WINDER, Basil Hathornthwaite

He was serving in the volunteers and military before WW1. (London Gazette, 24/11/1908; ‘6 Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters, the under-mentioned officers, from the 2 Volunteer Battalion, are appointed to the battalion, with rank and precedence as in the Volunteer Force, except as stated below. Dated 1/4/1908 :—Captain Basil Hathornthwaite Winder reverts to rank of Lieutenant, with precedence from 29/10/1906’). (DC 19/9/1914 about 6 Bn Notts & Derby’s preparing for war, mentions Captain Winder, formerly of Hathersage).  b 1880 at Sheffield, son of Jane and Charles Aston Winder, (his father is depicted on p 45 of the booklet; ‘Hathersage Images from the Past’).

Basil had a brother, Lancelot Gordon Winder b1884 Sheffield who was secretary of the Y M C A before sailing to New York in 1917.  1901C Basil, an engineer’s assistant, single, living with his family at 22 Victoria Road, Sheffield. He married Gladys Bruce Oliphant in 1910 at Christchurch, Hants. She was b 1885 in Pau, France and died in 1940 at Bournemouth, Dorset. 1911C the family home was Hall Cottage, Hathersage. Basil had a son Michael Oliphant Winder b 1916 Copenhagen. Basil was probably in Copenhagen at that time, involved in intelligence work? Michael Oliphant was in 1/2/1942; 2/Lt 8th Bn Hampshire Avaon Valley Regt, 1/10/1942 transferred 28 Bn Hampshire Christchurch Bay, Home Guard, and promoted to Capt, resigns 1/5/1943 due to ill health. Another son; Herbert John Winder, b 1915 Hackney, of Basil’s long term mistress Irene Davies. He seemed to have been accepted into the family, as he was on one of the family’s trips to Japan in 1919. Basil married Irene in the same quarter that his wife died in 1940. No military information found on Herbert but his obituary suggests he was not alive in 1949?

Basil was linked to the “Richter Affair” later known as “The Siemens Scandal“. (See Wikipedia and the article in ‘The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser’ of 2/4/1914, p 7, for full details).

Japan’s Naval Scandal.           FIRM OF VICKERS INVOLVED

The arrest of Mr Kenzo Iwahara, a Director of the Mitsui firm in Tokyo, in connection with the Naval Scandal, has created a stir among the Company’s officials.

Within the next few days further arrests are expected among leading business men and bankers in the capital.

Mr B.H. Winder, the representative in Tokyo of the Vickers’ Shipbuilding Yard, accompanied by Mrs Winder, left the Imperial Hotel on the 28th Feb, for Vladivostok, via Kyoto, and are at present understood to be staying at the Russian port. It will be remembered that in January last Mr Winder was summoned to the Tokyo Chibo Saibansho and examined in regard to the Richter affair. The same paper further states that Mr Iwahara, of Mitsui & Co., who is now detained in Tokyo Prison, has for some years been the Tokyo agent of Vickers. Prior to the late war the Japanese Naval authorities placed an order with the Vickers Shipbuilding Yard for the construction of the battleship Mikasa, the order being secured by Mr Iwahara. Again, the Japanese authorities ordered from the same firm the battleship-cruiser Kongo, and in this transaction Mr Iwahara also acted as a “go-between.” The relations between the Japanese naval authorities and Mr Iwahara are therefore very “special.” Up to the present, adds the paper, the material supplied by the Vickers’ firm amounts to seventy million yen.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia;

                The Siemens Scandal  (or The Richter Affair) of January 1914 was one of several spectacular political scandals of late Meiji and Taishō period Japanese politics, leading to the fall of the cabinet of Yamamoto Gonnohyoe. It involved collusion between several high-ranking members of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the British company Vickers and the German industrial conglomerate of Siemens AG.

The Japanese navy was engaged in a massive expansion program, and at the time, many major items (such as advanced warships and weaponry) were still being imported from Europe. Siemens had secured a virtual monopoly over Japanese naval contracts in return for a secret 15% kickback to the Japanese naval authorities responsible for procurement.

In 1914, the British firm of Vickers (via their Japanese agents Mitsui Bussan) offered the Japanese naval authorities a more lucrative deal, involving a 25% kickback, with 40,000 Yen for Vice Admiral Matsumoto Kazu, the former Chief of the Navy Technical Department, specifically involving the procurement of the battle-cruiser Kongō. When the German headquarters of Siemens found out about the deal, they sent a telegram to their Tokyo office demanding a clarification. An expatriate employee of the Siemens Tokyo office (Karl Richter) stole incriminating documents indicating that Siemens had previously paid a bribe of 1,000 pounds sterling to the Japanese navy in return for a wireless contract, sold the documents to the Reuters news agency together with a copy of the telegram, and fled back to Germany.

