|Sir R. H. Bruce Lockhart|
R.H. Bruce Lockhart in Malaya, 1909
|British Vice Consul in Moscow|
|Acting British Consul General in Moscow|
|British Consul General in Moscow|
|Head of the unofficial British mission / Unofficial Ambassador to the Bolsheviks|
|Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Warfare Executive|
|Born||2 September 1887|
|Died||27 February 1970(aged 82)|
Jean Bruce Haslewood (m. 1913) |
Frances Mary Beck (m. 1948)
Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart, KCMG (2 September 1887 - 27 February 1970) was a British diplomat (Moscow, Prague), journalist, author, secret agent and footballer. His 1932 book, Memoirs of a British Agent, became an international best-seller, and brought him to the world's attention. It tells of his failed effort to sabotage the Bolshevik revolution in Moscow in 1918; his co-conspirators were double agents working for the Bolsheviks. In the end the "Lockhart Plot", was a cunning `sting' deliberately manufactured and controlled by Soviet master spy Felix Dzerzhinsky with the goal of discrediting the British and French governments.
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.
His family were mostly schoolmasters, but his younger brother Rob McGregor MacDonald Lockhart became an Indian Army general. 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, was headmaster of Glenlyon Norfolk School.[unreliable source]
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.
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 gold medal he won is in the collection of the National Library of Scotland. 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.
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. Moura Budberg, the widow of a high-ranking Czarist diplomat Count Johann von Benckendorff, became his mistress.
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.
Later, Bruce Lockhart spoke out for Arthur Ransome, saying he had been a valuable intelligence asset amid the worst chaos of the revolution. As the chaos worsened in Russia and purges took hold among the Bolshevik leaders, Lockhart provided assistance to bring Trotsky's secretary, Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina, to England; she later married Ransome.
In 1918, Bruce Lockhart and fellow British agent, Sidney Reilly, were dramatically alleged to have plotted to assassinate Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin. Lockhart and British officials condemned this as Soviet propaganda. 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.
Lockhart was tried in absentia before the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal in a proceeding which opened November 25, 1918. Some 20 defendants faced charges in the trial, most of whom had worked for the Americans or the British in Moscow, in the case levied by procurator Nikolai Krylenko. The case concluded on December 3, 1918, with two defendants sentenced to be shot and various others sentenced to terms of prison or forced labor for terms up to five years. Lockhart and Sidney Reilly were both sentenced to death in absentia, with the sentence to be executed if they were ever found in Soviet Russia again.
Lockhart was appointed the commercial secretary of the British legation in Prague in November 1919. Finding the work boring, in 1922 he left the post and moved into finance. He joined a central European Bank which was run by the Bank of England.
In 1928 Lockhart left the world of finance and moved into journalism, joining Lord Beaverbook's Evening Standard. He served as the editor of the paper's 'Londoner's Diary' and helped organise Beaverbrook's Empire Crusade campaign. During the 1930s Lockhart also began to release a number of books. They were successful enough that writing became his full-time career in 1937.
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 Bene?. 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.
He had a son from his first marriage to Jean Bruce Haslewood, whom R. H. Bruce Lockhart married in 1913.
His 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.
Lockhart married Frances Mary Beck in 1948. His posthumous diaries reveal that he struggled most of his life with alcoholism.
Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart, died on 27 February 1970 at the age of 82, leaving property valued at £2054. His address at death was Brookside, Ditchling, Sussex.
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