What made Erskine Childers turn from patriot to spy?
Erskine Childers’ novel The Riddle of the Sands was published in 1903 warning of the dangers of a German invasion across the North Sea and in 1910 several Englishmen, who had read the book, were arrested for spying.
Childers – having used fiction to warn his nation of the factual German threat – went on to firstly fantasise about helping the Irish Republican cause, then actually doing so by supplying them with guns transhipped in mid-Channel from his yacht. Childers was convicted of possessing a pistol and later executed by firing squad in 1922.
Now Dr Nigel Rigby,of the National Maritime Museum who has spent a great deal of time researching both the novel and the author, is to give a lecture on the subject at the Falmouth Maritime Museum on 8 December.