Part Three. How Spies Disguise Themselves—The Sport of Spying—The Value of Hide-and-Seek—Spying on Mountain Troops—Posing as an Artist.


Spying brings with it a constant wearing strain of nerves and mind, seeing that it involves certain death for a false step in war or imprisonment in peace. The Government promises to give no help whatever to its servant if caught. He is warned to keep no notes, to confide in no one, to use disguises where necessary, and to shift for himself entirely.

The matter of disguise is not so much one of theatrical make-up as of being able to secure a totally different character in voice and mannerisms, and especially of gait in walking and appearance from behind. A man may effect a wonderful disguise in front, yet be instantly recognized by a keen eye from behind. This is a point which is frequently forgotten by beginners, and yet is one of the most important. The first and third figures show an effective make-up in front, but the second figure, a back-view, shows how easily the man may be recognised by a Person behind him. The fourth and filth sketches show, by means of dotted lines, how the " back-view." can be altered by change of clothing and gait.

The matter of disguise is not so much one of a theatrical make – up-al though this is undoubtedly a useful art-as of being able to assume a totally different character, change of voice and mannerisms, especially of gait in walking and appearance from behind.

This point is so often forgotten by beginners, and yet it is one of the most important.

I was at one time watched by a detective who one day was a soldierly-looking fellow and the next an invalid with a patch over his eye. I could not believe it was the same man until I watched him from behind and saw him walking, when at once his individuality was apparent.

For mannerisms, a spy has by practice to be able to show an impediment in his speech one day, whereas the next a wiggle of an eyelid or a snuffling at the nose will make him appear a totally different being.

For a quick change, it is wonderful what difference is made by merely altering your hat and necktie. It is usual for a person addressing another to take note of his necktie, and probably of his hat, if of nothing else, and thus it is often useful to carry a necktie and a cap of totally different hue from that which you are wearing, ready to change immediately in order to escape recognition a few minutes later.

This illustration shows how the writer was able to disguise himself at very short notice when he observed that he was recognised on a railway station. The first sketch shows him as he entered a waiting-room shortly after his suspicions were aroused. The second depicts him on his exit a few minutes later. The disguise, simple though it may seem, was entirely successful.

I learnt this incidentally through being interviewed some years ago at a railway station. A few minutes after the ordeal I found myself close up to my interviewer, when he was re-telling the incident to a brother journalist, who was also eager to. find me. " He is down there, in one of the last carriages of the train. You will know him at once; he is wearing a green Homburg hat and a red tie, and a black coat."

Fortunately I had a grey overcoat on my arm, in which was a travelling cap and a comforter. Diving into the waiting-room, I effected a " quick change " into these, crammed my hat into my pocket, and tottered back, with an invalid shuffle, to my carriage. I re-entered it under the nose of the waiting reporter without being suspected, and presently had the pleasure of being carried away before him unassailed.

On a recent occasion in my knowledge a man was hunted down into a back street which was a cul-de-sac, with no exit from it. He turned into the door of a warehouse and went up some flights of stairs, hoping to find a refuge, but, finding none, he turned back and came down again and faced the crowd which was waiting outside, uncertain which house he had entered.

By assuming extreme lameness in one leg, hunching up one shoulder, and jamming his hat down over a distorted-looking face, he was able to limp boldly down among them without one of them suspecting his individuality.

In regard to disguises, hair on the face such as moustache or beard-are very usually resorted to for altering a man’s appearance but these are perfectly useless in the eye of a trained detective unless the eyebrows also are changed in some way.

Another instance of how an effective disguise can be assumed on the spur of the moment. This disguise was effected in two minutes.

The use of hair in disguising the face. is perfectly useless unless the eyebrows are considerably changed. The brow and the back of the head are also extremely important factors in the art of disguise.

The second picture shows the effect of " improving the eyebrows of the lace on the left, and also of raising the hair on the brow, while the third sketch shows what a difference the addition of a beard and extra hair on the back of the head can make.

