R. H. Bruce Lockhart

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Robert Hamilton ("R.H.") Bruce Lockhart
+R. H. Bruce-Lockhart in Malaya.jpg
R.H. Bruce Lockhart in Malaya, 1909
British Vice Consul in Moscow[1]
In office
Acting British Consul General in Moscow[1]
In office
British Consul General in Moscow[1]
In office
Head of the unofficial British mission / Unofficial Ambassador to the Bolsheviks[1]
In office
Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Warfare Executive[2]
In office
Personal details
Born (1887-09-02)September 2, 1887
Died February 27, 1970(1970-02-27) (aged 82)
Spouse(s) Jean Bruce Haslewood (m. 1913)
 Frances Mary Beck  (m. 1948)

Sir Robert Hamilton ("R.H.") Bruce Lockhart, KCMG (2 September 1887 – 27 February 1970), was a British diplomat (Moscow, Prague), journalist, author, secret agent and footballer. His 1932 book, Memoirs of a British Agent,[1] became an international best-seller, and brought him to the world's attention.


He was born in Anstruther, Fife, the son of Robert Bruce-Lockhart, the first headmaster of Spier's School, Beith, Ayrshire, Scotland. His mother was Florence Stuart Macgregor, while his other ancestors include Bruces, Hamiltons, Cummings, Wallaces and Douglases. He claimed he could trace a connection back to Boswell of Auchinleck. In Memoirs of a British Agent, he wrote, "There is no drop of English blood in my veins." He attended Fettes College in Edinburgh.[3]

His family were mostly schoolmasters. His brother John Harold Bruce Lockhart was the headmaster of Sedbergh School, while his nephews Rab Bruce Lockhart and Logie Bruce Lockhart went on to become headmasters of Loretto and Gresham's. His great-nephew, Simon Bruce-Lockhart, is headmaster of Glenlyon Norfolk School.[4][unreliable source?]



At age 21, he went out to Malaya to join two uncles who were rubber planters there. According to his own account, he was sent to open up a new rubber estate near Pantai in Negeri Sembilan, in a district where "there were no other white men". He then "caused a minor sensation by carrying off Amai, the beautiful ward of the Dato' Klana, the local Malay prince… my first romance". However, three years in Malaya, and one with Amai, came to an end when "…doctors pronounced Malaria, but there were many people who said that I had been poisoned". One of his uncles and one of his cousins "bundled my emaciated body into a motor car and… packed me off home via Japan and America". The Dato' Klana in question was the chief of Sungei Ujong, the most important of the Nine States of Negeri Sembilan, whose palace was at Ampangan.[5]

First Moscow posting

Bruce Lockhart next joined the British Foreign Service and was posted to Moscow as Vice-Consul. At the time of his arrival in Russia, people had heard that a great footballer named Lockhart from Cambridge was arriving, and he was invited to turn out for Morozov a textile factory team that played their games 30 miles east of Moscow – the manager of the cotton mill was from Lancashire, England. Bruce Lockhart played for most of the 1912 season and his team won the Moscow league championship that year. The gold medal he won is in the collection of the National Library of Scotland.[6] The great player however was Robert's brother, John, who had played rugby union for Scotland, and by his own admission Robert barely deserved his place in the team and played simply for the love of the sport.[1]

Bruce Lockhart was British Consul-General in Moscow when the first Russian Revolution broke out in early 1917, but left shortly before the Bolshevik Revolution of October that year.

Return Mission to Moscow

He soon returned to Russia at the behest of Prime Minister Lloyd George and Lord Milner as the United Kingdom's first envoy to the Bolsheviks (Russia) in January 1918 in an attempt to counteract German influence. Moura Budberg, the widow of a high-ranking Czarist diplomat Count Johann von Benckendorff, became his mistress.[1]

Lockhart, on his return, was also working for the Secret Intelligence Service and had been given £648 worth of diamonds to fund the creation of an agent network in Russia.[citation needed]

Later, Bruce Lockhart spoke out for Arthur Ransome, saying he had been a valuable intelligence asset amid the worst chaos of the revolution.[7] As the chaos worsened in Russia and purges took hold among the Bolshevik leaders, Lockhart provided assistance to bring Trotsky's secretary, Evgenia Petrovna Shelepina, to England; she later married Ransome.[8]

Arrest and imprisonment

In 1918, Bruce Lockhart and fellow British agent, Sidney Reilly, were dramatically alleged to have plotted to assassinate Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.[9] He was accused of plotting against the Bolshevik regime and, for a time during 1918, was confined in the Kremlin as a prisoner and feared being condemned to death. However, he escaped trial in an exchange of "secret agents" for the Russian diplomat Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov. He later wrote about his experiences in his 1932 autobiographical book, Memoirs of a British Agent, which became an instant worldwide hit, and was made into the 1934 film, British Agent, by Warner Brothers.

