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    Stockbroker and spy, France, Russia and beyond

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    DSO, OBE, Single British War medal; Captain William Lewis Blennerhassett, Intelligence Corps, 5th Army - Examiner of German prisoners, seconded MI.1(c) (Secret Intelligence Service) attached to the Foreign Office Political Intelligence Department, served Great war, France, Switzerland, USA and post war in Russia and Lithuania.

    William Lewis Rowland Paul Sebastian Blennerhassett was born on 6 October 1882. (Rowland Lewis) (William "Willie" Paul Francis) Rowland Sebastian Blennerhassett (he used the initials R.P.F.C. Blennerhassett, placing Rowland first; W.L.R.P.S. B'hassett, placing William first, and was published and his medals were issued as "W.L. Blennerhassett"

    He was the son of Rt. Hon. Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, 4th Baronet and Countess Charlotte de Leyden. He married Olivia Frances Grove, daughter of Sir Thomas Fraser Grove, 1st Baronet and Frances Hinton Northcote, on 14 July 1910.
    By profession was a member of the London Stock Exchange. 

    He died on 24 May 1958 at age 75.

    He gained the rank of Captain in the service of the Intelligence Corps. He was decorated with the award of the Croix de Guerre. He was decorated with the award of the Companion, Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) in 1920. He was invested as an Officer, Order of the British Empire (civil) in 1920.


    August 1914, Second Lieutenant (temporary)

    “Such was the ad hoc manner in which the War Office assembled the “Intelligence Corps” at the outset of hostilities that its recruits came in all shapes and sizes - Blennerhassett is recorded as having reported for duty with his father’s sword and two spare shirts, and to have proved a hopeless motor-cyclist, writing off one of the unit’s Sunbeams after a journey that lasted just 50 yards”.

    November 1914; Mentioned in Despatches by Field-Marshal French, Commanding-in-chief, British Army in the Field, 20th November, 1914 (Gazette 17th February, 1915) Blennerhasset (t) W. L., Second Lieutenant (temporary) Intelligence Corps

    He was noted that; 

    “The most eccentric original member of the Corps was probably William Blennerhassett, Thirty-one years old at the outbreak of war, he was described as; An extraordinary fellow, son of a Irish Baronet and a German women. He knows a great many of the Bavarian nobility including prince Rupprecht and he is the oddest creature in some ways, very eccentric and liable to take great likes and dislikes”

    November 1914; The undermentioned temporary Second Lieutenants to be temporary Lieutenants: W. L. Blennerhassett (General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force).


    April 1915; Graded for purposes of pay as Staff Lieutenants, 2nd Class.) Dated the 6th August, 1914, Temporary Lieutenants: — W. L. Blennerhasset. (General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force)
    November 1915; Blennerhassett and General Sir George Macdonagh, Director of Military Intelligence met with Irish MP, J.E.Redmond on his visit to the front. http://www.rte.ie/…/Account_of_a_Visit_to_the_Front_by_J.E.…


    August 1916; Promotion of temporary Capt. W. L. Blennerhassett 5th Aug. 1916, attached to the 5th Army under Lieutenant General Hubert de la Poer Gough
    June 1916; Graded for purposes of pay as Staff Captain 25th June 1916:— W. L. Blennerhassett.

    December 1916; Awarded the French Croix de Guerre, 30th December 1916 (As reported in the catholic newspaper “The Tablet”) attached to the 5th Army under Lieutenant General Hubert de la Poer Gough
    “The French decoration of the Croix de Guerre has been conferred on Captain William Lewis Rowland Paul Sebastian Blennerhassett, Intelligence Corps, son of the late Right Hon. Sir Rowland Blennerhassett, and uncle of the present baronet” 
    A fellow officer remembered; at the end of 1916 he (Blennerhasset) came to the attention of the Commander in Chief when he crossed no-mans-land and persuaded some German soldiers to desert to the British (possibly liked to the award of the Croix de Guerre).


