It is with sadness that we share the news of the death of Jim Radford who died in Lewisham Hospital early this morning after several weeks in intensive care being treated for Covid-19.
Jim leaves behind his family and a huge number of friends, comrades and musicians, all of whom could recall a Jim Radford story. In this brief article I will focus on Jim’s time with Veterans For Peace and leave the other aspects of his life to those who knew him best in those realms.
Jim was born in Hull and recounted to me his experiences of the bombing of that maritime city and his youthful desire to join the fight against Nazi Germany. At the age of 15 he joined the Merchant Navy and sailed to Normandy on the rescue tugboat Empire Larch in direct support of the D-Day landings. After the war Jim went on to serve in the Royal Navy and it was during or shortly after that service that he developed an opposition to nuclear weapons.
I first met Jim in 2011 at an anti-war event hosted by the London Catholic Worker in an old church in Haringey. Later that year I got in touch with him to ask if he would join a new organisation; Veterans For Peace UK. He joined without hesitation and was steadfast from that day onwards.
At our first Remembrance Ceremony outside the Bank of England in November 2011, Jim was one of only three VFP members present. He brought along an old Ex-Services CND banner and not having a VFP banner at the time we marched under that. Jim brought a wealth of experience to our fledgling organisation, offering sound advice based on years of participation within anti-nuclear and peace organistaions.
When the time came in 2014 to form a Steering Group to coordinate the rapidly expanding organisation Jim stepped forward and filled a position for the next two years. Jim was forceful in arguing that we should remain a voluntary organisation with no paid workers. This position became and remains a key characteristic of our organisation.
Jim brought a depth of experience, know-how and common sense to our monthly meetings. He was involved in the planning of our first Remembrance Ceremony at the Cenotaph in 2013 and was one of only a dozen VFP who attended. We marched to The Cenotaph on that Remembrance Sunday without invitation or permission and Jim sang “1916” as crowds of people stood and watched in silence. Jim sang at The Cenotaph every year after that and our numbers grew.
Jim was well known for his singing and regularly contributed with anti-war songs at our actions and meetings. It was as a speaker that Jim impressed me most. His life experience and pragmatic anti-war position was free of complicated narratives or ideological rhetoric. Once in Los Angeles when questioned why he campaigned for peace for so many years without tangible results he replied simply that “it was the right thing to do”.
It would be impossible to mention all of the contributions that Jim made to our organisation in so many different ways over the years. It would be impossible to mention all of the people he has inspired, encouraged, and helped in some way. Below I have shared some pictures and videos of Jim that give an impression of his contribution.
Outside of the meetings, actions and speeches Jim took part heartily at our social gatherings. Always a cheerful, generous and welcoming presence, His capacity for socialising was almost superhuman, able to keep up with members 1/3 his age and still get up early to complete his morning exercises.
It is safe to say that Jim will be missed by members of Veterans For Peace all over the world.
I for one will miss his friendship, his guidance and his comradeship.
Goodnight Jim, you’ve earn’t it mate.
Jim singing his chart topping single The Shores of Normandy
Short film featuring Jim
Jim at an anti-trident protest
Jim and I grabbing 20 minutes kip before another evening entertaining our American comrades at the VFP Convention in San Diego 2015
Jim preparing to speak in opposition to USAID at the VFP Convention in San Diego 2015
Jim at the London Arms Fair in 2017
A gathering in memory of Jim Radford will be held when lockdown rules have eased enough to allow one.
Please feel free to leave your own memories of Jim in the comments below.
On the 6th November 2021 most of the covid restrictions should be lax enough to allow us to gather and remember this great guy.
Anyone interested in such an event?
Jim and I were the last men” left standing” in our Veterans Ass.’ DSRTA’ .
I only wish I could attend but at 96 years and disabled also many Other problems cannot.
My thoughts will always be with Jim.
