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A rather interesting Staff officers SD cap WWI belonging to the later to be 4th Baron Tredegar


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An interesting cap that has an appeal to me on for a number of reasons which is why I was pleased to buy it recently. It dates to the Great War period and is a Staff officers service dress cap, nice in its own right just because of this, though condition is somewhat surrefering because of its age, but still good to my eyes.

Secondly it is named and the owner -the honourable Evan Frederick Morgan- was known to have served with the Welsh Guards from early in their formation in 1915 until his transfer to tbecome a staff officer, being personal private secretary to WC Bridgeman MP who was parlimentary secretary to the minister for labour. In this position he was able after being asked by his friend Robert Graves -the famous war poet and officer with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers- to help the Siegfried Sassoon -another famours war poet and officer with the RWF- avoid being court martialled for his anti war letter following his wounding on the Western Front.

The original owner of the cap -it is named to him and also has a written short history of him stuck inside the celulose head liner- was the son of the 3rd Baron Tredegar who also served during the great war. After his death Evan F Morgan became the 4th Baron Tredegar -2nd Viscount- and they owned the stately home Tredegar House near Newport in South Wales. The 4th Baron was known for being a very colourful character-he was somewhat of an eccentric- and associated with Alistair Crowley the well known satanist and also the author H.G.Wells. The Baron was wellknown for keeping a boxing kangeroo as a pet and also kept a parrot with which he performed an infamour party trick and he was the subject of a book on his life -see links below. He married twice and his 2nd wife was a Russian princess.

During WWII he worked in inteligence and was involved in work relating to the use of homing pidgeons and was also involved in the planning of the Diepe raid, the latter which got him into trouble as he confided in two teenage girls some of the details for the planning of the raid and for which he was sacked form his position.

Local history article

http://tredegarhouse.wordpress.com/

Daily Mail article about the book on him

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2343546/The-devil-worshipping-viscount-VERY-naughty-party-trick-parrot.html

A painting of him

http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1553476

Another painting of him

http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1552383

Wikipedia link for him

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Morgan%2C_2nd_Viscount_Tredegar

Edited by Jerry B
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Some extracts from the links.

The Tredegar house link

Evan always looked ill. He had asthma and other complaints. In February 1916 he had pleurisy, a few months later he was operated on for an abscess in his ear and the following summer had damaged the cartilage in his knee. Evan began to receive a series of odd postings and attachments. These included being a King’s messenger (Carrying diplomatic papers to Embassies), finding himself on the staff of disgraced French General Robert Nivelle in North Africa and then back to convalesce in Oxford after some malady.

This would be the chance for another opportunity to get an invite to Garsington Manor and a chance to rub shoulders with the in-crowd. It was probably on one such trip that he met with Robert Graves who had been hospitalised after being wounded in France. They had been canoeing together and the meeting would prove to be a very useful one to Graves some months later.

Robert Graves and fellow poet Siegfied Sassoon were both serving officers in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Sassoon had been decorated for bravery, but was becoming increasingly disillusioned. He too was a visitor to Garsington and it may well have been on the trips that he was persuaded to write an open letter which was widely distributed and appeared in the press, condemning the war and announcing his refusal to take further part in it. Graves knew this would mean Court Martial and at least prison which he doubted Sassoon would survive. Therefore he got in touch with Evan to see if he could use his Cabinet contacts for Sassoon to be deemed medically unfit instead. Evan succeeded.

The daily mail link

He was one of the richest peers of the realm, a multi-millionaire with such a stash of inherited wealth he never needed to think about working.

But Evan, Viscount Tredegar, was more than your average spoilt aristocrat — he was one of the most riotously outrageous and toxic eccentrics ever to emerge from the English upper classes.

He studied for the priesthood, but practised black magic and befriended sinister occultist Aleister Crowley.

Even though he married an English actress and a Russian princess, he was a promiscuous homosexual.

He wrote poetry and dressed like Shelley, yet he was so juvenile that he trained his parrot Blue Boy to climb the inside of his trouser-leg and pop its head out of his flies.

The bizarre viscount even ran a homing-pigeon scheme for military intelligence during World War II, but was court-martialled for revealing its secrets to two Girl Guides.

And all around him, as he made his wayward path through life, friends had the mysterious habit of dying.

‘His friendship was a kind of curse,’ says William Cross, author of a new biography of the Welsh peer.

Evan Tredegar became a figure of horrified fascination to High Society Britain in the Twenties and Thirties as he pursued his twin lusts — higher learning and sex.

