Profile: Robert Bruce Lockhart

Published March 19th 2013 | Tags: , , , , , , ,
 Lockhart

Born2 September 1887

Died27 February 1970

Intelligence involvement: Worked for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6) during WW1 and was director general of the Police Warfare Executive in WW2.  

Culture involvement: Prolific writer, including Memoirs of a British Agent in 1932 about his WW1 exploits, which was adapted into the film British Agent.  

Bio:  Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart was born in Fife to Scottish parents, and was educated at Fettes College, Edinburgh.  He came from a family of schoolmasters and after a period in Malaysia he joined the British Foreign Service and was posted to Moscow as Vice-Consul.  He was known to be a decent footballer and in 1912 was signed up by Morozov, a local factory team.  They won the Moscow league championship that year.

At the time of the February 1917 revolution Lockhart was the acting Consul-General in Russia and he fled to Britain.  Following the Bolshevik revolution he returned to Russia as the first British envoy to the new Bolshevik government, but also working in an anti-Bolshevik capacity for SIS.  He worked alongside Arthur Ransome and Sidney Reilly in an effort to overthrow the government, which probably accounts for the assassination attempt against Lenin.  Lockhart was captured and imprisoned in the Kremlin but escaped trial and likely execution due to a secret agent prisoner exchange with the British.

In the 1930s he published his memoir, which became a bestseller and inspired a relatively poor film adaptation.  In WW2 Lockhart became the director general of the Political Warfare Executive, responsible for co-ordinating all propaganda against the Axis powers.  After the war he was close friends with Ian Fleming and relayed stories of his adventures and others he knew about, helping Fleming to form the James Bond character and stories.  Lockhart himself published many books on politics, spying, the military and whiskey.  His son, Robin Bruce Lockhart, wrote Ace of Spies, a book about Sidney Reilly and his father’s endeavors in Russia, which was adapted into a TV mini-series.  Lockhart died an old man of 82 in 1970.

Documents

Lockhart himself always maintained that he had nothing to do with the plot to assassinate Lenin in 1918, in his Memoirs of a British Agent – which you can downloaded here (PDF, 829KB) he explicitly denied any involvement.  However, a letter from his son to the Foreign Office in 1967 that included a preview copy of Ace of Spies contains numerous hints towards the fact that Lockhart and Reilly were deeply involved with the militant anti-Bolshevik underground than the Memoirs admitted.  You can download the letter here (PDF, 971KB).

 

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