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HERITAGE - 38: WHAT PRICE TREASON? Selling Sea-borne Warfare Secrets

Updated on January 5, 2017
Serpent - Sempill, Treason against the Crown that gave him status over others
Serpent - Sempill, Treason against the Crown that gave him status over others

Joker in the pack?

The flying 'ace', William Forbes-Sempill, Master of Sempill
The flying 'ace', William Forbes-Sempill, Master of Sempill

Treason: the definition according to the law

Treason, the definition according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition:

"...violation of a subject of allegiance to the sovereign or to the State, esp. by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or to overthrow the government..."

*The crime of petty treason was abolished in 1828 (in the United Kingdom). this is why the term high treason, originally distinguished from petty treason, now has the same meaning as treason

Prelude to Treason - a glittering flying career

According to the 1940 Official Secrets Act... The Act is constantly updated to take consideration of technical developments, the definition of Secrets and those the current Act applies to
According to the 1940 Official Secrets Act... The Act is constantly updated to take consideration of technical developments, the definition of Secrets and those the current Act applies to | Source
William Forbes-Sempill in the cockpit of a naval biplane
William Forbes-Sempill in the cockpit of a naval biplane | Source

William Forbes-Sempill, 19th Lord Sempill, AFC, AFRAes, b.24th September, 1893, d. 30th September, 1965

Scottish peer and record-breaking air pioneer - later proved to have committed treason for financial gain, passing naval air secrets to the Imperial Japanese military authorities before and in the course of World War Two. Eton education led Sempill to a high-flying career as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps. He then transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), and on to the Royal Air Force near the end of World War One. A busy life indeed!

Sempill led led an officially sanctioned military mission to Japan, an ally during WWI, that showcased the latest British military aircraft. He would go on to aid the Imperial Japanese Navy in the inter-war development of its naval air wing, selling secrets in the 1920s. Although his activities were monitored by British military intelligence Sempill was never brought to book, and allowed to go on with his public life. The decision not to curtail his actions was made by Winston Churchill, Prime Minister from 1940 after his predecessor Neville Chamberlain stood down under a vote of no confidence. Churchill's decision was made in view of several factors. Firstly, it would have alerted the Japanese to British successes in breaking their naval codes. Secondly Sempill was part of the British Establishment with personal links to the Royal Family. He was eventually obliged to retire from the Royal Navy in 1941 after the official discovery of his passing on secret material to Tokyo days after the attack on Pearl Harbour early in December, 1941.

Sempill's title as eldest son was 'Master of Sempill' before succeeding his father as Lord Sempill and Baronet of Craigievar in 1934.

Let's take a broad look into his inter-war past. On leaving Eton Sempill was apprenticed to Rolls-Royce in 1910. He wedded Eileen Marion Lavery, daughter of the Irish painter Sir John Lavery in 1919. They had a daughter, Anna Moira, born 1920.

In 1920 he led a civilian British deputation of former naval airmen to Japan, as already indicated a former war ally and potentially lucrative trading partner. The Air Ministry and Foreign Office saw the prospect of arms contracts with the Japanese to help develop aircraft carriers, and to help the Japanese Navy to set up its new air base after the sale of three Supermarine Channel flying boats. Sempill was well respected therefore within Japanese circles, to the extent of receiving a personal letter of thanks (his role described as 'epoch-making') from Prime Minister - former Naval Chief - Tomosaburo Kato for his contribution to assisting the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Naval links forged with Japan after WWI

Sempill points out a technical feature to an officer of the Japanese Navy
Sempill points out a technical feature to an officer of the Japanese Navy | Source
The Japanese Prime Minister, former Naval Chief Tomosaburo Kato, who was closely associated with Sempill
The Japanese Prime Minister, former Naval Chief Tomosaburo Kato, who was closely associated with Sempill | Source

With the termination of the Anglo-Japanese alliance in 1921...

