|A lunatic Chaplin imitator|
and his greatest fans
|First as tragedy|
|Then as farce|
Combat 18 (or C18) is a British neo-nazi group, known for its open racism and antisemitism and violent attacks both on its ostensible enemies (immigrants, anti-racism campaigners) and on rival neo-nazis. Its name derives from the initials AH (A=1, H=8, based on alphabetical order), which refers to their favourite person, Adolf Hitler. Its members are banned from jobs in the British police forces and Prison Service.
It was formed in 1992 by the far-right British National Party to act as stewarding and security for BNP events. The founder was Charlie Sargent (aka Paul Sargent), who was openly racist and antisemitic (referring to the British state as the "Zionist Occupation Government"). He was a large, heavily tattooed man, described by The Independent as "a leader not so much by charisma as by force and fear". Another founding member was David Myatt, (1950–) their supposed intellectual mastermind. He was a former Benedictine monk with a long history of far-right involvement who much later converted to Islam.
The organisation had links to football hooliganism, such as the Chelsea Headhunters. They conducted violent campaigns against immigrants and critics, including Ross Fraser, a Chelsea fan who campaigned against racism in football and was wounded with a broken bottle to the face as a result.
C18 managed to secure a significant funding source by acting as music promoters under the name Blood and Honour (affiliated with Ian Stuart Donaldson of Skrewdriver), running gigs and selling CDs. This helped promote far-right and white nationalist ideas as well as bringing in money.
Intellectually it appears to have varied between incoherent fantasy and deep stupidity. It rejected the political route taken by the British National Party, which stood candidates in elections and sought to achieve power via the ballot box; instead it planned to turn part of Essex into an Aryan homeland, possibly taking over council estates street by street, influenced by the Loyalist community in Northern Ireland. Its idealogue Myatt was full of neo-primitivist ideas about getting back to the land, setting up villages, and keeping slaves; he reportedly also challenged journalist Nick Ryan to a duel.
C18 swiftly descended into factionalism and suspicion that members were secretly double-agents or government spies. This reached a peak in 1997 when a feud between founder Charlie Sargent and wannabe leader Wilf "The Beast" Browning culminated in the murder of Christopher Castle, who was acting as a go-between for the different factions. Sargent and former Skrewdriver guitarist Martin Cross, who actually plunged a knife into Castle, were both sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder. Sargent had previously been convicted of two drugs offences and possession of a gun. Sergent was released on licence in 2014 but swiftly found himself back in jail after a photo of him meeting another far-right activist and convicted criminal, Eddie Stampton (aka Stanton), was posted on social media.
Members were involved in the 2001 Oldham riots (in NW England), where tension between white and Asian communities was worsened by far-right agitators and erupted into rioting, arson, and violent attacks on individuals.
Its members' inability to get along with each other has resulted in offshoots including the National Socialist Movement, the Racial Volunteer Force, and possibly White Wolves (whose origin is uncertain). The BNP disowned it for being too violent and for attacking other far-right activists; they had also disagreed over C18's rejection of electoral and democratic politics. One member, Darren Wells, got so fed up with the in-fighting he became an informer for 2 years, secretly working for anti-fascist Searchlight magazine.
There have been various attempts to establish foreign offshoots including in Belgium, Germany, Australia, and the USA.
More recently it has been less of a force, thanks to the rise of other unpleasant far-right organisations in Britain, with Blood and Honour closing and its web forum disappearing, but it continues to exist.
- See the Wikipedia article on Combat 18.
- Combat 18: Memoirs of a street-fighting man, Nick Ryan, The Independent, 1 Feb 1998
- , The Metro, 14 September 2017
- I Hung Out with the Neo-Nazis Who Hoped to Set Up an Aryan Homeland in Essex, Vice, 5 Nov 2016
- Ex-Combat 18 man speaks out, Nick Lowles, BBC, undated
- Did your hear the one about the convicted neo-nazi and the Football Lads Alliance...?, Hope Not Hate, 24 Jan 2018
- See the Wikipedia article on 2001 Oldham riots.