Friday, February 26, 2010

I Spy

According to a recent article in the Daily Mail the Mossad agent Erika Chambers was the daughter of motor sport's Marcus Chambers.

Of course there have been less tenuous connections between the sport and the world of espionage than this. MI5's Jock Horsfall, killed at Silverstone in 1949, would have made it into the encyclopedias if he had lived to race another season - unfortunately nearly all motor sport reference books seem to think that Grand Prix racing began with the World Drivers' Championship in 1950! Horsfall's major claim to fame was using his battered transporter to transfer The Spy Who Never Was, Glyndwr Michael, to the submarine HMS Seraph.

Brooklands racer Mark Pepys, that's the Earl of Cottenham to you and me, was also a high-ranking MI5 officer - although perhaps a little too friendly with the Nazi spy Anna Wolkoff. Wolkoff's great pal was another pre-war racer Enid Riddell, indeed Anna seemingly died in a car driven by Riddell in 1973. Now Riddell's name crops up in nearly every account of pre-war English fascism you care to read but sadly no-one seems bothered to research her background. I believe that Enid was the daughter of a London stockbroker and his estranged South African wife, oh and she didn't die in that 1973 crash as most accounts claim.

Was French lady racer Violette Morris primarily an Abwehr agent or a Gestapo torturer? Seemingly she was both and important enough to be assassinated on orders from London in 1944. The mysterious Robert O'Brien, who competed in the 1952 Belgium Grand Prix, has been suspected of being a CIA agent - certainly his motor-racing activities took him behind the Iron Curtain, driving for a Countess Walchiers, a lady who appears to have no existence outside the pages of the racing press. Oh and when MI6 wanted to find spy Richard Tomlinson a job , who did they turn to? Why none other than a man once described by Max Mosley as "a certified halfwit"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Off the Beaten Track

You realise your blog is getting unwieldy and maybe ready for the scrapheap when even the author can't dig out his old posts!

Anyway I've previously posted about, but can't find, the Innes Ireland memorial on a remote peninsula in Ross Shire. The sculptor responsible for the plaque has a website which includes a photo which shows, for once, the memorial in its proper context, with the Atlantic Ocean in the background. Check it out here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Radnorshire Book from Canada?

I've posted before about the Duggan brothers from Llansantffraid yn Elfael who made something of a splash in Albertan politics back in the early years of the last century, here and here. Now a correspondent writes to point out that Joseph Duggan (pictured) penned a volume about his little Welsh home called "The Unforgotten Valley, Studies of Life and Character on the Welsh Border". Anymore information about this book?

Of course Duggan married the Builth contralto Bessie Evans, daughter of local musical maestro Llew Buallt and readers might be interested in a snippet from the recently published treasury of local history Cymru Evan Jones. It seems that Llew (Evan Evans) was living at Melin Dol Llinwydd on the Duhonw brook during the great flood of 1853. Such was the height of the deluge that the family had to seek shelter in the loft and then as the waters continued to rise were forced to break through onto the roof. Their troubles were not over, as half the building suddenly collapsed into the torrent, young Evan would have been seven years old at the time.