Japanese newspapers, notably the Asahi Shimbun immediately reported the details of the corruption scandal, and the issue was raised in the Diet by members of the Rikken Doshikai political party. Both the Army and Navy Intelligence Services and the Kempeitai launched investigations.

The Japan Weekly Chronicle newspaper reported that an Admiral Fuji of the navy procurement office had confessed to receiving payments from Vickers of a total 210,000 yen in 1911 and 1912 on various occasions, reminding its readers that whether or not the money was received illegally under Japanese law, it was certainly illegal under the British Corrupt Practices Act of 1906.

Large-scale demonstrations erupted in Tokyo in early February 1914, which turned violent on 10 February 1914 and 14 February 1914. Public opinion was further outraged when it was revealed the massive scope of the naval expansion program would have left room for little else in the government budget, and that the government was therefore planning to raise taxes. Although Prime Minister Yamamoto was not directly implicated, and he took steps to dismiss naval officers in charge of procurement and shipbuilding, public dissatisfaction continued to grow, and Yamamoto was challenged to explain the bribery allegations before the House of Peers.

After both houses of Diet refused to pass the 1914 Navy budget, Yamamoto resigned on 24 March 1914, bringing down his entire cabinet with him. In May, a military court martial reduced ex-Prime Minister Admiral Yamamoto and Navy Minister Admiral Saito Makoto in rank, sentenced several leading members of the navy procurement department to prison, heavily fined both Vickers and Siemens and banned them from future participation in contracts.

With the start of World War I a couple of weeks later, Vickers was asked to restart production on the Kongō, and the men involved were all pardoned and rehabilitated.

The Daily Telegraph newspaper edition of 21 January 1914 reported that Karl Richter had been arrested in Germany for his theft of the incriminating papers, and sentenced to two years in prison.

On 14 Nov 1919 Basil sailed from Liverpool, in RMS EMPRESS OF FRANCE for Quebec, Age 39, married, Engineer, bound for Montreal, accompanied by wife age 35, daughter age 7, son age 3. Ultimate destination assumed to be Japan, for he obviously returned to Japan as per DC 8/9/1923; ‘he was Vickers Sheffield Rep in Japan but is OK in the earthquake’.  (This earthquake was a massive 7.9 on the Richter scale and killed over 6000 people and devastated the area).

After his death on 26 Dec 1948 at the age of 68 in London, The Times published this obituary on 10 February 1949; p 1;

MAJOR B. H.WINDER The sudden death of Major Basil Hathornthwaite Winder has come as a great shock to the hundreds of friends he had made while in charge of the foreign labour section of the Ministry of Labour and National Service. To the many dispirited men who passed through his understanding hands he was as genial and unselfish as he was a charming host and much-welcomed guest in social life.
Major Winder had had a varied and adventurous life equalled by few. Educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford, a brilliant enginéer and natural linguist – he was eventually master of eight languages, including Russian and Japanese – his journeyings began as the representative of his father, Mr. Charles Winder, a Sheffield iron founder, in Russia and, later, of Messrs. Vickers in Japan. He was Asiatic Supervisor of Armaments and Naval Construction and eventually a director on the board of Vickers in Tokyo. His 22 years’ service in Japan ended disastrously with the great Tokyo earthquake (1 Sep 1923), from which he narrowly escaped with his wife and children. All this was but a part of an exciting career which already had included active service as a volunteer in the Spanish-American, Russo-Japanese, and South African wars, as well as invaluable work for Intelligence. He was wounded while serving with the Americans in the Philippines and, some 20 years or so later, was gassed at Cambrai.
He was already a soldier of experience when he joined the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters, in 1905 and was in command of the 46th Divisional Cyclists in the 1914-18 war. His outstanding character and qualifications led, in 1915, to further Intelligence work of a most hazardous nature. Only the ill-health which followed his experiences in Japan, coupled with his age, disabled him from the overseas service during the 1939-45 war for which he was otherwise so well equipped. As it was, his exceptional knowledge of the Far East had made him one of the first Englishmen to reveal the nature and extent of the plans of the Japanese militarists.
Between the wars he joined the organization at British Industries House, where his personality, enginéering experience, and tremendous energy were of great value. At the annual fair at Olympia, too, his command of languages and knowledge of the world enabled him to get into far closer touch with foreign visitors than any ordinary interpreter could have hoped to do.
Major Winder, who was in his sixty-ninth year, is survived by his second wife and a son and daughter of his first marriage.

He died in relative poverty but called himself Major to the last.