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Superintendent James McBrien

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Superintendent James McBrien

Post by Karen on Fri 15 Jul 2011 - 9:52


You would hardly notice him, as he stood a few yards from the King - an inconspicuous, neatly dressed man, with his right hand thrust negligently into his pocket, and his left hand holding an umbrella, and an air of mild interest on his face (writes a special correspondent of the London "Evening News").
But that right hand was clasping an automatic revolver - a weapon he could whip out of his pocket in a second - and his eyes, glancing round with such apparent carelessness, with as keen as the eyes of a hawk.
For he was Superintendent James McBrien.
And Superintendent McBrien, who is now about to retire from his position as head of Scotland Yard's Special Branch, has been responsible for the Royal Family's safety for a generation.
This tall, strong Irishman, who looks anything but the conventional detective, has done enough other work to make him famous during his forty years' service. He has captured spies; he has had a death struggle with an anarchist in Soho; he has lived in fear of his life from Sinn Feiners.
But it is as the man who guarded royalty right from the early days of King Edward's reign that he will be remembered.
He had the gift of being unobtrusive. If the King was shooting on the moors there was nothing to single out that quiet figure in shooting clothes close by as a detective; at a formal affair the man in silk hat and morning dress standing among the others was Superintendent McBrien; on a railway platform he was the least conspicuous onlooker of all.
But, all the time his right hand was thrust negligently into his pocket.
The Prince of Wales, when young and high-spirited, often tried to give him the slip, but Superintendent McBrien was not to be slipped.
At Glasgow once, the Prince tiptoed out of the back door of his hotel; but along the street, like an unnoticed shadow, followed Superintendent McBrien. The Prince went into a cinema; two seats away, watching the big film, was Superintendent McBrien.
He was only once beaten.
And that was not his fault.
The car in which he was following the King, southward from the big munition factory at Gretna, broke down. But Carlisle, in another car, he was once more riding calmly behind the King.
Superintendent McBrien, who at his suburban home, has more presents from Royalty than any other man, could write a book of his adventures as thrilling as anything by Edgar Wallace.
When he was a constable he heard cries of "Murder" from the Autonomy Club in Windmill-street, a haunt of anarchists. He drew his truncheon, went to the door, and asked what the fuss was about.
Down the stairs rushed a German, armed with a murderous knife. He attacked Constable McBrien. But the constable struck him a smashing blow across the arm, and the knife went flying.
Constable McBrien dragged him into the street and handcuffed him.


He was only two years in uniform. His gifts marked him out for work where his brains could be used to the full. He was transferred to the C.I.D. and was sent abroad to learn the ways of the international agitator and the anarchist.
He rose quickly, and his duties were as varied as they could be. One day in the thick of the suffragette trouble; another at Biarritz with the King; yet another shadowing some suspicious foreigner who had turned up in London.
Then came the war - and the spies.
Before the war he had drawn up a list of suspected spies, and when the crisis came he was working for days until they had all been rounded up.
One of the spies was working in Woolwich Arsenal. Another - the right hand man of the notorious Carl Lody - was a dentist, and committed suicide in his cell at Brixton Prison.
With Sir Basil Thompson he interrogated many spies. He and Sir Basil questioned Mata Hari, the beautiful woman spy who was afterwards shot by the French.
After the war, when the Sinn Fein trouble was at its worst, threats that he would be killed came by every post. Every day he went for lunch to the same restaurant near Scotland Yard; but he always sat facing the door, and under his napkin lay his revolver ready for use.
"Will they get you?" he was asked.
"They'll be lucky if they do," he said.

Source: Examiner, Thursday 9 January 1930, page 4

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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Re: Superintendent James McBrien

Post by Karen on Sun 17 Jul 2011 - 0:58

Supt. McBrien Has Served 30 Years.

LONDON, Tuesday.

For 30 years Supt. James McBrien, head of the Special Branch of Scotland Yard, has guarded Royal personages, including King Edward, King George, and now the Prince of Wales.
He is now retiring.
"Inconspicuous, neatly dressed, and standing invariably a few yards from the King, with his left hand holding an umbrella and his right thrust carelessly in a pocket, but clasping an automatic pistol, which he could whip out in the fraction of a second, is how The Evening News describes Supt. McBrien.
The Prince of Wales, when young and high-spirited, once succeeded in giving McBrien the slip. He tip-toed out of the back door of the hotel where he was staying and went to a cinema, but within a few minutes McBrien was sitting two seats away.

Source: The Register News-Pictorial, Thursday 31 October 1929, page 4

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

Posts : 4907

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