On this day in history : 21st February 1958 – Gerald Holtom designs the ND peace symbol adopted by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament…. It is later to become an international peace symbol….

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Gerald Herbert Holtom (1914-1985) was a British artist and designer, having studied at the Royal College of Art….

During World War II he had been a conscientious objector and was invited by the Direct Action Committee to design artwork for use on their first Aldermaston march during the Easter of 1958 – the 4th – 7th of April…. The Direct Action Committee (DAC) was a pacifist organisation against nuclear war and existed between 1957 and 1961….

Holtom presented his sketches at a DAC meeting at the Peace News offices in North London on the 21st of February 1958…. The design incorporates the semaphore signals for ‘N’ and ‘D’ (standing for nuclear disarmament)….

  • ‘N’ – Two arms outstretched, pointing 45 degrees downwards
  • ‘D’ – One arm raised over the head

The symbol made its first public appearance on Good Friday in Trafalgar Square – where the march to Aldermaston began…. Several thousand people marched for 4 days to the Atomic Weapons Establishment….

From 1959 an annual Easter march from Aldermaston to London was organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament – (CND)….

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1959 march…. Photo credit: Carl Guderian via Flickr

CND was founded in November 1957, at the height of the Cold War…. The ND peace logo had not been copyrighted and once adopted by CND became recognised as their symbol – and later as a general-purpose peace symbol throughout the world….

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