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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Lady Ridsdale DBE (1921 – 2009, née Victoire Bennett)

Dame Paddy Ridsdale, as she generally known, was an intelligence operative, secretary to Ian Fleming during WW2 and the inspiration for the Bond character Miss Moneypenny.

 

A Conservative Party stalwart and married to Member of Parliament for Harwich from 1954 to 1992 Sir Julian Ridsdale CBE (1915 – 2004), Dame Paddy – or Vicky, as she was known to some – is best known for her role in ‘Operation Mincemeat’, a “famous caper” concerning a “man who never was” in 1943.

 

In the war, Dame Paddy wrote love letters and telegrams that were planted on the body of ‘Major William Martin’, an invented, drowned naval officer, that was floated in the ocean off Spain. The body carried fictitious plans of a purported Allied invasion of Sardinia and Greece and formed part of a plot designed to deflect attention from the Allied landings in Sicily. Of it, she later remarked: “I was sent to buy clothes in all the best men’s shops and had to pose as his girlfriend. I had to go to post offices and rather loudly send this telegram to ‘my boyfriend’, hoping of course that somebody would overhear me”. In due course, the body was indeed found, the Axis powers completely taken in and “Mincemeat swallowed whole, hook, line, and sinker”. A BAFTA winning film directed by Ronald Neame, The Man Who Never Was, made about the deceptive scheme in 1956.

 

Dame Paddy was known as a “political hostess in the style of a bygone era”, lived in a mansion “sandwiched between a sheikh and a Saudi prince” in The Boltons for the majority of her adult life and is buried in the grounds of the church there. She had one daughter, became Lady Ridsdale when her husband was knighted in 1981 and was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) in her own right, for political services, in 1991.

 

Of her relationship with her one-time employer Fleming, she concluded: “Ian had so many girlfriends that I was not tempted to become one of them”.

 

 

 

13 COMMENTS

  1. Dame Paddy was a delightful lady. I recall her functions at her home being packed to the rafters with the bold and the glorious. She knew how to mix a drink and she knew how to stick a spike in a robber. You should have mentioned she stuck the heel of her shoe into some imbecile who dared try and rob her in 1997.

  2. Like Yolanda I went to receptions at the home of Sir Julian and Lady Ridsdale. They were great occasions and their beautifully decorated residence just a perfect setting. I miss that era and am getting old myself now.

  3. WHERE’S GLENMORE TRENEAR-HARVEY WHEN YOU NEED HIM? I BET HE’LL CLAIM TO KNOW HER. I BET HE’LL CLAIM HE WAS INVOLVED IN THE WHOLE SAGA. I BET HE’LL CLAIM THEY GAVE LECTURES TOGETHER LATER ON. WHERE IS THE KNOW-ALL SPY MASTER? WE MUST BE TOLD!

  4. I love that film. Great that you shared a link to both the trailer and the whole thing. Thanks. I’ll watch this afternoon.

  5. She did nothing to help dear Gerry and Kate McCann to find their beloved daughter Madeleine from what I recall. That is very disappointing and I do not see why she is at all relevant now. Instead focus on FIND MADELEINE, FIND HER NOW.

    • Hmmm… from what I recall she was 86 when Madeleine went missing what exactly did you expect here to do? Set out of for the Algarve (was it?) with her spade and start digging?

      • Plainly. Gillian expects us all to do everything in our powers for ‘FIND MADELEINE, FIND HER NOW!’ and has done since I set up this publication in 2012. She is quite determined to remind us and has left hundreds of comments in this regard. She is about as exciting as other ranters such as Rod, Glenmore Trenear-Harvey (thankfully now gone), Sandra Shevey (thankfully quiet for the moment) and the ‘Rolf Harris is Innocent’ person (also thankfully mostly quiet these days).

        • Everything is nice and quiet Matthew, don’t put the kiss of death on it. Remember Rolf has an encore this week I think.

    • Actually Gillian, she has been working very hard on this issue, it’s just that she has been working undercover and couldn’t tell you about it. If she had, she would had have to kill you.

  6. There’s an error in Wikipedia. It states in her entry that she was the daughter-in-law of Sir Aurelian Ridsdale, but in his entry it states that Sir Julian was his nephew, not his son.

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