Second World War and after

During the Second World War, Lockhart became director-general of the Political Warfare Executive, co-ordinating all British propaganda against the Axis powers. He was also for a time the British liaison officer to the Czechoslovak government-in-exile under President Edvard Beneš. After the war, he resumed his writing career, becoming a long-term editor of the Evening Standard's Londoner's Diary, as well as lecturing and broadcasting, and made a weekly BBC Radio broadcast to Czechoslovakia for over ten years.[citation needed]

Personal life

He had a son from his first marriage to Jean Bruce Haslewood, whom R. H. Bruce Lockhart married in 1913.

His son was author Robin Bruce Lockhart, who wrote the 1967 book Ace of Spies – about his father's friend and fellow agent Sidney Reilly – from which the 1983 miniseries Reilly, Ace of Spies was produced.

Lockhart married Frances Mary Beck in 1948.


Sir Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart, died in 1970 at the age of 82.[6]



  • Memoirs of a British Agent (Putnam, London, 1933)
  • Retreat from Glory (Putnam, London, 1934)
  • Return to Malaya (Putnam, London, 1936)
  • My Scottish Youth (Putnam, London, 1937)
  • Guns or Butter: War countries and peace countries of Europe revisited (Putnam, London, 1938)
  • A Son of Scotland (Putnam, London, 1938)
  • What Happened to the Czechs? (Batchworth Press, London, 1953)
  • Comes the Reckoning (Putnam, London, 1947)
  • My Rod, My Comfort (Putnam, London, 1949)
  • The Marines Were There: the Story of the Royal Marines in the Second World War (Putnam, London, 1950)
  • Scotch: the Whisky of Scotland in Fact and Story (Putnam, London, 1951)
  • My Europe (Putnam, London, 1952)
  • Your England (Putnam, London, 1955)
  • Jan Masaryk, a Personal Memoir (Putnam, London, 1956)
  • Friends, Foes, and Foreigners (Putnam, London, 1957)
  • The Two Revolutions: an Eyewitness Study of Russia, 1917 (Bodley Head, London, 1967)
  • The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart Vol 1 (Macmillan, London, 1973)
  • The Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart Vol 2 (Macmillan, London, 1980)
  • My Scottish Youth (B&W Publishing, Edinburgh 1993)

TV drama

The 1983 British television series Reilly, Ace of Spies was based on a book by his son. Robert Lockhart was portrayed by Ian Charleson in the series.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, Memoirs of a British Agent; first published 1932 by Macmillan (January 1975); ISBN 0-333-17329-5/ISBN 978-0-333-17329-9
  2. Taylor, P.M. (ed.), 2005. Allied Propaganda in WWII: The Complete Record of the Political Warfare Executive (FO 898)
  3. Bruce Lockhart, Robert (1993). My Scottish Youth. Edinburgh: B&W Publishing. pp. 313–353. ISBN 1 873631 26 X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Lundy, Darryl. "John Harold Bruce-Lockhart profile". www.thepeerage.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (and other linked pages)
  5. Bruce Lockhart, R. H., Return to Malaya (London: Putnam, 1936, pp. 4–5, 195, 211 & 230
  6. 6.0 6.1 Moffat, Colin (8 March 2006). "BBC SPORT: "O'Connor not first Scot in Moscow"". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Casciani, Dominic (1 March 2005). "How MI5 watched children's author". BBC News. Retrieved 13 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, Memoirs of a British Agent; first published 1932 by Macmillan (January 1975); ISBN 0-333-17329-5/ISBN 978-0-333-17329-9
  9. Thomson, Mike (19 March 2011). "Did Britain try to assassinate Lenin?". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Notice of 1943 award to Robert Hamilton Bruce Lockhart of knighthood as Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

External links