Major Cecil Aylmer Cameron CBE, DSO

Photos from http://spystory.net/

The son of Colonel Aylmer Cameron VC, he was educated at Eastman's Academy, Bath College, and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in 1901.

In 1911 he and his wife Ruby were convicted of fraud in Edinburgh and sentenced to three years' imprisonment for attempting to defraud Lloyd's by claiming £6,500 for the theft of Mrs Cameron's pearl necklace, which had not actually been stolen. He refused to give evidence in his defence and served the full sentence. Following his release, a petition for a pardon was signed by, among others, five dukes, twenty privy councillors, and 126 generals. During her imprisonment, his wife had confessed that she alone was the guilty party and Cameron had only been protecting her. He received a full pardon and was restored to his rank of Lieutenant.

He served as a staff officer in France during the First World War, during which time he was mentioned in dispatches four times and awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Under the codename EVELYN he was responsible for running spies in German-occupied France and Belgium from stations at Folkestone in England, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and Montreuil in France.

In 1918 he was transferred to the War Office in London, but as a fluent Russian-speaker was soon afterwards appointed Chief Intelligence Officer with the British Military Mission to Siberia during the Russian Civil War, for which he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Siberian War Honours of January 1920. In 1920 he returned to the War Office as a General Staff Officer in the Military Operations Directorate and also served in Ireland.

Cameron was found shot to death at Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield in 1924. The coroner returned a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane.

1883 Sep/Dec Born Cecil Aylmer Cameron at Croydon Vol 2a page 224

1891 census

1891 census with family at Holmfield Rd, Lydnhurst. His father is a retired colonel

1901 census

1901 Dc 21 The undermentioned Gentlemen Cadet, from the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich ( the RMA was founded in 1741 at Woolwich to train gentlemen cadets for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers) Cecil Aylmer Cameron. Gazette

1909 Apr/Jun Marriage St George Hanover Sq Vol 1a, page 892 to Ruby Mary Shawe

1911 Census not in English census. He was living in Scotland at a fraud trial which took place while he was resident at Number 2b Heriot Row, Edinburgh.

1911 May. Jailed for fraud for 3 years and his wife gets the same sentence

Times 30 May 1911

Mrs Cameron did not serve much of her sentence.

wife released

16 December 1911 Straits Times

1914 Sep 14 Landed in France. If he served the full sentence, he must have re-entered the army within weeks of his release

1914 Nov 20 Attached to General Staff Special Appointment— (Graded for purposes of pay as a General Staff Officer, 3rd Grade). C. A. Cameron, and to be temporary Captain. Gazette

1914 Nov 20 Special Appointments, General Staff. Temporary Captain C. A. Cameron, 16th (Service) Battalion (2nd Glasgow), The Highland Light Infantry, and to be transferred to the General List. Graded for pay purposes as Staff Captain Gazette

He moved into Intelligene at this point. Under the overall control of Colonel George Kynaston Cockerill, Folkestone became the headquarters of a tripartite bureau, including French and Belgian intelligence officers. The British section was based in Marine Parade, Folkestone, and was headed by Captain Cecil Aylmer Cameron, whose codename was ‘Evelyn’, but usually referred to as ‘B’, to distinguish him the London chief, ‘C’.

His star agent was Louise de Bettignies arrived at Folkestone in October 1914 and was recruited by Cameron. She was trained by British Intelligence and was given the operational name of Alice Dubois. She returned to France to establish a new network of spies and to organise escape routes for allied prisoners. She provided critical information which led to the destruction of several German batteries and, most notably, provided details of the date and time when the Kaiser’s train would be visiting Lille. Several bombers were despatched to attack the train and it was only by chance that none of the bombs hit the German Emperor’s carriage. In October 1915 Louise was given instructions by Major Cameron to travel to Tournai and then to Brussels to organise the agents there. Louise was arrested on this trip, convicted and sentenced to death. Though later commuted to life in prison, Louise de Bettignies contracted tuberculosis due the conditions under which she was held, and she died on 17th September 1918.

