Pirate Voyage

When Blackshirts took over an Italian ship and headed for Cardiff, trade unions held a boycott in what was the first British protest against fascism.

The Emanuele Accame, 20th century.
The Emanuele Accame, 20th century. Alfio Bernabei Personal Collection.

Two months before the March on Rome of October 1922, Benito Mussolini was faced with the first antifascist protest outside of Italy, which threatened to derail efforts to present his party as an acceptable newcomer in the international political arena. He reacted with fury. He warned the British government of ‘maximum degree’ retaliations if the British trade unions went ahead with their decision to boycott an Italian ship with a crew entirely made up of fascists. 

The Emanuele Accame, an 8,000-ton cargo vessel, had been taken over by about 50 Blackshirts at Naples and illegally sailed for Cardiff. The Daily Herald of 23 August called it a ‘pirates’ voyage’, reporting under the headline ‘Fascisti sail FOR Cardiff!’ that: 

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