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Home Secretary thwarts women’s travel plans 2021

The women wait at Tilbury for ships that do not arrive (filmed re-enactment)
The women wait at Tilbury for ships that do not arrive (filmed re-enactment)

British women from a wide range of organisations were interested in being delegates to the Congress. However, only 25 of the 180 British delegates were granted passports. The women attempted to get the last boat from Tilbury but all merchant shipping in the North Sea and the Channel was suspended on 27 April 1915 by order of the British Government. Chrysal Macmillan and Kathleen Courtney, already in Holland, and Emmeline Pethick Lawrence, who travelled to The Hague with the USA delegation, were the only three British women to reach the Congress

The popular press in Britain condemned the ‘blundering Englishwomen’ and ‘babblers’  and called into question the loyalty of these ‘Pro-Hun Peacettes ‘
And from the Prime Minister of the land:

“THE futile pacifists whose whispers are like the twittering of sparrows while storms and tempests shake the world to its foundations,”—thus Herbert Asquith, prime minister of England, has mocked the little groups, of English people who, swirled in the turmoil of world hate, are clinging to old ties of international friendship and good will.”

Mary Chamberlain 1915 ‘Peace Currents Beneath War Turmoil in England’
The Survey Vol 34, No 23 September 4, 1915, p501

List of the women who were granted passports

British Committee of the Women’s International Congress (from ‘Towards Permanent Peace: A Record of the Women’s International Congress‘, June 1915)

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