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Decca Days - the career of Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Decca Days? the career of Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958* EDGAR SAMUEL This paper, written in the centenary year of my father's birth, is concerned mainly with his career?an interesting one, made possible by the fact that Britain, of which he was a native and subject, is a liberal country in. which 'careers are open to the talents'. The study concentrates on his achievements in two very different professions: as an industrialist and as a naval intelligence officer. As an industrialist he helped, as one of a team, to build up a small but new British manufacturing and exporting industry. As a naval staff officer he made a small contribution, again as one of a team, to the defeat of the German Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic and thus towards the defeat of Nazi Germany in the Second World War. It is the story of a junior leader?a centurion rather than a legate?but a man of talent and ingenuity whose achievements were also significant. Wilfred Sampson Samuel was born on 29 November 1886 at his paternal grandmother's house, 4 Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale. He was the third child of Sampson Samuel and his wife Julia Cowen. His father was by then seriously ill, and an inmate of a private mental hospital in Islington. The family regarded Sampson as good as dead, and his youngest child Wilfred was therefore given the distinctive Hebrew name reserved by custom for a posthumous son. He was named Shimshon ben Shimshon after the father he never knew. Sampson died two years later in 1888; The death certificate gives the cause as General Paralysis. Julia (or Julie) Samuel was only twenty-five when Sampson died, and she was left a widow with three young children. She was prevailed upon, under heavy family pressure, to give her elder son, Bertram, then aged five, away for adoption by her brother-in-law Philip Samuel, who was going out to Sydney, New South Wales, to settle. The two younger children, Ella Martha (or Daisie) and Wilfred, were brought up by their mother and by a faithful housekeeper named Rachel Levy. Julie was left with a leasehold house, 127 Alexandra Road, St John's Wood, a small annuity allowed her by her father David Cowen, a retail silversmith in * Paper delivered to the Society on 28 November 1986. 235</page><page sequence="2">Edgar Samuel ^||^ ^^^^^^^^^ Plate i Sampson Samuel (1851-88). 236</page><page sequence="3">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Plate 2 Sampson Samuel in fancy dress. Plate 3 Julia Samuel with Bertram, Daisie and Wilfred, c. 1887. South Manchester, and an even smaller annuity given to her by her Samuel brothers-in-law. Wilfred and Daisie were sent to private schools in Maida Vale, and then, when Wilfred was eight, Julie decided to let her house and to move to Brussels, where the cost of living was lower than in London and where the children could learn French.1 Wilfred was sent to 'Kahn's International Boarding School', in Brussels, which advertised in the Jewish Chronicle and whose former pupils included Samuel Montagu, Rufus Isaacs and Marcus Samuel, the founder of 'Shell'.2 The family boarded with Mme Erdinger, a well-educated Belgian Catholic lady, who was very similarly situated to Julie Samuel, having been widowed young, with three children to bring up, and possessing little but the house in which she lived, so that she Was obliged to take in lodgers. The two women became firm friends and Wilfred remained a close friend of her daughters and grandchildren for the whole of his life. He learnt to speak some Flemish, and his French was soon as fluent and idiomatic as his English. When Wilfred was eleven his brother Bertram was sent back to his mother, after a deprived and unhappy childhood for which he never forgave her.3 In the following year the family returned to London, where the children continued 237</page><page sequence="4">c o .3 * L s: o co oo 2z Oh in o ? ^ o *0 i 00 n rj 00 O ^ J4 S 00 00 -q m 00 "I ? r PS n ;3 ."? cu u c 0^ o h-05 3 C 5 h ? 5 flQ H ? CQ C&gt; -?- -q ? ?3 ? m H O 1 ~ eg n ? 00 S CT, ; O 00 ! goo* cu h SC w 3 3 "3 CO :co cu . o&gt; ?3 X3 3 3 co O CO CJ - o _, ^ oo ? I? ill's ?&lt;8 i ? a - ?#is~ 3 .2 h 5 3 S CO co ?5 00 :2 3 - ? s w c3 ? E5 2 &lt;u 3 ? ? ti ^ a "71 &lt;u CO ^ oo G . T3 _ C _ L/"5 r-^ ^ &gt; r* 3 g g Q M</page><page sequence="5">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 their schooling. Wilfred attended a small private school, the Maida Vale School, 36 Warrington Crescent, run by one John Ryan, who was a very fine teacher; and then two-and-a-half years later Daisie and Wilfred were sent to boarding schools in Germany?Wilfred attending a Jewish school, the 'Baermenn'sche Realschule', at a small town in the Palatinate called D?rkheim an der Hardt, for a further eighteen months. There he learnt to speak fluent German, including the local dialect, well enough to pass among Germans as a native. After another six months in Brussels, he left school at seventeen and entered the family business, Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons, as a management trainee.4 He also studied Italian in later years, under the guidance of Dr Lazzaro Belelli of Corfu.5 Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons, which Wilfred Samuel joined in 1903 and in which he made his career, originated as a section of a business established in 1832 in Houndsditch by Wilfred Samuel's great-uncle Henry Solomon as a steel pen and watch manufacturers. Before long it became a wholesale house specializing in pens, knives, cutlery, silverware, watches and clocks. From clocks it was a logical step to musical boxes, and from musical boxes to the full range of musical instruments. The business developed into a regular warehouse with a specialist musical-instrument department. In 1868 Henry Solomon sold the musical-instrument department to his brother-in-law, Barnett Samuel, whose sons and grandsons developed it during the next sixty years, first into the leading British musical-instrument wholesalers, and then into a major manu? facturer and exporter of gramophones. In 1928 the Samuel family sold the business, and after some vicissitudes as the Decca Gramophone Company Limited, it was developed by Sir Edward Lewis into a leading gramophone record and electronic manufacturing and exporting business. After Lewis's death in 1975 Decca was taken over by Racal. The origins of the business are worth tracing in detail. Henry Solomon's grandfather had come to England, from Lissa in Poland, as the Hazan and Shochet of the Exeter synagogue, whose congregation was too small to afford a fully-fledged rabbi.6 His father, Jacob Solomon, was born on the Continent in 1782, while his mother, Sarah Phillips, was born in Plymouth in 1789.7 Jacob Solomon first appears in the Exeter directories in 1825 as a jeweller in Mint Place, but by 1830 he had changed his trade to 'quill dresser and cutter', and in the same year the family migrated to London, by sailing ship, where he established a wholesale hardware business in Westminster. It is not certain where they lived at first, but by the time of the 1841 census they were to be found at 60 Tothill Street, Westminster. Jacob Solomon's eldest son, Josiah, remained in Exeter in charge of the quill business, and another son, Isaac, opened a fancy-goods warehouse in Plymouth. The location at Tothill Street, near to Westminster Bridge, had apparently been chosen because of its proximity to the roads to the West Country seaports, where Jacob Solomon's 239</page><page sequence="6">Edgar Samuel friends and relations were in business. The hardware business appears to have had two purposes: firstly, to sell quill pens shipped from Exeter to the London wholesale stationery trade, and secondly, to buy cutlery, clocks, watches, brass and silverware to stock jewellers' and pawnbrokers' shops in Exeter, Plymouth and Portsmouth and, of course, wherever else they could be sold. Jacob Solomon's third son, Henry, seems to have been trained initially as a watchmaker, but his interest was excited by the commercial possibilities of the steel pen. He therefore took a job as a penmaker with one of the few manufacturers in this new trade. He learnt the manufacturing technique and then set up in business on his own account as a steel-pen manufacturer. At first he must have worked in the family home, because he later claimed to have established his business in 1832.8 Three years later, in 1835, he acquired his first traceable premises, at 31 Houndsditch, Aldgate. Not only did 'Decca' originate in this warehouse, but so did another great British business, 'Shell'.9 Moreover, they both started as wholesale businesses of a very similar kind. It is difficult nowadays to think of the juicy steel dip pen as a technological marvel, let alone the basis of a growth industry, for even the Post Office has discarded steel pens in favour of ball-points, but so it was in the early nineteenth century. The steel pen gradually rendered the quill obsolete, because it did not need resharpening and frequent replacement and was far harder and more durable. The London directories of the 1830s are full of advertisements for steel pens, rhodium pens, and even for ruby pens that never wear out. Henry Solomon recognized the huge potential demand for steel pens and was early in the trade. The sale of pens, pencils, penknives and sealing wax, in nineteenth-century London, was mainly in the hands of Jewish street traders, and this probably explains why Henry Solomon opened his first premises in Houndsditch, where they bought their wares. The Exeter quill-dressing business seems to have been geared to the same market, for a country town was an excellent place to buy quills from farmers and poulterers and from pedlars who hawked their wares to the country villages and farms. The second aspect of Henry Solomon's business?watch manufacture?arose from the fact that Houndsditch was a good place to sell watches, because watches, being light in weight and high in value, were very suitable stock-in-trade for a pedlar; and German and Polish Jewish pedlars of jewellery, and provincial retailers, bought their supplies there because the warehouse owners in this Jewish quarter could speak German or Yiddish and were prepared to give them credit. The 1839 directory describes Henry Solomon's business as: 'manufacturers of clocks, watches, steel pens, etc. Birmingham and Sheffield warehousemen and importers of French and German manufactures, etc. etc' By this time he seems to have taken over his father's business at 60 Tothill Street, Westminster, which now appears in his name as Henry Solomon &amp; Company. 