The Forum is administered separately from the rest of the website - please log in below to post
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - John Herbert Spottiswoode : Zeppelin spy ?
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

John Herbert Spottiswoode : Zeppelin spy ?

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
Author
NickForder View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 01 Jun 2009
Location: Bolton
Status: Offline
Points: 1369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: John Herbert Spottiswoode : Zeppelin spy ?
    Posted: 31 Jan 2011 at 09:43

“The probability is that by 1913 Cumming had an agent in Germany reporting on Zeppelin construction. His name was John Herbert Spottiswoode. Born John Herbert in 1882, he had changed his surname on inheriting the Scottish estate of his great-aunt, Lady Montagu-Douglas-Scott-Spottiswoode in 1900. Like Cumming, Spottiswoode had a passion for both cars and aeroplanes. He worked for a time at Rolls-Royce, enjoyed motoring around the Continent, was a good linguist speaking fluent German, and had a number of dealings with the Mercedes-Benz factory. He also became an Avro test pilot and probably got to know Cumming in about 1912 when they were both members of the Royal Aero Club. The previous two years had been traumatic ones for Spottiswoode. Thirty four aviators (some known to him personally), whose names are recorded in Spottiswoode’s few remaining papers, were killed in flying accidents n 1910 and 1911 During the same period he ran £10,000 into debt through an unsuccessful flying venture, his marriage began to break up, and he had to sell part of his Scottish estate. Anxious to escape the collapse of both his business and his marriage, Spottiswoode seems to have responded to Cumming’s suggestion that he post as an Irish-American and use his fluent German and aeronautical sill to investigate Zeppelin construction. Spottiswoode later claimed to have actually worked in a Zeppelin factory and to have sent blueprints of some Zeppelin engines back to London. Unlike most of Cumming’s ‘Casual agents’ , Spottiswoode’s pose as an American citizen allowed him to stay on in Germany after the outbreak of war, before long he was arrested and interned but clung successfully to his claim of American citizenship and was allowed to leave Germany after an operation for acute appendicitis. Like Cumming’s other prewar ‘causal agents’ Spottiswoode would never have considered ‘taking up Intelligence work again, under any consideration, whatever’. He quarrelled with Cumming after his return and claimed he had ’told the old bastard to clear off back to the Victory where he belonged.’ His family recall that many years later Spottiswoode still had nightmares about his experiences in Germany.”

Unsupported claim from his son, quoted in ‘Secret Service : The Making of the British Intelligence Community’, Christopher Andrew, Book Club Associates/William Heinemann, 1985

 

John Roderick Charles Herbert Spottiswoode was born in 1882, the eldest son of Captain Charles Herbert and his second wife, Helen, only child of late Colonel Andrew Spottiswoode. In 1900 he succeeded his great aunt, Lady John Montagu-Douglas-Scott-Spottiswoode, and assumed her name.

 

In 1906 married Evelyn Anne Venables, only child of Richard Henry Venables Kyrke, of Natyffrith, Flintshire, and Anne Elizabeth, daughter of Peter walker of Auchenflower. Married dissolved in 1915.

 

1909 “Captain John Spottiswoode” elected to the RAeC as a member in June/July.

 

1910 January. Elected as member of RAeC.

 

1910 purchased Scottish Aeroplane Syndicate Avis III monoplane (40 h.p. JAP).

Designed by WO Manning & built by Warwick Wright Ltd, 110 Marylebone High Street, London, NW1 (office) & railway arches, Prince of Wales Road, Battersea, SW11 (workshop). Registered office of SAS : 166 Piccadilly, London

 Spottiswoode described as “a well-known Brooklands racing driver”.

 

1910 February “Captain J Spottiswoode” flying at Eastchurch.

 

1910 Alan Boyle’s manager.

 

1910. Late September making half-turns on Avis.

 

1910 Subscriber to CS Rolls’ Memorial Library. Subscribed £2.00 to stain glass window at Eastchurch to commemorate Rolls & Grace.

 

5.10.1910 Spottiswoode gained 5th place in Brooklands Austomobile Racing Club fliht aggregate time awards with a flight of less than 5 minutes. Graham Gilmour won on Big Bat with a time of 2 hours, 59 minutes, 16 seconds.

Avis III sold to Campbell-Grey, 88 Edgeware Road, London, as photographer’s prop.

 

1911 October. Visited Hendon.

 

1913 RAeC official observer, with Spenser Grey, for £500 Mortimer Singer Prize.

Took part in McLean’s 1914 Nile Expedition using the Short S80 Nile Seaplane to fly from Cairo to Khartoum to investiage a possible air route. Organised in early 1913, originally using a rebuilt Short S32. McClean and Alec Ogilvie pilots (Ogilvie replaced Samson). Spottiswoode, described as “an explorer” laid out some of the fuel dumps. Did Spottiswoode actually go, or was this a cover for spying in Germany ?

 

1914 May. Attended RAC luncheon to mark Sopwith/Pixton victory in Schneider Trophy.

 

10 July 1915 granted commission as Temporary Lieutenant RNVR

In 1916 married Hylda Majorie, youngest daughter of Colonel Andrew Venables Kyrke, of Staplegrove, Somerset. Died 1931. One son, John.

