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Norman Baillie-Stewart : biography

15 January 1909 - 7 June 1966

Norman Baillie-Stewart (15 January 1909 – 7 June 1966) was a British army officer known as The Officer in the Tower when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. An active sympathizer of Nazi Germany, he took part in German-produced propaganda broadcasts and is known as one of the persons associated with the nickname Lord Haw-Haw.


1933 court martial

In the spring of 1933, Baillie-Stewart was court-martialled at Chelsea Barracks under the Official Secrets Act for selling military secrets to a foreign power. Because Britain was not at war, Baillie-Stewart was not in danger of the death penalty, but the ten charges against him carried a maximum sentence of 140 years in jail.

The court was told that Baillie-Stewart's offending had begun in 1931 when he met and fell in love with a German woman while holidaying in Germany, and decided to become a German citizen, writing a letter to the German Consul in London offering his services. Receiving no answer, he travelled to Berlin without permission to take leave, where he telephoned the German Foreign Ministry and demanded to talk to an English speaker. This resulted in him making contact with a Major Mueller under the Brandenburg Gate, where he agreed to spy for Germany.

Using the pretext that he was studying for Staff College examinations, he borrowed from the Aldershot Military Library specifications and photographs of an experimental tank, the Vickers A1E1 Independent,The Vickers A1E1 Independent was a large tank with five separate turrets. Several countries had an interest in multi-turret tanks during the inter-war period. Germans produced their own one, the Neubaufahrzeug between 1934 and 1936. The Independent also provided inspiration for the Soviet Union's T-35. Experience during the early part of the Second World War would later show such tanks performed poorly in combat. and a new automatic rifle, and notes on the organisation of tank and armoured car units. It was charged that he had sold this material to a German known as "Otto Waldemar Obst", in return for which he received two letters signed "Marie-Luise", one containing ten £5 notes, and the other four £10 notes. Evidence was also produced that he had also made several trips to the Netherlands to meet with his handlers. MI5's files have since shown that Marie-Luise had been merely a figment of his controller's imagination; Major Mueller's covername was Obst (fruit) and Baillie-Stewart's was Poiret (little pear), while Marie-Luise, a type of pear, was used to conceal their correspondence.

He was imprisoned for five years, which he served at the Tower of London, the last British subject to be imprisoned there.

Early life

Baillie-Stewart was born to a military family named Wright and was given the forenames Norman Baillie Stewart. He attended Bedford School and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where, as a cadet, he served as an orderly to Prince Henry, a younger son of King George V. He graduated tenth in the order of merit and in 1927 received a commission as a subaltern in the Seaforth Highlanders. In 1929 he changed his surname from Wright to "Baillie-Stewart", perhaps under the belief that he was looked down upon by more senior officers, even though his father had been a colonel and his mother was from a family with a long tradition of military service. He soon grew to dislike army life.


Baillie-Stewart only avoided execution because the Attorney-General, Hartley Shawcross, did not think he could successfully try him on charges of high treason, committed by taking German citizenship, and instead decided to try him on the lesser charge of "committing an act likely to assist the enemy". MI5 reportedly lobbied for him to be sent to the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, where there would be no "namby-pamby legal hair-splitting".

Baillie-Stewart pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, following which he moved to Ireland under the pseudonym of James Scott, married, and had two children before dying on a Dublin street of a heart attack in 1966.

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