240</page><page sequence="7">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Plate 4 Pages from Henry Solomon and Co's 1861 Price List. Once he had established an effective sales network, Henry Solomon proceeded to acquire French and German agencies for various products, including musical instruments. As the railway system developed, London became the centre of a nation-wide distribution system as it had never been before. By the 1860s Henry Solomon was selling cheap German fiddles for as little as twelve shillings a dozen,10 and they were beginning to edge out bagpipes in the Outer Hebrides. He was no doubt partly responsible for the change. With the growth of the railway system, the business of supplying provincial shopkeepers with their stock entirely replaced that of supplying pedlars and hawkers. By the 1850s Henry Solomon was a well-established businessman. He married Sarah, daughter of Chief Rabbi Nathan Marcus Adler, settled in FinSbury Place in the City, and set about arranging suitable marriages for his sisters, as was the Jewish tradition. In due course his sister Priscilla married a watchmaker named Philip Cohen, who had probably worked for him. Henry set him up in business on his own account as a watch manufacturer in Coventry. The arrangement seems to have been that he placed a regular bulk order with Philip Cohen on very favourable terms, and was spared the need to supervise the watch-manufacturing side of his business. Philip Cohen's surviving keyless gold pocket watches are superb 241</page><page sequence="8">Edgar Samuel examples of English watch manufacture in its heyday, before restrictive practices drove the watch trade to Switzerland. In 1849 Henry Solomon's sister Caroline married Barnett Samuel, and Henry set him up in business in Sheffield as a penknife manufacturer and buying agent, presumably on similar terms to Philip Cohen. Whereas Henry Solomon was English-born and never lost his Devonshire accent, Barnett Samuel was born in Prussian Poland, in the cathedral city of Gniezno, in 1816. According to his nephew, Max, Barnett Samuel started out as a pedlar covering a territory in South Wales.11 He drew supplies from the Solomon family's warehouse and met his future wife Caroline there because she worked in the business.12 On his marriage certificate he is described as a 'hardware merchant'. Barnett Samuel does not seem to have been able to compete with the established Sheffield cutlers, and he soon abandoned penknife making for tortoiseshell-veneered horn knife handles and door knobs, and tortoiseshell combs, of which the last seem to have been the most successful.13 Barnett Samuel became the Marriage Secretary and then President of the Sheffield synagogue,14 and he also wrote a long letter to the Sheffield Times in January 1848 which shows that he was quite well read and had a good command of English, even though the letter is somewhat prolix and repetitive. Among other details he repeats a remark of Frederick the Great, which suggests that he may have attended a secular Prussian school. The occasion for the letter was that the Liberal Town Council had voted to petition for the admission of Jews to Parliament, but had refused to support the People's Charter. This prompted a Chartist councillor named Ironside to make some anti-Jewish remarks which Barnett Samuel rushed into print to refute. Henry Solomon was not content with provincial enterprises alone. He sent his brother Daniel out to India and his brother Isaac out to Australia and traded with them. He then entered the world of finance and was one of a group who launched a new insurance company, the Ocean Accident and General Guaran? tee Corporation, which proved very profitable. He became a director of the Continental Union Gas Company and ended his days living at 14 Kensington Palace Gardens, in 'millionaires' row'. He worked hard, was a very flexible and skilful entrepreneur and attained the success he deserved. As Henry Solomon became involved in mercantile and financial activities, he decided to retreat from the more time-consuming aspects of the wholesale hardware trade. He offered Barnett Samuel the opportunity of buying a branch of his wholesale business and paying for it by instalments out of earnings.15 Barnett accepted with alacrity, and after inspecting the warehouse, chose the musicaHnstrument business. In 1862 he and his family moved from Sheffield to London and took a house at 19 King Street, Finsbury, a modest, middle-class district within walking distance of Houndsditch. In 1868 the name of the 242</page><page sequence="9">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 musical-instrument wholesale business was changed from 'Henry Solomon &amp; Company' to 'Barnett Samuel'.16 Barnett Samuel worked hard for the rest of his days to build up the musical-instrument business he had bought from his brother-in-law and which he was to bequeath to his sons. Before the change of ownership, Henry Solomon had acquired agencies for a number of Continental houses, probably through the efforts of his French brother-in-law, Jacques Ely. Some of these were as follows: F. Besson of Paris (brass instruments); Busson's (harmoniflutes and flutinas); Bord &amp; Debain of Paris (pianos); and Nicole Freres of Switzerland (musical boxes and harmoniums).17 As Barnett Samuel was German-speaking, he tended tq acquire more German agencies in the course of time. Barnett Samuel's eldest son, Sampson?who was born in Sheffield in 1851, and educated at Jews' College School in Finsbury Square?came into the business. His second son, Selim, was adopted by Philip and Priscilla Cohen, who had no children of their own, and entered, and eventually inherited, their Coventry watch-manufacturing business.18 In 1869 Barnett's third son, Nelson, also joined his father's business. So did his fourth son, Philip. The brothers travelled regularly in the provinces and slowly expanded the salfes and built up new connections. In 1870 the firm moved into larger premises at 243</page><page sequence="10">Edgar Samuel 32-34 Worship Street, and the lease of 31 Houndsditch was taken over by an old school friend of Nelson's, Marcus Samuel, who was just starting out on his own account as a shell merchant and shell-box maker.19 In due course he was to achieve fame, fortune and a Viscountcy as the founder of the Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited. According to family tradition, on one occasion he borrowed ?100 from Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons when he was hard-pressed and, needless to say, repaid it promptly. In 1872 Barnett Samuel took advantage of the new suburban railway system to move out of the City, to 4 Clifton Gardens, Maida Vale.20When his sons married they too settled in the salubrious suburbs of Bayswater and St John's Wood. In 1873 Sampson was made a partner and the firm became 'Barnett Samuel &amp; Son', duly changed to '&amp; Sons' in 1878 when Nelson was made a partner.21 Barnett had a brother named Moritz Lublinski who was a physician in Berlin, and he persuaded him to take his second son, Max, into the business. Max duly came to England in 1874 and became a useful member of the firm, being made a partner in 1880 and cementing the relationship by marrying Barnett's daughter Bertha. Max was brought up in Berlin and spoke excellent German. He was therefore made responsible for buying musical instruments in Germany and for the acquisition of new agencies. One of his early responsibilities was to set up a harmonium factory in London. He travelled to W?rtemberg, engaged crafts? men and bought machinery, and set up a factory in Luke Street, making good-quality instruments. In 1889 Philip Samuel was sent out to Australia to open a branch warehouse.22 Barnett Samuel died in 1882, and left his business charged with annuities of ?100 or ?200 for each of his unmarried daughters and with one of ?800 per annum for his widow. This seemed a colossal amount to his sons, who complained that she kept a carriage and 'lived like a duchess'.23 They tended to forget that it was because of her that the family had acquired the business opportunity in the first place. These prior charges meant that if the partners were to earn enough to support their own families and finance the expansion of the business they must get out on the road and work, and this they did. They travelled regularly to Scotland and Wales and the northern markets, won new customers and established the firm solidly in the old musical-instrument trade. With all these active partners in the firm, it experienced steady growth and the policy was always to plough back a large part of the profits.24 Max, who was by now in charge of buying and manufacturing, started up a piano factory, and this was followed by opening five piano shops in the London area, which in the twentieth century increased to twelve. These were later to become a subsidiary company under the name of Boyd Limited.25 However, the safety of the firm was hazarded by Sampson who gambled on the Stock Exchange with the partnership funds and lost. He was dismissed from the 244</page><page sequence="11">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 partnership and taken on as an employee. Fresh capital was found by selling a partnership to Selim, who had inherited and sold Philip Cohen's watch manufacturing business in Coventry and had money to invest. Selim had a pleasant personality but, according to his nephews, he was far less able than the other partners and excessively cautious.He was put in charge of financial control, for which he was well suited by temperament, as well as of exports and provincial piano sales, which were then minor responsibilities, but called for careful financial management, because the firm had to finance its sales by discounting customers' bills.26 After Sampson's scrape it was no doubt a relief to Nelson and Max to feel that they could sleep easily at night. In 1901 Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons became a limited liability company. In 1905 Nelson, who was in charge of the main business of home musical-instrument sales, had the enterprise to get out an expensive catalogue illustrated with monochrome and coloured lithographic plates, prepared from photographs. The impressive effect was however slightly marred by some of his own idiosyncratic remarks. We read that: 'Duretta and Duretta Supreme strings are manufactured from the BEST SELECTED ENGLISH GUT. They are made in our GERMAN FACTORY, as experience has taught us that English climatic conditions are prejudicial to the production of finest quality violin strings,' a case, it would seem, of the bad workman blaming the weather for his want of 'know-how'. However, when it comes to flutes and clarionets it was the German trade that came in for a knocking: 'These instruments are now produced under our supervision from the best materials obtainable, in contrast to the almost general method obtaining abroad, where most of these goods are made as a village house industry by irresponsible workmen, and purchased by agents mainly intent on obtaining this product at the lowest possible price. This foreign system, we need hardly say, is not conducive to the attainment of a high standard of excellence, nor to that uniformity of quality so important to every dealer.' 'But', the intelligent dealer must have wondered,' are not Swiss clocks and musical boxes made in just this way, and is not their quality very satisfactory?' The only other oddity in the really very impressive catalogue was Nelson's steady refusal to list Jews' Harps under that traditional title, which he evidently felt to be insulting. They regularly appear in Barnett Samuel catalogues as 'Jaws' Harps', a possible but doubtful etymology. However, though Jews' Harps were banned, it never crossed anyone's mind that 'Nigger wigs' or other 'Nigger Troupe requisites' could give offence. Of course, by no means were all items listed actually in stock, but all could be obtained without undue delay. By this time another subsidiary called 'John Grey &amp; Sons Limited' had been established by Max to manufacture banjos, drums and flutes.27 Max, who was in charge of buying, had a keen eye for useful agencies. The 1905 catalogue shows that Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons had acquired the Edison phonograph agency; not that they kept it for long, for Edisons soon opened their 245</page><page sequence="12">Edgar Samuel own English subsidiary. Max attended the Leipzig Fair and acquired the English agency for the Italian-made Fonotipia gramophone records (the first firm to record good classical music and opera) and the English agency for Carl Lindstroem A.G. of Berlin, who made cylinder dictating machines and were the first to produce double-sided discs under the Odeon label.28 They were pressed in England for Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons by Crystalate, a firm owned by the Warnford-Davis family with whom Barnett Samuel himself had been friendly.29 Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons also produced their own records under the Jumbo label, so called, presumably, because elephants never forget. The 1911 catalogue was even more lavish and impressive than that of 1905, and it undoubtedly helped Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons to edge out their nearest rivals, Thomas Dawkins &amp; Sons, and to become the leading musical instrument house in Britain. From about 1904 onwards Nelson's two sons, Edgar and Frank, entered the business, and so did Sampson's younger son, Wilfred, and Max's son Conrad. As usually happens in family businesses, it was by no means automatic for partners' sons to be taken into the firm. There was only room for one of Sampson's two sons; not that Sampson, who had died in 1888, had been a partner at the time. Selim's son Horace wanted to come into the business, but was rejected by his cousins.30 The younger generation were much better educated than Nelson and Selim, but none had been to university. Frank and Edgar had been educated at Clifton, and Conrad at Harrow. Wilfred had been extremely well taught. All were sent to the Continent to learn French and German. Wilfred, who was the best linguist in the firm, learnt Italian and Dutch, to add to his excellent French and German, all of which were put to good use in the export business. Wilfred's first major responsibility in the firm was to fight a lawsuit. At this time the English gramophone market was dominated by two American firms, the Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company. In 1910 the Gramophone Company attempted to register the word 'gramophone' as a trademark, which would have had the effect of giving them a complete monopoly of the product. Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons made and sold cabinet gramophones under the title of 'Dulcephone' and they persuaded the Board of Trade to challenge the trademark registration in the High Court. After a protracted hearing the Gramophone Company lost their case with costs. Many of the dealers who had been cowed by their threats of litigation were delighted to see them defeated, and the effect was greatly to help Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons to expand their business. The Gramophone Company's next move was to sue Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons for infringing their patented 'swan neck tone arm', a metal tube which carried the sound from the gramophone needle and its vibrating diaphragm to the amplifying horn. Barnett Samuel's case was that the patent attempted to 246</page><page sequence="13">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 monopolize the speaking tube which was an old invention and was therefore void. Counsel asked the Managing Director of the Gramophone Company in the course of cross-examination whether, if his Lordship were to stand on the platform of Baker Street Underground Station playing 'Rule Britannia' on a penny-whistle in the general direction of Edgware Road Station, he would consider that his Lordship had infringed the Gramophone Company's patent for their 'swan neck tone arm'. The answer was 'no', but again the Gramophone Company lost their case with costs. In 1914 Wilfred Samuel patented the first portable gramophone. Here was a hornless acoustic instrument which gave good-quality reproduction and yet could be carried about like a suitcase. The instrument was launched with a front-page advertisement in the Daily Mail, then the advertising medium with the greatest prestige in the country. All dealers were advised to stock up with the gramophone, and those who bought a sufficient quantity were promised a listing in the Daily Mail advertisement. Such bold marketing tactics were then unusual in the trade and were very effective. Wilfred, who was now in charge of gramophone sales, chose the trade name of 'Decca' for this instrument. With exports in mind, he sought a word which was pronounced the same way in all languages and which could be easily recognized by illiterates.31 The name was evidently a merger between 'Mecca' and the initial 'D' of 'Dulcet', which was Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons' trademark. The choice of the name was a carefully thought-out piece of marketing policy and one which proved successful. Under Nelson Samuel's management, the Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons warehouse and offices were closed on Saturdays and the first days of all Festivals. As well as giving Jewish staff these times off?before 1914, but not later?the family tried to meet its social obligations to the Jewish East End, which suffered from severe under-employment and job discrimination, without causing general resent? ment, by recruiting 50 per cent of its warehouse staff in all departments from the Jewish community. These included boys from the Jewish Orphanage at Norwood, some of whom did very well. Wilfred and his cousins were also encouraged to become managers of an East End Jewish Boys' Club, Hutchinson House, and to become officers in the Jewish Lads' Brigade. In 1914 all four of the younger partners in the business volunteered for the Army. Frank was rejected because of his myopia and managed the business during the war in conjunction with his father and two uncles. The Decca portable gramophone established its fame in the trenches in France and Flanders and began to gain a world-wide market. Only two of the three serving partners came back from the War; Edgar?after whom I am named?was killed in Flanders in 1916, as a Captain in the Middlesex Regiment. 247</page><page sequence="14">Edgar Samuel Wilfred joined the Honourable Artillery Company in 1909. He used to enjoy drilling, going to summer camp and learning military discipline with other young men who worked in City offices. The HAC consisted of two artillery batteries and an infantry regiment. Each battery was made up of mobile field guns drawn by three pairs of shire horses, with a Driver in charge of each pair. Wilfred was rearmost of the three Drivers?the 'Wheel Driver' of his mobile gun team. 'A' Battery was sent to France, and 'B' Battery, of which Wilfred was a member, was sent to camp at Wantage. It was then ordered to assemble at Wantage Station to entrain for an unknown destination. Wilfred was ill satisfied with this military ambiguity. He found that none of his officers or NCOs knew where they were going, so he went and asked the engine driver. No one had told the engine driver that their destination was a military secret. Wilfred learnt that the train was going to Cromer in Norfolk with a ten-minute break in Norwich for water and no meal break. He therefore telephoned Harrods and ordered a picnic hamper, to meet the 8.00 pm train from London at Norwich, for Driver Samuel of the HAC, which he then shared with his friends, while their officers and NCOs suffered from the consequences of their poor staff-work.32 In 1916 'B' Battery was sent out to Egypt, where it camped for a while at Giza near the Great Pyramid. It was then sent to Aden, where it took part in a short and very uncomfortable summer campaign defending Aden against a Turkish attack, including a battle at a place called Bir Ormud. The Turks were driven off with losses, and then the British horses and men suffered severely from the heat and respectively from sand colic and dysentry. After the battle and the defeat of the Turks the battery withdrew to the Canal Zone and steps were taken to recruit officers from this extremely well-qualified regiment of volunteers. Wilfred failed the artillery officers' course because of difficulties in calculating gun elevations correctly, but because of his command of French and German was selected for the Intelligence Corps and, after an unpleasant two months as a Military Policeman, raiding the brothels of Cairo, he was sent to England for training. He did a course in squad drill at Wellington Barracks, was then taught interrogation techniques by both British and French intelligence officers at the War Office, and was then sent to work there under Lt Col. H. de Watteville, on Zeppelin intelligence. German airship raids on England in 1916-18 threatened to be both militarily significant and a great danger to morale. Airships were manned by the German Navy, and the defence against them was at first in the hands of the Royal Navy, but then it was passed to the Army and the Royal Flying Corps.33 The captured crews of the Zeppelins were naval prisoners, but the Navy shared the task of interrogating them and of reading their mail with the Army. It was in this way that Wilfred came to the attention of Lt Col. B.F. Trench RM, the officer in charge of Naval Prisoner of War Intelligence in both World 248</page><page sequence="15">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Plate 8 The HAC's Corps of Pikemen, c. 1925. W.S. Samuel is one of the two drummer boys. 249</page><page sequence="16">Edgar Samuel Wars.34 Wilfred was eventually commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and then promoted to full Lieutenant. As a Second Lieutenant he was the most junior officer at the War Office, and had some difficulties on that score. Each staff officer was provided with his own towel in the officers' lavatory, arranged in order of rank, and naturally all visitors from the front wiped their hands on Second Lieutenant Samuel's towel?a problem which was solved by inserting a hook and towel labelled 'Major Hunt' further up the line, Wilfred also indented for a reading lamp, which because of his low rank was not provided; he therefore indented for a 'forging desk'. A carpenter was sent round and he explained to him that he needed a desk with a pearl glass top, electrically illuminated from below with a hinged lid of clear glass above it, to enable documents to be traced and forged. Moreover, it was urgently required within ten days. When the Supply Department demurred at the tight delivery date, he consented to accept a reading lamp instead, which was duly delivered.35 However, he grew impatient with staff-work and wanted to see some action. After much complaining, including a request for an interview with the Chief of Imperial General Staff, he was released and sent to France as Intelligence Officer at RAF Headquarters and then at 2nd Brigade Royal Air Force. De Watteville gave him a glowing testimonial: Lieut. Samuel has for eighteen months performed his duties as Intelligence Officer at G.H.Q.(H.F.) in a brilliantly successful manner. He is a linguist of high order; he is capable of sustained effort and has shown deductive ability in all his work. He possesses real talent for examining prisoners of war. Home Forces(L) H. de Watteville 21.3.18 Lt. Col. He was recommended by de Watteville for an MBE, which he refused. After some time interrogating captured airmen, the armistice was signed and the Brigade moved to Cologne in the Occupied Zone, to supervise the takeover of German warplanes under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. Because Wilfred spoke German he was appointed Mess President and put in charge of catering for the Christmas Dinner for 1918, and a New Year's Eve Dinner when Prince Albert?later to be King George VI, but then a young RAF officer?was guest of honour. Wilfred was always a good raconteur. The following was one of his many reminiscences. Next to his mother's house in St John's Wood was a coach house, with living accommodation which she rented out to a hansom-cab driver named Lowndes, who had a son of the same age as Wilfred, with whom he used to play as a boy. After Wilfred was posted to RAF HQ in France, as an Intelligence Officer, he was accosted by a private soldier who turned out to be Billy Lowndes. He rashly said, 'Do let me know if there is anything I can do for 250</page><page sequence="17">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 you', and next day Billy came back, white as a sheet, and said, 'Oh Mr Wilfred, please can you help me, I am in the most dreadful trouble'. 'Why, what is the matter?' 'I've just killed a Frenchman!' It turned out that a drunk had lurched into the road in front of Billy Lowndes' car and had been run over by him. Wilfred duly went to see the Cure, who said it really didn't matter, the man never went to Church and would have gone to Hell anyway and it did not really make much difference when, he was certainly no loss to society. Wilfred then spent ?2 on a wreath on behalf of the British Army and honour was satisfied. However, after that, Wilfred said he never again made rash promises about helping people in advance of their getting into trouble.36 In 1919, Wilfred was demobilized and rejoined Barnett Samuel and Sons, this time no longer as an employee but as a shareholder and Joint Managing Director. Frank was most anxious to keep his services as a partner, and in 1917, Frank, Wilfred and Conrad had been given the opportunity to buy shares in the Company. Wilfred used his army gratuity money to buy a horse, which he stabled in Hampstead and used to ride every morning on the Heath before going to work. He also took up hunting with the Colindale Drag Hounds and other meets. As well as this, he was a founder member of the HAC's Corps of Pikemen, a ceremonial unit, in which he was a drummer. Nelson Samuel died in 1920 and his son Frank succeeded him as head of the business; he also took charge of the manufacturing and home gramophone sales. Conrad was in charge of the original wholesale musical-instrument or 'small-goods' business, as it was called, which was now outpaced by the explosive demand for Decca portable gramophones. Wilfred was in charge of exports, including Decca sales. Max retained his old responsibility for the piano business, both manufacturing and retailing.37 Selim, however, was a problem. He was overdue for retirement, yet he had no hobbies apart from the occasional game of bridge, and had no wish to retire. He was therefore given the task of signing letters to home musical-instrument customers and responsibility for checking the petty cash and other head-office expenditure. Neither Wilfred nor Conrad was very keen on this humane arrangement, but it was typical of Frank's kindness. At the end of the First World War, the family broke with its tradition of importing musical instruments from Germany. Like most British people, they felt bitter about the German responsibility for starting the war and for the very heavy British casualties, which included a member of their family and many friends and comrades. They formed a trade association called the 'Never Again Society' and all the British musical-instrument importers agreed not to trade with Germany in the future, whereupon the firm switched to importing their musical instruments from Japan instead. In the long run, such boycotts of German exports served only to facilitate the rise of Hitler. 