1920 Sold shrunken head (not his !) to British Musuem

1921 donated ‘Amateur Archaeologist’ collections to Pitt Rivers Museum

Address (1928) : Spottiswoode, Gordon, Berkshire.

Address (1938) : As above, plus Mincambe Posts, Sidbury, Devon.

Back to Top
Rob View Drop Down
Groupie
Groupie


Joined: 22 Aug 2009
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 43
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2011 at 13:22
Fascinating story - a real life Richard Hannay! Are you researching him for a book/article?
Back to Top
drailton View Drop Down
Groupie
Groupie


Joined: 31 May 2009
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drailton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2011 at 12:00
Although it is stated that he was an Avro test pilot and was elected as a member of the Royal Aero Club he does not appear to have gained an RAeC certificate. Would this have been unusual in the circumstances?
Back to Top
NickForder View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 01 Jun 2009
Location: Bolton
Status: Offline
Points: 1369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2011 at 13:51
I think that there is a need to bear in mind that this quote comes from a 'non-aviation' person, and so the term 'Avro test pilot' might not be as specific as the text implies.
 
Certainly, I had not previously come across a connection between Spottiswoode and Avro, but it is another avenue to pursue.
 
As far as I have managed to ascertain, the only aeroplane Spottiswoode actually flew was the Avis III monoplane.
Nick
Back to Top
drailton View Drop Down
Groupie
Groupie


Joined: 31 May 2009
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drailton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2011 at 14:37
Times 7 Jan 1946 - Death Notice:
'Herbert-Spottiswoode - on Sunday 6 Jan 1946 at Grey Turret, Sidmouth. John Roderick Charles Herbert-Spottiswoode J.P. of Spottiswoode, Berwickshire, beloved husband of Bunny and father of John and Susan, age 63....'
Back to Top
drailton View Drop Down
Groupie
Groupie


Joined: 31 May 2009
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 54
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drailton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2011 at 14:53

The National Archives in London hold documents from 1915 at FO 383/22 on the possible exchange of John Herbert Spottiswoode and Joseph R. Weston, British subjects interned at Ruhleben.

Back to Top
stgeorges View Drop Down
Newbie
Newbie


Joined: 18 Jul 2012
Location: Devon
Status: Offline
Points: 1
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote stgeorges Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2012 at 11:22
Hi All,
 
I know I am replying to an extremely old post but I have been doing some research into my family history recently and this came up in a google search.
John Herbert Spottiswoode was my grandfather, father to my later mother, Susan Spottiswoode.
It is interesting to read the stories that you have found with regards to his aviation history. There are some things I can verify but others that are not entirely accurate. If this is something that is still of interest, I can dig out old photos and other history.
A model cast in silver of the seaplane he flew still exists and is now in the possession of my late mother's cousin. I believe he flew this from Alexandria to Khartoum, not from Cairo as one of the posts states.
Also he had a Sopwith Camel and I am trying to think now where the photo is! My late uncle John also told stories of him having a Tiger Moth but I think that may have been wishful thinking!
He did indeed obtain Zeppelin blueprints when working with Cumming, that part is true. I have a DVD copy of an episode of BBC's Timewatch, broadcast in 1985 which tells the story.
Anyway, if this is still of interest, let me know and I will try and dig out what I can.
Nick
Back to Top
NickForder View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 01 Jun 2009
Location: Bolton
Status: Offline
Points: 1369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Jul 2012 at 13:25
Many thanks for this.
 
I think that any information you can provide about JHS is likely to be of interest, and, if there is sufficient for an article for the C&CI Journal that is something I would urge you to consider writing.
 
Although research Phil Jarrett undertook for his book on Frank McLean confirms that JHS did make the flight down the Nile and it wasn't just a 'cover' for his spying activities, there are still a lot of question marks and inaccuracies relating to JHS's life. Anything you can do to help pinpoint the truth would be appreciated greatly.
Nick
 
 
 
Back to Top
olton View Drop Down
Newbie
Newbie


Joined: 02 Nov 2012
Status: Offline
Points: 2
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote olton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2012 at 18:17
Hi there.
I am the archivist for the West Highland White Terrier Club of England.I am currently researching Evelyn Annie Venables Kyrke who was the first wife of your grandfather John Herbert Spottiswoode and the first cousin of your grandmother Hylda Venables Kyrke.
I have a great deal of information about her including photos of Gwern Hall and Nant y Ffrith.
I began researching her for a book produced for the centenary of the club in 2006. However my interest has been rekindled through an email last week from a guy in Ireland who owns her 1925 Rolls Royce. I now have a photograph of that too. What he wanted was a photograph of her and I too would also like to have a photograph of Evelyn.
Do you know whether one exists?
If you want copies of anything I have mentioned please ask.
Rob Hill
Back to Top
NickForder View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 01 Jun 2009
Location: Bolton
Status: Offline
Points: 1369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2012 at 08:45
I don't know of any photos of Evelyn, but you could try the Royal Aero Club archives (at the RAF Museum) as she may appear in one of the group photos...
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  12>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 10.03
Copyright ©2001-2011 Web Wiz Ltd.
Create your own user feedback survey
find us on Facebook Follow us on TwitterGrab our news feed