I remember meeting a man on the veldt in South Africa bronzed and bearded, who came to me and said that he had been at school with one of my name. As he thrust his hat back on his head I at once recognised the brow which I had last seen at Charterhouse some twenty-five years before, and the name and nickname at once sprang to my lips. Why, you are Liar Jones," I exclaimed. He said, My name is Jones, but I was not aware of the ‘Liar."’

"In altering your face you must remember that (improved’ "eyebrows alter the expression of the face more than any beards, shaving, etc. Tattoo marks can be painted on the hands or arms, to be washed off when you change your disguise. . . . Disguising by beginners is almost invariably overdone in front and not enough behind. . . . Before attempting to be a spy first set yourself to catch a spy, and thus learn what faults to avoid as likely to give you away." [Aids to Scouting, P- 136.]

It fell to my lot at one time to live as a plumber in South-east London, and I grew a small " goatee " beard, which was rather in vogue amongst men of that class at that time.

One day, in walking past the Naval and Military Club in Piccadilly in my workman’s get-up, I passed an old friend, a major in the Horse Artillery, and almost without thinking I accosted him by his regimental nickname. He stared and wondered, and then supposed that I had been a man in his battery, and could not believe his eyes when I revealed my identity.

I was never suspected by those among whom I went, and with whom I became intimate. I had nominally injured my arm in an accident and carried it in a sling, and was thus unable to work, or what was also a blessing, to join in fights in which my friends from time to time got involved. My special companion was one Jim Bates, a carpenter. I lost sight of him for some years, and when next I met him he was one of the crowd at a review at Aldershot, where I was in full rig as an Hussar officer. It was difficult to persuade him that I was his former friend the plumber.

Later on, when employed on a reconnaissance mission in South Africa, I had grown a red beard to an extent that would have disguised me from my own mother. Coming out of the post office of a small country town, to my surprise I came up against the Colonel of my regiment, who was there for an outing. I at once-forgetting my disguise-accosted him with a cheery "Hullo, Colonel, I didn’t know you were here," and he turned on me and stared for a minute or two, and then responded huffily that he did not know who I was. As he did not appear to want to, I went my ways, and only reminded him months later of our brief meeting !


Undoubtedly spying would be an intensely interesting sport even if no great results were obtainable from it. There is a fascination which gets hold of anyone who has tried the art. Each day brings fresh situations and conditions requiring quick change of action and originality to meet them.

Here are a few instances from actual experiences. None of these are anything out of the common, but are merely the everyday doings of the average agent, but they may best explain the sporting value. of the work.

One of the attractive features of the life of a spy is that he has, on occasion, to be a veritable Sherlock Holmes. He has to notice the smallest of details, points which would probably escape the untrained eye, and then he has to put this and that together and deduce a meaning from them.

I remember once when carrying out a secret reconnaissance in South Africa I came across a farmhouse from which the owner was absent at the moment of my arrival. I had come far and would have still further to go before I came across any habitation, and I was hard up for a lodging for the night.

After off-saddling and knee-haltering my horse, I looked into the various rooms to see what sort of a man was the inhabitant. It needed only a glance into his bedroom in this ramshackle hut to see that he was one of the right sort, for there, in a glass on the window-sill, were two tooth-brushes.

I argued that he was an Englishman" and of cleanly habits, and would do for me as a host-and I was not mistaken in the result!


The game of Hide-and-Seek is really one of the best games for a boy, and can be elaborated until it becomes scouting. in the field. It teaches you a lot.

I was strongly addicted to it as a child, and the craft learned in that innocent field of sport has stood me in good stead in many a critical time since. To lie flat in a furrow among the currant bushes when I had not time to reach the neighbouring box bushes before the pursuer came in sight taught me the value of not using the most obvious cover, since it would at once be searched. The hunters went at once to the box bushes as the likely spot, while I could watch their doings from among the stems of the currant bushes.

