Norman Baillie-Stewart

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Norman Baillie-Stewart
Born (1909-01-15)15 January 1909
Died 7 June 1966(1966-06-07) (aged 57)
Dublin
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Years of service 1927–1933
Unit Seaforth Highlanders

Norman Baillie-Stewart (15 January 1909 – 7 June 1966) was a British army officer known as The Officer in the Tower when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. An active sympathizer of Nazi Germany, he took part in German-produced propaganda broadcasts and is known as one of the persons associated with the nickname Lord Haw-Haw.

Early life[edit]

Baillie-Stewart was born to a military family named Wright and was given the forenames Norman Baillie Stewart. He attended Bedford School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where, as a cadet, he served as an orderly to Prince Henry, a younger son of King George V.[1]

In January 1929, while still a cadet, he changed his surname from Wright to "Baillie-Stewart",[1][2] perhaps under the belief that he was looked down upon by more senior officers, even though his father had been a colonel and his mother was from a family with a long tradition of military service. He graduated tenth in the order of merit and in February 1929 received a commission as a subaltern in the Seaforth Highlanders.,[3] although he soon grew to dislike army life.[citation needed]

1933 court martial[edit]

The experimental Vickers Independent tank, preserved at the Bovington Tank Museum (2010)

In the spring of 1933, Baillie-Stewart was court-martialled at Chelsea Barracks under the Official Secrets Act for selling military secrets to a foreign power. Because Britain was not at war, Baillie-Stewart was not in danger of the death penalty, but the ten charges against him carried a maximum sentence of 140 years in jail.

The court was told that Baillie-Stewart's offending had begun in 1931 when he met and fell in love with a German woman while holidaying in Germany, and decided to become a German citizen, writing a letter to the German Consul in London offering his services. Receiving no answer, he travelled to Berlin without permission to take leave, where he telephoned the German Foreign Ministry and demanded to talk to an English speaker. This resulted in him making contact with a Major Mueller under the Brandenburg Gate, where he agreed to spy for Germany.[4]

Using the pretext that he was studying for Staff College examinations, he borrowed from the Aldershot Military Library specifications and photographs of an experimental tank, the Vickers A1E1 Independent, a new automatic rifle and notes on the organisation of tank and armoured car units.[Note 1] It was charged that he had sold this material to a German known as "Otto Waldemar Obst", in return for which he received two letters signed "Marie-Luise", one containing ten £5 notes and the other four £10 notes. Evidence was also produced that he had also made several trips to the Netherlands, to meet with his handlers. MI5's files have since shown that Marie-Luise had been merely a figment of his controller's imagination; Major Mueller's covername was Obst (fruit) and Baillie-Stewart's was Poiret (little pear), while Marie-Luise, a type of pear, was used to conceal their correspondence.[4]

He was imprisoned for five years, which he served at the Tower of London, the last British citizen to be held there as a proper prisoner rather than one awaiting transfer. (The Kray twins were imprisoned for a few days in the Tower Of London in 1953, whilst awaiting transfer to Shepton Mallet Prison. See List of prisoners of the Tower of London.)

German collaboration[edit]

After his release from prison in 1937, Baillie-Stewart moved to Vienna, where he applied for Austrian citizenship. However, this was refused since he did not meet the residency qualification. In August 1937[citation needed], the Austrian government suspected him of being a Nazi agent and gave him 3 weeks to leave Austria.[Note 2] Baillie-Stewart's disenchantment with Britain was increased when the British Embassy in Vienna refused to help him. Rather than return to Britain he went to Bratislava, which was then in Czechoslovakia.

Following the Anschluss of 1938, Baillie-Stewart was able to return to Austria, where he made a small living from operating a trading company. He applied for naturalisation but the application was delayed by bureaucracy at the Ministry and he did not become a German citizen until 1940.