251</page><page sequence="18">Edgar Samuel In the period between 1920 and 1928 the sales of Decea portable gramophones completely outstripped all the other activities of the business. The surviving figures show a dramatic growth of turnover and profitability. Before the war the total turnover of the business had been ?60,000.38 In 1928 it was ?414,500. This sevenfold growth in fourteen years had taken place in a period of very low inflation. In 1925 gramophone exports grossed ?82,000. In 1928 they were ?166,000?more than double in a three-year period, whereas the home market in the same period had only come up from ?119,000 to ?190,000, a much smaller growth, though quite respectable. The traditional musical-instrument or 'small-goods' business had been completely outpaced and accounted for only an eighth of the turnover and far less than that of the profits. In the year ending 31 March 1928 the sales figures were as follows: Home sales: small goods ? 49,000 gramophones 190,000 Exports: small goods 9,500 gramophones 166,000 TOTAL ?414,500 (excluding pianos and organs)39 Wilfred Samuel had many reminiscences of his experiences as the director in charge of the Decca gramophone export business. In 1921 he toured the Balkans. In Istanbul his passport was stolen by the hotel and sold to the police, and recovered only by tipping the Chief of Police with a valuable Decca sample. The British Consul also warned him not to sell anything at all to their largest Turkish customer, who had a vile commercial reputation. Wilfred explained that all sales were done on the basis of 'cash with order' and they saw no way in which they could be disadvantaged by continuing the trade. In Salonika, he bought a French newspaper on the railway bookstall, because it was the only one in a language he could read, and was astonished to find that it was a Zionist daily. Wilfred also toured the United States during the Prohibition period. He found himself constantly being pressed to drink unpalatable toxic liquor from the bootlegging stills and decided that the only way to survive the trip was to go teetotal. On a visit to Paris the Decca agent, Jean Couesnon, complained that the firm's advertising was totally unsuited to the French market. Inevitably he was asked what he would suggest, and he produced the following verse which he had prepared for the occasion: 252</page><page sequence="19">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Mondain, qui n'a idee qu'a danse En ces temps de decadence Toujours cherchant des cadences Au son du DECCA?danse! This was, of course, duly pressed into service.40 It was while on a sales trip to Australia, in 1927, that he courted and married my mother, Viva Blashki of Sydney. He was forty and she was twenty-eight and they were very happy together. There is little doubt that in the later period of Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons, between 1921 and 1928, Frank and Wilfred were the dynamic directors. At this point the firm had become far less of a family affair, with a very successful and able team of managers and salesmen. It is noticeable how small the business was in the early years and how long it took to grow. Nevertheless, the experience the directors had gained in manufacturing pianos, and other instruments such as drums, banjos and flutes, in wholesaling and distributing, equipped them to handle the very rapid growth which the successful Decca portable demanded, both in increased manu? facturing capacity and in promoting and handling a massive increase in home and export sales, so that the sevenfold growth of the post-war years proved within their managerial capacity. After working hard and building up a successful world-wide export business, Frank and his cousins decided that the time had come to float the company. The first step was the disposal of the piano business, which by then was a subsidiary company named Boyd Limited, consisting of a chain of twelve piano shops in good positions in London and a freehold factory at Harringay. The works manager had become mentally disturbed and had been embezzling, and not surprisingly this had had an adverse effect on the manufacturing profits. It was decided that supervising this business involved too much management strain, and it was therefore merged with another established piano manu? facturer, Brasted Brothers, and floated as a public company under the rather pompous title The Associated Piano Company Limited'. The Samuel cousins' original intention was to float the main business so as to be able to realize some of their personal capital. They consulted their accountant, E.D. Basden, about it and shortly afterwards a syndicate, of which he was a member, offered to buy them out completely with a view to floating the company at a profit. The attraction of this offer was that they could retire completely and realize the whole of their capital, and the price offered seemed tempting.41 The reasons for deciding to sell the main business were both personal and commercial, with the commercial element the main motive. Each is worth examining in turn. 253</page><page sequence="20">Edgar Samuel Plate 9 Viva Blashki on her engagement in Plate 10 Lieut. W.S. Samuel in uniform, 1927. visiting his son Edgar, at Clifton, 1939. The personal reasons were as follows. Conrad had had a gruelling experience during the War in Flanders and in India, and was not getting much fun out of the business. He wanted to realize his fortune and retire. Wilfred immensely enjoyed his business career and did not want to sell out, but he went along with his cousins' decision. Frank was ambitious for bigger things. He was a man of great charm and ability and he felt that the future potential of the musical instrument business was very limited and that he could have a far more interesting career in another trade. The commercial reasons for selling out were very strong. The business had expanded phenomenally on the basis of a single product which had reached its peak and would soon need to be replaced. The obvious alternative was the new field of the radio, but this promised to be competitive, and fraught with technical problems and high research and development costs. The post-war boom in consumer spending was not likely to last indefinitely, and it was likely that trading conditions would become very much tougher. To stay in the gramophone business, Frank realized, it would be necessary to become record manufacturers and to break into the established market. This would be very 254</page><page sequence="21">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 18 86-1958 expensive before it became profitable.42 The price offered for the business took no account of these risks and therefore it was accepted. In 1928 the Samuel family contracted to sell the business to the British Equity Investment Company Limited, of 8 7 Moorgate.43 One of the conditions of the sale was that the name 'Samuel' should not be used by the purchasers. The business's name was therefore changed to 'The Decca Gramophone Company Limited'. Wilfred received about ?90,000 for his shares in Barnett Samuel and Sons. The total price was ?560,933,44 much less than the ?1 million for which The Decca Record Company was to be floated a year later.45 Needless to say, these were substantial sums in 1928. Apart from their share of the Associated Piano Company Limited, the only part of the business which the Samuel family retained was their gut-string manufacturing firm, British Music &amp; Tennis Strings Limited. In spite of the English climate, once a German gut-string maker from Markneukirchen had shown them how to do it, they found that they could manufacture perfectly satisfactory gut-musical strings. At the end of the Second World War both businesses were sold. British Music &amp; Tennis Strings was bought by the two men who managed it, Philip Pou and Edward Natali, and was eventually sold by them to John Dallas. The Boyd Piano shops were sold after the death of Lake, who had been managing them, in about 1950 and now belong to Great Universal Stores; and the Associated Piano Company Limited was bought by Slater Walker in the 1960s and duly had its assets stripped. In his history of the Decca Record Company Limited, 'No CIC, Sir Edward Lewis, commented that he was struck by the peculiarity of this business, which sold, large quantities of gramophones very successfully but no gramophone records. Subsequent events prove that he was quite right; although, as we have seen, Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons did sell records, they did not attempt to market them vigorously on a world scale, and when Decca did so, under Lewis, it came very close to insolvency. After the sale of Barnett Samuel and Sons in 1928, Frank and Wilfred rented an office at 122 Cheapside, in the City of London. The sale contract debarred them from re-entering the musical-instrument trade for twenty years, but they both hoped that other business opportunities would emerge. They both invested in Lloyds Syndicates as 'names'. They still had a few residual commercial investments which had not been sold, a share and directorships in the equity of the Associated Piano Company Limited, and in British Music &amp; Tennis Strings Limited. They invested in a new property company, The Copthall Property Company Limited, started and managed by their friend, Alfred Rubens, in which they were directors, but none of these were full-time activities. Frank was soon offered a senior management post as Gold Coast merchan? dise manager in the United Africa Company, then being reorganized'by his 255</page><page sequence="22">Edgar Samuel friend Sir Robert Waley-Cohen, and he went on to become its Managing Director and Chairman, and a main board director of Unilever. He was also active in the Jewish community and became President of the United Synagogue after Sir Robert's death. In Wilfred's case, he found nothing which offered him scope for using his talents without seriously hazarding his hard-won capital. The nearest chance came from Sir Robert Waley-Cohen, who offered him the management of the Palestine Corporation; however, they fell out on the question of salary. Sir Robert thought that Wilfred should take it on as a voluntary job. Wilfred thought that the post must be held on normal commercial terms and was most surprised that Waley-Cohen did not agree. To begin with, Wilfred was occupied with family matters, his wedding in Australia, his honeymoon, buying a house and starting a family, and the death of his mother. Since the office in Cheapside and his residual business activities consumed only part of his time, he became more active in Jewish community affairs. He came on to the Committees of the Jewish Memorial Council, Jews' College, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue's Records Committee and the Council of the Jewish Historical Society of England, and the Portuguese Marranos Committee, as well as the British Archaeological Association. Wilfred's interest in history had been kindled when he was at school. In 1901, when he was fifteen, one of his school prizes, awarded by John Ryan, was a History of the English in the West Indies by James Froude, and in the same year he won the Maccabeans' prize: a set of Graetz's History of the Jews, for the