What else would you expect from a man whose mother believed herself to be a kingfisher and built bird’s nests big enough to sit in?

The dystopian world that Evan Frederic Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar, built for himself was only made possible by colossal wealth.

When he came of age, the vast Welsh estate his family had owned since the 14th century was bringing in the equivalent of £65,000 a day — or £24 million a year.

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Early life: Evan Morgan pictured with his father, the then Viscount Tredegar, when he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Welsh Guards

Home was Tredegar House, a ghostly, depressingly ugly pile near Newport in South Wales.

Evan’s father had made himself useful during the First World War by handing over his private yacht to the Royal Navy — on condition that he was appointed its captain.

Money rather than service bought the gold braid with which he festooned himself — so while he was still a schoolboy, Evan learned that a title, and colossal wealth, could get you anything you wanted.

At Eton, he forged the friendships that were to shape his screwball life. His best friend Peter Churchill, a cousin of Winston, spent part of his childhood in North Africa and claimed to have sold sexual favours to men in return for pocket-money.

W hile still at Eton the pair became pageboys to the royal court at Windsor at a time when, author Cross claims, ‘mothers of vulnerable sons were known to insist their cherished boys steer well clear of the well-known paedophiles at court’.

But it was too late — both boys had already acquired a preference for their own sex, and before long Evan was kicked out of Eton under the inevitable cloud.

It further counted against him that while at school he had created a circle of black-magic enthusiasts.

Inspired by Peter Churchill’s tales from North Africa of temples, casbahs, souks and arcades where magicians and tricksters plied their trade, the boys dabbled in rites and rituals which were to become a central part of Evan’s life.

With no need to work, Evan settled on becoming a poet.

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The first timer: Despite never hiding his homosexuality and having a constant string of illicit affairs, Viscount Tredegar married Viscountess Lois Sturt in 1928

Moving in the arty circle centred on the bohemian Cafe Royal in London, he became friends with the painter Augustus John and the writer Ronald Firbank, a dandy with red-lacquered fingernails.

During this period Evan developed a taste for partying and buying sex from working-class rent boys.

The viscount was no looker — Virginia Woolf described him as ‘a little red absurdity with a beak of a nose, no chin, and with the general likeness of a callow but student bantam cock that has run to seed’.

And in the helter-skelter world of Britain after World War I, filled with flappers and cocktails and drug addicts, Evan was constantly in search of newer, darker, sensations.

He was fatally attracted to dangerous people.

The occultist Aleister Crowley was known to society as ‘the wickedest man in the world’ and in the Twenties people were genuinely terrified by the mention of his name — a byword for all that was mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Born the son of a brewer in Leamington Spa, Crowley, who called himself ‘The Great Beast 666’, had built up a terrifying reputation as a disciple of the Devil.

His stated purpose was to destroy the country’s religious and spiritual equilibrium.

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Number two: Princess Olga Sergievna Dolgorouky became Viscout Evan Tredegar's second wife

Little wonder then that the vicious Viscount, with his schoolboy dabblings in the occult, should hasten to Crowley’s side — the pair met for the first time in Paris.

Later Crowley went to stay at Tredegar House where Evan proudly revealed his Black Magick room — ‘far greater than I thought!’ marvelled Crowley.

Despite his ostentatiously weird life — in his garden he kept a boxing kangaroo, a honey bear and a baboon, while in his bed he kept rabbits — Evan Morgan was still considered by ambitious mothers to be one of the country’s most eligible bachelors.

Only when girls got close to him did they realise how completely impossible life at Tredegar House would be.

However, Lois Sturt, daughter of the land-rich Lord Alington, was not so choosy.

She had some of the same madness that infected Evan Tredegar and a whole swathe of the post-war Bright Young People. Needy, nervy, self-centred and eccentric, she was also pretty, sexy and willing to overlook Evan’s homosexuality.They married when she was 28 and he 35.

But it was doomed from the start. Lois had already developed an addiction to drugs which would kill her before long.

When they married in Knightsbridge, the crowds had to be held back by police, but the high-society union between Lois and Evan was not what it seemed.

Each agreed the other could sleep with whom they pleased as long as it didn’t interfere with their life together.

But Evan’s relentless all-male promiscuity and his love of rent boys soon rattled Lois, and before long they parted.

Later he married the shapely Princess Olga Sergievna Dolgorouky, a refugee scarred by her escape from the Russian Revolution, but otherwise an innocent abroad.

