Rotha Lintorn-Orman

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Emblem of the British Fascists

Rotha Beryl Lintorn Lintorn-Orman (1895-1935) was the founder of the British Fascisti, the first avowedly fascist movement to appear in British politics.

Early life[edit]

Born as Rotha Beryl Lintorn Orman in Kensington, London, she was the daughter of Charles Edward Orman, a major from the Essex Regiment, and his wife, Blanch Lintorn, née Simmons. Her maternal grandfather was Field Marshal Sir John Lintorn Arabin Simmons.[1] The Orman family would adopt the name of Lintorn-Orman.

She was one of the girls who showed up at the 1909 Crystal Palace Scout Rally wanting to be Scouts and in 1911 was awarded one of the first of the Girl Guides' Silver Fish Awards.[2]

Lintorn-Orman served in World War I as a member of the Women's Volunteer Reserve and with the Scottish Women's Hospital Corps[3] was decorated[citation needed] for her contribution at the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917.[4] In 1918 she became head of the British Red Cross Motor School to train drivers in the battlefield.[5] In these early years she developed a strong sense of British nationalism, and became a staunch monarchist and imperialist.

Fascism[edit]

Following her war service, she placed an advertisement in the right-wing journal The Patriot seeking anti-communists.[6] This led to the foundation of the British Fascisti (later the British Fascists) in 1923 as a response to the growing strength of the Labour Party, a source of great anxiety for the virulently anti-Communist Lintorn-Orman.[7] She felt Labour was too prone to advocating class conflict and internationalism, two of her pet hates.[8]

Financed by her mother Blanch, Lintorn-Orman's party nonetheless struggled due to her preference for remaining within the law and her continuing ties to the fringes of the Conservative Party.[7] Lintorn-Orman was essentially a Tory by inclination but was driven by a strong anti-communism and attached herself to fascism largely because of her admiration for Benito Mussolini and what she saw as his action-based style of politics.[9] The party was subject to a number of schisms, such as when the moderates led by R. B. D. Blakeney defected to the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies during the 1926 General Strike or when the more radical members resigned to form the National Fascisti, and ultimately lost members to the Imperial Fascist League and the British Union of Fascists when these groups emerged. For her part Lintorn-Orman would have nothing to do with the BUF as she considered Oswald Mosley to be a near-communist[10] and was particularly appalled by his former membership of the Labour Party,[11] although it was to this group that she lost much of her membership when Neil Francis Hawkins became a member in 1932.[12]

Final years[edit]

Dependent on alcohol and other drugs,[13] rumours about her private life began to damage her reputation, until her mother stopped her funding amid lurid tales of alcohol, other drugs and orgies with black men.[14] Taken ill in 1933, she was sidelined from the British Fascists, with effective control passing to Mrs D. G. Harnett, who sought to breathe new life into the group by seeking to ally it with Ulster loyalism.[15]

She died in March 1935 at Las Palmas, Canary Islands, with her organisation all but defunct.

Bibliography[edit]

  • 'Feminine Fascism': Women in Britain's Fascist Movement, Julie V. Gottlieb (I.B. Tauris, 2000)
  • 'Hurrah for the Blackshirts!': Fascists and Fascism in Britain between the Wars, Martin Pugh (Random House, 2005)

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Benewick, Robert, Political Violence and Public Order, London: Allan Lane, 1969, p. 27
  2. ^ District History: Pre-1950, Liphook District Guides[dead link]
  3. ^ M. Durham, 'Britain', K. Passmore (ed.), Women, Gender and Fascism in Europe 1919-45, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003, p. 216
  4. ^ Thurlow, Richard, Fascism in Britain, London: IB Tauris, 1998
  5. ^ Richard Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, Oxford University Press, 1983, p. 85
  6. ^ Durham, 'Britain', p. 215
  7. ^ a b Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 34
  8. ^ J.A. Cole, Lord Haw-Haw: The Full Story of William Joyce, Faber & Faber, 1987, p. 29
  9. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 86
  10. ^ S. Dorril, Blackshirt – Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism, London: Penguin, 2007, p. 204
  11. ^ Cole, Lord Haw-Haw, pp. 39-40
  12. ^ Benewick, Political Violence, p. 36
  13. ^ Dorril, Blackshirt, p. 198
  14. ^ Thurlow, Fascism in Britain, p. 37
  15. ^ Griffiths, Fellow Travellers on the Right, p. 92