By Tim Dawes, February 18, 2022
My friend Laurens Otter, who has died aged 91, was a committed peace activist. Originally active in the Peace Pledge Union in the 1950s, Laurens joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament on its creation, attending the first Aldermaston march in 1958.
Throughout the late 50s and 60s he and his wife, Celia, were arrested and imprisoned on many occasions. They spent their honeymoon in 1961 apart, in separate London prisons – Laurens in Pentonville and Celia sharing a cell with the campaigner Pat Arrowsmith in Holloway.
Among many direct actions, perhaps the most celebrated is the time Laurens was among protesters who tried to board the nuclear-powered US submarine Patrick Henry in the Holy Loch, Scotland in 1961. An aerial photo captured the scene with Laurens in his kayak surrounded by five naval launches and gunboats.