best essay on Jewish history, entitled 'The Pentateuch' (with Leonard Stein as runner up!). He joined this Society before 1912. In the period after the Great War, when he was at his most active as an executive in Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons, he took up the study of Jewish history seriously. In 1922 he read his first paper to the Jewish Historical Society, on 'The First London Synagogue of the Resettlement', which completely demol? ished the accepted theories and put the early history of the seventeenth-century London Jewish community on a new footing. The research was brilliant and imaginative and its presentation was systematic and clear. After 'The First London Synagogue', Wilfred's next study was of the seventeenth-century Barbados community. In 1920, while he was preparing this study, Cecil Roth read his first paper to the Society, on the career of Sir Edward Brampton, Perkin Warbeck's master, which was quite unjustifiably criticized and rejected by the Society's three leading historians, Revd Michael Adler, H.S.Q. Henriques and Lucien Wolf. Wilfred thought that Roth had made brilliant new discoveries and that his conclusions were well proved and sound, and he did all he could to encourage him. The two men became good friends. In 1922 he spent an enjoyable holiday in Florence, where Cecil Roth was completing his doctoral thesis on 'The Last Florentine Republic', and made friends with the leading Italian-Jewish historians, Aldo Neppi Modena, Rabbi 256</page><page sequence="23">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Umberto Cassuto and Dr A. Pacifici. He was immensely impressed by the Italian-Jewish community who sought, like himself, to combine Western scholarship and civilization with Jewish principles and commitment. Another matter which absorbed his interest and enthusiasm was the discovery by Samuel Schwarz of a small crypto-Jewish community in the rural towns of northern Portugal. Wilfred secretly paid for Lucien Wolf to visit Portugal on behalf of the Anglo-Jewish Association and to report. He then set about raising money to build a synagogue in Oporto, to establish a Jewish school there and to start a missionary movement to bring the Portuguese crypto-Jews back to normative Judaism. Unfortunately the London Committee handed this venture over to Captain Arturo Barros Bastos, a Portuguese army officer who had been converted to Judaism. He proved to be an unsatisfactory character. The movement did not succeed, partly because the rise of Hitler, and the need to help the refugees from Germany and Austria, made it of very secondary importance. Among the committees on which Wilfred served were those of Jews' College and of the Jewish Memorial Council. The latter organization is a charitable trust devoted to Jewish education, set up after the First World War with money collected by Sir Robert Waley-Cohen. Wilfred proposed that it should open a museum, to which Sir Robert agreed, provided that no JMC money was spent on exhibits. The Jewish Museum, therefore, was funded by the Jewish Memorial Council, which provided it with free secretarial services from 1932 to 1980, but the idea was Wilfred Samuel's and he became the first Chairman of the Museum's Committee and provided the energy and initiative for building up its collection. He started by seeking out a panel of experts on silver, textiles, ceramics, furniture and other matters, several of whom were knowledgeable antique dealers. Alfred Rubens was the museum's expert on portraits and prints. The museum consisted initially of a number of showcases placed in Jews' College Library with the contents arranged by Irene Roth. Cecil Roth was enrolled as historical expert and adviser from the start. Some very important purchases were made in the first years, mainly with funds provided by the Second Viscount Bearsted: the sixteenth-century Italian Ark from Chillingham Castle, a major part of the Howitt Collection of Jewish Ceremonial Art and some antique wedding rings. To these were added important loans, Arthur Franklin's collection of Ceremonial Art and many items lent by the United Synagogue. By 1934 the Jewish Museum had an important and significant collection that was open to the public every Sunday morning; Wilfred used to attend then, dictating letters, answering queries, speaking to visiting groups and building up the collection of archives and artefacts. In this he was highly selective and discriminating and with the help of many good friends created one of the finest Judaica collections in the world. In 1933 Adolf Hitler came to power as Chancellor of Germany on a 257</page><page sequence="24">Edgar Samuel programme of rearmament, of excluding the Jews of Germany from citizenship and of making war against a non-existent international Jewish conspiracy. The Dachau Concentration Camp was founded, and in 1935 the Nuremberg Laws were enacted and a vigorous persecution of German Jews was put in hand. This was carried into Austria in 1937 and into Czechoslovakia in 1938, and a heavy emigration of Jews commenced. In London, Otto Schiff founded the Jewish Refugees Committee to help those who came to Britain, and established excellent relations with the Home Office, who were as helpful as they could be, given that Britain had 3,000,000 unemployed and a very unsympathetic government. Wilfred Samuel volunteered his services to this committee as an industrial consultant and was active in helping to find jobs for the German-Jewish businessmen, or getting permission for them to start businesses on their own account. The condition necessary to obtain a permit was that the immigrant was introducing a new trade or a new technology, and was not competing with existing industry or labour. It is now known that German-Jewish entrepreneurs made a major contribution to British industry and created many fresh jobs, but this was not an inevitable or foreseeable outcome. The minutes of the Jewish Refugees Committee in those early years show a small band of dedicated workers giving much time and attention to relatively few cases. Wilfred obtained permission to start some very strange enterprises; one striking example was a bird-cage factory, although no doubt the bird-cage maker once established was free to branch out into fireguards, compost frames and chip fryers.46 One client who had great initial difficulty in becoming established was a travel agent named Dr Alfred Jacoby. Eventually he received permission to open a travel agency in Whitechapel High Street, on the grounds that there were no others in the locality, although this was because the Jews of the East End were too poor to take holidays abroad and were more likely to go to Clacton or to the Kentish hop-gardens than to Cairo, Nice or New York. But once established he could advertise in the newspapers and organize package tours. He and Wilfred were to meet again in Canada in 1943. As the flood of refugees increased, Wilfred found that the heart-rending stories and real practical difficulties in being able to help people began to affect his own morale and his efficiency in doing the job. He served the Committee virtually full-time for five years, from 1934 to 1938, but then, after the Kristallnacht and the great flood of work it produced, he found he was losing sleep and working badly and he decided that other volunteers should take over his work. One thing which helped him persevere so long was his policy of devoting Sunday mornings to the Jewish Museum, where working among beautiful artefacts of positive Jewish cultural achievement acted both as an escape from and as an antidote to the stories of hatred and barbarity 258</page><page sequence="25">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 coming out of Germany and the looming inevitability of war and massacres of Jewish people. All Wilfred could do was to trace all the relatives of the Samuel family he could find in Germany and to persuade his cousins to help him sponsor them and bring them to Britain, which they did. Some 80,000 refugees came to Britain from Germany and Austria, of whom about one-third arrived before 1938. Some 20,000 of them were accepted by other countries. The majority of German Jews were rescued from the Nazis. The 1930s was a period of intense frustration. It was clear that another war was inevitable, yet The Times was distorting the news from Germany, and the British Government blindly refused to re-arm and was engaged instead in a policy of making one concession after another to Nazi Germany. In the summer of 1938 Wilfred had rented a house at Braunton in North Devon. When the news of Chamberlain's disgraceful sell-out at Munich, and of the national rejoicing which ensued, was broadcast, Viva went for an evening walk on the Downs and met a ploughman leading his two plough horses home. They exchanged good evenings and she said, 'What do you think of the news?' He answered, 'It were the wrong thing to do and we will have to pay dear for it!' and so indeed it proved. With the Munich crisis, Britain started at last to prepare for war. Wilfred, then aged fifty-two, volunteered for the new Officers' Emergency Reserve. When the war began in September 1939, he was appointed head of a new postal censorship department under the Director of Military Intelligence. He was given the Temporary Civil Service rank of Assistant Censor, equivalent to Assistant Secretary in the Post Office, and was allowed to wear his old army uniform as a Lieutenant. His salary was paid by the War Office. His office was the gymnasium at Wormwood Scrubs prison, which was then MIs's headquarters. He decided to limit himself to the monitoring and censorship of cables and telegrams and with the aid of his cousin Richard Barnett, he set about recruiting a team of linguists who could read every known language, in order to translate all foreign-language cables. (Emlyn Williams, the playwright, was, for a very short period, their Welsh expert.) Wilfred lived in his late father-in-law's flat in Dunrobin Court, Hampstead, and had to travel to Wormwood Scrubs by bus, since he was awarded no extra petrol ration for his car. He established an efficient department, with a staff of eighty examiners and censors, which continued to operate until the end of the war. Setting it up from scratch and staffing it was gruelling work. In one of his letters to his wife, who was still in North Devon with the children, dated 20 September 1939, he wrote: 'Let us pray that this grim war be a long one?for if it be short the democracies will be downed and the new (dis)order triumphant. I have felt however for 25 years that Germany would be less of a world menace if her frontier were contiguous to Russia?and that looks like coming off.' 259</page><page sequence="26">Edgar Samuel He was then sent to Liverpool to inspect and report on the main postal censorship division which handled overseas letters. This was located in the premises of Littlewoods Football Pools. Littlewoods had an excellent system for processing bulk mail with ten girls and a supervisor at each table, but Wilfred reported scathingly on the management, which was in the hands of senior Post Office officials who were not giving proper leadership to the linguists and academics who had been recruited as Examiners. He sent in a series of reports which laboured the point in a somewhat hectoring manner and which greatly annoyed his superiors in the Post Office.47 Yet it is a virtue in an Intelligence Officer to tell the truth, without adjusting it to political acceptability, if wishful thinking is to be avoided. The management of the Liverpool Office was changed and at the same time Wilfred was told that he was to be replaced and that his own services were no longer required by Military Intelligence.48 Naturally he was upset by this, but he was very keen to play a part in the war against Nazi Germany, so he applied to Lt Col. B.F. Trench RM, the head of the Naval Intelligence Division's Prisoner-of-War Section, who had known him when he was in Zeppelin Intelligence in 1916. He was taken on in January 1940 and commissioned in the Navy with the grotesque rank of 'Probationary Temporary Acting Lieu? tenant (Special Branch)' in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was employed to interrogate German naval officers at the Combined Services 'Cage' at Trent Park, near Cockfosters. It should be borne in mind that in 1940 only the Navy and Air Force had captured prisoners and that the Army had no immediate need for interrogators. In his book, The Spycatcher Omnibus, Col. Oreste Pinto gives a job profile of an intelligence officer. According to him, the job requires the following ten qualities: 1. A phenomenal memory 2. Great patience and regard for detail 3. A gift for languages 4. A knowledge of practical psychology 5. Courage 6. A detailed knowledge of the capitals and important towns of Europe 7. A thorough knowledge of international law with regard to prisoners of war 8. Born acting ability 9. The gift of detection 10. Practical experience of previous enemy 'dodges'. Wilfred Samuel had every one of these qualities. Indeed this job profile is almost a pen portrait of the man. British Intelligence methods in both World Wars have been fully explained by former members of the service. In both World Wars British cryptographers managed to break the German naval codes and to give their operational commanders regular and accurate information on the enemy order of battle. This was especially valuable in the defence against air and submarine attacks. It should be added that German cryptographers also succeeded in breaking the British naval-convoy codes. But, as well as this, by means of eavesdropping, reading prisoners' mail, reading German newspapers (especially obituary notices in the local press),49 mixing among the prisoners as stool pigeons, and 260</page><page sequence="27">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Plate 11 Lieut. (SB) W.S. Samuel RNVR, 1940. 