About Adam C

Archives Assistant

The Order of the Red Eagle and the German state visit to Britain, 1907

Kaiser Wilhelm signature, 1907On Monday the 11th of November, 1907 Kaiser Wilhelm II the German Emperor and King of Prussia arrived in Portsmouth aboard his imperial yacht, the SMY Hohenzollern, for a week-long visit to Britain. The Emperor was met by a welcoming partly consisting of the Prince of Wales, Lord Roberts, the German ambassador, and one Colonel Henry de Beauvoir De Lisle. The group headed directly to Windsor from the coastal city to be hosted by King Edward VII, Wilhelm’s Uncle and the eldest son of the late Queen Victoria.

De Lisle, who would later achieved the rank of General, had been invited to welcome the Kaiser and travel to Windsor due to his connection to the Prince and Princess of Wales and Mr Connaught, but described himself in a letter to his mother as, “the least important of anyone in the castle.”

Despite this, De Lisle’s collection of papers relating to the state visit provide an interesting insight into the visit and a personal story about how he was decorated by the Kaiser.

After arriving at Windsor De Lisle was greeted by the King who joked he did not recognise him as hitherto he had only seen De Lisle at formal occasions in his military uniform. What he did recognise though was that De Lisle was not wearing a German decoration for this occasion and asked him why that was the case, to which De Lisle replied that he did not have one.

On hearing this Edward VII said “I will tell the Emperor he must decorate you,” and De Lisle woke up the very next day to find he had been awarded the foreign honour of the Order of the Red Eagle by the Kaiser.

Above you will see the hand signed Order for De Lisle by the German Emperor, 16 November, 1907. De Lisle was given private permission by his Majesty to wear the Insignia of the Red Eagle at events with the presence of German Emperor or members of the royal family of Prussia.

By Adam Cox – Archives Assistant

Eric Garrad-Cole- The Undercover Italian

Eric Garrad-ColePhotograph of Mario Monti

In the photographs above you can see Wing Commander of the RAF Eric Garrad-Cole and Mario Monti. The keen eyed amongst you will notice not only a resemblance, but that they are, in fact, the same person. Garrad-Cole was universally known as ‘Garry’ throughout his life, though thankfully for this fugitive during his time in Axis controlled Italy, only a select few knew Mario Monti as anything other than Mario.

Garrad-Cole was an Italian prisoner of war (PoW), between 1940 and 1943, after the skilled bomber pilot was shot down over Libya in 1940. After many unsuccessful escape attempts he finally got away as Italy surrendered to the Allies and Germany occupied the country.

Still in Italy, following his escape Garrad-Cole joined the ‘Rome Organisation’, a group that set about helping other escaped Allied PoWs, for the remainder of the war. This is when Garrad-Cole disguised himself as Mario Monti- growing a pencil moustache and wearing glasses. It is up to you how convincing you find this deception, however, keep in mind his masquerade certainly was effective.

During the remainder of his time in Rome, with the help of other escapees, the ‘Rome Organisation’ and Garrad-Cole helped approximately 3000 PoWs. All this was achieved while under the constant threat of his identity being revealed and being discovered. Despite several close calls Garrad-Cole managed to stay undercover until the Allied victory.

After the War ended, having returned to Great Britain, Garrad-Cole was awarded the Military Cross (MC) in 1944 for his actions. In 1955, the Wing Commander turned author as he published ‘Single to Rome’ detailing his unique and fascinating tale.

By Adam Cox- Archives Assistant

[Information sourced from Times Obituary 2003 and accessioned materials]