From the Kingdom the Kremlin

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Did Fife’s own ‘Red’ Mary Stewart visit Stalin in the wake of World War Two?

A phone call from the late Ms Stewart’s nephew revealed some new information about this intriguing character from the Kingdom’s past.

The reader got in touch to tell us about his aunt, who the family referred to as ‘Red’ Stewart, and who may well have been the woman pictured in our recent Who, What, Where, Why, When feature.

The reader, now aged 85, could not be completely sure it was his aunt in the photo but many of the details seem to fit the little information we have about ‘Red Mary’ Stewart, in particular that she served as a councillor for the Methil area.

He said his aunt’s reputation as an active communist extended well beyond Fife and even led to an invitation from Joseph Stalin himself.

While he didn’t know many details of her trip to the Soviet Union, our reader said Stalin paid for his aunt’s airfare to the USSR and remembered she returned with a large book, printed in English.

But his aunt’s radical political views were in stark contrast to the beliefs of our reader’s father.

He explained: “My father and my aunt never got on.

“He was a coalminer in Denbeath and he didn’t have any time for communism.

“My aunt would come round to visit us when she knew he would be out working because, if she ever came by when my father was home, he wouldn’t let her in the house.”

He also said his aunt’s husband stayed clear of politics.

He recalled: “He worked as a roadman. He was happy to be a stay- at-home husband and content to sit and play dominoes whereas my aunt’s whole life was devoted to the Communist Party.”

A quiet life didn’t seem to be an option for Red Stewart, who often took up the fight on behalf of local people.

Our reader said: “She would volunteer to represent people in court if they couldn’t afford legal representation. She wasn’t a lawyer, just a well-read woman, and she was very well thought of among local people for doing that.”

If you can reveal any more information about this intriguing figure from Fife’s past, contact the East Fife Mail on 01333 423251.