I first met Jim when I joined and became Treasurer of the veterans Association, Deep Sea Rescue Tugs Association and worked along side Jim on the Committee for some 10 years. We in the Association knew well of his experiences at the DDay landings which set his future. Jim and I became the last two standing in the Association as I had the sad task of winding up the DSRTA but kept in touch and meet on a number of occasions since and it was a sad day when his daughter rang me with the sad news. At my age 95 I have seen the going of many of my friends but Jim wil be greatly missed.
Rest in Peace Jim
Very grateful for his solidarity and actions in support of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. What a lovely man he was!
From his comrades at the solidarity vigil outside the Ecuadorian Embassy June 2012- April 2019
Jim was featured on the front page of the Lewisham Ledger newspaper last year sometime. I so wish now I’d had met the man. ….hindesight! What a human being. Total integrity! (Lifting weights in his 80’s/90’s too!) May his soul and spirit reach the place he’d wish it to be!
Thanks for all the music Jim. I am grateful I got the chance to sing with you a few times, your strong voice will always be an inspiration. A great man for a giggle too. Go softly from this world.
I joined VFP about 3 years ago and met Jim at my first meeting which would have been the AGM of 2017. I feel very lucky to have met him and to have known him. Just his presence at a meeting cheered us all up and inspired us. He has been an inspiration to me and to many others. He will be sorely missed by us all.
Monday 9th We had a musical tribute on our ‘Jim Radford & the Jolly Jammers’ ZOOM. Jim’s daughter Joanna, his son Steve, and his granddaughter Rowan joined us. Marvellous memories shared.
Wednesday 11th , Remembrance Day, we sang again, performing for Jim on FOLKMOB Eltham ZOOM. Joanna and Steve joined us again. Wondrous sharing of stories and song.
Jim;s band has been raising funds for the Normandy Trust. We had all our festivals and gigs cancelled from St. Patricks on. We have sung together with Jim each Monday since, and on Folkmob ZOOM each Wednesday since March. Jim drafted me to sing with him 10 years ago. We first met 50 years ago when involved in housing and homelessness action in Southwark, and while campaigning against the American war in Vietnam. I was a dodger from Woody Guthrie’s Oklahoma.
Some sunny day, ‘we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when’, for Jim.
If you can send a card or letter, Jim’s family request address as below and the PO will redirect to them up north:
72 Stillness Rd
LONDON SE23 1NF
Post to that address will be redirected to Jim’s family in Yorkshire.
RIP Jim, I was always impressed by your rendition of 1916 at the Cenotaph and the facts that you still lifted weights into your 80’s. My only regret is that I never spent more time listening to you. God bless.
A great tribute by Ben. Jim was one of life’s great characters who made an impact on all who met him. His songs where sung with gritty passion that always brought a tear to your eye. His family should be proud of his achievements and find comfort that he will be sorely missed in presence but will never be forgotten.
Jim , your powerful voice, kindness and your inspiring stories will forever stay with me. You were a constant prove to how age, gender, race and religion differences don’t separate people. On the contrary, you taught me it can actually bond us.
Thank you for every memory you’ve shared with me, thank you for listening to mine with much respect and with open ears and mind, while looking at me with your kind eyes that reflect the pain and the love you experienced in your life. I want to say rest in peace, Jim, but wherever you are right now, I’m sure resting is not on your agenda. With much appreciation.
A wonderful tribute to Jim. I first met Jim at Remembrance Day in 2014. And I had the pleasure of spending more time with him during VFP conventions and at VFP Conferences in the UK. Who didn’t love his songs and stories? He was a gracious and thoughtful man and dedicated activist for peace. He will be sorely missed by all of VFP. The march to the Cenotaph will not be the same without Jim.
