Charles Jocelyn Hambro

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Sir
Charles Jocelyn Hambro
KBE MC
Born 3 October 1897
Died 1963
Rank Air Commodore
Unit Coldstream Guards
Special Operations Executive
Commands held Head of the Special Operations Executive
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards
  • Military Cross
Relations Charles Eric Hambro (father)
Charles Hambro, Baron Hambro (son)
Other work Merchant Banker

Air Commodore Sir Charles Jocelyn Hambro, KBE MC (3 October 1897 – 1963) was a merchant banker and intelligence officer.

Career[edit]

Hambro was born into a banking family of Danish origin which had settled in Dorset and the City of London in the early 19th century. He was the son of Charles Eric Hambro, a partner in C. J. Hambro & Son (later to become Hambros Bank) and a Conservative Member of Parliament for Wimbledon between 1900 and 1907.

Between 1910 and 1915 the younger Charles was educated at Eton College, joining the cricket team in 1914 and becoming the Captain in 1915. After leaving he immediately went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, being made an Ensign in the Coldstream Guards in 1916. He was immediately posted to the Western Front, serving for two years until demobilisation and being awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery in action.[1]

After initial training with the Guaranty Trust Company in New York (where he and his wife lived with Harry Morgan) he joined his family bank J.C. Hambro & Sons], playing a large part in its merger with the British Bank of Northern Commerce in 1920, with the combined bank taking the name Hambros Bank in 1921. In 1928, when only 30, Charles was elected a director of the Bank of England,[1] and between 1932 and 1933 he put all work outside the bank to one side to work on establishing the bank's exchange control division under the direction of Montagu C. Norman, the Bank of England director. In 1937 Charles was asked to succeed Norman as director, but he turned it down as he was suffering from oral cancer, although surgical operations and radiotherapy later helped him recover.

At the start of World War II he was asked by Ronald Cross to join the "Ministry of Economic Warfare", a cover organisation for the Special Operations Executive. Hambro was placed in charge of activities in Scandinavia, arranging smuggling and sabotage operations. Through his contact with Ebbe Munck, an anti-Nazi journalist, Charles linked up with the Danish resistance, and was made KBE for his work in 1941. Hambro refused to accept any wages for his military work during wartime.[2]

Between December 1940 and November 1941 Charles was also in charge of overseeing the French, Belgian, German and Dutch sections of the SOE, and from November 1941 he was deputy leader of SOE for 5 months. In 1942 he succeeded in persuading the British and Norwegian organisations to form a planning commission, which was instrumental in devising Operation Grouse and Operation Swallow, important parts of the Norwegian heavy water sabotage missions. By this time Charles was on the Executive Committee of the SOE, and was promoted to Air Commodore. Roundell Palmer, now head of the SOE, appointed him to succeed Frank Nelson. His first major action as head of the SOE was to meet with Colonel William Joseph Donovan, the head of the OSS and his opposite number. A disagreement over actions in the Middle East led Charles to resign in 1943.

For the rest of the war he acted as head of the "British raw materials mission" in Washington; a cover for exchanging information and technology between Britain and the United States which led to the detonation of the first Atomic Bomb as part of the Manhattan Project.

Family[edit]

In 1919 Charles married Pamela Cobbold, daughter of John Dupuis Cobbold and Lady Evelyn Murray.

Together they had four children:

  • Cynthia Hambro (1921–1986), married Maj. Michael Ian Leslie-Melville in 1943
  • Diana Hambro (b. 1922), married David Gibson-Watt, Baron Gibson-Watt in 1942
  • Pamela Hambro (b. 1925), married Capt. Robin William Lowe in 1945 (divorced 1951), married Andrew Gibson-Watt (brother of David, above) in 1951
  • Charles Hambro, Baron Hambro (1930–2002)

The family settled at Delcombe Manor near Milton Abbey. Pamela died in 1932, of infection following a hunting accident.[3] In 1934 Charles built the village hall for Winterborne Stickland to replace its Reading Room, which had been sold off with the rest of the Milton Abbey estate, and named it after his late wife.

In 1936 he remarried: his second wife was Dorothy Helen Mackay: her first husband had been Marcus Wallenberg (junior) 1899–1982). They went on to have a daughter, Sally.

A relative, Carl Joachim Hambro, (the younger) was a politician and civil servant in Norway and in exile during World War II in Sweden.[4]

References[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Ernest Benn, Bt
High Sheriff of the County of London
1933–1934
Succeeded by
Victor Blagden
Preceded by
William Acton
High Sheriff of the County of London
1956–1957
Succeeded by
Sir Patrick Cooper