Hugh Sinclair

Hugh Sinclair bigraphy, stories - Royal Navy admiral

Hugh Sinclair : biography

1873 – 4 November 1939

Admiral Sir Hugh Francis Paget Sinclair, (18 August 1873 – 4 November 1939), nicknamed "Quex", was a British intelligence officer. Between 1919 and 1921, he was Director of British Naval Intelligence, and helped to set up the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, commonly MI6) before the Second World War.


Sinclair joined the Royal Navy in 1886Christopher Andrew, "Sinclair, Sir Hugh Francis Paget (1873–1939)", rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008 and entered the Naval Intelligence Division at the beginning of the First World War. He became Director of the Division in February 1919, and later head of the Submarine Service. He became the second director, or ‘C’, of SIS in 1923.

Beginning in 1919 he attempted to absorb the counter-intelligence service MI5 into the SIS to strengthen Britain’s efforts against Bolshevism, an idea was finally rejected in 1925. The SIS remained small and under-funded during the inter-war years. By 1936 Sinclair realized that the Gestapo had penetrated several SIS stations and Claude Dansey, who had been removed from his station in Rome, set up Z organization, intended to work independently of the compromised SIS.M. R. D. Foot, "Dansey, Sir Claude Edward Marjoribanks (1876–1947)", rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008

In 1938, with a second war looming, Sinclair set up Section D, dedicated to sabotage. In spring of 1938, using his own money, he bought Bletchley Park to be a wartime intelligence station.Michael Smith, Station X, Channel 4 Books, 1998. ISBN 0-330-41929-3, p. 20

Sinclair was asked in December 1938 to prepare a dossier on Adolf Hitler, for the attention of Lord Halifax, the Foreign Secretary, and Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister. In the dossier, which was received poorly by Sir George Mounsey, the Foreign Office assistant under-secretary—who believed that it did not gel with Britain’s then contemporary policy of appeasement—Sinclair described Hitler as possessing the characteristics of "fanaticism, mysticism, ruthlessness, cunning, vanity, moods of exaltation and depression, fits of bitter and self-righteous resentment; and what can only be termed a streak of madness; but with it all there is a great tenacity of purpose, which has often been combined with extraordinary clarity of vision".

Sinclair became seriously ill with cancer, causing Alexander Cadogan to note on 19 October 1939, that he was "going downhill". On 29 October, he underwent an operation for his cancer and died on 4 November 1939, five days before the Venlo incident.Andrew. pp. 436–438.