Walter Greenway Spy and Hero. His Life Story

HOLMES, Robert. Walter Greenway Spy and Hero. His Life Story.

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HOLMES, Robert. Walter Greenway Spy and Hero. His Life Story. London, Blackwood, 1917.

8vo. Original green cloth, lettered in gilt; pp. ix, [3], 295, apart from light occasional spotting internally, a very good copy of a rare book.
First edition, presentation copy, inscribed by the author. This is the life story of a British clerk, and petty criminal, who married an Arab woman and carried out sabotage against the Turks in WWI. The tale was smuggled to Holmes in botanical samples. The book incorporated interviews with Greenway's family and a notebook - smuggled by a sailor from Greenway's Sheikh father-in-law.
Holmes was a probation officer and Police Court missionary and this is his second book, advocating the reforming powers of war on petty criminals. 'The namesake of the title was a "cat-burglar" who was well educated, intelligent, a bit bored and looking for excitement. When Holmes (1916) came across him before WWI he was pretending to be "deaf and dumb" much to the confusion of the police and the exasperation of the deaf-signer/interpreter whom the court called in to help. Usefully, he was not only "swarthy-looking", but also spoke German. Despatched to wonder around the Turkish/German occupied parts of the Middle East as a Bedouin, he was able to glean intelligence on troop movements, which he passed back to the British Expeditionary Force. Despite being tortured to ensure he was truly voiceless, he maintained his charade with thorough British pluck' (Zoe Alker and Barry Godfrey, War as an Opportunity for Divergence and Desistance from Crime 1750-1945 in: Criminology and War: Transgressing the Borders, edited by Sandra Walklate, Ross McGarry, p. 86). Amongst Greenways' deeds was the blowing up of an arsenal in or near Baghdad. He died in a British hospital in the Middle East and his extensive notes were brought back to Britain by a sailor, who had been instructed to do so by Holmes.

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