...Sempill was meant to have cut ties and technical discussions with the Japanese military, regarding naval aviation technology and strategy. On returning to Britain he kept in contact with the Japanese Foreign Ministry and military through their embassy in London.

In 1925 Sempill accompanied a delegation of foreign air officials to the Blackburn aircraft factory at Brough (pron. 'Bruff') near Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The Japanese had previously asked questions about particular types of aircraft being developed. Sempill put those same questions in his official capacity, about the then 'secret' Blackburn 'Iris' seaplane undergoing trials.

The Directorate of Military Intelligence had kept a surveillance on Sempill's communications with the Japanese Intelligence Officer/Naval attache in London, Captain Teijiro Toyoda. This led to observations that he passed classified information to the Japanese which Toyoda's communications indicated had been paid for. MI5 (Military Intelligence, Dept. 5) applied for and received permission to tap Sempill's telephone line and noted that his valet or manservant was a Japanese naval rating. In March, 1926 Sempill was proposed by the Aviation Ministry for an appointment as Greece's aeronautical adviser. At this point the Director of Military Intelligence advised the Foreign Office and Britain's Embassy in Athens that Britain should not be seen as endorsing Sempill's appointment in view of past activities. Besides, they wanted him where they could keep an eye on him. In Greece he might give 'shadows' the slip, and the Greeks might not be as obliging as the Postmaster General's office in granting a line tap.

He was called to attend an interview at the Foreign Office, the questions directed meant to ascertain his loyalty, his attachments to the Japanese and the quality of information he passed to them. In the course of talks the investigating officer was unable to let Sempill know Bletchley Park had cracked Japanese diplomatic codes and were monitoring communications between Embassy and home. One, Sempill might panic and inform his paymasters, Two, if the Japanese codes were changed it would mean months, maybe years of work (Washington had also broken Naval codes but weren't about to share the information - yet).

On a trip to Blackburns' Brough site Sempill talked openly about the 'Iris' project with the overseas air officials on the train from London. An Air Ministry civil servant who witnessed the loose-tongued Sempill's discussion reported the fact and he was confronted about it, admitting that he had broken the 1923 Official Secrets Act. It was almost as if he'd dared them to do anything about it, considering his connections. A subsequent meeting chaired by the Secretary of State for foreign Affairs Austen Chamberlain decided it was not in the government's interests to prosecute primarily because his father was aide de camp to King George V. A public trial might prove to be a grave embarrassment to all parties concerned. Secondly prosecution would reveal to the Japanese that the cypher codes of its diplomatic service had been read, and that might lead to dire consequences.


The Blackburn 'Iris' seaplane - subject of focus for Sempill

With a group of delegates at the Blackburn aircraft factory, Brough near Hull, East Yorkshire
With a group of delegates at the Blackburn aircraft factory, Brough near Hull, East Yorkshire | Source
The Blackburn 'Iris' Seaplane, undergoing trials 1926
The Blackburn 'Iris' Seaplane, undergoing trials 1926 | Source
The Blackburn 'Iris', this view shows the wing struts, hull and float profile - virtually a 'flying boat' as early seaplanes were described
The Blackburn 'Iris', this view shows the wing struts, hull and float profile - virtually a 'flying boat' as early seaplanes were described

Six years after his admission to a breach of protocol...

Forbes-Sempill became technical and business consultant to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries from 1932-36, representing them in Europe. He also became chairman, and soon after president of the Royal Aeronautical Society. In this capacity he advised overseas governments such as Australia in the creation of their naval air services.

In October, 1933 whilst in the USA he was badly injured in an automobile accident as passenger in the Dymaxian three-wheeled car. Sempill had been asked in his capacity as aviation expert to review the aerodynamic experimental vehicle at Chicago's World Fair. He was being rushed to an airport to take a plane to Akron, Ohio in order to meet the Graf Zeppelin airship for its return trip to Europe when the Dymaxion was struck by another vehicle and overturned. His driver was killed.

