37 YEARS to the day they began their anti-war march to Greenham Common, a group of women returned to Chepstow to celebrate their iconic protest.

Members of Women For Life On Earth (WFLOE) met in the town’s Drill Hall on Monday (August 27) for a commemorative event with speeches and anti-war songs, before setting off to the M48 Severn Bridge to recreate a stage of their famous march.

At the height of the Cold War, the women who formed WFLOE stood against the housing of nuclear-capable cruise missiles at Greenham Common, an American air base in Berkshire.

Ann Pettitt, who started the campaign, said while the British government was prepared to allow the missiles into the country, “we wanted to raise the issue to the top of the agenda, so the missiles wouldn’t just come into the country quietly”.

“It was appalling they were going to make us a front-line target. Nuclear war was a serious possibility", she said.

“Every household had a leaflet called Protect and Survive with advice for an attack – get under the table, stock up on tinned food. We were supposed to take it seriously.”

She organised the march with Karmen Thomas, who said the Cold War era, when citizens were told to prepare for an imminent nuclear attack, was “ridiculous”.

She said: “There was real brinkmanship back then. There was talk of a ‘European theatre’ in a war between the US and Russia.

“Some of us had young families. The idea of being given a three-minute warning was ridiculous. I used to have nightmares about it.

The idea behind the march, she said, was “to have a two-way debate about the decision to put the missiles in this country”.

At the Drill Hall, the two organisers joined other marchers and members of the Women’s Archive Wales, which organised the commemorative event, to remember how, in 1981, a group of around 40 people left Cardiff and headed for the air base, carrying banners with messages of peace.

Along the way, they were joined each day by locals from the towns they passed through.

In Bath, a local marching band even joined in their cause.

“We marched against stupidity and out of fear and anger”, said Sue Lent, now a councillor in Cardiff, who joined the 1981 march with her young son.