R. H. Bruce Lockhart

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R.H. Bruce Lockhart in Malaya, 1909

Sir Robert Hamilton ("R.H.") Bruce Lockhart, KCMG (2 September 1887 – 27 February 1970), was a journalist, author, secret agent, British diplomat (Moscow, Prague), and footballer. His 1932 book, Memoirs of a British Agent, became an international bestseller, and brought him to the world's attention.

Background[edit]

He was born in Anstruther, Fife, the son of Robert Bruce-Lockhart, the first headmaster of Spier's School, Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland. His mother was Florence Stuart Macgregor, while his other ancestors include Bruces, Hamiltons, Cummings, Wallaces and Douglases. He claimed he could trace a connection back to Boswell of Auchinleck. In Memoirs of a British Agent, he wrote, "There is no drop of English blood in my veins." He attended Fettes College in Edinburgh.[citation needed]

His family were mostly schoolmasters. His brother John Harold Bruce Lockhart was the headmaster of Sedbergh School, while his nephews Rab Bruce Lockhart and Logie Bruce Lockhart went on to become headmasters of Loretto and Gresham's. His great-nephew, Simon Bruce-Lockhart, is headmaster of Glenlyon Norfolk School.[1]

Career[edit]

At age 21, he went out to Malaya to join two uncles who were rubber planters there. According to his own account, he was sent to open up a new rubber estate near Pantai in Negeri Sembilan, in a district where "there were no other white men". He then "caused a minor sensation by carrying off Amai, the beautiful ward of the Dato’ Klana, the local Malay prince… my first romance". However, three years in Malaya, and one with Amai, came to an end when "…doctors pronounced Malaria, but there were many people who said that I had been poisoned". One of his uncles and one of his cousins "bundled my emaciated body into a motor car and… packed me off home via Japan and America". The Dato’ Klana in question was the chief of Sungei Ujong, the most important of the Nine States of Negeri Sembilan, whose palace was at Ampangan.[2]

Moscow posting[edit]

Bruce Lockhart next joined the British Foreign Service and was posted to Moscow as Vice-Consul. At the time of his arrival in Russia, people had heard that a great footballer named Lockhart from Cambridge was arriving, and he was invited to turn out for Morozov a textile factory team that played their games 30 miles east of Moscow – the manager of the cotton mill was from Lancashire, England. Bruce Lockhart played for most of the 1912 season and his team won the Moscow league championship that year. The great player however was Robert’s brother, John, who had played rugby union for Scotland, and by his own admission Robert barely deserved his place in the team and played simply for the love of the sport.[citation needed]

Bruce Lockhart was Acting British Consul-General in Moscow when the first Russian Revolution broke out in early 1917, but left shortly before the Bolshevik Revolution of October that year. He soon returned to Russia at the behest of Prime Minister Lloyd George and Lord Milner as the United Kingdom’s first envoy to the Bolsheviks (Russia) in January 1918 in an attempt to counteract German influence. Lockhart, on his return, was also working for the Secret Intelligence Service and had been given £648 worth of diamonds to fund the creation of an agent network in Russia. Moura Budberg, the widow of a high-ranking Czarist diplomat Count Johann von Benckendorff, became his mistress.[3]

Later, Bruce Lockhart spoke out for Arthur Ransome, saying he had been a valuable intelligence asset amid the worst chaos of the revolution.[4] As the chaos worsened in Russia and purges took hold among the Bolshevik leaders, Lockhart recommended official assistance to bring Trotsky's secretary, Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina, to England; she later married Ransome.[citation needed]

Arrest and imprisonment[edit]

In 1918, Bruce Lockhart and fellow British agent, Sidney Reilly, were dramatically alleged to have plotted to assassinate Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.[5] He was accused of plotting against the Bolshevik regime and, for a time during 1918, was confined in the Kremlin as a prisoner and feared being condemned to death. However, he escaped trial in an exchange of "secret agents" for the Russian diplomat Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov. He later wrote about his experiences in his 1932 autobiographical book, Memoirs of a British Agent, which became an instant worldwide hit, and was made into the 1934 film, British Agent, by Warner Brothers.

Second World War and after[edit]

During the Second World War, Lockhart became director-general of the Political Warfare Executive, co-ordinating all British propaganda against the Axis powers. He was also for a time the British liaison officer to the Czechoslovak government-in-exile under President Edvard Beneš. After the war, he resumed his writing career, as well as lecturing and broadcasting, and made a weekly BBC Radio broadcast to Czechoslovakia for over ten years.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Lockhart married Frances Mary Beck in 1948. Their son was author Robin Bruce Lockhart, who wrote the 1967 book Ace of Spies — about his father’s friend and fellow agent Sidney Reilly — from which the 1983 miniseries Reilly, Ace of Spies was produced.

Death[edit]

Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart, died in 1970 at the age of 82.[6]

Honours[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Memoirs of a British Agent (Putnam, London, 1932)
  • Retreat from Glory (Putnam, London, 1934)
  • Return to Malaya (Putnam, London, 1936)
  • My Scottish Youth (Putnam, London, 1937)
  • Guns or Butter: War countries and peace countries of Europe revisited (Putnam, London, 1938)
  • A Son of Scotland (Putnam, London, 1938)
  • What Happened to the Czechs? (Batchworth Press, London, 1953)
  • Comes the Reckoning (Putnam, London, 1947)
  • My Rod, My Comfort (Putnam, London, 1949)
  • The Marines Were There: the Story of the Royal Marines in the Second World War (Putnam, London, 1950)
  • Scotch: the Whisky of Scotland in Fact and Story (Putnam, London, 1951)
  • My Europe (Putnam, London, 1952)
  • Your England (Putnam, London, 1955)
  • Jan Masaryk, a Personal Memoir (Putnam, London, 1956)
  • Friends, Foes, and Foreigners (Putnam, London, 1957)
  • The Two Revolutions: an Eyewitness Study of Russia, 1917 (Bodley Head, London, 1967)
  • The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart Vol 1 (Macmillan, London, 1973)
  • The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart Vol 2 (Macmillan, London, 1980)

TV drama[edit]

The 1983 British television series Reilly, Ace of Spies was based on a book by his son. Lockhart appeared in the series, portrayed by Ian Charleson.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "John Harold Bruce-Lockhart profile". The Peerage. [unreliable source] (and other linked pages)
  2. ^ Bruce Lockhart, R. H., Return to Malaya (London: Putnam, 1936, pp. 4–5, 195, 211 & 230
  3. ^ Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, Memoirs of a British Agent; first published 1932 by Macmillan (January 1975); ISBN 0-333-17329-5/ISBN 978-0-333-17329-9
  4. ^ Casciani, Dominic (1 March 2005). "How MI5 watched children's author". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  5. ^ Thomson, Mike (19 March 2011). "Did Britain try to assassinate Lenin?". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Moffat, Colin (8 March 2006). "BBC SPORT: "O'Connor not first Scot in Moscow"". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Notice of 1943 award to Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart of knighthood as Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

External links[edit]