Sempill came into his inheritance in 1934 when his father John - 18th Lord Sempill - passed away. Now William was 19th Lord Sempill, Baronet of Craigievar. He wore his ermine and coronet, and took his seat in the House of Lords as a Conservative Peer.His wife, who had accompanied him on many of his air tours passed on a year later.

A true blue, and in common with many British peers of the time, Sempill held right-wing affinities and associated with those who sympathised with Nazi Germany, Falangist Spain and Fascist Italy. During the 1930s he had formed extreme right-wing political opinions and was active in more than one anti-Semitic political alliance, such as the Anglo-German Fellowship, the Nazi Link organisation and the Right Club led by Archibald Ramsay.

On the outbreak of war on 3rd September, 1939 Sempill was appointed to a position in the Department of Air Materiel at the Admiralty, overlooking Trafalgar Square and Whitehall. With this appointment he had access to both sensitive and secret information about the latest military aircraft. By June, 1941 MI5 had intercepted messages between London and Mitsubishi and Field Marshal Yamagata's Tokyo HQ indicating payments were being made to Sempill "in light of the use made of Lord Sempill by our military and naval attaches in London, these payments should continue". On further investigation MI5 suspected him of passing on top secret data about Fleet Air Arm aircraft. The matter was handed to the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions. Yet again the Attorney General advised against prosecution on advice from Downing Street. On 5th September, 1941 Sempill attended a meeting - under four eyes - with the Fifth Sea Lord and given a strict confidential warning.

In 1941 Special Branch (Scotland Yard) arrested a Japanese businessman named Makahara on charges of espionage. On the discovery that this representative of a large Japanese enterprise was in custody Sempill telephoned and then called in at Paddington Police Station to assure the constabulary of Makahara's innocence and good character. The Japanese man was released within forty-eight hours according to established procedure. Sempill was was also probably passing on detailed knowledge about the British government. In August, 1941 PM Winston Churchill and President Franklin Roosevelt held a meeting off Newfoundland aboard the ill-fated HMS 'Prince of Wales' to discuss the military threat posed in the Far East by Japan's militaristic regime. Soon after that, communications between the Japanese Embassy in London and Tokyo were deciphered by the Bletchley Park code breakers. The decrypted messages were verbatim transcripts of the Newfoundland conference notes.

An alarmed Prime Minister remarked on seeing them, "Pretty accurate stuff". Months later more notes from Churchill's personal agenda and those from his inner circle were intercepted as they were being sent from the Japanese Embassy to their Tokyo Foreign Ministry. Privately Churchill concluded with the British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden that only two sources could be responsible for the leaks, Commander McGrath or Lord Sempill. On 9th October, 1941 a signed note from Downing Street read, "Clear him out while time remains". The week after Sempill was told bluntly by the Admiralty that if he did not resign he faced the sack.

Sempill protested strongly and Churchill seemed to back-track. The Prime Minister told a flabbergasted Admiralty, "I had not contemplated Sempill being required to resign his commission, but only to be employed elsewhere in the Admiralty".

A later note from Churchill's aide, Desmond Morton dated 17th October, 1941 outlined the new position, "The First Sea Lord (Churchill)... proposes to offer him a post in the North of Scotland. I have suggested to Lord Swinton that MI5 should be informed in due course so they may take any precautions necessary" (far enough away from the capital and the Japanese Embassy, but there was still the telephone. He would however be safely distanced from the source of Admiralty documents).

On 13th December, 1941, six days after the Japanese carrier-borne assault on Pearl Harbor, Sempill's office was raided. A search showed various secret documents that ought to have been handed back to the Admiralty archives three weeks earlier. Two days later Sempill was found in the act of making phone calls to the Japanese Embassy. Despite evidence of treason no action was taken against him under the Treachery Act, 1940 and he 'retired' from public office.

