Fact or fiction? A tale of Nazis, Fascists and murder - all in Torbay

Torbay Weekly

In April 1937, two years before the outbreak of World War Two, future Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop made a two-day visit to Torquay.

Ribbentrop was a man determined to wage war on Britain.

Civic leaders rolled out the red carpet and more than 200 people stood outside Torquay Railway Station to greet him. Officially, he was in town to welcome the German battleship Schlesien, but was that the only reason?

This is the backdrop to a new novel to be published the first week of February titled Operation Seagull by Torquay author David Scott. It is a fictional follow-up to The Funk Hole Myth – the story of Torquay in World War Two which he successfully published two years ago.

"Ribbentrop’s visit struck me as odd," says David. ‘Then I discovered several key people in the town during the 1920s and 30s had very right-wing views."

Sir Charles Burn, Torquay’s MP from 1910 to 1923, was a leading British Fascist, as was Arthur Chesterton, cousin of Grantchester author G.K. Chesterton, and editor of the Torquay Times during the 1930s.

Chesterton left South Devon to work for British Union of Fascists leader Sir Oswald Mosley. After the war, he founded the National Front.

The BUF set up branches across Devon. William Joyce, who became better known as Lord Haw-Haw when he broadcast from Berlin during the war, spoke at three public meetings in Torquay.

The Fascists didn’t attract much support locally. Violence broke out at one of their meetings just off Market Street.

It was a different story, though, in Plymouth where the branch had 500 members.

"While writing The Funk Hole Myth I came to the conclusion that if Hitler had invaded Britain straight after the debacle at Dunkirk, he could well have succeeded,’’ says David.

"I have woven this into the story which starts with a murder. I have included a lot of social history about life in Torquay between the two world wars which I am sure people will find interesting."

Operation Seagull is only available from David. He can be contacted by emailing him at DScottTorq@aol.com.