Dudley Cave born 19 February 1921 (d. 1999)
Dudley Cave was a British former soldier and pioneering gay rights activist.
He joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1941, aged 20, and was posted to the Far East. He was captured by the Japanese when Singapore fell in 1942 and was marched north to work on the Thai-Burma railway, 10 miles beyond the bridge on the River Kwai. He caught malaria and was imprisoned in Changi Prison in Singapore because he was unproductive. This may have saved his life. Three quarters of his company perished.
When back in Britain he had a job as manager of the Majestic Cinema, Wembley, but in 1954 he was sacked when it was discovered that he was gay.
Also in 1954 he met Bernard Williams, an RAF veteran and school teacher, and they became lovers and co-campaigners for 40 years until Bernard Williams died in 1994.
In 1971 Dudley Cave joined the Unitarian Church and helped in securing the ordination of lesbians and gay men. He also conducted same-sex weddings.
In 1974 he was on the launch committee of the London Gay Switchboard, and he was still answering the telephone right up to his death 25 years later.
He and his partner, Bernard Williams, founded the Lesbian and Gay Bereavement Project in 1980, and they ran its telephone helpline for many years. After a battle with the Charity Commissioners this became the first organisation with 'gay' in its title to be given charitable status.
In the 1980s he worked on reconciliation with the Japanese and travelled a number of times to Japan to speak on the subject.
In November, 1998 he was OutRage!'s keynote speaker at its Queer Remembrance Day vigil at the Cenotaph where he layed a pink triangle wreath honouring gay people who died fighting Nazism and in the concentration camps.
Dudley Cave dedicated most of his life to challenging and fighting prejudice and seeking justice and equality for gay people especially in the areas of military recognition and issues of bereavement for gay people of all ages; he did so with great eloquence, dignity and integrity.
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