Walter Morrison Collection
Dates of Creation
1935 – 1990s
1 archive box.
Name of Creators
Level of Description
Walter Morrison, Glasgow ‘Eskimo’, community activist and former soldier who rejected war. Born 20 March 1924, died 6 February 6 2004
The milieu in which the anti-nuclear Scottish Committee of 100 flourished no longer exists, its activists having long since adopted other agendas. However, its brief flowering will always be associated with the dynamic figure of Walter Morrison, who seemingly at birth had signed up for life as a private extraordinaire in the awkward squad.
Morrison, who died in his eightieth year, fought courageously against the wrongs in society, proudly wore the badges of non-violence and libertarian socialism, and spoke his mind fearlessly no matter where he was or in whose company.
Angered by the Clydebank blitz in 1940, the 16-year-old Morrison lied about his age and joined the army. He wanted to fight fascism, but in less than a week, he found little difference between this enemy and the bullying attitudes and practices within the British army. From then on Morrison’s war was fought on two fronts. Considered a difficult case, he was shunted from the Royal Scots Guards to the Black Watch, then on to the Parachute Regiment. During a visit by King George VI, the king politely asked him how he was being treated, to which the good soldier Morrison replied: ‘Terrible.’ He was sent to India on the first available troop ship.
Morrison’s pacifism grew from his army experiences in India. During the Gandhi demonstrations in 1942, the troops were briefed that they would be facing women and children protesters. The 18-year-old asked what they would be expected to do if they refused to halt. ‘Open fire,’ was the curt answer. Walter promptly stood up and said he would be the first to open fire: he would personally shoot any soldier who turned their gun on a woman or a child, and he would then shoot the officer who gave the order. His feet scarcely touched the ground on the way to the glasshouse. Morrison was placed in solitary confinement and singled out for sadistic treatment. He told his superiors that unless the NCO responsible backed off, he would kill the next man who entered his cell. Morrison won the case but was racked with guilt over the moral quandary that he would have had to kill the first person — friend or enemy — who entered his cell. It was that incident which started him on his lifelong commitment to non-violence.
Although charged on a number of occasions with incitement to mutiny, he never faced a full court-martial; his sentences were always confinement to barracks, 30-days loss of pay or down gradement. He ended his army career and returned to Glasgow in 1946, without a war pension. (Walter’s army experiences are told in Peter Grafton’s book, ‘You, you and you — The people out of step with WWII) Pluto, 1981.)
The arrival of the US Polaris submarine fleet in the Holy Loch in 1960 turned Glasgow into ground zero for any Soviet pre-emptive nuclear missile strike. Morrison was involved from the start in the campaign to stop US Polaris missiles being based in the Holy Loch. He became a leading light of the Scottish Committee of 100 and was in the thick of all the demonstrations from the day the submarines arrived. A man of deeds as well as words, Morrison was drawn to the more libertarian and action-oriented Scottish Committee of 100, rather than the passive, celebrity-and-politician-dominated CND. The personal example Morrison set to others, coupled with his fame as a rebel, gave him considerable status among the young militants on the committee. My memories are of him standing single-handedly in Glasgow streets and at demonstrations around Scotland, surrounded by menacing and hostile opponents while arguing his case against the bomb. His tenacity and fortitude in going out in all weathers to demonstrate in the most hostile locations, often alone, was truly inspiring.
Protest was a family affair around the Morrison household. Walter’s wife, Agnes Lygate, whom he married in 1953, and neighbour in Govan, Eleanor Hinds, wife of writer Archie Hinds, both early feminists, were founders of Women Against the Bomb and Youth against the Bomb. Betty Campbell, his later partner was, his constant support in the Corkerhill Community Council to which Morrison dedicated his life from 1976 to 2002.
On one occasion Morrison was setting up his tent on the foreshore of the Holy Loch, near Ardnadam pier which serviced the Polaris submarines and their support ships — it being illegal to camp on the land — when he was called over by someone waving to him from a large American car by the roadside. In the rear of the car were three men who addressed him by name, two from the Ministry of Defence’s ‘Psychological Warfare Group’ in Dundee and the third an American of uncertain military or security provenance. They proceeded to warn Walter and his friends that they were out to get the so-called Scots Against War, a group who at the time were involved in publishing official secrets plus carrying out sabotage and other forms of direct action against military installations throughout Scotland. One of the MoD men pointed to the dark waters of the loch and told Walter that he was involved in a dangerous business and that it would be so easy for people like him to disappear, never to be found. Walter was a hard man, but this personal threat was something quite new and alarming to him.