In July 1939, Baillie-Stewart attended a friend's party where he happened to hear some German English-language propaganda broadcasts. He criticised the broadcasts, and was overheard by a guest at the party who happened to work at the Austrian radio station. He informed his superiors of Baillie-Stewart's comments, and after a successful voice test in Berlin, Baillie-Stewart was ordered by the German Propaganda Ministry to report to the Reichsrundfunk in Berlin, where he became a propaganda broadcaster. Baillie-Stewart made his first broadcast on the "Germany Calling" English language service a week before the United Kingdom declared war on Germany, reading Nazi-biased "news".

It has been speculated that it was Baillie-Stewart who made the broadcast which led the pseudonymous Daily Express radio critic Jonah Barrington to coin the term "Haw-Haw". The nickname possibly referenced Baillie-Stewart's exaggeratedly aristocratic way of speaking, though Wolf Mittler, another English-speaking announcer, is sometimes considered a more likely candidate. When William Joyce later became the most prominent Nazi propaganda broadcaster, Barrington appended the title and named Joyce "Lord Haw-Haw", since the true identity of the broadcaster was unknown at the time.[5] Another nickname which was possibly applied to Baillie-Stewart was "Sinister Sam".[6]

By the end of September 1939 it was clear to the radio authorities that Joyce, originally Baillie-Stewart's backup man, was more effective.[7] Baillie-Stewart, who had gradually became disenchanted with the material that he had to broadcast, was dismissed in December 1939 shortly after his last radio broadcast. He continued to work in Berlin as a translator for the German Foreign Ministry, and lectured in English at Berlin University. In early 1940, he acquired German citizenship.

In early 1942, Baillie-Stewart made a brief return to radio under the alias of "Lancer", making several broadcasts for both the Reichsrundfunk and Radio Luxembourg. He spent much time avoiding the more blatant propaganda material he was asked to present.

In 1944, Baillie-Stewart had himself sent to Vienna for medical treatment, where he was arrested in 1945 in Altaussee, while wearing "chamois leather shorts, embroidered braces and a forester's jacket" and was sent to Britain to face charges of high treason.

Postwar[edit]

Baillie-Stewart only avoided execution because the Attorney-General, Hartley Shawcross, did not think he could successfully try him on charges of high treason, committed by taking German citizenship, and instead decided to try him on the lesser charge of "committing an act likely to assist the enemy". MI5 reportedly lobbied for him to be sent to the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, where there would be no "namby-pamby legal hair-splitting".[4]

Baillie-Stewart pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, following which he moved to Ireland under the pseudonym of James Scott, married, and had two children before dying on a Dublin street of a heart attack in 1966.[8][9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Vickers A1E1 Independent was a large tank with five turrets; the experimental prototype was delivered in 1926. Several countries had an interest in multi-turret tanks during the inter-war period and Germany produced the Neubaufahrzeug between 1934 and 1936. The Vickers Independent also provided inspiration for the Soviet T-35. Experience during the early part of the Second World War, showed such tanks generally performed poorly in combat.
  2. ^ Before it was overthrown by the 1938 German annexation of Austria, the authoritarian Austrofascist government of Austria was very hostile to German Nazism.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Prisoner in the Tower". Time. 3 April 1933. Retrieved 23 July 2008. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33455. p. 296. 8 January 1929.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33462. p. 772. 1 February 1929.
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Michael (1 October 1996). "How the first Lord Haw-Haw escaped death". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 July 2007. 
  5. ^ Freedman, Jean Rose (1998). Whistling in the Dark: Memory and Culture in Wartime London. University Press of Kentucky. p. 43. ISBN 0-8131-2076-4. 
  6. ^ Nazi Wireless Propaganda: Lord Haw-Haw and British Public Opinion in the Second World War, Edinburgh University Press, 2000, page 13
  7. ^ Kater, Michael H. (1992). Different Drummers: Jazz in the Culture of Nazi Germany. Oxford University Press US. p. 130. ISBN 0-19-516553-5. 
  8. ^ "Norman Baillie-Stewart is Dead; Briton Jailed for Aid to Germans; Passed Secrets on Armored Vehicles Known as 'Officer in Tower'". The New York Times. 8 June 1966. Retrieved 20 May 2010. 
  9. ^ "Milestones: Jun. 17, 1966". Time. 17 June 1966. Retrieved 20 May 2010. (subscription required)