26l</page><page sequence="28">Edgar Samuel direct and skilful interrogation, a full and detailed picture of the battle order, weapons and morale of the enemy naval and air services was sought and often sustained. This was particularly useful in the Second World War during the period early in 1943 when the cryptographers at Bletchley Park failed to break the new German naval code.50 Good POW Intelligence was rooted in the methods of meticulous scholarship. Wilfred often said that it was the aim of the Intelligence officer so to soak himself in the detailed knowledge of the enemy service that any deviation from normality was immediately detected, and the reason for it could then be sought. One of the principles laid down by the Naval Intelligence Division during the First World War was that no information about cryptography should be disclosed to officers engaged on POW Intelligence, because the danger of their accidentally releasing it to prisoners and of the prisoners' passing it to Germany was real and serious.51 This principle was adhered to in the Second World War as well. But if POW Intelligence officers did not 'need to know' that the enemy cyphers had been broken, they certainly needed to know much of the information disclosed by them. When France surrendered in 1940, and a German invasion was expected at any moment, Col. Trench gave orders that as soon as the Germans landed, all office files were to be dumped in the lake at Trent Park. Wilfred decided to send his wife and three sons to Australia, while he stayed in Britain for the fight. It was in 1940, during this period in POW Naval Intelligence, that Wilfred's private office at 122 Cheapside was bombed, and he went down to the bombsite, climbed a ladder to the second floor, opened his safe which was resting on a ledge, and removed its contents. In 1940, while on a duty visit to Liverpool, he was writing a letter to me in the writing room of the Adelphi Hotel, when a German landmine blew up and damaged part of the hotel. He was blown into the air and injured. As the conflict in the North Atlantic intensified, more U-boat crews were captured and transferred to Canadian prison camps. It was therefore decided to send a trained prisoner-of-war Intelligence officer to Canada to improve the extraction of Intelligence from their correspondence. Wilfred Samuel was chosen for this task because he was experienced in censorship and inter? rogation methods and was an efficient manager. He sailed to Canada from Liverpool in an English freighter. Before the ship left port, its captain summoned the passengers to a meeting and told them that to avoid any misunderstandings he wanted to make it quite clear, in advance, that he was not one of those old-fashioned captains who believed in going down with their ships. If they were torpedoed, he intended to throw certain secret papers overboard and then to get into a lifeboat as soon as he could, with a bottle of Scotch whisky which he had promised to deliver to a friend in Halifax, so they had better be quick about joining him or they would get left behind!52 262</page><page sequence="29">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Wilfred arrived in Ottawa in February 1941 and reported for duty to Captain Eric Brand, RN, the Royal Canadian Navy's Director of Intelligence. Brand was an experienced executive officer, then aged forty-three, just ten years younger than Wilfred, with outstanding qualities of leadership, dedication to the Service, keen intelligence and a dry sense of humour. The two men, from very different backgrounds, recognized and appreciated each other's good qualities and became very good friends, as did their wives. The Royal Canadian Navy was a very small force in peacetime and expanded greatly during the war, but it had a trained naval staff that was stiffened up with officers lent by the Royal Navy. Eric Brand was one of these. He was sent to Ottawa in 1939 as Director of Intelligence and Plans. He found that his predecessor had left him no Plans whatever, and he had received no training in or information about Intelligence. The main purpose of the appointment, so he has told me, was to provide the Canadian Chief of Naval Staff with another liaison officer through whom he could communicate with the First Sea Lord privately and rapidly. Brand subscribed to Lloyd's List and placed Reporting Officers in the Canadian Atlantic and Pacific seaports to note the location of all merchant shipping, especially foreign shipping, and to transmit this infor? mation to Ottawa. Retired Royal Navy officers were also placed in all the main United States seaports, as Consular shipping advisers. Their function was to route all British and Allied shipping to the next port of call and to report daily to Ottawa and to the Admiralty. In addition, High Frequency Direction Finding Stations (HUFF DUFF) were established at Halifax, Nova Scotia and St John's, Newfoundland, to locate enemy ships from their wireless transmissions. He also recruited two German-speaking officers to read captured mail, Cdr J.M.P. de Marbois RCN, and Lt Cdr Herbert Little RCNVR. It has been said (by Donald McLachlan)53 that the training of RN executive officers makes them quite unsuitable for the direction of Intelligence work. They are so accustomed to self-sufficiency that they believe they can do everything themselves and are therefore dangerous; only a detail-loving Paymaster can safely be placed in charge of Intelligence. This might have been true of some officers, but it certainly cannot be true of all. Admiral Reginald Hall and Admiral John Godfrey were outstanding Directors of Naval Intelligence, yet both were executive officers. In the case of Captain Eric Brand, he was very well aware that this was a speciality which required the aid of trained technicians. An Intelligence service needs to be staffed in large measure by linguists and by people professionally trained to assess evidence. Lawyers, historians, journalists and sales managers were better equipped than most career officers to do this work?a fact that the Royal Navy recognized very fast?and which the German Abwehr, to its cost, never discovered. Canada declared war on Germany in 1939 purely out of loyalty to Britain. The Canadian contribution to the war effort was solid and generous, in terms of 263</page><page sequence="30">Edgar Samuel the number of men who volunteered for the fight, the casualties the Canadians suffered, and the money spent. Canadians also accepted food rationing in order to contribute to the war effort. But Canada was out of range for German bombers, and the war was remote from ordinary Canadian life, rather as it had been from Jane Austen's England, during the wars against Napoleon. The atmosphere was relaxed and peaceful, quite unlike the tense, dingy, austere and sometimes dangerous life of wartime Britain. In some ways this meant that staff officers in Ottawa could work more efficiently than in London, with regular sleep, good food and occasional leave in pleasant surroundings. But there was no inherent sense of urgency or awareness of danger among Canadian civilians. The newspapers were quite unrestrained in ferreting out and publish? ing news of troop and ship movements. The Post Office wanted to deliver all the mail on time and saw no merit in the restraints of military censorship. Above all, in the happy peacetime mood of the Canadian capital, the need to get across a sense of urgency to Civil Servants and Service men and women and to explain the need for security demanded continual effort on the part of their leaders. The Battle of the Atlantic was a long-drawn-out affair lasting almost throughout the five years of the war. The German submarine fleet commanded by Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz made a serious attempt to blockade Britain, where fifty million people were heavily dependent on imported food, war supplies and fuel oil. At times, in 1941 and again early in 1943, it came very close indeed to success. The U-boats were based at Wilhelmshaven, Cuxhaven and Kiel, and at first their range was limited to the eastern side of the Atlantic, but after July 1940 they switched to French bases at St Nazaire, Brest and L'Orient, and to the Norwegian ones at Trondheim and Bergen, which greatly increased their range and staying power. Then the German fleet launched larger submarines, first of 500, then 700 and then 1200 tons, of improved range and performance: They then introduced submarine tankers which refuelled the U-boats at sea, so that they could lurk outside the Western Atlantic ports waiting to attack the shipping as it emerged; and next the schnorkel, which enabled them to recharge their batteries without surfacing. Moreover, the number of U-boats launched increased steadily. In 1941 and 1942 and early in 1943 they were sinking hundreds of Allied ships with relatively little loss to themselves. Before leaving England, Wilfred had approached his stockbroker, Stuart Kilpatrick of Govett Sons &amp; Company, who was a Canadian, told him that he was being sent to Ottawa for the duration of the war, and asked if he could give him useful introductions. Kilpatrick gave him two to old schoolfriends: one to Col. J.L. Ralston, the Minister of Defence, and the other to Angus McDonald, the Minister for the Navy. Ralston was friendly and proposed Wilfred for member? ship of the Rideau Club, the best one in Ottawa and one which would probably not have elected a Jew to membership before the war. This of itself was 264</page><page sequence="31">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 immensely useful to Wilfred both socially and in making his working life more comfortable. Angus McDonald gave him lunch and asked him if there was anything he could do to help him, an offer which was immediately taken up. The Chief Censor with whom Wilfred had to work was a French Canadian postal official who, according to Wilfred, was an unimaginative, unenterprising and fairly obstructive bureaucrat.54 Wilfred had some difficulty with him initially, but like many Civil Servants he suffered from what the Navy called VSOV, 'Very Senior Officer Veneration'. Wilfred therefore explained to the Navy Minister that he needed help in getting the full cooperation of the Canadian Post Office, and that it would be an immense help if the Minister could pay an official visit to his Department. This was duly arranged, Angus McDonald paid the requested call, was most affable and said in front of the Chief Censor: 'Well, Lieutenant Samuel, if there is ever anything you need or if you experience any difficulties, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me, personally.' He was most impressed, all obstructions melted away and their personal relations greatly improved. There is also little doubt that the fact that Wilfred had been sacked in 1939 for tactless denigration of the British GPO made him more careful in dealing with the Canadian Post Office, and they worked together smoothly for the remaining four years