Was very sad to hear of the passing of one of the giants of the anti-war pro-justice movement, WW II veteran, Jim Radford. His powerful voice and his poignant stories and songs will long be remembered and loved. Was so fortunate to meet Jim at the Veterans for Peace Conventions in San Diego and in Chicago where we and other US and UK Veterans for Peace mingled and swapped stories and heard Jim sing his wonderful songs! A favorite memory is being at the UK Veterans for Peace Convention in 2015 in London and on the final day, participating in Britain’s Remembrance Day Ceremonies commemorating the end of WW I and remembering all those killed in subsequent wars. Jim sang of the cost of war and all present were silent as his words touched their hearts. What a wonderful human being he was and I shall remember him fondly. RIP, Rest in Power.
Sad news, a great man. RIP. Lots of local musicians and friends in Hull will miss him.
Ah, the lovely Jim Radford, you will be sorely missed by so many who knew you. I have fond memories of you singing at Folk Mob, and the Blackheath Folk Club. Also, I was proud to be with you at Excel protesting against the Arms Fair, and marching behind Veterans for Peace at the Cenotaph, and hearing you sing there. My thanks to you for attending the performance of After Hiroshima produced by the London Bubble Theatre, where I was in the choir. You enriched the lives of so many and stood up for what you believed in. It was an honour and a privilege to know you, RIP my dear friend and comrade.
So sad to here jim had died
Such a great man will be very miss I new jim for about 10 years such a kind hearted man things will never be the same on a Monday night down the jolly farmers. I will always treasure the song jim always used to sing for me R I P to a great man
met Jim, a few times.. what stood out to me, was regardless of how busy, or the various commitments he had. He always maintained attention to his family. A value lost by many in these modern times. Just seeing how upset your granddaughter is, sums up the bond you maintained amongst your ever growing family. Rip
Had the privilege of sharing some time with Jim.
A great person.
A light has just gone out in the world. I knew Jim just a little bit but I was inspired by his energy and kindness. Be at peace brother.
What a powerful man sheathed in gentle humility.
Think of Monty Python “We’re all different”, well Jim was truly different.
I only met Jim a few times, and every time felt far too short.
I thought of Jim many times over the few years and each time I wanted to meet him again, a definite magnatism.
The word Gentleman was never better expressed than by Jim.
What an exceptional soul. He truly made the world a better place. Would that we all could contribute so much in our lifetimes. RIP dear Jim.
Never met Jim, wish I had though I watched and listened to videos and he looked and sounded like a real presence.
Jim is an inspiration to me, a man who has been through so much and refuses to let it poison his character, he speaks his truth and stands by his beliefs, not many things at all had ever brought a tear to my eye until I heard Jim’s songs, he is one of the people who have made me a better human being and along with it are literally making the world a better place, I now do what’s right no matter what because of people like him. R.I.P Jim, see you in the next life/on the other side.
A warmly affectionate and appropriate tribute, Ben, to a man of great convictions who was determined to live by them. So sad that such a contributor to a more peaceful world has had his life cut short. What a miss he will be.
Have you heard the one about the activist who with a dedicated group fighting for the homeless/shelter, without the aid of computers and only coordinated by watches invaded every central London theatrical stage at the appointed time stopping all the shows, YES it was Jim on stage where there was Royal attendance I guess that stymied his chances of an MBE!
I came to know Jim through folk singing when in 2004 in the Three Mariners at Walton-on-Naze the shanty evening came to an end and those of us who stayed on for the afters drew the curtains, turned the lights down and carried on drinking in the darkened room, there was a request
The Shores of Normandy'. Jim had a room full of people in tears including himself, it was only the second time he had sung the song, at another time I reminded Jim of that darkened room and the tears he said I dont get like that so much now what a guy it was a pleasure to call him friend and share tots of rum with him lots of TOTS.
I saw Jim on Facebook singing at the Cenotaph and I felt compelled to join VFP. As I met him I felt straight away a genuine warmth and comradry. HIs voice and singing style was grabbing your guts and your tears as you understand what kind of man he is.
I will miss you as in my heart you will live. I feel so privileged to have met Jim. Sail on sailor!
