Tuesday, 12 June 2012

His Majesty's Secret - Fascism and the Duke of York's Camps

King George VI was an passionate advocate of organised youth camps and from 1921 to 1939 sponsored and attended his boys camps held on the Romney Marsh in Kent and Southwold in Essex. There was even a camp at Southport in Lancashire and at Balmoral in Scotland. The key movers in this was the Industrial Welfare Society organised by the Reverend RH Hyde, Captain JG Paterson who was the Camp Commandant. Boys from public schools mixed with those from industrial towns and the camps were "mobilised" into 20 sections led by section leaders. In the 1929 camp one section leader was Lord Clydesdale, later known as the Duke of Hamilton who was appointed as George VI's Chief Stewart in 1940 when he was compelled to sack the Duke of Buccleuch because of the Duke's Pro-Nazi views. Interestingly Hamilton then known as Clydesdale was one of the first public schoolboys to attend the First Duke of York's Camp at Romney Marsh in 1921 organised by Louis Greig and then came back in 1929 as an organiser and in 1933 as a speaker to tell the boys all about his adventures on the Mount Everest Expedition of 1933 which had been sponsored by British Fascist funder Lady Houston  (on the Everest committee was Lord Wakefield, John Buchan, & the Master of Sempill - who helped Japan develop airpower) In the following year the Bursar for the camp was Mr I J Pitman (Issac James) who had married Lord Luke's (The Bovril King , and funder of Sir Joseph Ball's anti-semitic Truth) daughter. Pitman a rugby international would become a Tory MP after having appointed to the Bank of England in 1941. Over 8,000 boys attended camps, many RAF flyers attending as section leaders. In 1937 at a camp at Chatsworth, 10 German boys were invited who "apparently returned singing england's praises"(Rene Kraus - 1941.  The Men around Churchill)

The Duke of York ran a network of pro-fitness organisations in the 1920's such as the National Playing Field Association which included Ronald Waterhouse, Noel Curtis Bennett and Louis Greig. This move mirrored similar movements in Germany such as the Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) movement of the Nazis which had been studied by Hamilton spouse Prunella Stack and mirrored the pro-fitness obsessions of the British Fascists. In January 1939 the Reverend Hyde advocated a German style Kraft durch Freude approach to fitness. In February King George VI met Nazi Fitness leader Doctor Ley when he came to London to attend the World Congress for Recreation and Leisure.

The last camp was held near Balmoral in 1939 and included the Royal Family.

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