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John Profumo CBE.

John Dennis Profumo, CBE, the central figure in the 1963 Profumo Affair which contributed to the defeat of the Macmillan Conservative government the following year has died aged 91.

In 1939 Profumo joined the Northamptonshire Yeomanry and served in North Africa where he was mentioned in despatches in 1943 and Italy where he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division) in 1944. In 1947 he was awarded the US Bronze Star.

In March 1940, while serving in the army, he was elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative at a by-election in Kettering, Northamptonshire. On 7 May the Opposition moved a motion of no confidence that led to the fall of the Chamberlain Government. This was the occasion when Chamberlain's Secretary of State for India and Burma Leopold Amery quoted Cromwell's imperious words to the Long Parliament "You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!" Profumo was one 31 Government members to support the no confidence motion, which resulted in the fall of the Chamberlain Government. He was the last surviving member of the 1940 House of Commons. (1)

Profumo lost his seat in 1945 but was re-elected as member for Stratford-on-Avon in 1950. After junior posts in transport (1952-57), the colonial department (1957-58) and the foreign office (1958-60) he became Secretary of State for War in 1960. As Secretary of State for War he signed an amended warrant for the Victoria Cross on 30 September 1961. The warrant replaced previous Victoria Cross warrants and incorporated the increase of the Victoria Cross pension from 10 [pounds sterling] per annum to 100 [pounds sterling] per annum which was extended to commissioned officers who had previously been in eligible for the pension.

After his resignation from the government and parliament in June 1963 he devoted his time to Toynbee Hall, a charity supporting people in the East End of London. He began washing dishes and later became its chairman from 1982 to 1985 and then its president. In 1975 he received the CBE but his full public redemption came in 1995 when he was seated on the Queen's right at the top table of the dinner celebrating the 70th birthday of Margaret Thatcher.

Profumo married Valerie Hobson in 1954 who stood loyally beside her husband assisting in his social work. She had been a leading lady in the British cinema of the thirties and forties and had retired from show business at the age of 37 after her greatest success in 1953, as the governess in the first London production of The King and I. She died aged 81 in 1998. They are survived by their son the writer David Profumo.

(1) Churchill, Winston. The Second World War, Volume I, The Gathering Storm, p.525. Leopold Amery was chief correspondent for The Times during the Boer War and edited the seven volume The Times History of the South African War (1900-09). His son, John Amery was executed for high treason in 1945 see Goyne, Rohan. "British Free Corps (BFC): Traitors to the King", Sabretache, Sep 2005, Vol XLVI, No. 3, p. 39-42 and Vivian, David , "Some notes on the capture and trial of John Amery", Sabretache, Dec 2005, Vol XLVI, No. 4, p. 33-34
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Author:Staunton, Anthony
Publication:Sabretache
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2006
Words:561
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