Gordon Etherington-Smith

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Person.png Gordon Etherington-Smith  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
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Cairo, Egypt
Died2007 (Age 92)
Alma materOxford University/Magdalen College
ParentsThomas Basil Etherington-Smith
Brisish diplomat in many central

Raymond Gordon Anthony Etherington-Smith was a UK diplomat. Among other things, he served as British Counselor in Singapore (1961-1963), British Ambassador to South Vietnam (1963–1966) and in Sudan and as Minister in the Allied Government for West Berlin[1]. The places and periods he was posted strongly hints at deep state activities.


Raymond Gordon Anthony Etherington-Smith was born in Cairo in 1914 of an English father and Austrian mother. His father died in 1915, and he was brought up by his mother and aunts in Vienna. He won a scholarship to Downside and then went to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he obtained a first in politics, philosophy and economics, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies.

Early career

In 1936 Etherington-Smith, who spoke German, French and Russian, joined the British Diplomatic Service (entry as Secretary, third class). After working in the Foreign Office in London with an appointment date of September 14, 1936, he was assigned to the British Embassy in Berlin on February 19, 1939 as a staff member. However, he only stayed in his post in Berlin for a short time because, after a violent clash[citation needed] with a Nazi official, he was recalled as a diplomat by the Foreign Office at the request of the German government, which declared him persona non grata.

After the outbreak of World War II, Etherington-Smith was assigned to the British diplomatic mission in Copenhagen (transferred September 4, 1939). On April 13, 1940 he was transferred back to the Foreign Office, from where he was posted to the British Embassy in Washington, DC on September 22, 1940. He worked there until 1942. During this time he was promoted to the rank of Second Secretary in the diplomatic service on October 14, 1941. After a brief transfer back to the Foreign Office (transfer date of April 2, 1943), Etherington-Smith became General Chiang Kai-shek's British delegate on July 7, 1943, assigned to Chungking in Northwest China, where he served until 1945. Here he was promoted to Secretary 1st degree in the diplomatic service on September 13, 1945.

On March 7, 1946, Etherginton-Smith was appointed British Consul-General in the Chinese province of Kashgar in Xinjiang. In 1947 he worked briefly in Moscow (1947) and in the Foreign Office.

Later career

On August 30, 1952, Etherington-Smith was transferred to Rome as a representative of the Foreign Office (Charge d'Affaires) at the Vatican. On October 8, 1954 he became First Secretary at the British Embassy in Saigon. Here he witnessed the French withdrawal from Vietnam and the gradual American involvement in the crisis in the East Asian country, which later culminated in the Vietnam War.

After an almost three-year interlude in the Netherlands, where he was appointed British Counselor at the Embassy in The Hague on January 8, 1958, Etherington-Smith was appointed British Counselor in Singapore in March 1961 and soon thereafter became Acting General Commissioner (Acting Commissioner-General).

On August 20, 1963, Etherington-Smith was appointed British Ambassador - Special Ambassador and Plenipotentiary (ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary) - to South Vietnam. He remained in this post for three years, during which the situation in Vietnam escalated. A fallen president of the state, for example, found shelter in Etherington-Smith's embassy building. Although Britain did not take part in the Vietnam War with its own troops, it supported American efforts in the country. So Etherington-Smith organized the training of South Vietnamese police officers by British police officers.

In 1966, Etherington-Smith was appointed British Minister and Deputy City Commander to the Allied Military Government for West Berlin. In this position he was the most senior British civilian in the Allied High Command in the divided city. His experience in Moscow duringWorld War II and his knowledge of the Russian language came in handy in his negotiations with the Soviets.

In 1970 Etherington-Smith was appointed British Ambassador to Sudan. He succeeded Robert Fowler. The country, which at the time – as later again – was deeply divided politically due to differences between the population groups in the north and south, was considered a trouble spot at the time. On March 3, 1973, he narrowly escaped an attack by a terrorist squad from the Palestinian group Black September at a reception in the Saudi embassy, ​​where several diplomats were taken hostage: Etherington-Smith had left the premises minutes before the group's raid began. After the political demands of the hostage-takers were not met, two American and one Belgian diplomat were shot dead. According to his obituary in the Times, had Etherington-Smith fallen into Palestinian hands, he would likely have been singled out for execution.

Later in 1973 Etherington-Smith retired, to Wiltshire. In retirement he dedicated himself to the editing of a publication by the Austrian officer Ernst Pinter on Archduke Maximilian of Austria's attempts in the 1860s to establish a Mexican Empire.