Remembering OQ Marion Short (Mrs Russell Crammond) MI6
Friday 11 November 2022
We were so grateful to hear from Jonathan Crammond about his mother Mrs Marion Russell Crammond (nee Short) who sadly passed away on 3rd August this year at the age of 92.
“Marion attended Queenswood during WW2. Whilst most people evacuated their children away from London, my mother and subsequently her younger sister Suzette, evacuated Nottinghamshire to seemingly get closer to the action in London. She recalled how many of Queenswood’s teachers had returned from retirement, as the more regular teachers were either needed to fight in the war or do other war work. She also recalled how much of the food was grown at the school.
Her school nickname was ‘mouse’, appropriate for a quiet and reserved lady who was more comfortable quietly watching than bombastically seeking attention. She was known for sleeping through the air-raids, even on one night when a bomber returning to Germany from London dropped a bomb or two on the playing fields”.
After the war, as career opportunities were prioritised for returning servicemen, Marion entered secretarial school and became personal secretary for one of the professors at Nottingham University, but whilst there, an opportunity presented for her to join MI6. Her first posting was to Berlin, where she even attended art classes in Spandau Prison which was at the time holding seven top Nazi leaders convicted in the Nuremberg trials, including Rudolf Hess! As Jonathan said, “This was perhaps the defining period of her life. This was also the time of the first and perhaps most damaging Russian infiltration by George Blake, who she said she never liked nor trusted, but she did like his wife. Her second posting was to Bangkok, which she loved and recounted going to the beach at Pattaya and Phuket when all that was there were a few fishermen and their boats”.
Her third posting should have been to Rio, which she sacrificed to get married and have a family - it was not allowed to continue working for the Foreign Office once married. “She was an intelligent and unassuming lady for whom the confines of traditional domestic life and the benefits it provides might not have made up for the loss of the excitement of her earlier times and the promise of moving to Rio, which she never visited but had often talked about wanting to. She never complained, was a fabulous mother to me, and companion and subsequently carer for her husband who was many years her senior”.
We send our thanks to Jonathan for sharing his mother’s memories of her time at Q and of her fascinating life.