Sidney Reilly : biography
Lieutenant Sidney George Reilly, MC (c. 24 March 1873 – 5 November 1925), famously known as the Ace of Spies, was a Jewish Russian-born adventurer and secret agent employed by Scotland Yard, the British Secret Service Bureau and later the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). He is alleged to have spied for at least four nations.Richard Deacon, Spyclopaedia; 1987, Macdonald & Company Publishers Ltd, ISBN 0-356-14600-6. pp 133–136. His notoriety during the 1920s was created in part by his friend, British diplomat and journalist Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, who publicized their thwarted operation to overthrow the Bolshevik regime in 1918.
After Reilly's death, the London Evening Standard published in May 1931 a Master Spy serial imparting his exploits. Later, Ian Fleming would use Reilly as a model for James Bond. Today, many historians consider Reilly to be the first 20th-century super-spy. Much of what is thought to be known about him could be false, as Reilly was a master of deception, and most of his life is shrouded in legend.
According to Rosenblum, in 1892, the Imperial Russian Secret Police arrested him for being a messenger for the Friends of Enlightenment revolutionary group. When he was released, Grigory (Rosenblum's assumed father) told his son that his mother was dead, and that his true, biological father was her Jewish doctor, Mikhail A. Rosenblum. Renaming himself Sigmund Rosenblum, he faked his death in Odessa Harbour and stowed away aboard a British ship bound for South America.
In Brazil, young Sigmund adopted the name Pedro and worked odd jobs: dock worker, road mender, plantation labourer, and in 1895, cook for a British intelligence expedition.Deacon 1987 Rosenblum allegedly saved both the expedition and the life of Major Charles Fothergill when hostile natives attacked them. Rosenblum seized a British officer's pistol and, with expert, single-hand marksmanship, killed the attacking natives. Appropriately for a fantastic story, Major Fothergill rewarded Rosenblum with £1,500, a British passport, and passage to Britain; there, Pedro became Sidney Rosenblum.
Andrew Cook asserts in Ace of Spies: The True Story of Sidney Reilly (pg. 32) that evidence contradicts the Brazilian scenario, averring that the British expedition incident to be unsubstantiated. Cook states that the arrival of Sigmund Rosenblum in London in December 1895 was via France, and prompted by Rosenblum's unscrupulous acquisition of a large sum of money in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés, a residential suburb of Paris, necessitating a hasty flight. According to Cook's account, Rosenblum and Yan Voitek, a Russian accomplice, waylaid two Italian anarchists on 25 December 1895, and robbed them of a substantial amount of revolutionary funds. One anarchist's throat was cut; the other, Constant Della Cassa, died from knife wounds in Fontainebleau Hospital three days later. By the time Della Cassa's death appeared in the newspapers, police had learned that one of the assailants, whose physical description matched Rosenblum's, was already en route to England. Rosenblum's accomplice, Voitek, later related this incident as well as other dealings with Rosenblum to the British Secret Intelligence Service.
Regardless of whether Sigmund Rosenblum arrived in England via Brazil or France, he resided at the Albert Mansions, an apartment block in Rosetta Street, Waterloo, London, in early 1896. Now settled in England, Rosenblum created the Ozone Preparations Company, which peddled miracle cures. Because of his knowledge of languages, Rosenblum became a paid informant for the émigré intelligence network of William Melville, superintendent of Scotland Yard's Special Branch and, according to Cook, later the clandestine head of the British Secret Service Bureau,Andrew Cook, M: Mi5's First Spymaster, 2004, Tempus Publishing, ISBN 0-7524-2896-9. which was founded in 1909.
Frankfurt International Air Show
In Ace of Spies, biographer Robin Bruce Lockhart recounts Reilly's alleged involvement in obtaining a newly developed German magneto at the first Frankfurt International Air Show ("Internationale Luftschiffahrt-Ausstellung") in 1909. According to Lockhart, on the fifth day of the air show a German plane lost control and crashed, killing the pilot. The plane's engine was alleged to have used a new type of magneto that was far ahead of other designs.
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