This is such devastating sad news. I got to know Jim a little at VFP conventions and loved drinking with him and hearing his music. My wife Jane is glad she got to know him a little in Chicago. Rest in Power, Jim. An amazing activist and musician, wish I had spent more time with him.
Very nice one Ben;
Jim, you can now have a jar and a song with that young soldier lad from Dday+1
I am certain he will have been happy to wait whilst you had unfinished business in his name for past three score year and ten
We’d have liked to know you more, because what we saw we liked a lot.
It’s a sad day but your and our struggle goes on.
Payday men’s network
Jim your work will carry on, thank you for the songs and happy memories.
Jim was my inspiration, my friend, my comrade in VFP UK. I shall miss his singing, especially of ‘1916’ at the Cenotaph. I will miss talking and discussing things with him. I will miss his wisdom.
Very sorry to hear this news.
Sad is not enough to express the loss I feel. I only met him for the first time four years ago this weekend, getting to stand beside him at the cenotaph in case of trouble. There wasn’t any. His singing with passion of 1916 will stay with me forever. Rest easy my friend, you deserve your rest. You were an inspiration to my action, and will not be forgotten.
May his eternal soul, rest in peace. If you’re alive, you’re still in the fight. We’ll carry on, for the sake of all people’s of the world.
A wonderful tribute!
Jim Radford ~ Presente🕯️
Amazing Guy. That was a life well lived.
Your life’s been a powerful one, it’s certainly left it’s mark on me – Thank you Jim 🙏🕊️
Jim was a legend and lives on in my heart. He becomes an ancestor in the anti war, pro peace and nonviolent revolution. Thanks for your wisdom and stories.
What a gut punch. When I heard of Jim’s passing I was at a total loss for words. Then I read Ben’s testimonial and today was rife with my Jim Radford memories, most accompanied by a priceless anecdote, a pint or a song. Thankfully, my sons met him in London in 2017.
On one occasion, on the final night of the 2015 San Diego VFP Convention, Jim, along with Emily Yates, entertained dozens of conventioneers half his age – outdoors between two wings of our hotel – until well into the morning. Sleep and sobriety were just not that important. What an unforgettable set.
Even more indelible to me, as well as most of us, are Jim’s “1916” solos at The Cenotaph, timeless as Jim Radford himself. I still can’t believe he’s gone.
A great tribute to a fine man. It was a great to have met him and share some dits …RIP yours aye
This is devastating news. I always felt close to Jim. I wish I could write as eloquently as Ben but I can’t so I’m just going to sum up my experiences with Jim in a few sentences…
That time in Chicago when Jim drank us all under the table and stayed out when we had all gone to bed.
That time when I noticed his 90 year old biceps were bigger than my 42 year old ones.
That time he took me to the side and gave me some beautiful compliments that inspired me and touched my soul.
The many times I saw Jim on stage and how he just captivated his audience.
Those times at the cenotaph when I held back my tears as he sung.
That time that he sung at my wedding.
Damn, Jim was a massive inspiration to me.
Comrade, friend, brother, mine’s a pint when I see you on the other side.
We were on a together demo last year as part of VFP. Someone very excitedly asked him about the state of the world, “Have you ever even known anything to be THIS BAD??!”
Jim paused, & with typical cool dryness replied, “Well there was World War Two..”
Presenté Comrade & thank you
Just to add another memory of his great humour that reflects what this Titan was…
As a London walks guide I conduct an annual VFP walk. One year Jim said to me, “I should do one really – a guided tour of all the places I’ve been arrested in central London. Once I got nicked three times in one day at the same spot! It was a big demo & the police were in such dissary. The police station they took me too was full up, there was no room left in the cells. We sat on benches in the reception area, so I just got up & walk out. This went on two more times until finally I was locked up!”
What a legend!
A fitting tribute to an amazing human who had enough empathy and compassion to see the unity in us all regardless of background. And to recognise the utter futility and devastation of all wars.
Rest easy Jim. . Condolences to your family and friends.
Such a great tribute to jim sending my love to his family x