Sirmooree #80

93 ARTICLES A Sirmoor Spy: The Extraordinary Life of Honorary Brigadier Robin ‘Tin Eye’ Stephens By Nick Hinton The register of 2 nd Goorkhas officers contains many colourful characters but few have achieved more intriguing diversity in their lives than Honorary Brigadier Robin ‘Tin Eye’ Stephens, late 2 nd Goorkhas, late 18 th Garhwal Rifles, and thereafter variously bankrupt, divorcee, lawyer, journalist, Abyssinian war hero, promoter of British national fitness, lead MI5 interrogator of Nazi spies, court-martial defendant, and post-war stalwart of the Security Service. His story came to light when John Harrop, a regular contributor to the Sirmooree, spotted in June 2018 that Dix Noonan Webb was auctioning Stephens’ India General Service Medal. It is very unusual, having 5 clasps: for Afghanistan North West Frontier 1919; Waziristan 1919-21; Mahsud 1919-20; Malabar 1921-22; and Waziristan 1921- 24. It also has the oak leaves for the mention in despatches Stephens was awarded for his work in Waziristan in 1921. The medal was withdrawn from the auction about a month later. It is known to have been in a private collection in 1951 while Stephens was still serving, but the audit trail thereafter is not clear. As he would have had to wear the medal when in uniform, the auctioneers surmised that Stephens sold the original when he left the Army in straightened circumstances in 1931 and on being Stephens’ medal – or is it a duplicate?