Page 4, 30th April 1948

30th April 1948
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1Catholic Profiles:/541


SIR George William Drostan

Ogilvic-Forbes is now British Minister at Caracas in Venezuela, after having been Minister in Havana, the capital of Cuba, for

several of the war years. He belongs to an old Catholic family of Aberdeenshire, and is one of the many children of Mr. J. M. Ogilvie-Forbes, the squire of Boyndlie.

As a boy. George Ogilvie-Forbes came south to school, and was at Beaumont College through the years of 1907 to 1910, In that year he went to New College at a time when Professor de Zulueta was a young don there, and H. A. L. Fisher still a lecturer in history, to be succeeded in 1912 by Sir Ernest Barker. These brilliant men were his tutors. He had already done some rowing on the Thames at Beaumont; he now rowed in the 2nd eight for New College. and went off in his vacations to Paris, to improve his French in the Quartier-Latin.

H E found his chances of entering the Foreign Office to which he aspired "immensely improved by his record in the war years of 1914 to 1918. Always a rider, be naturally joined the Scottish Yeomanry and with them went to France. When the strategy of Mr. Churchill opened up the campaign in Gallipoli, he saw service there. in the great Anzac days. He was withdrawn to Egypt, and remained by the companies of the desert and the paint. For he was transferred from the Nile to the Tigris to become an A.D.C. to General Maude. He was wounded in the advance under Lord Townsend, and obtained two mentions in despatches.

At last, after wounds and illness, he was sent back to join the General Staff at the War Office in Whitehall. A year later he passed into the Foreign Office and after a few months in Whitehall went as third secretary to Stockholm. The Baltic kept him for the next few years, now with the Danes at Copenhagen, now with the Finns at Helsingfors. After two years in the Foreign Office he went to the primitive little town of Belgrade and.busied himself in learning the Slav language of a nation of pigbreeders. His next post was far more interesting. In 1927 he went to one of the most picturesque towns of the New World, Mexico City, now being gradually restored to order, under the strong rule of President Diaz. It was the time when oil was foremost in questions of diplomacy, and when acting several times as chargé d'af faires, he had to press hard for the rights of the first British Companies who acted under the central control of Lord C'owdray. In his present post at Caracas the question of oil is again paramount.

His next appointment was to the Vatican. Although the first appointments to that special mission which Lord Tyrrell arranged were given to two successive Catholics, Sir Henry Howard and Count de Salis, it was felt as time went on that the British Minister to the Holy See, representing as he did the Foreign Office, would act better for the British Government if he were not acting as a Catholic hut had a Catholic Secretary. Mr. Ogilvie-Forbes was, however, sometimes in charge, and there as everywhere else his genial manners, his stout form and Scottish shrewdness proved a high success.

His next apoointment saw him back among the deserts and the palms fn which he had fought fifteen years before; he now acted to represent the power of Britain where the other sources of petrol lay, in the area of Mosul, and there did so well that at the age of thirty-four he was given a C.M.G.

His next post was far more exciting. He was made a Counsellor at Madrid in the last bloody days of the Second Republic. He was in charge there when the civil war began, and when Madrid became the theatre of red horror. All the usual work of the territory ceased. One of the main businesses of the British Embassy was to save the lives and property of those who were the prey of pro-Russian fanatics. At the same time, Mr. Eden, the Foreign Secretary, refused to bear with Madrid so strong was his policy bound up with that of Blum and Stalin. Day in, day out, the British, charge d'affaires worked heroically in those terrible scenes, while the armies of France captured Toledo and heleagured, but could not , capture, Madrid. The Foreign Office, under Mr. Eden, preferred to pretend that Red Spain was under a regular government, and as a Catho:ic Ogilvie-Forbes found himself in a position where his sympathies ran clear counter to the policy he had to represent. But his mingling of courage with common-sense and both with generosity carried him through a very ticklish time, and Mr. Eden gave a signal approval of his ability by making him a K.C.M.G., three years before he was given the Legation at Havana which preceded his present post.

MEANWHILE he had a most interesting post. He was made Counsellor

at Berlin under Sir Neville Henderson, he was given the mission which was called appeasement and which was Mr. Chamberlain's great struggle to • save the Protestant powers from the ruin which has since fallen upon them. Sir Neville was already ill with the disease which killed him, and Sir George wet often in charge of the Embassy to cope with the notorious quartet, Hitler, Goebels, Goering and Ribbentrop. He was there through the tremendous days of Berchtesgaden, Bonn and Munich, and finally he had to see the whole scheme crash while Hitler, betraying Chamberlain, flung himself into the arms of Stalin. When at last Germany went mad. he went to Oslo and was there in the days of Quisling, and our own abortive invasion.

His only son who followed him at Beaumont and New College died at the end of the war.

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