World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Sir Oswald Mosley

In 1931 Oswald Mosley founded the New Party. Early supporters included John Strachey, John Becket, Harold Nicholson, Cyril Joad, William Joyce, Mary Richardson, William Allen, Robert Forgan and A. K. Chesterton, but in the 1931 General Election none of the New Party's candidates were elected. In January 1932 Mosley met Benito Mussolini in Italy. Mosley was impressed by Mussolini's achievements and when he returned to England he disbanded the New Party and replaced it with the British Union of Fascists.

The British Union of Fascists was strongly anti-communist and argued for a programme of economic revival based on government spending and protectionism. Mary Richardson later commented: "I was first attracted to the Blackshirts because I saw in them the courage, the action, the loyalty, the gift of service, and the ability to serve which I had known in the suffrage movement". In October, 1932, Mosley published The Greater Britain, his manifesto for a Fascist state.

On 7th June, 1934, the British Union of Fascists held a large rally at Olympia. About 500 anti-fascists including Margaret Storm Jameson, Vera Brittain, Richard Sheppard and Aldous Huxley, managed to get inside the hall.

When they began heckling Mosley they were attacked by 1,000 black-shirted stewards. Several of the protesters were badly beaten by the fascists. Jameson argued in The Daily Telegraph: "A young woman carried past me by five Blackshirts, her clothes half torn off and her mouth and nose closed by the large hand of one; her head was forced back by the pressure and she must have been in considerable pain. I mention her especially since I have seen a reference to the delicacy with which women interrupters were left to women Blackshirts. This is merely untrue... Why train decent young men to indulge in such peculiarly nasty brutality? There was a public outcry about this violence and Lord Rothermere and his Daily Mail withdrew its support of the BUF. Over the next few months membership went into decline.

Norah Elam joined the British Union of Fascist (BUF) in 1934. Later that year she became the BUF County Women's Officer for West Sussex. It was not long before Elam became very close to Oswald Mosley. The author of Femine Fascism: Women in Britain's Fascist Movement (2003) has pointed out: "Elam's status in the BUF and the sensitive tasks with which she was entrusted offer some substance to the BUF's claim to respect sexual equality. While, in principle, the movement was segregated by gender and women in positions of leadership were meant to have authority only over other women. Elam was quite evidently admitted to Mosley's inner circle."

Mosley attracted members from other right-wing groups such as the British Fascisti, National Fascists and the Imperial Fascist League. By 1934 the BUF had 40,000 members and was able to establish its own drinking clubs and football teams. The BUF also gained the support of Lord Rothermere and the Daily Mail.

Oswald Mosley appointed William Joyce as the party full-time Propaganda Director. Joyce, along with Mosley and Mick Clarke, were the organisations three main public speakers.
Personal Life

On 11 May 1920 he married Lady Cynthia Curzon (known as 'Cimmie'), (1898–1933), second daughter of George Curzon, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, (1859–1925), Viceroy of India, 1899–1905, Foreign Secretary, 1919–1924, and Lord Curzon's first wife, the American mercantile heiress, the former Mary Victoria Leiter.
Lord Curzon had to be persuaded that Mosley was a suitable husband, as he suspected Mosley was largely motivated by social advancement in Conservative Party politics and her inheritance. The 1920 wedding took place in the Chapel Royal in St James's Palace in London. It was the social event of the year. The hundreds of guests included European royalty, including King George V and Queen Mary; and Leopold III and Astrid of Sweden, King and Queen of Belgium.

He had three children by Cynthia: Vivien Mosley (1921–2002), who married on 15 January 1949 Desmond Francis Forbes Adam (1926–58), educated at Eton College, Eton, and at King's College, University of Cambridge, by whom she had two daughters and one son; Nicholas Mosley (later 7th Baronet of Ancoats; born 1923), a successful novelist who wrote a biography of his father and edited his memoirs for publication; and Michael Mosley (born 1932), unmarried and without issue.
During this marriage he had an extended affair with his wife's younger sister Lady Alexandra Metcalfe, and with their stepmother, Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, the American-born second wife and widow of Lord Curzon of Kedleston.He succeeded to the Baronetcy of Ancoats on his father's death in 1928, becoming Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet, of Ancoats.
Cynthia died of peritonitis in 1933, after which Mosley married his mistress Diana Guinness, née Diana Mitford (1910–2003, one of the Mitford sisters). They married in secret in Germany on 6 October 1936, in the Berlin home of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. Adolf Hitler was one of the guests.
By Diana Mitford, he had two sons: Oswald Alexander Mosley (born 1938), father of Louis Mosley (born 1983); and Max Mosley (born 1940), who was president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for 16 years.

Under the influence of William Joyce the BUP became increasingly anti-Semitic. In December, 1934 it became official policy. The verbal attacks on the Jewish community led to violence at meetings and demonstrations. In November 1936 a serious riot took place when left-wing organisations successfully stopped Mosley marching through the Jewish areas of London.

The activities of the BUF was checked by the passing of the 1936 Public Order Act. This gave the Home Secretary the power to ban marches in the London area and police chief constables could apply to him for bans elsewhere. This legislation also made it an offence to wear political uniforms and to use threatening and abusive words.

The BUP anti-Semitic policy was popular in certain inner-city areas and in 1937 Joyce came close to defeating the Labour Party candidate in the London County Council election in Shoreditch.

Joyce argued that the BUP should take a more extreme position on racial issues. Mosley disagreed and began to feel that Joyce posed a threat to his leadership. He therefore decided to sack Joyce as Propaganda Director. In an attempt to save money another 142 staff members also lost their jobs.

In 1938 several members of the BUF left the organization and founded the National Socialist League. This included John Becket, William Joyce, William Allen, Robert Forgan and A. K. Chesterton.

The popularity of the BUP declined even further after the outbreak of the Second World War. On 22nd May 1940 the British government announced the imposition of Defence Regulation 18B. This legislation gave the Home Secretary the right to imprison without trial anybody he believed likely to "endanger the safety of the realm". The following day, Oswald Mosley was arrested. Over the next few days other prominent figures in the BUF were imprisoned. On the 30th May the BUF was dissolved and its publications were banned.