation – which was based in the USA. Walter flew out to North Carolina to meet Klassen and was ordained into his “church”. Back in England Walter ordered and distributed hundreds – maybe a thousand copies of Klassen’s books “White Man’s Bible and Nature’s Eternal Religion – many were sent unsolicited to ministers in the Church of England and priests in the Roman Catholic Church!
Walter also went out to Australia, where he had spent much of his boyhood. His parents had “sold up and moved out Down Under” in the mid-1920s for a better life. However, it never worked out that way and less than ten years later Walter was back in the UK. During his second trip to Australia he traced and found the land where he and his parents had lived: it was nothing really more than a few tin huts.
After the BNP won the Millwall by-election in east London in 1993, and both votes and membership started to go up again, Walter decided to have another go at British nationalist politics and rejoined the BNP.
During the June 1999 European Election campaign, Walter did what many called a “marathon loudspeaking tour” of parts of the three Euro constituencies. He and a BNP colleague covered many hundreds of miles, roving from Staffordshire all the way down to the M25 around London – and then back up again shouting “Vote BNP” and other slogans through a loud hailer!
However, not long after the election he fell out with both BNP leader John Tyndall and West Midlands organiser Keith Axon over internal financial matters. The matter could not be resolved and Walter walked away from the BNP.
It was not too long before he returned to the BNP though. After JT lost the leadership election to Nick Griffin in September 1999, lots of things inside the BNP changed. The new pro-Griffin leadership in the West Midlands, Steve and Sharon Edwards and Simon Darby ousted Keith Axon and the few remaining Tydallites. And not long after Walter returned and rejoined the BNP, now under the firm control of Nick Griffin.
It was financial problems within the BNP leadership that caused Walter to walk away from the BNP for the final time almost two years later in 2001. This time it was Nick Griffin himself who was at the centre of the scandal. Walter sided with Steve and Sharon Edwards, Mike Newland and others and quit the BNP in disgust.
I was on the “other side” then, and sided with Griffin. I remember Walter writing to me in America (I was chairman of the American Friends of the BNP then) and urging me to support the rebellion against Griffin. Foolishly I did not listen to Walter and even wrote him a rather stupid letter, stating why he was wrong for going against Griffin and why I was right for supporting Griffin! – Well you live and learn!
Thankfully a few years later (2005) I had the chance to apologize to Walter in person, at the very first JT memorial meeting (in Milton Keynes). I remember Walter referred to what went on at the meeting as “back-slapping”, where everybody said what a good fellow JT was and what great people were on the top table – “let’s all us congratulate ourselves!”
Anyway, Walter bought a copy of Heritage and Destiny from me at that meeting, and became a subscriber and good supporter of the magazine, right up until his dying day. He often sent me letters, press cuttings and he emailed me hordes of interesting links once he had got the hang of the internet!
He lived in his own house – by himself – in the small town of Powick – near Worcester, almost right up until the end of last year. However after coming out of hospital for the final time, he was deemed too unwell to look after himself. So his son Michael found him a lovely nursing home where he lived out his final months.
I really don’t know that much about Walter’s long life – 97 years in total. So if any H&D reader can help me fill me in on some of the many large gaps, so a better and much fuller obituary can be published in a future issue of H&D (hard-copy version) it would be very much appreciated. Also does anybody have photos of Walter which they could lend me?
Editor/Publisher – Heritage and Destiny