Military Intelligence - MI5 - on the trail at Bletchley Park, to monitor communications and security leaks

Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, code-breaking centre before GCHQ Cheltenham - rumbled Sempill's activities in spying for the Japanese and alerted Downing Street
Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, code-breaking centre before GCHQ Cheltenham - rumbled Sempill's activities in spying for the Japanese and alerted Downing Street | Source
The incoming Prime Minister, former First Sea Lord, succeeds the hopelessly naive Neville Chamberlain in May, 1940 - too late to save the deteriorating situation in France
The incoming Prime Minister, former First Sea Lord, succeeds the hopelessly naive Neville Chamberlain in May, 1940 - too late to save the deteriorating situation in France | Source
Churchill and Roosevelt meet aboard the fated HMS Prince of Wales off Newfoundland
Churchill and Roosevelt meet aboard the fated HMS Prince of Wales off Newfoundland | Source
HMS 'Prince of Wales', sunk off Singapore by carrier-borne torpedo bombers, 1941 - lack of air cover and adequate anti-aircraft laid the battleship prone
HMS 'Prince of Wales', sunk off Singapore by carrier-borne torpedo bombers, 1941 - lack of air cover and adequate anti-aircraft laid the battleship prone | Source

In 1956 the Swedish Government awarded him the Order of the Polar Star.

At various times after WWII Sempill was president of the British Gliding Association and of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. He died on 30th December, 1965, outliving Churchill by around eleven months (the former PM died 24th January, 1965). On his death his titles were split between daughter Anna, who inherited the Lordship of Parliament - as this title could be passed down either the male or female line - and younger brother Ewan who received the baronetcy.

It was not until the release of intelligence records by the Public Record Office in 1998 and 2002 respectively that the full extent of Sempill's activities became known, as a spy during the 1920s and WWII. His motives remain unclear. The National Archives show "that on the evidence of these (1920s) files", Sempill's activities for the Japanese were less from any desire to help the enemy but more motivated by his own (sic) "impetuous character, obstinacy and flawed judgement". In correspondence from the early war years between Churchill's office, the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions it is noted that Sempill had debts and an overdraft in excess of £13,000 (equivalent to £750,000 in 2012).

Honours received by Sempill during his 'illustrious career' were the Air Force Cross (UK), 3rd Class of Commander In The Order Of The Rising Sun (Japan) and the Order Of The Polar Star (Sweden).

[Sempill could count his rank as a life-saver. There were other traitors during WWII and since, who were duly executed by hanging. The death sentence for capital crimes (including treason) could be applied. The Commons, Lords and the Head of State (Monarch) would have to ratify it, although at present it is unlikely any other punishment than a prison term life sentence would be handed down in a court of law].

The master of the spy novel, John Le Carre tells of his experiences in Intelligence. Remember 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy', or 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold'? The real thing was as tense. Read on...

British Traitors In World War Two

Do you think it right that rank should stand between a traitor and punishment?

Should an aristocrat or other high-born person be subject to rigour according to the laws of Treason? (Death sentence)

See results

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 7 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Alan, the first time I saw this story a few years ago, I was shocked. I'm shocked Churchill didn't have him killed. It's a shame he was not publicly humiliated in his lifetime. Great job, once again.

    • alancaster149 profile image
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      Alan R Lancaster 7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello lions44. It went against the grain, giving the chop to one of his own (same background and all that). I wonder if David Cameron could have done the same if he'd been faced with a public school educated, 'aristocratic' traitor, say the likes of George Osborne? (PS In England public schools are private, fee-paying)

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 7 months ago

      Great job on a terrible story, Alan. I wonder how his children hold up their heads knowing what their father did.

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      MizBejabbers, he only had one daughter - Anna - who would only have known at third hand when everyone else found out. Being 78 at the time disclosures were made there wasn't a lot she or the family could have done except maybe withdraw to Switzerland or somewhere. I think their Scottish 'pile' was pulled down down in view of his debts, to at least pay off some of it on the sale of land and reclaimed building materials. His younger brother would have been dead at the time his actions were revealed. They might have reverted to the Forbes family name.

      Lots of 'maybes'.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      I could understand them not wanting to let the Japanese know their code had been broken. Is there any specific information on why they didn't bring him up on charges after the war? I do think not prosecuting high officials for breaking secrects acts ruins the credibility of the system. Is there any evidence the government tried to feed Sempill disinformation?