Leon Trulin was another of Camerons agents. Aged 17 and living in Lille when the Germans invaded Belgium. He wanted to fight for his country and in May 1915 he escaped to England. He arrived at Folkestone where he was recruited as a secret agent and, following a week’s training at Folkestone’s spy school in unit and artillery recognition, he was slipped back into Belgium. His task done, the young spy returned to Folkestone on 26 July 1915 to present his report and, such was the quality of his information, that he was then introduced to the British spymaster, Cameron. His next mission was to return to enemy territory and to recruit local agents to set up observation on the railway network. He was caught on the frontier trying to re-enter Belgium, and sent4enced to death. He died a hero November 8, 1915 at the age of 18.

medal card cameron cameron mic back
   

1915 Feb 1. High. L. I. Temp. Capt. C. A. Cameron, from Trg. Res., to be temp. Capt. (attd.). 22 Feb. 1917, with seniority from 1 Feb. 1915. Gazette

1915 Jun 22 Mentioned in Dispatches

1916 Jan 1.Temporary Captain C. A. Cameron to be temporary Major whilst employed on Special duty. Gazette

1916 Jan 1. Mentioned in Dispatches

1916 Jan/Mar born Evelyn A Cameron (dau of Cameron and Shawe)

1916 Dec 29 Temp. Maj. Cecil Aylmer Cameron, Intell.. Corps. Awarded DSO Gazette

1917 Jan 4. Mentioned in Dispatches

1917 Sep 25. Legion d'Honeur de France, Croix de Chevalier. Temporary Major Cecil Aylmer Cameron, D.S.O., Special List. Gazette

1918 Oct 18 Maj. C. A. Cameron, D.S.O., R.A., from a G.S.O., 3rd 'Grade, at the War Office, and to remain seconded Gazette

1918 Jun 4 The undermentioned temp, appts. are made at the War Office: : G.S.Os., 3rd Grade.Maj. C. A. Cameron, D.S.O., R.A. Gazette

1918 Jul 25. Ordre de Leopold. . Chevalier. Major Cecil Aylmer Cameron, D.S.O.. Royal Artillery. Gazette

1919 Mar 21 General Staff. G.S.Os., 2nd Grade.—Maj. C. A. Cameron, D.S.O., R.A., from the 3rd Grade. Gazette

1919 Aug 14. Special Appointment Cl. FF.—Temp. Capt. C. A. Cameron. Gazette

1920 Jan 29 Relinquishes his appointment G.S.Os., 2nd Grade.—Maj. C. A. Cameron, O.B.E., D.S.O., R.A. Gazette

1920 Mar 1. The undermentioned temp appts. are made at the War Office: — G.S.O., 3rd Grade.—Major. C. A. Cameron, C.B.E., D.S.O, R.A. Gazette

Apparently there were about 60 British intelligence agents trained in London in a unit run by Major C A Cameron, and sent under cover indivually to Ireland. The spy school was a Hounslow.

1920 Sep 6. Royal Regiment of Artillery. R.H. & R.F.A.Maj. C. A. Cameron, C.B:.E., D.S.O., is seced, whilst spec. empld.Gazette

1923 Appointed Military Attache in Riga, but the appointment subsequently cancelled

1924 Aug 14 Gazette General List. Temp. Capt. C. A. Cameron relinquishes his commn. on account of ill-health contracted on active service, 14th Aug. 1919,. and retains the rank of Capt. (Substituted for the notification; in the Gazette of 13th Dec. 1921).

1924 Aug 18 Commits suicide by shooting himself

pardon Cameron

 

Melbourne Argus - Report 1924 Aug 20  

The Cameron trial and his aftermath as an intelligence operative is covered in some detail in the chapter titled "The Cameron Case" (pages 184-221) in Winter's Tale: An Autobiography by Sir Ormonde Winter, who as Chief of Intelligence in Ireland in 1920 invited Cameron to work with him. According to Winter, Cameron committed suicide because his appointment as military attache to Riga was canceled by the PM, Ramsay Macdonald, because Cameron "had undergone a sentence of penal servitude." There is also some information on Cameron in Steve Cobham's "Will the Real Aylmer Cameron Please Stand Up?" in The Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society, March 2010.

British Intelligence at Dublin Castle