    Not Known


    February 1918; He was graded for purposes of pay as Staff Lieutenant, 3rd Class, (Temporary Captain. W. L. Blennerhasset), General List, from graded as Staff Lieutenant, 1st Class 4th February 1918.

    March 1918; Seconded to MI.1(c) (Secret Intelligence Service) under Captain Sir George Mansfield Cumming RN and attached to the Foreign office, Political Intelligence Department and sent as an agent to Berne, Switzerland.

    “The reports of the British military agent in Berne, Captain W.L. Blennerhassett to MI.1(c) and forwarded to PID (Political Intelligence Department) were very revealing about the activities of German agents in Switzerland and confirmed PIDs suspicions of the reliability of some of the information it received from that country.

    Blennerhassett identified the most formidable German agent active in Berne as a man called “Bismarck” who used “Typically” German methods to achieve his ends; a mixture of cunning and childish simplicity.

    All the concierges in the major hotels in the city were in German pay and they intercepted the mail of the most important “opposition” Germans and Entente agents and passed them to “Bismarck”.

    Blennerhassett reported that another “Formidable” German agent in Berne was named “Loewengard (see note below) 

    The book “Armour against Fate” states; “His Family contacts explain why he was sent by the secret service to Switzerland to try to establish contact with the German “opposition”

    Note: In January 1918, Adolf Loewengard a former stockbroker and German intelligence officer based in Switzerland had recruited a former British Soldier Franz Bruno Grob (who had also worked for a number of British Stockbrokers and had been hand picked up to work for MI.1(c) by Mansfield Cumming in Switzerland) as a double agent. The leading German anti-war politician living in Switzerland was Karl Ludwig Krause who was funded by MI.1(c), he was one of those fermenting political dissent within the German armed forces


    June 1919; Murmansk Command, Intelligence Corps (noted Russian Speaker) 
    Awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and MID, Intelligence Corps
    “D.S.O. London Gazette 21 January 1920: For conspicuous gallantry near Siding on 11 June 1919, when doing intelligence duties,

    On the advance of the Russian troops being held up, he collected three men and led an advance under heavy fire, thereby assisting greatly in re-establishing the situation. As Intelligence Officer in charge of the forward area, he has rendered invaluable services in controlling an area of some 3,000 square miles.”

    MID; Mentioned in Despatches, Murmansk 11th June 1920, Blennerhassett, T/Capt. W. L. R. P. S, DSO Special List”.

    Times obituary 1958, 

    “Blennerhassett ‘worked his experience of revolutionary Russia into material for two novels. The Red Shadow and The Dreamer, which were distinguished less for style or narrative than for their precise descriptions of scenes and events witnessed by the author.”

    October 1919; Captain Blennerhassett, attached to Foreign Office, Political Intelligence Department and is appointed “Interpreter” with the League of Nations, he attends the First International Labor Conference in Washington, DC USA http://www.erudit.org/revue/meta/2005/v ... 609ar.html 

    According to his Times obituary from May 1958, ‘His abilities as a linguist were known to the Foreign Office”

    December 1919, Special Appointments Class FF (staff captain) Temporary Capt. W .L. Blennerhassett, General List


    July 1920; General List, The undermentioned relinquish their commission on completion of service: Temporary Captain W. L. Blennerhassett, D.S.O., 20th May 1920, and retains the rank of Captain July 1920; Foreign Office, Acting British Vice-Consul at Kovno, Lithuania, with a role to investigate German commercial interests in the Baltics 

    (Foreign Office file FO 3716725) report to the Board of Trade on its “handicap to British trade”

    Acting British Vice-Consul at Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania (until June 1921); His obit (Times 26.5.1958, p.states that he "occupied a position in Lithuania on behalf of the British Government"; (Foreign Office file FO 511/16 is a document written by W. L. Blennerhassett at Kovno 4.2.1921);

    November 1920, Awarded the OBE (civil) London Gazette November 1920, Captain William Lewis Blennerhassett, D.S.O. Services in the Political Intelligence Department, Foreign Office.