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Had the Japanese learned their codes were broken they'd have changed them and we'd have been in the US bad books because they were reading them as well.

      As for Sempill, he wasn't a mere official, he was 'blue blood'. Think what a meal Doktor Goebbels would have made of that. He wasn't just a spy, he was technically literate, and disinformation usually only applied to troop or naval movements when the enemy was reliant on radio messages (ever heard of 'Ghost Army'?) and radar sensors. He knew what he was looking for and the only way of neutralising him was in moving him somewhere 'safe', like the north of Scotland.

      As I pointed out above, 'blue blood' looked after its own (Churchill was descended from the Duke of Marlborough).

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      We don't have royalty on this side of the pond but we still have the problem of the well connected getting away with things that would land lesser mortals in jail.

    • alancaster149 profile image
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      Alan R Lancaster 7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      That might include Donald T one day... Was Nixon that well connected? Maybe that's why he ended up in Sing-Sing (no 'social parachute').

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      Compared with some of the things I've seen since Nixon was an amature. Getting away with crimes might include every president we had, and will have, since Nixon. Don't get me started on the private server, I still see red every time I think of it.

    • alancaster149 profile image
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      Alan R Lancaster 7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      What about FDR and Ike? Admitted Nixon was Ike's deputy, but there must have been something in Nixon that drew Ike in the first place, or was he corrupted on the job? He got the US out of Vietnam with Kissinger's help, or was that all Kissinger?

      I remember hearing in a documentary that Joe Kennedy Snr wrote Britain off when he reported back to Washington in 1940. Did that attitude wash off on JFK and Bobby K?

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      Nixon was one of those cases where the phrase; "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you." It may be a "chicken or egg" argument.

      The Kennedy brothers seemed in some ways opposites of their father. JFK did write off the Bay of Pigs invasion before it started. Giving up when things are going bad may have been a trait they got from their father.

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 7 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Yet JFK didn't give up when he was on that damaged PT boat in the Pacific, did he. That was his pigeon, tenacity.

      Which brings us back to the war with the Japanese...

      Have a look through the Profile Page and see what else takes your fancy, (plenty of choice from 334 pages): Vikings, Danes (in the Viking Age), Travel (in the North of England), Railway Modelling, other HERITAGE pages such as Operation Market Garden, SAS and Commando operations on Crete, in North Africa and Europe etc. Get stuck in there....

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      There is a difference between not giving yourself up for lost and giving somebody else up for lost. In the case of Britain in 1940 and the Bay of Pigs it was a matter of a willingness to leave allies to their fate when things look bleak for them. In fairness it isn't just the Kennedy's America has abandoned allies on numerous occassions.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan

      This was a fascinating story. Im not sure what I would say about the 'Death penalty' in this situation as the security services knew about him for years! Is there still something not told about the story? (like working as a 'double agent') just an idea.

      Fact is they knew about him and had ample opportunity to feed the Japanese total BS for many years, whether it happened we'll probably never know.

      By the way I'm reading John Le Carre's book at the moment.

      Happy new year

      Lawrence

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 6 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      LO Lawrence, First, have a Prosperous New Year, 2017.

      Don't know any more than what I've got here (some secrets still probably under the O.S. Act). What he passed on to the Japanese enabled them to attack Pearl Harbor, but then again there was a double agent of Croat origin who learned of the planned attack and tried to warn US security. FBI boss - was it Hoover or McCarthy? - told him in so many words, "There's nothing you can teach me about security!" Nothing was done, no warnings issued and Naval Command at Pearl was overwhelmed early in December, 1941. Who did more damage, Sempill, the Japanese or the FBI?

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 6 months ago

      The Director of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover. I believe lawrence is talking about an man named Popov (Not sure about the spelling). Ian Fleming was his handler and based his James Bond character on Popov. Popov got fed up with the FBI's stupidity and went to Florida with his girlfriend. When the FBI caught up with him they told him he ether go with them, without his girlfriend, or he'd be arrested for crossing state lines with a woman for immoral purposes.