of the war, aided by the belief that Wilfred was a man of remarkable political influence within the Canadian War Cabinet. The British policy was to allow prisoners of war to correspond freely with their families, to read the correspondence and to take good note of its contents. This was used in three ways. Firstly, the German Navy was a tightly knit, inter-related service with much intermarriage between naval families. By constructing genealogies showing the relationships between German naval officers and NCOs the censors could learn of new postings and casualties, and thus sustain a picture of the enemy order of battle?less thorough than that discovered by Ultra, but useful to supplement it. Secondly, there was Sefton Delmer's broadcasting service, Kurzwellensender Atlantic and Soldatensender Calais, beamed at the U-boats' home ports, which laboured away at eroding the morale of the crews. Delmer's broadcasts to the German fleet were brilliantly constructed, listened to avidly by the U-boat crews and played a major role?second of course to the sinking of submarines by bombers and des? troyers?in destroying the optimism and self-confidence of the U-boat fleet. The content of these broadcasts was created from the information and gossip disclosed in naval prisoners-of-wars' correspondence, but nevertheless the morale of the German navy was only eroded, and it did not break down.55 Thirdly, the interrogators could be fully briefed about the personalities of the various U-boat commanders, and this information could be useful to induce newly captured prisoners to relax and talk freely. POW inter? rogation was the main source of information about the weaponry, range 265</page><page sequence="32">Edgar Samuel and equipment of enemy submarines, which was absolutely essential for locating and destroying them. In December 1941, Hitler, quite unnecessarily, declared war on the United States, provoked to this act by a bogus document, 'Plan for Victory', planted on him by Sir William Stephenson's British Security Co-ordination. This was followed by a great escalation in the 'Battle of the Atlantic' and very heavy sinkings of Allied shipping in the Western Atlantic and the Caribbean, as Doenitz ordered his U-boat fleet to take up stations on the North American seaboard. The most urgent Allied priority in 1942 was the reorganization of an efficient system of escorted convoys. It had been agreed in 1941 that the Canadian Navy should be placed under an American command responsible for convoys between the North Atlantic coast and longitude 45 degrees west. This arrangement continued until March 1943, when the Canadian Navy, which was providing 48 per cent of the North Atlantic escorts, took over responsibility for all escort duties north of New York and west of longitude 47 degrees west.56 With the American entry into the war and the urgency of organizing more convoys, Captain Brand decided to concentrate all of his attention on his duties as Director of the Trade Division, which marshalled and directed the convoys, and whose work made a major contribution to evading and defeating the U-boats and thus to winning the war. With Admiralty advice, an Operational Intelligence Centre, or U-boat tracking room, was set up in Ottawa and fed by the Admiralty with 'Ultra' intelligence. This was placed under Commander J.P.M. de Marbois RCN, a reserve officer who had been Brand's assistant in the Naval Intelligence Division. As his successor as Director of Naval Intelligence, Brand recommen? ded Lt Cdr C.H. Little RCNVR, who was also experienced in Intelligence work. He took over in July 1942 and remained as DNI Ottawa until June 1945, when Brand resumed the post. This rearrangement was absolutely necessary amd Brand chose the best officers available to him, but the command structure was awkward. Because de Marbois was senior to Little in both service and rank, the OIC, instead of being a department of the NID, as it was at the Admiralty, was made independent, and de Marbois became a member of the Naval Staff in his own right. Information which should have been made available to the DNI by the tracking room was withheld, and rivalry developed between the two men for which de Marbois was primarily responsible. Intelligence resources were wasted on internal conflict. Wilfred had to allocate his best interrogating officer to extracting Intelligence, which he 'needed to know', from de Marbois' subordinates, but which ought to have been distributed freely to the NID. It was during 1942 that Wilfred acquired a highly competent secretary, Miss Margaret McCulloch, who was a graduate in Modern Languages. Her account 266</page><page sequence="33">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 Plate 12 Lieut.-Commander (SB) W.S. Samuel RNVR, with the WRCN officers and ratings of NID3 (Ottawa, 1944). of how she obtained the job is amusing. She had volunteered to do war work and was surprised to be interviewed at Naval Service Headquarters by a naval officer in civilian clothes on a Sunday morning. Wilfred gave her a stiff test in nautical German. He had her type out a German list of naval stores and dictated a letter in English about an Oberleutnant who had been awarded the Ritterkreuz. She thought that she had done miserably, but he surprised her by saying that her German was rusty but good and asking her how soon she could start. She enquired what her duties would be and was told that he could not tell her, because the work was secret. She asked what the salary was and he said that he had really not got the slightest idea. So, because of the air of mystery, she was tempted to try the job and stayed in it happily for three years until the end of the war. Wilfred Samuel's section was called NID3. Within Naval Service head? quarters it was usually known as 'Sammy's Circus'. Gradually he was allotted 267</page><page sequence="34">Edgar Samuel some well-educated women graduates with a good knowledge of German, who were commissioned in the WRCNS and acted as censors of prisoners-of-war mail. The British system was to employ two grades of operatives?examiners and censors. The examiners read all the letters and were supervised by a naval officer or censor, to whom all material of Intelligence interest was brought. He chose as his Chief Examiner a Polish diplomat named Malinski, who had been Polish Consul in Cairo and whose patriotic enthusiasm for the fight against Hitler was every bit as strong as Wilfred's own, who soon built up a useful team of volunteer linguists. Wilfred also decided to make use of interned German Jewish refugees. In May 1940 all enemy aliens in Britain, including the Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria, began to be interned. Wilfred regarded this step as militarily necessary. The Gestapo had ample blackmail opportunities, and although the internees may have included some German agents, there were not enough trained British Intelligence Officers to screen them. Such screening then had a low priority, compared with the need to establish efficient operational Intelli? gence. His second cousin, Gerhard Busse, whom he had sponsored as an immigrant and who was interned on the Isle of Man, had a very different view of the affair. A considerable number of male refugees had been sent to Canada, and he found among the internees a man he had helped, through the Jewish Refugees Committee, whom he knew very well, Dr Alfred Jacoby. With his aid, Malinski picked out a team of young German-Jewish refugees who were keen to serve the war effort and whose loyalty was certain, and engaged ten of them as examiners. By the end of the war he had some sixty examiners reading naval POWs' mail. The Wren officers were a talented, patriotic and high-spirited group of young ladies. Most striking among them were two White Russian princesses* Irene Tchavtchavadse and her half-sister Elena Leuchtenberg de Beauharnais. Irene's father had been killed by the Bolsheviks and her mother and step-father had settled in Canada after losing their Austrian estates. Wilfred gave the two girls the nicknames of Olga and Tatiana. I never could understand why, but he preferred using nicknames of this kind to real ones. Two other later arrivals were Frances Shields and Dora Tottenham, whose brother was another Section Head in NID. All of them were alert, keen and effective and, of course, by taking on Intelligence work, they released men for service at sea, as well as giving them the staff back-up they needed. As well as a secretary, the examiners, and the German-speaking WRCNS officers who supervised their work, it also became necessary to recruit German-speaking young men as interrogating officers, who could get friendly with the U-boat prisoners and extract information from them. The personnel department offered Wilfred Sub-Lieutenant Peter Lunzer RCNVR, who was then aged about twenty-five and serving as an executive 268</page><page sequence="35">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 officer on a Canadian minesweeper in the Pacific. However, Wilfred considered that it would be a political mistake to take on another English Jew as an assistant, which would give the impression of clannishness. Least of all did he want a Yiddish-speaker, whose accent and syntax would make him useless as an interrogator. He wanted a young intelligent German-speaking Canadian with sea time and a knowledge of navigation. As such a candidate did not exist, with great reluctance he interviewed Peter Lunzer, and, finding that his German was excellent and quite unpolluted by Yiddish, that he had a most engaging personality, extensive naval experience, and, indeed, the first nine of the qualities set out in Colonel Pinto's job profile, he took him on. He did the job superbly well, until, like Wilfred himself in 1916, he became impatient with a junior staff appointment and wanted to see some action. In 1944 Wilfred, reluctantly released him and he was replaced by Lieut. Dora Tottenham WRCNS (now Lady Dora Pink). Lunzer was joined by other able young men, Lieut. John Halstead, who later became Canadian Ambassador to West Germany, Lieut. Eric Yarrell, an Italian-speaking officer, Lieut. Strina, and two Japanese-speakers, Lieut. DJ. Handford and Sub-Lieut. J. Walker. There were four exciting incidents during Wilfred's service in Ottawa. The first occurred in the summer of 1942, while he was on holiday with his family at William Sebag-Montefiore's cottage on 14 Islands Lake in the Laurentian Mountains. He went for a walk with his host along the Montreal-Shawbridge Road and they were stopped by a couple who asked the way to Montreal, which was a strange question in the circumstances. He became convinced that the man was a known and wanted German agent and reported the sighting to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who found and arrested him. I have not been able to discover whether Wilfred's suspicions were confirmed. In November of the same year, another agent was arrested at New Carlisle in the Gaspe Peninsular. He was a German naval Lieutenant, namer Werner Janowicz, who had been landed on the Canadian coast with a radio and a questionnaire. He was arrested in an hotel after dropping a box of Belgian-made matches, and Wilfred was sent down from Ottawa in a blizzard with Inspector Harvison of the RCMP to interrogate him. Wilfred disproved the man's cover stories, broke him down and persuaded him to dig up his hidden radio set and uniform and gave him the usual choice of being hanged as a spy or collaborating. He was then turned round and run by XX Committee in London as a double agent, with the codename Watchdog', until they decided to close him down in September 1943.57 Commissioner Harvison gives an account of this incident in his book The Horsemen, but it is somewhat distorted in that Wilfred figures in the story as an RCMP officer named 'Johnnie'. A second incident which created a stir at Naval Service Headquarters was a spy who simply walked into the building ancf told Reception that he was a German agent who wished to surrender. By the time he was referred to NDI3 he 269</page><page sequence="36">Edgar Samuel had collected a great entourage of curious senior officers from all departments, who wanted to see what was going to happen. Wilfred asked the spy to take a seat, calmly told the onlookers that he would deal with the matter and that there was no need for them to stay, and telephoned the RCMP who came round and took charge of the prisoner. This story is also