Major Sir John Arnold Wallinger KBE, DSO, CIE, KPM (25 October 1869 – 7 January 1931) was a British Indian intelligence officer who led the Indian Political Intelligence Office from 1909 to 1916. As a colonial policeman and counter-intelligence officer he became a specialist in countering those opposed to British rule in India, operating both in India and in England.


Sir John Arnold Wallinger

Born
John Arnold Wallinger

(1869-10-25)25 October 1869
Died7 January 1931(1931-01-07) (aged 71)
Occupation(s)Imperial policeman
Counter-intelligence officer
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire
Distinguished Service Order
King's Police Medal
Espionage activity
Allegiance United Kingdom
 British India
Service branchIndian Imperial Police
Metropolitan Police
Indian Political Intelligence Office
British Army
Service years1896–1926
RankSuperintendent
Major (temporary)
Deputy Inspector General of Police
OperationsWorld War I
Hindu-German Conspiracy

During the First World War he was engaged in combating the Hindu–German Conspiracy. During this period he employed the novelist W. Somerset Maugham as an intelligence agent in Geneva. Wallinger is perhaps best known as the principal inspiration for the character of "R.", the fictional British spymaster who employs Ashenden in Maugham's stories.

Early life edit

Wallinger was born on 25 October 1869 at Poona, British India. His father was William H. Arnold Wallinger, a British official in the Indian Civil Service with the Imperial Forestry Service.[2] In 1896, he joined the Indian Imperial Police in Ahmadabad as an inspector.[2]

Intelligence career edit

In 1902, during a period of concern over the activities of Indian nationalist political activists, Wallinger was seconded to the Metropolitan Police at Scotland Yard. This was the first of his activities in countering Indian anti-colonial activists in Europe, before returning to India in 1904.[2] He gained a reputation in intelligence circles as "a brave officer with a talent for acquiring local native dialects and a flair for undercover criminal intelligence operations when he would ‘black up’".[2]

In 1910 he returned to England with the rank of superintendent to lead the newly-established Indian Political Intelligence Office. This was a substantial organisation and role, reflecting the concerns the British government had regarding anti-colonial political activists, described by historian Richard Popplewell as "not much smaller than the European intelligence operations of the Secret Service Bureau, let alone those of the War Office".[3] He was awarded the King's Police Medal in the 1914 New Year Honours.[4]

During the First World War he was given the temporary rank of Major in the British Army, his commission listed as "Special List (General Staff Officer)".[5] Wallinger was attached to general headquarters in France, where he operated in a counter-intelligence capacity against the Berlin Committee and the Hindu–German Conspiracy.[2] Here he also worked alongside his younger brother Ernest, a major in the Intelligence Corps who had lost his foot at the Battle of Le Cateau serving in the Royal Field Artillery.[2][6] In August 1916, Wallinger returned to intelligence work in India. After the war in 1919 he was posted to Egypt, and the following year he was appointed deputy inspector-general of the Indian Imperial Police.[2]

He was highly decorated for his intelligence work: on 14 January 1916 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, and in the 1918 New Year Honours he was made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire.[5][7] After the war, on 3 June 1925, he was awarded a KBE.[8] In 1926 he was offered the role of deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, but instead chose to retire to Brighton on the south coast of England, where he died on 7 January 1931.[2]

Literary and cultural influence edit

Among Wallinger's more famous agents was Somerset Maugham, whom he recruited in London and sent as a secret agent to Switzerland.[9][10] Wallinger was the literary prototype of the spymaster of a number of Maugham's short stories, and was notably portrayed as the spymaster "R." in the Ashenden stories Maugham wrote following the war.

Inspired by Maugham's stories, the character of "R." based on Wallinger was played by Charles Carson in the 1936 Alfred Hitchcock espionage thriller Secret Agent.

Notes edit

  1. ^ "Wallinger, Sir John Arnold". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/67772. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Wallinger, Sir John Arnold (1869–1931), intelligence officer and literary prototype". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/67772. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. Retrieved 22 November 2022. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 216: "with the outbreak of the First World War the Indian intelligence network set up by Superintendent Wallinger ... within the general structure of British intelligence in Europe ... In scale it was not much smaller than the European intelligence operations of the Secret Service Bureau, let alone those of the War Office."
  4. ^ "Page 10 | Issue 12630, 2 January 1914 | Edinburgh Gazette | The Gazette". www.thegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Page 574 | Supplement 29438, 11 January 1916 | London Gazette | The Gazette". www.thegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  6. ^ Medal card of Wallinger, Ernest Arnold Corps: Royal Field Artillery Rank: ... 1914–1920.
  7. ^ "Page 89 | Issue 13187, 2 January 1918 | Edinburgh Gazette | The Gazette". www.thegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  8. ^ "Page 3778 | Supplement 33053, 2 June 1925 | London Gazette | The Gazette". www.thegazette.co.uk. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  9. ^ Popplewell 1995, p. 230: "Wallinger tried to re-establish his network [in Switzerland], recruiting among others, the writer Somerset Maugham."
  10. ^ Morgan, Ted (1980). Somerset Maugham. London: Jonathan Cape. p. 199. ISBN 0-224-01813-2.

References edit