A Suffolk farmer whose Nazi sympathies have been revealed in newly-released intelligence papers has been remembered this week as “a real gentlemen”.
But while wealthy Ronald Creasy and his wife Rita were open supporters of Oswald Mosley’s fascist movement and sent him a Christmas card, secretly they promised to shelter Nazi spies and offered to pass on to the Germans anything they heard about Allied attack plans.
But all the time the couple, who also exchanged fascist salutes with workers at their farm at Cranley Grange, Eye, were under MI5 surveillance, according to files released by the National Archive at Kew.
The couple’s activities were known to a Secret Service agent who, using the alias Jack King, had penetrated the ranks of Nazi sympathisers and undermined the threat they posed to the British war effort. Although, according to the files, Mrs Creasy was “easily the more pro-Nazi of the two”, her sympathies were said to have changed after the war when she became aware of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
An intelligence report from 1943 said that the Creasys were willing to help the Germans because they knew that if Hitler lost the war then Mosley would also lose.
“As they would do anything within their power to bring Mosley into power, they were willing to help Germany,” according to the report.
Mr Creasy, who was interned for five months in 1940, died in 2004 and the headstone of his grave at Monk Soham declares that he was a British Union elected councillor and a prospective parliamentary candidate for the Eye division. It goes on: “Individual thinker, pantheist and man of spirit”.
He is remembered still by David Saunders, whose family has the neighbouring farm and whose father was one of the special constables sent to detain him. He recalls his father saying Mr Creasy would not acknowledge him if they happened to meet after that.
Mr Saunders also remembers a story that Mr Creasy once tried to preach fascism to a group of men who had received their call-up papers. “The story is that he went into a pub through the door and came out through the window.”
He is also remembered by Janet Chambers, the Diss Express correspondent, who met him while she worked in the Eye library for a year. “He was polite and well mannered and was always coming in to order strange books I had never heard of.”
Her husband Alf went with a friend to see Mrs Creasy when she was selling a top hat and was given two of Mr Creasy’s black shirts which he wore for work. “I hated the damn things,” said Mrs Chambers.
Eddie Coe, now 82, was a blacksmith and engineer with his father at Redlingfield where Mr Creasy was a customer. “He would come to me to do jobs, like grinding lawn mowers,
“He was quite a gentleman and educated,” recalled Mr Coe. “He used to bring me a pheasant sometimes, and liked to have a talk.”
But it was never about politics, said Mr Coe, who admitted that much of what Mr Creasy said was “over my head”.
He had heard about the Creasys giving Nazi salutes to their workers. “One chap who worked for him was a submariner. You had to value your house and job in those days.
“It was only a case of putting your arm up.”