The marriage was annulled, unsurprisingly, on the grounds of his non-consummation after three years.

Evan showed far greater devotion to his menagerie at Tredegar than he did to either of his wives.

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Easy life: Lord Tredegar, pictured at Tredegar Park near Newport with writer H G Wells, could live comfortably off his estate which brought in £24million per year

Birds were a big part of his life. His Australian parrot, though described by Evan as ‘witless and uncontrollable’, was nothing of the sort.

After teaching it the trick of crawling up the inside of his trouser leg and poking its head out of his flies, the Viscount promptly walked into the Cafe Royal and performed the routine in front of a packed house.

One of the onlookers recorded that ‘the effect on old ladies present can be imagined’.

Periodically, Evan would decide that he must do something serious with his life.

When war was declared in 1939, he managed to get himself taken on by MI14, the secret service department detailed to handle carrier pigeons bringing back messages from frontline troops in France.

So unused was he to the discipline which goes with military work, that he let two Girl Guides look at the map used to plan the 1942 Allied attack on Dieppe — which, coincidentally, turned out to be one of the war’s greatest military disasters.

Such was the horror of superior officers when they learned that he had divulged highly secret troop deployment details — even though it was only to a couple of teenage girls — that Tredegar was court-martialled.

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Story of a life: Evan Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar, died in April 1949, aged 55, survived by his beloved parrot

He was found guilty and banished to an honorary post in the Welsh Home Guard, but even that small responsibility proved too much for him.

Hopeless in war, the Viscount remained equally rudderless in peace.

Throughout his life the ostensibly high-minded Evan described himself as a poet, modelling himself on Shelley and even dressing as the Romantic poet, but he failed to attract the praise of any but the most sycophantic critics.

Rich though he was, Evan could not buy literary success — and rich though he remained, he could no longer buy friendship in the way he once had.

Indeed, his friendship was something of a curse.

Those who were close to Evan seemed to die in their droves — often tragically young.

First was Guy Colebrooke, a fellow royal pageboy, who died aged 27.

Then Ronald Firbank died of lung cancer at the age of 40.

He was followed by fellow-drinker Sir Guy ‘Fatty’ Laking, who succumbed to alcohol poisoning at 26.

One of Evans’s lovers, the Earl of Lathom, keeled over from tuberculosis brought on by a dissipated life, while another lover, the Hon James Rodney, was killed in a house fire.

Friends Peter Watson, a wealthy art patron, and Sir Johnnie Philipps both drowned in their baths.

And another friend, the artist Nina Hamnett, plunged out of a window, impaling herself on the railings 40ft beneath.

There were suicides, too: the artist Kit Wood, the composer Peter Warlock, fellow Etonian Brian Howard and writer Richard Rumbold.

Even his first wife’s brother, the Hon Gerard Sturt, killed himself.

His sister Gwyneth succumbed to drug abuse and her body was found washed up on the Thames shore in 1924.

And so the party — that gay, abandoned, reckless party of parrots, poetry and promiscuity — eventually ended.

Evan Morgan, whose riches so completely detached him from life, finally parted company with it on April 27, 1949 — a victim to cancer at the early age of 55.

The trouser-climbing parrot survived him.

Not Behind Lace Curtains — The Hidden World Of Evan, Viscount Tredegar, by William Cross (Book Midden Publishing, £12), is available on Amazon.

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Thanks Strapper and Mervyn for taking the time to read this and comment.

Certainly a lot of history for an old cap and I have two books about the former owner on the way to me. Hopefully one of them will contain a photo of him wearing it.

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I'm afraid so Chris. Many were quite dissolute and there was an article on my Home Page yesterday , saying that the

British are the most elitist people in the World. My family is an old one, but thank goodness I don't know of anyone who

acted like this.. Mervyn

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  • 1 month later...

I read the transcript of his courts martial and it seems that largely it was no big deal and he was merely admonished. Interestingly he was the Honorary Colonel of at least two regiments, one an RA TA unit and the other the 1st Mons regiment.

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Very interesting, it is funny and tragic how little has changed. No wonder our country is buggered! Chinless, irresponsible, overprivilged, detached Etonian twats!

Jock :)

Don't hold back Jock, say it as you see it. :blush:

More money than sense seems about right. :banger:

He served in both world wars and though largely inefectual, at least he tried to do his bit.