    “The Political Intelligence Department (1918–1920) was a department of the British Foreign Office created towards the end of World War I. It was created on 11 March 1918 by Permanent Under-Secretary Lord Hardinge, It gathered political, economic, and military conditions in both allied and enemy countries and prepared reports for the cabinet, the Foreign Office, and other departments”

    He returned to London Stock exchange where he was "a prosperous & highly respected member" for 30 years, with offices at Warnford Court, Throgmorton Street, London


    William Lewis Blennerhassett (named in error "Charles Blennerhassett") is mentioned in "The Zinoviev Letter" ch.2 "The Letter", p.57 Published by Heinemann, London (1967) 

    “The Zinoviev letter has been one of the great unsolved mysteries of British politics. Purporting to be an official directive from the Moscow Comintern to the British Communist Party to foment insurrection in the Army, its publication had a devastating impact on the Labour Party's performance in the 1924 General Election. But the truth about its origin and its well-timed publication has tantalised historians and politicians ever since. In this absorbing narrative, the authors reveal in detail for the first time: How the letter was forged by a group of reckless Russian emigres in Berlin. How it was planted in the European intelligence network. How it was received and mistakenly authenticated by the Foreign Office in London. How a former secret agent, single-handed, forced Whitehall to publish it. How the secret service and its "master spy" conspired to ensure the letter's maximum impact”.


    “At the time our story opens, in the year 1932, William Lewis Rowland Paul Sebastian Blennerhassett had been a member of the London Stock Exchange for the past thirty years. He could trace his family back to the 14th century, when a Blennerhassett had served as Mayor of Carlisle. Numerous Blennerhassett’s had served in Parliament. William himself had earned a DSO for his service in Military Intelligence and the Foreign Office. 

    He had been a delegate to the League of Nations. In the 1920s, he even published two novels set in revolutionary Russia. He was a rich, respected, highly respectable family man, justly proud of his illustrious heritage. Unfortunately, as events would shortly prove, he was also utterly lacking in humor or any sense of proportionate response.

    On the morning of May 26, as Londoners read their "Evening Standard," they saw featured within the pages of the newspaper an ad for a yo-yo company. It told the tale of a "worthy citizen" named "Mr. Blennerhassett," who became addicted to playing with yo-yos. It closed with the words, "To-day, he is happy in a quiet place in the country, and under sympathetic surveillance he practises Yo-Yo tricks...So beware of Yo-Yo, which starts as a hobby and ends as a habit."
    I'm not sure of the wisdom of an ad that touts its product as a likely gateway to madness and the asylum, but never mind that”.He sued the company for slander in a very high profile high court case and lost

    Published works

    As "W.L. Blennerhassett" he wrote for; "The National Review" June 1918 "Blackwood's Review" Dec.1918, Jan.1919 & Feb.1919; "The Gospel According to Karl Marx" published. In "The Cornhill" magazine Dec.1919 "A Tragedy of Error: being a contribution towards 'The truth about 1918' " pub. in ["The Cornhill" magazine Dec.1920];

    William Blennerhassett worked his experience of revolutionary Russia into material for two novels, "The Red Shadow" (published Duckworth 1922) & "The Dreamer" (published Chapman & Dodd 1922),

    Contributed to "Encyclopaedia Britannica" on the history of Finland (EB vol.9 pp251-253 of 1962 edition) and Lapland (EB vol.13 p.718 of 1962 ed.) both under the initials "W.L.B."; 
    He wrote letter on Russia to the TIMES 29.6.1920 p.12


    Member of the Wellington & Savile Club










    blennerhassatt 002.JPG

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    Hi Tony, yes been in touch with the previous custodian, who got them from the family, lost I guess, as to 1917, yes very strange my money is somewhere he shouldn't have been!!

    As a Mater of interest would you mount them up? I am contemplating it so they do not get lost again


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