Samuel Hoare

An identity card of Samuel Hoare

An identity card of Samuel Hoare during his time with the British Military Mission in Rome. From MS Templewood S10.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Samuel Hoare was the Conservative MP for Chelsea. By 1916 he was MI6 head of mission in St Petersburg, working with Russian intelligence (which ran agents in Germany) and reporting on the German war effort. This intelligence was used to strengthen the blockade around the Central Powers, and provided assurance that Germany could not win a long war. In 1917 Hoare was reassigned to lead the MI5-run British Military Mission to Italy: the domestic intelligence service had wartime responsibilities for military matters. Defeated at Caporetto, Italy was the weakest of the allies, and after the Bolshevik revolution took Russia out of the war the British feared a similar turn of events in Italy. Hoare’s brief was to help keep Italy in the war.

Hoare’s later career included spells as Foreign and Home Secretary, making him successively the minister responsible for MI6 and MI5. After his death (as Viscount Templewood) in 1959 his papers came to the University Library, where they remain a major historical resource.

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