Hampshire, Stuart Newton, 1914-2004

by Alan Ryan

02 Feb 2017

Extract relating to military intelligence work:

On the outbreak of war, Hampshire joined the army; he was sent, briefly, to Sierra Leone. He was not a natural infantryman and was rapidly transferred into military intelligence. He spent much of the war analysing the activities of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, the central command of Himmler’s SS; unlike some of his colleagues, he did not afterwards talk much about what he had done there, but like almost everyone else in military intelligence he came across an assortment of characters whose loyalty lay to the Soviet Union rather than their own country. One story told by his obituarists was that Hampshire had in late 1942 drawn up a plan for encouraging the hostility to the Nazi regime on the part of senior military officers that later gave rise to the Stauffenberg Plot; the proposal gained general support but was shot down by Kim Philby. Nobody could understand why, but retrospectively, it seemed plausible that Philby had been acting on the Soviet line that it was better to prolong the war until the Red Army was firmly on German soil. At the end of the war, Hampshire himself was interviewed at length about his ties to Guy Burgess, during the first of several failed attempts by MI5 to uncover the full extent of the spy ring that Burgess had established. Many years later Goronwy Rees sought to blacken Hampshire’s name by accusing him of having been, as it might be, the Sixth, Seventh or Eighth Man; he was duly investigated, questioned by Peter Wright, and cleared. The occasion was somewhat awkward for everyone because Hampshire had been appointed in 1965–6 to conduct a review of the intelligence gathering activities of GCHQ at Cheltenham.

By the end of the war, Hampshire was fully acquainted with the atrocious history of the SS in occupied Europe and Russia. It made him realise that ‘unmitigated evil and nastiness’ are as natural to human beings as kindness, a thought that as he said he might have gleaned from Shakespeare but previously had not. The feeling was sharpened when he had to interrogate Ernst Kaltenbrunner, the successor to Heydrich as head of the SS, and a man who was thought by his fellow SS officers to be a particularly ruthless and unpleasant piece of work. He took what even they thought a disgusting interest in the various methods of execution practised by the SS, and was eventually executed for the long list of war crimes for which he was tried at Nuremberg in 1946.

(See: List of humanities scholars who worked in military intelligence in the Second World War)

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