A week after I was arrested in Spain in 1964, having been caught playing a part in a plot to assassinate the country’s dictator, General Franco, Morrison hitched-hiked from Glasgow to London to hold a fast and a picket the Spanish embassy — having first telephoned Scotland Yard to ask permission. No sooner had he settled down on the pavement when a police van drew up and four policemen jumped out, bundled him into the van and drove to an unidentified London police station. Instead of being charged and taken to the police cells, he was escorted to what seemed like a large gym hall where three men sat at a table, one in police uniform and the other two in civvies. Morrison was then aggressively questioned about his relationship with me, about the Committee of 100 and again about the Scots Against War group, who had recently set fire to Ardnadam pier in the Holy Loch. Walter was an old hand at being arrested and locked up, but the sinister and surreal events of that night shook him up so badly that he resigned for a time from the Scottish Committee of 100.
After the Committee of 100 petered out a few years later, Morrison and Betty Campbell became pivotal figures in the Corkerhill Community Council, campaigning for improved housing, safer roads, play parks and improved people integration. Walter and his team brought international recognition to Corkerhill, a tiny housing scheme on the south side of Glasgow with just 1,300 tenants. When it received a World Health Organisation award, the only community in the UK to qualify. When the award-winning community centre was closed after a long-running dispute with Glasgow City Council, Walter refused to bow out quietly, defiantly holding a flag-lowering ceremony as a final protest. On the last day, a large crowd turned out to see the flag of the WHO solemnly lowered over the centre. When the M77 carved through the south side of Glasgow, it was Corkerhill, led by Walter Morrison, who led the way organising resistance and winning major concessions. Corkerhill was also the very first community in Glasgow to house the Vietnamese Boat People.
In 1998 when Morrison was at Buckingham Palace being awarded an MBE for his services to the Corkerhill community, the Queen’s corgis had been running around the room unchecked and generally intimidating everyone. He said to HM: ‘You know, Ma’am, if those dugs ran around like that in Corkerhill where I come from, I’d shoot the lot of them.’ With a twinkle in his eye, of course. Stuart Christie
Scope and Content
Collection contains correspondence, administrative papers, statements from organisations including the Committee of 100, and publications.
System of Arrangement
Items are arranged according to their original order where possible.
Collected and held by Walter Morrison.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Appraisal, Destruction, Scheduling
Appraised according to the Spirit of Revolt appraisal policy.
Further accruals are expected.
Application for reproduction should be made to the Spirit of Revolt group.
Existence of Copies
No known copies.
Descriptive list available at Glasgow City Archives and on the Spirit of Revolt website.
No known publications.
Other Spirit of Revolt (Ref: T/SOR) collections held at Glasgow City Archives.
Date(s) of Description
Compiled by Christopher Cassells (Project Archivist), April 2013, and Nicola Maksymuik (Project Archivist), June 2014.
|1||Letter to Kathleen Beharrell from Donald and Irene Rooum regarding a boycott letter.||1962|
|2||Letter to Miss Lindsay from Ronald H. Macintosh of the Scottish Council for Nuclear Disarmament. Regarding a route for marchers from Trafalgar Square to the Holy Loch.||1961|
|3||Letter to Walter Morrison from T.S. Maxwell of the World Peace Brigade. Regarding a request for information on the WPB.||1962|
|4||Letter from the Scottish Committee of 100 regarding a march to the Rosyth NATO base on Easter Sunday.||n.d.|
|5||Letter from Peter Moule, secretary of the Committee of 100 regarding a meeting with the CND National Aldermaston Committee.||1963|
|6||Letter from Bradford Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to Owen Staley regarding arrangements for Glasgow to London marchers. Includes itinerary for the march.||1963|
|2||Statements and Administrative Papers|
|1||Statement by the National Working Group of the Committee of 100 on the Aldermaston march.||1963|
|2||Statement on Hiroshima Day||1961-08-06|
|3||Circular to Scottish Committee of 100 members requesting attendance at Rosyth protest and financial assistance.||n.d.|
|4||Information about International Polaris Action, June 21st to 26th 1965 at Faslane.||1965|
|5||Statement by the Scottish Committee of 100 on public inspection of military establishments.||n.d.|
|6||Draft constitution of the Scottish Council for Nuclear Disarmament.||n.d.|
|7||List of events from the Scottish Committee of 100.||n.d.|
