Heath Old Boys Association


Obituaries


Robert Victor Hemblys-Scales: c1921–? [Heath ?–1939]

Robert Victor Hemblys-Scales appears once in the Heath archives when his departure from Heath Grammar School in 1939 to Christ’s College, Cambridge from which he graduated from with honours in Classics and Philosophy is mentioned. We do not know when he was born or when he entered Heath.

However, the next thirty years of his life as an intelligence officer and minor diplomat are very well documented because his wife deposited the family papers including his personal diaries and photographs with the National Library of Australia in 1984. But after he and his wife separated in the early 1970s, there is nothing except a tantalising contact with Christ’s College in 2003.

On 29 October 1943 he is listed as a member of the Intelligence Corps and served as a Staff Officer with the Planning Group for the invasion of N.W. Europe as well as on Field Marshal Montgomery's staff with the Third U.S. Army. In 1945 he participated in the investigation of Dr Allan Nunn May.

In 1947 he was commissioned to write a report on Soviet espionage with Michael Serpell. Much of the information was drawn from papers seized from the Gestapo in Paris when Henri Robinson was arrested in 1942.

In 1948, following reports that a KGB agent had infiltrated Australian government offices, he was posted to Australia for eight months to advise on the creation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. There he met Tania Virginia Teppema, the only child of Peter and Carmen Teppema, who had been born in 1925 in Sydney but had moved to Buenos Aires with her parents in 1932 where she lived until 1944, when she enrolled at Smith College, Northampton MA. In 1947 she moved to Canberra with her parents and accompanied her father on his diplomatic missions in America and Europe before getting a job at the Commonwealth National Library.

The wedding announcement says that, after marrying in Canberra in early 1949 (a wedding report appears in the 19 February 1949 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald), the couple expected to settle in the UK after a honeymoon in Australia. But in 1949 the Hemblys-Scales were posted to Ismailia in the Suez Canal Zone and in 1950 Robert transferred from MI5 to MI6. In 1951 he was appointed to Singapore and in 1952 to Bangkok from where they visited Japan. In 1955 they visited Malaya and he was involved in the preparations for the SEATO conference in Bangkok.

They returned to London in 1955 before Robert was appointed to Munich as British Vice-Consul, returning to London in 1959. Tania’s mother died in New York that year and her father the following year. This year they had various holidays in Europe before Robert was posted to Lima in 1961 as Consul to the Republic of Peru. In 1965 Robert left the British Foreign Service, possibly because of a health problem, and went into business. They then moved to Buenos Aires, where Robert suffered severe business difficulties involving heavy financial loss.

After separating from her husband, Tania reverted to her maiden name, living in Punta del Este, a resort town on the Uruguayan coast. They had no children.

Catherine Twilley, Fellow & Development Director at Christ‘t College, Cambridge, kindly let us know that Robert was in touch with the college in 2003 to say that he was a retired diplomat now living in Rio to Janeiro.

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