Right wing extremists and groups

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Right wing extremists and groups

Ralph Dawson (KV 2/2970-2972) 1940-1951

This reconstituted and weeded file details the curious case of professional actor and Canterbury antiques dealer Ralph Dawson, and his association with the British Union of Fascists during and after the Second World War.

KV 2/2970 (1940-1942) records how Dawson had joined the BUF in 1939, and first came to the attention of the Security Service the following year. Having joined the Army and serving as a Gunner in the artillery based in Kent, Dawson generated a steady stream of correspondence from both the Canterbury Constabulary and his superior officers, by his frequent statements in favour of Oswald Mosley and the BUF and his defeatist attitude. His Second Lieutenant, having found him distributing copies of the BUF pamphlet Action, took the step of posting him to Dunkirk in May 1940, in the hope that he would incriminate other sympathisers. The Security Service was highly critical of this move, especially given his openly stated view that he would not fight the Germans on foreign soil. Unsurprisingly, Dawson was interned, and the file includes copies of his appeal hearings (e.g. at serial 9a).

He was eventually released on a technicality, and in the brief period while he was at liberty, was searched by the police in Canterbury. They found on him a copy of a membership certificate of the little known grouping of Mosleyites detained under section 18B of the defence regulations, known as "Hail Mosley Fight 'Em All Association" (or sometimes, more prosaically, as the "Hail Mosley F' 'Em All Association"). A copy of the membership certificate is on this file (serial 21a). Dawson was quickly re-interned, and remained in internment until he was released on compassionate grounds due to the ill-health of his mother. Dawson was then placed on the "invasion list". This file contains a photograph of Dawson.

The Service continued to keep a close watch on Dawson after his release, as detailed in KV 2/2971 (1942-1947) and KV 2/2972 (1947-1951). These files include much intercepted correspondence and reports of meetings attended by Dawson and of his other activities, which are of interest for the light they throw on right-wing activities in Britain in the latter stages of the war and beyond.