|8||Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament Annual Conference 1962 resolutions.||1962|
|1||Glasgow Council for Nuclear Disarmament Newsletter.||August 1962|
|2||Glasgow Council for Nuclear Disarmament Newsletter.||June 1962|
|3||Danger! Official Secret: RSG-6. Published by the Committee of 100.||1963|
|4||Action for Peace. Published by the Committee of 100.||1963|
|5||Official Secret RSG-4.||n.d.|
|6||Scottish Broadsheet of the Council for Nuclear Disarmament. 4 copies.||1961|
|7||Call to Women. Monthly newsletter of the Liason Committee for Women’s Peace Groups.||1963|
|8||National Bulletin of the Committee of 100.||September 1963|
|9||National Bulletin of the Committee of 100.||October 1963|
|4||Leaflets and PampletsCollection of leaflets and pamphlets on a range of issues and campaigns including nuclear disarmament; Corkerhill Community Council; Keep Bellahouston Park Green Campaign; UCS work-in; the Pollok Country Park local plan.||1960s-1990s|
|5||News CuttingsNews cuttings on a range of stories including the poll tax; anti-fascism; privacy; Corkerhill; nuclear disarmament; the Committee of 100. From the Daily Herald; Evening Times; Scots New Leader; Peace News; The Scotsman; Scottish Daily Express; The Press; Speak Out; Young Guard;||1935 – 1990|
|6||Papers relating to protest and civil disobedience|
|1||File of papers relating to various protests and events held by the Committee of 100.||1962 – 1964|
|2||File of papers relating to activity of Scottish Council for Disarmament and the Scottish Committee of 100.||1960 – 1964|
|1||Why the League has Failed by “Vigilantes”. Left Book Club Edition.||1938|
|2||Inflation Unemployment: Who is to blame? Labour Research Department.||n.d.|
|3||Whatever happened to our wages? The anatomy of a wage packet 1938-68. Norman Atkinson MP.||1969|
|4||The Way Forward For Workers’ Control. Hugh Scanlon. Published by the Institute for Workers’ Control.||1968|
|5||Will the Peace Last? Harold J. Laski. Peace Aims Pamphlet No. 28.||1944|
|6||Volume of essays on Christianity compiled by Guy Aldred.||1940|
|7||Anarchy 27 (Vol 4 No 3)||1964|
|8||On the Industrial Relations Bill. Text od a speech by Professor K.W. Wedderburn.||1971|
|9||Common Sense about Colonies. Philip Noel-Baker M.P. Published by the Labour Party.||1938|
|10||Accidental War: Some Dangers in the 1960s, The Mershon Report. Published by The Campaign in Oxford University for Nuclear Disarmament||1960s|
|11||A Study of the Meanings of Non-violence. Gene Sharp. Reprinted from Gandhi Marg.||1959|
|12||LEFT. No. 57. Journal of the Left Forum.||1941|
|13||Stop the War by Socialism. Independent Labour Party policy stated by Fenner Brockway.||1941|
|14||The Political Objector to War: His right to exemption from military service. Douglas J.J. Owen.||1940|
|15||John Maclean and Scottish Independence. Published by the John Maclean Society.||n.d.|
|16||Inside Story. No. 9. May/June||1973|
|17||Inside Story. No. 10. August||1973|
|18||Vietnam by Bob Potter.||n.d.|
|19||Clydeside Action. No. 9.||n.d.|
|20||Inside Story. Prison Secrets: Holloway, Peterhead, Parkhurst – & Broadmoor.||n.d.|
|21||The Great March: A commemorative collection of picutres and impressions of the TUC demonstration against the Industrial Relations Bill held in London on February 21st 1971. Trades Union Congress.||n.d.|
|22||Mail Interception and Telephone Tapping In Britain. Published by Hamstead Group, Committee of 100.||n,d.|
|23||Cyprus Special report.||n.d.|
|24||Window on the world.No. 41. Mary H. Weik, Fellowship of World Citizens.||1965|
|8||Papers, pamphlets, news cuttings and publications relating tovarious interests of Walter Morrison including: the Scottish committee of 100; Cockerhill Community Council and the M77 campaign.|
|1||Collection of correspondence; reports, leaflets, and news cuttings on a range of issues relating to Corckerhill Community Council, issues including: Pollok Estate; the Ayr Road route; Gas conversion; the M77 Campaign and the Dangerwatch Kids campaign. News cuttings from the Greater Pollok Post; The Govan press; Evening Times and the Herald.||1967-1995|
|2||Papers and news cuttings relating to the Committee of 100 including correspondence with the Corporation of Glasgow; British Railways and the Clyde Navigation Trust, relating to hall rental and transport to demonstrations. News cuttings from the Herald and the Stevenage Gazette about demonstrations.||1962-1963|
|3||News cuttings relating to theM77 campaign from the Daily mail; Evening Times; The Scotsman and the Herald.||1994-1995|
|4||Collection of papers and news cuttings relating to different issues including; correspondence regarding Walter Morrison’s employment insurance dispute; financial appeal leaflet by Society of Graphical and Allied trades; Article from Daedalus Journal, The Arms Race and its Hazards; issues of Peace News; Socialist leader and Freedom.||1968-1968|