E.I.M. Barrett

E.I.M. Barrett seated 3rd from left

In my earlier post on Captain E.I.M.Barrett, I had mentioned a 1934 book (published by Lovat Dickson)  that was written by him under an alias, Charlie Trevor.  The book titled ‘Drums of Asia’,  it appeared had been a source for much angst for India Office in Britain, which was in “correspondence with publishers on suggested changes prior to publication” (IOR/L/PJ/12/469, File 657/33).

The book was not easily available. Finally, I requested Professor Bickers, University of Bristol for his help. In his blog post, Professor Bickers sheds light on the book’s story line and the much intriguing and bemusing India Office shenanigans that eventually highlight that E.I.M.Barrett, in fact is not the author at all! It was perhaps a quasi-doppelgänger, one Captain J.G.Barrett from Straits Settlement police who had arrived in Singapore in 1906 with the Royal West Kent regiment as a sergeant and finally retired from service in 1935. (Update: The Imperial War Museum lists Oswald Barrett as the author of ‘Drums of Asia.’  http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/publication/61343)

It does make sense because E.I.M.Barrett though bestowed the Companions of the Order of the Indian Empire(C.I.E.) honor for his role prior to and in the First World War had largely spent much of his service in Federated Malay Straits and Shanghai. His sports accomplishments merited plenty of attention , thanks to his cricket , rugby and shooting records, world over. A prolific Hampshire county cricket player, Barrett based on archival records does not come across as spy material. Though, in handling the Shanghai Sikh contingent from 1907, sometimes a very inept and insecure Barrett shapes up.

Barrett was forced to resign from his position as Commissioner of Shanghai Municipal Police in 1929, when an investigation on police methods was conducted by the Shanghai Municipal Council. Yet, there are many mysterious parts to Barrett. His second marriage to one ‘Kitty’ from Shanghai, his being sued for a contract breach by a colleague and ultimately after resigning his quiet disappearance to Britain.

More research is needed on this elusive figure.