Foreword by Julia Camoys Stonor

Julia Camoys Stonor, a relative of Archibald Maule Ramsay's, recalls her mother's involvement with Ramsay and his circle. Her biography of her mother Jeanne, Sherman’s Wife - A wartime childhood amongst the English Catholic Aristocracy, was published by Desert Hearts in 2006. Her own memoirs, Sherman’s Daughter, are to be published this October by Foxley Books.

I am Captain Archibald Maule Ramsay’s cousin, the eldest daughter of Sherman Stonor, 6th Baron Camoys, and Jeanne Stourton.

My mother Jeanne was one of the great society beauties of the Thirties. She gathered around her a number of right wing admirers, known to me as ‘uncles’, or, if they came to shoot, as ‘guns’.

Robin's book brings back many memories of my childhood at Assendon Lodge and Stonor Park during and after the war, where many of the protagonists were regular visitors, all of them part of my mother’s profoundly pro-Nazi entourage and many of them blatantly active in France, Spain, Germany and England. The revealing section in this book on the Anglo-German Review recalls Joachim von Ribbentrop, Hitler’s ambassador in London, who part-funded the magazine and was one of my mother’s lovers.

My cousin Archibald Maule Ramsay was a somewhat distant, forbidding figure, a man of volatile temper and poisonous extremes. He attracted companions of similar temperament who came to Assendon and Stonor, among them the formidable Mary Allen of the Women’s Police Service, not herself a member of the Right Club, but a force to be reckoned with, consorting with with Franco, Mussolini, Hitler, Goering and the Irish fascist leader Eoin O’Duffy. She became a considerable source of embarrassment to the Home Office, since the Women’s Police Service was not a part of the real police but was a right wing organisation set up by Margaret Damer Dawson and Mary Allen, attracting many decidedly determined and somewhat ‘masculine’ ladies, many of them former suffragettes.

Nor can I forget one of the prominent lady members of The Right Club, Edith Cazenove, largely because our paths crossed later in life, long after the war had ended and former right wingers had happily continued to reinvent themselves. Edith was to become one of my first paying guests when I started taking lodgers in the Seventies. A sleek, plump woman, heavily bejeweled, elegant, angry and hostile, Edith could never bring herself to admit that she had been a close friend of my mother Jeanne and that she had unashamedly cultivated the most extreme right wing affiliations. Edith, along with many other Right Club members, would have been disgusted by the embarrassing fact that I had two Jewish relatives by marriage, the Slomnicka sisters, who perished, murdered in the Warsaw ghetto. They were the aunts of my late husband, Donald Robin Slomnicki Saunders, to whom I was married in 1963.

We now live in a different age, seventy years after the last entries were recorded in The Red Book prior to the internment of many of its members under Defence Regulation 18b. Some of the episodes and characters described in these pages may at first sight seem bizarre, almost unbelievable. But they remain very real – and extremism of the sort experienced then is very much alive and kicking today. As Robin courageously suggests, perhaps the message of this book is that we should all be wary of extremist political views, however seductive they may seem to many of us personally – and however much they may seem, on the face of it, to present an all too simple remedy to the ills of the world.

Julia Camoys Stonor
London, June 2010