Norman Baillie-Stewart

Norman Baillie-Stewart was another Englishman who made radio broadcasts for the Germans during World War Two. However, his activities had started well before 1939 and not too longer after Adolf Hitler became German Chancellor in January 1933. During a period of imprisonment at the Tower of London, he became known in the media as the Officer in the Tower.

Norman Baillie-Stewart was born on 15 January 1915 as Norman Baillie Stewart Wright. In 1927 he finished 10th in the order of merit at the Royal Military College Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders.

Just after joining the Seaforth Highlanders, Norman Wright changed his name to Norman Baillie-Stewart. He also expressed a dislike to military life. He claimed that his fellow officers regarded him with suspicion and snobbery, even though his Father had been an Army Colonel and his Mother was descended from a long line of military officers.

During the Spring of 1933, Baillie-Stewart was court-martialled at the Duke of York’s Chelsea Barracks for an offence under the Official Secrets Act. The court-martial heard how Baillie-Stewart’s life of treason began when he fell in love with a German girl on a trip to South Africa and decided to become a German. “I pursued with the strongest determination my quest for the German Holy Grail,” he later admitted. “I typed out an offer of my services and sent it to the German Consul in London.” Also while on holiday in German during 1931, Baillie-Stewart had become involved with a young German women. In return for sexual favours and £90 he had provided her with some low-grade classified military information. Evidence was produced that he had also made several trips to Holland to meet with his handlers.

He was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment, which he served in the Tower of London; the last British citizen imprisoned there. The MI5 files have since shown that the £90 was for ‘expenses’ and that the German intelligence services played on Bailie-Stewart’s fixation with German ladies.

After his release from imprisonment, Baillie-Stewart travelled to Vienna in 1937 and applied for Austrian citizenship. However, Baillie-Stewart did not meet the residency qualification for Austrian citizenship. In August 1938, under suspicion of being a Nazi agent, Baillie-Stewart was given 3 weeks to leave Austria. Baillie-Stewart’s disenchantment with the UK was increased when the British Embassy in Vienna refused to help him. He was then forced to flee to Bratislava.

When Hitler completed the Anschluss with Austria, Baillie-Stewart was able to return to Austria. He made a small income from running a trading company. In July 1939, Baillie-Stewart attended a friend’s party where he heard some of the German radio’s English language broadcasts. He made some criticisms of the broadcasts, which were heard by another guest at this party who happened to work at the Austrian radio station. He informed his superiors of Baillie-Stewart’s comments, and events quickly happened. After a successful radio test, Baillie-Stewart was ordered by the German Propaganda Ministry to report to the Reichsrundfunk in Berlin. A week before the UK declared war Germany, Baillie-Stewart made his first broadcast on the German radio’s “Germany calling” English language service.

In was in fact Baillie-Stewart who made the September 1939 radio broadcast which was heard by Jonah Barrington (a pen-name used by a Daily Express correspondent). After hearing this broadcast, Barrington wrote about a gentleman speaking with an English accent of the haw-haw type, get-out-of-my-way type. On 18 September 1939, Barrington wrote for the first time about Lord Haw-Haw. These comments were in fact aimed at Baillie-Stewart ‘the Sandhurst-educated officer and gentleman’ (who made the broadcast heard by Barrington) and not the nasal-accented William Joyce.

Baillie-Stewart gradually became disenchanted with the output that he was required to broadcast, and in December 1939 he was dismissed by the Reichsrundfunk shortly after his last radio broadcast. He continued to work in Berlin as a translator for the German Foreign Ministry and lectured in English at Berlin University. In early 1940, Baillie-Stewart became a German citizen.

In Spring 1942, Baillie-Stewart made a brief return to the radio service under the pen-name of “Lancer”. He made several broadcasts for both the Reichsrundfunk and Radio Luxembourg. However, Baillie-Stewart spent most of him time avoiding the more blatant propaganda-type stuff being pressed on him.

In 1944, Baille-Stewart got himself sent to Vienna for medial treatment. At the war’s end, Baillie-Stewart was in Altaussee. He was arrested in Austria in 1945 “wearing chamois leather shorts, embroidered braces and a forester’s jacket” and sent to Britain to face charges of high treason.

Baillie-Stewart escaped execution because the then Labour Attorney-General, Hartley Shawcross, did not think he could make charges of high treason stick. He decided to proceed with a lesser charge of committing an act likely to assist the enemy.

But when the Attorney-General decided that such charges would not stick, MI5 lobbied for him to be sent to the Russian zone where there would be no “namby-pamby legal hair-splitting”.

Mr Justice Oliver disagreed and calling him “… one of the worst citizens that your country has produced”, sentenced Baillie-Stewart to five years after which he moved to Ireland, married and fathered two children before dying in a Dublin bar in 1966.