SIR GEORGE RENDEL
WHEN the history of the Hitler
war comes to be written, and especially those fateful days in 1941 when the German plan to occupy Bulgaria materialised, the name of George Bendel will Certainly figure prominently, in the chapters on the Balkans. And not only because of the loud explosions that shattered the entrance hall of the Pent Palace Hotel in Istanbul when the British Legation party arrived there from Sofia. Sir George (then Mr.) Rendel had brought out his party of about 60 members of the Legation staff after diplomatic relations between otuselves and Bulgaria had been broken off. The explosion was caused by a time bomb which had been hidden in a suitcase—one of two which had been substituted for two of the original cases in the Embassy luggage and put on the train by " no one has ever discovered whom." But the obvious inference was that the Germans, fearing that the Minister and his immediate staff knew too much about German troop movements, planned to assassinate them en route. As it was, one of the bombs did kill members of the Legation , staff—two shorthand typists who were standing near the luggage. Anne Rendel, who had been helping her father in the Legation and was also in the hall, had a narrow escape. The second bomb was discovered in time, and the British Government did not go without its information.
Looking back through the tiles of the was years and those immediately preceding it, the name. of George Rendel constantly crops up. In March, 1938. hc took part in the Anglo-Italian talks by which it was still hoped to prevent Italy from siding against us, if Germany should make war inevitable, and he. negotiated an Anglo-Italian agreement about the Middle East which got several possible sources of trouble out of the way.
In 1936 he was the principal British expert at the Montreux Straits Conference, on the re-fortification of the Dardanelles,. which was the first experiment in what was then called " treaty-revision by agreement."
In 1937 he and his wife, at the invitation .of King 1bn Saud. travelled across the Saudi Arabian desert front the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea and stayed as guests at the. Royal Palace at Riyadh. This was only the second time that a British woman had made the journey across the desert and Gettainly the first time that a woman had been invited to stay at the Palace, It was a gesture of personal friendship on the part of King Ibn Saud.
During the nine years that George Rendel was head of the Eastern department of the Foreign Office—a post that called for an intimate knowledge of Turkey, Persia, Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Palestine—he did a great deal to consolidate the friendship between this country and Saudi Arabia, and it was undoubtedly as a result of this good feeling and understanding that King Ibn Saud stood by Britain so staunchly during thy dpekeed hauee of the war.
P4 looks, deportment and speech, Sir George Renal si the typical diplomat. " A man." as one newspaper described him, d sparing of words. with a sort of legal impartiality." And yet, he does not come of a line of ambassadors—but of engineers. His grandfather built roads, bridges and harbours in many parts of the world: his uncle, the first Lord Rendel, was a director of Armstrongs, a Liberal politician, and a great friend Of Mr. Gladstone. His father, the late George Wightwick Rendel, was a famous Civil engineer and held the unusual appointment of Professional Civil Lord of the Admiralty. Neither of Sir George's two sons has followed him into the Diplomatic Service. One is an engineer and the other is going to be an architect—thus carrying on the family tradition which their father broke. Like their fathei they are both old Downside boys. Ile won the Gregorian medal there and went to Oxfoi d (Queen's) as a classical scholar, 'end .got a First in History— one of our in his year. He entered the Diplomatic Service in 1913 and topped the examination lists that year. Not all members of the Diplomatic Service are linguists—but he is an exceptionally good one, and speaks French, German, Spanish and Italian fluently. All Sir George's resource and tenacity were called into play durdng those difficult days of 1941, as the Nazi penetration deepened sad Bulgaria moved slowly but surely on to what it thought was going to be the winning side. He warned them they would suffer the same fate as Italy. Subsequently, in the posts be has held since. he has always spoken with directness and courage. Back in London. he was appointed Ambassador to the Yugoslav Government and helped in sending material assistance to Mffiallovitch and his supporters
who were so gallantly resisting the Nazis. He ristatged his knighthood (K.C.M.G.) in 1943.
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