recorded in Commissioner Harvison's book, but with the scene of the surrender moved from NSHQ to the RCMP headquarters. The third event was far more dramatic. Grand Admiral Doenitz sent two U-boat prisoners a book code which was intercepted, followed by a coded message instructing them to escape from the Grande Ligne Camp, near Sherbrooke, Quebec. If they succeeded he promised to send a U-boat to a specified rendezvous on the Baie de Chaleurs to pick them up, on 26 September 1942. Here Wilfred's enthusiasm ran ahead of his discretion. He persuaded the DNI, Brand's Canadian successor, Cdr Herbert Little, to use the opportunity to capture a German submarine intact, which would not yield just the code books, but up-to-date intelligence on its performance, weaponry and equipment. Here the disadvantage of excluding POW Intelligence officers from the Ultra secret became manifest. Wilfred did not know that the submarine codes had been broken and were regularly deciphered and that this secret needed to be protected, but of course the DNI knew this perfectly well. Nevertheless, a hare-brained scheme for capturing the submarine was devised, whereby the rendezvous site would be surrounded by concealed and heavily armed Motor Torpedo boats, and two German-speaking officers, Corporal Bayfield of the RCMP and Lieutenant Peter Lunzer RCNVR of NID3, would be disguised as German Naval officers and piit aboard the submarine, at the head of a boarding party of similarly disguised naval ratings, and capture the U-boat. The RCMP surrounded the Grande Ligne camp. A tunnel was detected, the escaping German officers were arrested, and a mass break-out of prisoners was prevented. However, the submarine did not keep the appointed rendezvous. Commissioner Harvison later wrote of the incident: T think it was extremely fortunate for the volunteers that the plot did not come off. Submarine skippers are an extremely alert and touchy breed, particularly when they have brought their craft close to shoreline dangers. The volunteers were brave men, training for an heroic endeavour, but the chances were that, had the plot come off, they would have been dead but unsuccessful heroes.' This event made a very bad impression on the American OSS. Far too many people had been told about the deciphering of Doenitz's message, and this put the Ultra secret in danger. Moreover, the operational plan seemed to be unsound and unnecessary. The incident helped the war effort far less than the steady stream of information from eavesdropping, from reading prisoners' correspondence and from inter? rogation, which gave early warnings of changes in U-boat performance, equipment and weaponry. 270</page><page sequence="37">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 In the entire course of the war, the Allies lost 2282 ships, totalling 14.5 million tons, and 30,000 seamen. The U-boat fleet had 781 boats sunk (93 per cent of its operational force), and out of a force totalling 39,000 officers and men, 72 per cent (28,000) were killed and 13 per cent (5000) were captured?a higher casualty rate than in any other branch of the German armed forces. However, most of the U-boats were sunk between October 1943 and July 1945. In 1945, when the war in Europe was over, Wilfred set about dismantling his NID3 Section. There were two main tasks to be done. First he set the staff to work destroying the vast files of data and naval genealogies that they had built up from reading POW mail. These had no conceivable use and Wilfred was strongly of the view that to disclose British Intelligence methods could be a security risk in the event of another war. The second task was to help the ten or so German-Jewish refugees, who had served so well as censorship examiners. For this purpose he enlisted the help of Professor Leslie Edgar, a Professor of English Literature at Toronto University who was engaged in war work at Naval Service Headquarters. He agreed to act as advocate, obtained an interview with the Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, and persuaded him to give Canadian nationality to all refugee internees who had served the war effort at Naval Service Headquarters. This was then extended to all refugee internees. It was in 1945 that Igor Gouzenko, a cypher clerk at the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, defected to the RCMP with a file of secret papers. The first reaction of Mackenzie King was to order that the papers be returned immediately. Fortunately, Sir William Stephenson was at hand and persuaded the Prime Minister not to do anything so stupid. It emerged that the Soviet Government had established a very efficient spy system in Canada, unnoticed by the RCMP who were responsible for counter-intelligence. One of Wilfred's British army POW Intelligence colleagues had been selling information to the Russians. He was also embarrassed to learn that the Civil Service Ski Club, of which he was President, contained a Communist cell, headed by their best Canadian skier, Scott Benning, a former Olympic Champion, engaged in building up a Soviet spy ring within the Canadian Civil Service. Wilfred had learnt to ski in about 1910, in the Norwegian style of that period. He never bothered to learn the newfangled techniques of the snow plough and Christiana. The method in his day was simply to point your skis in the direction in which you wished to go, stand bolt upright and go straight down the mountains. Only a brave man would have done anything so dangerous for pleasure, and from the point of view of skiing technique Wilfred was an historic relic and quite unique, for there were never any other Edwardian-style skiers on the slopes. However, it was foolish of him to continue with it into middle age, and it caused him a minor heart attack in 1944. 271</page><page sequence="38">Edgar Samuel When the war with Japan was over, Wilfred was recalled to England and demobilized. Captain Eric Brand recommended him for an OBE, but this recommendation was rejected by the Admiralty. He was offered a post as a district governor in the British zone in Germany, but refused it. In 1950 it looked very much as if there would be war with the Soviet Union. Wilfred received two approaches. He was asked by the Central Office of Information if he would be willing to serve as a Press Censor, and agreed to do so, if not wanted by the Navy. The Admiralty was asked and said that, in view of his age, they would not call upon him again. He was then visited in London by Cdr Attwood, the Canadian Director of Naval Intelligence, who asked him if he would be willing to serve in Canadian Naval Intelligence again if hostilities started. He agreed without hesitation although he knew no Russian, was by then aged sixty-four, and was not entirely fit. No one could have paid him a greater compliment. He resumed his part-time directorships and communal committee work, and spent the post war years in energetic semi-retirment. He died of heart disease in 1958 at the age of seventy-two. Wilfred Samuel was endowed with above-average energy and imagination and with more than a little moral courage. He was always a loyal and effective subordinate, but was most reluctant to assume an independent command, despite his ability and natural leadership qualities. He did take charge of Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons for a short time, in 1920, when Frank Samuel had a holiday in Japan, and he chaired the very small Jewish Museum Committee, but he refused the Presidency of this Society, election as a synagogue warden and I think any post which entailed sole leadership. In part this was a product of his perfectionism and assiduous love of detailed planning, which made him a good staff officer, but never allowed him to feel sufficient confidence to risk an imperfect performance. Very largely it must have been because he was a fatherless child, and never had a father to model himself on. But despite this handicap, and with no more advantage than the promise of a job in his uncles' business when he left school, he had a successful business career, and was able to retire at the age of forty-two with a competent fortune. As an historian, despite his lack of university training, he acquired a professional standard of expertise as a researcher and writer, and made a significant contribution to the history of the Jewish community in England. He gave a lot of time to Jewish communal work, especially to the German-Jewish Refugee Committee between 1934 and 1938. He was the main founder of the Jewish Museum and gathered together the nucleus of its superb collection. His experiences as a schoolboy in Germany, as an export sales director, as a Zeppelin Intelligence officer, as an employment adviser to refugees and as an 272</page><page sequence="39">Decca Days?Wilfred Sampson Samuel, 1886-1958 historian, all came together, in the Second World War, to form an expert technician, who as one of the superb team in the Naval Intelligence Division was able to contribute to the destruction of the German submarine fleet and thus towards the utter defeat of Nazi Germany. There is nothing unusual about a man's starting with few advantages and having a successful business career, or making useful contributions to the war effort. So what general lessons are to be learnt from Wilfred Samuel's career? Only, I think, that in Britain, with a little luck, a man of talent has the opportunity to realize his potential. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The history of Barnett Samuel &amp; Sons was based on a series of interviews with the late Conrad Samuel, my late aunt 'Daisy' (Mrs P.P. Sabel), the later Arthur Maurice and Willy and the late Maurice Woolf. For information about Wilfred's work in POW Intelligence I am grateful to Captain E.S. Brand RCN (Ret'd) OBE, Mr Peter Lunzer, Miss Margaret McCulloch and Lady Dora Pink. I am also grateful to Mr Jack Platt, Cdr CH. Little RCNVR (Ret'd), and the late Hon. Ewen Montagu for written communications. NOTES 1 Interview with the late Mrs P.P. Sabel ('Daisie'). 2 Robert Henriques, Marcus Samuel, First Viscount Bearsted, Founder of Shell Transport and Trading Company (Barrie and Rockliff, London i960) 36. 3 Oral account from Wilfred S. Samuel ('WSS'). 4 MS curriculum vitae on his application to join Naval Intelligence, in the writer's possession. 5 WSS spoke French with a Belgian accent, German with a Palatinate accent and Italian with a Corfiote accent, all of which meant that he was seldom recognized from his speech as an Englishman. 6 Information from his grandson, Mr Henry My er. I am grateful to Mr G.S. Gadd for pointing out that Henry Solomon's obituaries in The Jewish World and The Jewish Standard of 15 May 1891, both state that his family came to England from Lissa. 7 Census return for 1841. 8 1861 Catalogue of Henry Solomon &amp; Company, in the present writer's possession. 9 Henriques (see n. 2) 50. 10 1861 catalogue. 11 Letter to WSS. 12 Ibid. 13 Sheffield directories. 14 Communication from Mr Edward Isaacs of Sheffield. 15 Information from WSS. 16 Post Office Directory. 17 1861 printed catalogue of Henry Solo? mon &amp; Company. 18 'History of Barnett Samuel and Sons', by W.S. Samuel, published by 'The Pianomaker' in anonymous leaflet 1922. 19 Post Office Directory. 20 Ibid. 21 W.S. Samuel (see n. 18). 22 Ibid. 23 Interview with the late Conrad Samuel. 24 Information from WSS. 25 Ibid. 26 Ibid. 27 Interview with Conrad Samuel. 28 Ibid. 29 Barnett Samuel's will was witnessed by Warnford-Davis. 30 Oral communication from WSS. 31 Ibid. 32 Ibid. 33 Poolman, Kenneth, Zeppelins Over Eng? land (Evans Bros Ltd., London i960). 34 Beesly, Patrick, Room 40?British Naval Intelligence 1914-15 (Hamish Hamilton, Lon? don 1982). 3 5 Oral communication from WSS. 36 Ibid. f 37 Interviews with Conrad Samuel and Maurice Woolf. 273</page><page sequence="40">Edgar Samuel 38 Accounts attached to the sale contract (typescript in the present writer's possession). 39 Ibid. 40 Oral communication from WSS. 41 Ibid. 42 Communication from Jack Platt based on his discussions with Frank Samuel. 43 Sale contract in the present writer's possession. The musical-instrument business was given the name of its manufacturing sub? sidiary, John Grey &amp; Sons Limited, and was sold off to Messrs Rose Morris &amp; Company Limited. After the Second World War they sold it to the Grampian Group. 44 WSS's investments on 31 March 1929 were shown in his Balance Sheet at a cost price of ?94,313.14.10 (p. 6