Mary Sophia Allen (1878-1964) and Margaret Mary Damer Dawson (1873-1920) were both born into rich families in England. They lived together as secret lesbian lovers during the First World War (1914).
The Women’s Police Force
The Women’s Police Service was founded in 1914 by Nina Boyle* and Margaret Damer Dawson.
An aside About Nina Boyle:
(Nina never married. Was she a lesbian too?After the Russian Revolution, Nina travelled in Russia with fellow Suffragette, Lilian Lenton, an experience which would make her a lifelong anti-Communist. Lilian Lenton died in 1972. She never married). O.K I’m betting that Nina and Lilian were lesbians, too).
The Women’s Police Force was staffed by Volunteers. At this time, the U.K’s eligible men were fighting overseas. Women did not have the vote and the Suffragettes were marching, being imprisoned and force-fed in their fight for equality. She joined the Women’s Political and Social Union (WSPU)
Mary Sophia Allen Joins the Police Force
Mary met Damer Dawson in 1914. They were both lesbians and interested in women’s rights. Mary had a long history of suffragette involving including imprisonment and forced-feeding. In 1915 when The WPS was going strong, Margaret Damer Dawson became Commandant and Allen became Sub-Commadant.
Butch Dress Code.
Allen wore a miltary frock coat that was dark blue and fell below the knees. Under that were breeches and riding boots. For lesbians who loved uniforms, joining the women’s police force enabled them to serve their country and establish that women could do the same job as men. It also afforded lesbians the opportunity to cross-dress with impunity. The fact that Allen was a lesbian is recorded in her journal. She claimed that the authorites were against her because she was an introvert (term used then for a lesbian).
The Death of Damer Dawson.
When Damer Dawson died in 1920, at the early age of 47 years, her leadership was taken over by Mary Allen. Dawson left her house and most of her money to Allen.
Mary Allen Last Days
Mary aligned her political views with right-wing Facism. After meeting Hitler in 1934 she became a fervent admirer, Nazi sympathiser, and took to wearing jack-boots. Allen was an active supporter of General Francisco Franco and his Nationalist Army during the Spanish Civil War. As World War II became evident, Mary was asked to leave the police force. There was a movement to intern her in 1940, a year after World War II began. Perhaps, because she had received the OBE with her lover, Damer Dawson, these plans fell through.
Mary Allen, who wrote several books, including The Pioneer Policewoman (1925), Woman at the Crossroads(1934) and Lady in Blue (1936), died in the Birdhurst Nursing Home, 4 Birdhurst Road, Croydon, of cerebral thrombosis and cerebral arteriosclerosis on 16th December 1964. (aged 86)