    • alancaster149 profile image
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      Alan R Lancaster 6 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      That's the one, Dushko Popov (thanks Robert). He's the one who tried to warn Hoover of the impending Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was taken seriously by MI5 and MI6, as was 'Garbo', the Spaniard who 'recruited' hundreds to spy on Britain. Names, no bodies, that earned him a tidy income. He also convinced the Germans that the D-Day landings in Normandy were a feint, and that the main landing would be in the Pas de Calais (where Hitler and his generals expected it), and the presence of Patton in East Anglia with his 'ghost army' guaranteed the retention of the Panzers in northern France. Popov and 'Garbo' between them were worth a hundred Sempills, just a shame we didn't have anybody like that in the Far East to feed wrong information to the Japanese.

      Which Le Carre book do you mean, Lawrence?

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan and Robert.

      Interesting stuff here. I'm reading le Carre's book at the moment and he has a whole chapter on the man who 'interrogated' Kim Philby (probably the most notorious and infamous double agent of the twentieth century)

      He points out MI5 were suspicious of him for a decade before his defection, but no one at MI6 would accept or believe them!

      MI6 even had a GRU double agent who told them there was a mole within MI6 (he didn't know who) so they gave him to Philby to run (despite warnings from MI5 he might be the mole!)

      Apparently when it all 'broke' they just wanted him to 'retire' but nothing else (no prison etc).

      Interesting read though

      Lawrence

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 6 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      'Third Man' Kim Philby was something else. He managed to hoodwink the Press and the MacMillan government into believing him when he denied the allegations made against him. Guy Burgess was tipped off by Philby that MI5 was on his trail and in turn tipped off Maclean, both of them fleeing to the USSR. Philby followed them in July, 1963, evading MI5's reach in the Middle East. They were recruited by the Russians at Cambridge University before WWII.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan

      Yeah. Le Carre has an interview he had with Nicholas Elliott who was recruited by Philby for MI6 and was the one to finally confront him. It's an interesting read but the point was they didn't want the scandal of a court case or 'blood' on their hands so they (MI6) literally just 'walked away'.

      Not what you'd expect!!

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 6 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      I remember the name Elliott from a programme on the Yesterday Channel about Philby. It was shortly after the confrontation - under four eyes - that Philby skipped it to Moscow and honorary retirement. Job done. Burgess was the weak link, having been recruited by Moscow after an indiscretion he didn't want aired. Shades of Turing. I shall embark on a piece about the British 'Third Man', Philby when I've got my notes and images together. It goes on for over twenty years from his Cambridge days. Anthony Blunt (keeper of the Queen's pictures at Buck House) enters the saga at one point. He was found out fairly late.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 6 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Alan

      I remember reading the book about Blunt (can't remember the Title) but I look forward to your article on Philby!

      Lawrence

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 6 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Lawrence,

      Ready to be added onto the site tomorrow evening (GMT). Just got to fish out some images of the 'terrible trio'. Might add Blunt into the equation although he's not exactly directly involved, just another 'fellow traveller'. Look out for it Tuesday 10th: HERITAGE - 39: WISE AFTER THE EVENT doesn't put Harold MacMillan into a good light (incidentally, 'Kim' Philby's given name was Harold).

    • profile image

      Angus 2 months ago

      As a direct descendent of Sempill, I found this an interesting read indeed...

    • alancaster149 profile image
      Author

      Alan R Lancaster 2 months ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Angus, let's hope the interest is positive. No offence was intended to living descendants or kin, the burden of his actions would be enough to bear.

      You will have seen from the reactions expressed by various readers that what he did was unforgivable, and had any other PM than Churchill been in authority he could well have faced the consequences. Treason carried the death sentence during wartime. Being descended from a convicted traitor could have been a worse burden on you.

      However short it was, thanks for your comment.

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