Walter Fletcher (politician)

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Sir Walter Fletcher (8 April 1892 – 6 April 1956) was a British businessman and Conservative Party politician.[1][2]

Born Walter Fleischl von Marxow, he was the second son of Paul Fleischl von Marxow and his wife Cecile (née Levis)[3] of Shagbrooke, Reigate, Surrey.[2][4]

His father was an Austrian-born woolbroker, brother of Ernst von Fleischl-Marxow, who became a naturalised British citizen in 1887.[5]

Following education at Charterhouse School and the University of Lausanne, he began training as a manager in the rubber industry.[2] With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 he entered the British Army, obtaining a commission in the Army Ordnance Department. He served in East Africa, and by the end of the war in 1918 had reached the rank of major.[2]

In September 1919 he changed his name by deed poll to Walter Fletcher.[6] He returned to Africa where he managed a large number of rubber plantations. He returned to England where he subsequently became chairman and managing director of Hecht, Levis and Kahn, a major rubber and commodities company. He held the position for thirty years.[2] In 1928 he married Esme Boyd.[2]

Politically, Fletcher was a Conservative, and he was selected as the party's prospective parliamentary candidate for the Birkenhead East seat in 1930. However, with the formation of a National Government prior to the 1931 general election he stood aside to allow Henry Graham White, a Liberal member of the government to hold the seat.[2]

During World War II Fletcher worked for the Special Operations Executive, running an operation called Operation Remorse. Originally it was hoped Fletcher could use his contacts to smuggle rubber out of Japanese-occupied Malaya and Indo-China through the Chinese black market. The operation was diversified to include the smuggling of foreign currency, diamonds and machinery to fund the SOE's activities.[7][8] In 1947 he was made Commander of the British Empire for his war service.[2]

He was elected at the 1945 general election as Member of Parliament (MP) for Bury in Lancashire.[2][9] When that constituency was abolished for the 1950 election, he was returned for the new Bury and Radcliffe constituency,[1] and held the seat until he retired from the House of Commons at the 1955 general election.[2] In 1953 he was knighted.[2]

As well as his business and political interests Fletcher had extensive farms in Hertfordshire.[2] He was also an accomplished painter, exhibiting at the Royal Academy and in Bond Street galleries.[2]

He died at his London home in April 1956 aged 63.[2] He was buried in Sacombe, near Ware, Hertfordshire.[10]


  1. ^ a b Leigh Rayment's Historical List of MPs – Constituencies beginning with "B" (part 6)[self-published source][better source needed]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Obituary: Sir Walter Fletcher Former M.P. For Bury". The Times. 7 April 1956. p. 11. 
  3. ^ "Death Notice: Ernst Fleischl-Marxow, 1891". Neue Freie Presse. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Charterhouse Register, 1872-1910 2. Charterhouse School. 1911. p. 771. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25669. p. 535. 1 February 1887.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31593. p. 12603. 10 October 1919.
  7. ^ Aldrich, Richard James (2000). Intelligence and the war against Japan: Britain, America and the politics of secret service. Cambridge University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-521-64186-9. 
  8. ^ Wylie, Neville (2007). The politics and strategy of clandestine war: Special Operation Executive, 1940-1946. Taylor & Francis. p. 193. ISBN 978-0-415-39110-8. 
  9. ^ Craig, F. W. S. (1983) [1969]. British parliamentary election results 1918–1949 (3rd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 112. ISBN 0-900178-06-X. 
  10. ^ "Funeral: Sir Walter Fletcher". The Times. 11 April 1956. p. 12. 

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alan Chorlton
Member of Parliament for Bury
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bury and Radcliffe
Succeeded by
John Bidgood