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Jerry,

Look how he served though, he was able to use his money/status to secure his position, thank goodness he was not anywhere he could get people killed, except with his security breech of course.

Sorry about my views but you know I say it as I see it, not always right but I try to be honest.

Jock :)

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Hi Jock,

In the great war he was ill and could have just called it a day, but instead took up some sort of a position in which he still contributed something. He was originally an officer with the Welsh Guards until illness forced him to leave the trenches and he only, as far as I can find out, used his influence on behalf of others not for his own gain. Sure his status got him another job as a high status courier, but he could have just stayed home and taken no further part in the war if he had wanted.

In WWII he was a working member of the inteligence community in charge of dropping messenger pigeons into occupied territory until his mistakes, none of which were considered that serious as he was merely admonished on two of the charges whilst the other was thown out. One of his charges was that he let loose secret info to some visiotrs to his office at the secuirty services, which was dropped and the other charges were that he had a map on his office wall that had some pins in it showing locations where pigeons had been dropped, but as that was his job and it was well known that is what he did, so how some pins in a large scale map of europe on the wall of an office in the security services would help anyone as it was well knwon that he was involved in dropping pigeons into those areas and the scale of the map was such that no accurate location could have been garnered from it. Which is why in the end his charges did not result in any serious action being taken against him after the formality of his courts martial.

I agree that he was not the greatest example on how to serve your country in times of war, but I still think he did more than he had to and more than many others did. If all you know about him is the sensationalist write up from the mirror book advert piece, then I can understand your opinion, but I read his biography and though he was a spoilt rich kid with too much money he at least tried to do his bit in two world wars.

Edited by Jerry B
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Jerry,

It is a nice hat with a bit of character.

I have enjoyed reading your post and it is very interesting.

Sure he served and did his bit but very much on his terms as with a lot of these over privilaged folk, even to this day.

A Courts Martial is a big deal at any level especially in times of war even more so for a senior officer, the fact he was even tried is enough in his position, sounds like it was carpeted to save any further embarassment?

I understand you have researched this and can feel some sort of affinity or sympathy for him as a result.

I agree with you he is not the best example of an officer and a gentleman.

It is a nice hat with a facinating history, he is a contraverial character and we can't change that or excuse that.

Best Regards

Jock :)

Edited by Jock Auld
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Love those well documented items!

cheers

|<ris

Thanks Kris. For me that is one of the reasons why this one ticks so many boxes. I have lots of military items as you know, but few of them have this level of documentation with them, most if your lucky have a name from which you might find an MIC for him or an entry in an army list. As I posted at the start, WWI caps are hard to find and expensive when you do, staff officer caps the same, then add in he was in the welsh Guards which also adds to it with me being welsh, he was associated with members of the RWF another big area of interest to me, then when you consider he was from about 10 miles from my home and I have been to his house (well two actually and both of them in wales) and also because there are pictures of him in uniform, though sadly not wearing this cap and books and articles written about him. A rare item and one of the best in my collection for so many reasons. I have a few well researched and documented items but none with this level of documentation available with it.

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Jerry - you have maintained the flow of info. on this man's career - and it has proved of great interest. But then, as you say,

that was the way people lived in those days. We must be careful not to get too political - tempting though it may be. DOWN Jock -

down, I say.............)

I wonder how much the value of this damaged old cap has risen with your research ? Mervyn

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Jerry - you have maintained the flow of info. on this man's career - and it has proved of great interest. But then, as you say,

that was the way people lived in those days. We must be careful not to get too political - tempting though it may be. DOWN Jock -

down, I say.............)

I wonder how much the value of this damaged old cap has risen with your research ? Mervyn

Hi Mervyn,

I hope I did not raise anyones hackles over this and I can see Jocks point of view, the old landed gentry were sometimes chinless wonders and in many ways Viscount Tredegar fits the stereotype and then some.

As regards any increase in value, it will be some time before this one leaves my collection, but never say never as things change and happens.

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Jerry

You describe the Viscount as "a very colourful character-he was somewhat of an eccentric". I do so love your sense of restraint and diplomatic phrasing! Pace Jock, I'd have described him as a 'raving loonie'! ;)

Peter

Peter, rich people are called eccentrics, only the poor get called raving loonies!!!!

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Jerry,

what a fascinating story to accompany the cap. A real coup.

Stuart

Thanks Stuart, it is rare in my experience to find out so much about the original owner of an item like this, though some of the tunics I own have quite well documented previous owners, but none like this.

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