Often I have seen hostile scouts searching the obvious bits of cover, but they did not find me there; and, like the elephant hunter among the fern trees, or a boar in a cotton crop, so a boy in the currant bushes is invisible to the enemy, while he can watch every move of the enemy’s legs.

This I found of value when I came to be pursued by mounted military police, who suspected me of being a spy at some maneuvers abroad. After a rare chase I scrambled over a. wall and dropped into an orchard of low fruit trees. Here squatting in a ditch, I watched the legs of the gendarmes’ horses while they quartered the plantation, and when they drew away from me I crept to the bank of a deep water channel which formed one of the boundaries of the enclosure. H ere I found a small plank bridge by which I could cross, but before doing so I loosened the near end, and passed over, dragging the plank after me.

On the far side the country was open, and before I had gone far the gendarmes spied me, and after a hurried consultation, dashed off at a gallop for the nearest bridge, half a mile away. I promptly turned back, replaced my bridge and recrossed the stream, throwing the plank into the river, and made my way past the village. to the next station down the line while the horsemen were still hunting for me in the wrong place.

Another secret that one picked up at the game of Hide-and-Seek was, if possible, to get above the level of the hunter’s eye, and to "freeze" that is, to sit tight without a movement, and, although not in actual concealment, you are very apt to escape notice by so doing. I found it out long ago by lying flat along the top of an ivy-clad wall when my pursuers passed within a few feet of me without looking up at me. I put it to the proof later on by sitting on a bank beside the road, just above the height of a man, but so near that I might have touched a passer-by with a fishing-rod; and there I sat without any concealment and counted fifty-four wayfarers, out of whom no more than eleven noticed me.

The knowledge of this fact came in useful on one of my investigating tours. Inside a great high wall lay a dockyard in which, it was rumoured, a new power-house was being erected, and possibly a dry dock was in course of preparation.

It was early morning; the. gates were just opened; the workmen were beginning to arrive, and several carts of materials were waiting to come in. Seizing the opportunity of the gates being open, I gave a hurried glance in, as any ordinary passer-by might do. I was promptly ejected by the policeman on duty in the lodge.

I did not go far. My intention was to get inside somehow and to see what I could. I watched the first of the carts go in, and noticed that the policeman was busily engaged in talking to the leading wagoner, while the second began to pass through the gate. In a moment I jumped alongside it on the side opposite to the janitor, and so passed in and continued to walk. with the vehicle as it turned to the right and wound its way round the new building, in course of construction.

I then noticed another policeman ahead of me and so I kept my position by the cart, readaptimg its cover in order to avoid him.

The dotted line in this plan shows my route. The small figures are policemen looking for me.

Unfortunately in rounding the corner I was spied by the first policeman, and lie immediately began to shout to me (see map) was deaf to his remarks and walked on as unconcernedly as a guilty being could till I placed the corner of the new building between him and me. Then I fairly hooked it along the back of the building and rounded the far corner of it. As I did so I saw out of the tail of my eye that he was coming full speed after me and was calling policeman No.2 to his aid. I darted like a red-shank round the next corner out of sight of both policemen, and looked for a method of escape.

The scaffolding of the new house towered above me, and a ladder led upwards on to it. Up this I went like a lamplighter, keeping one eye on the corner of the building lest I should be followed.

I was half-way up when round the corner came one of the policemen. I at once "froze." I was about fifteen feet above sea level and not twenty yards from him. He stood undecided with his legs well apart, peering from side to side in every direction to see where I had gone, very anxious and shifty. I was equally anxious but immovable

Presently he drew nearer to the ladder and, strangely enough, I felt safer when he came below me, and he passed almost under me, looking in at the doorways of the unfinished building. Then he doubtfully turned and looked back at a shed behind him, thinking I might have gone in there, and finally started off, and ran on round the next corner of the building. The moment he disappeared I finished the rest of my run up the ladder and safely reached the platform of the scaffolding.

The workmen were not yet upon the building, so I had the whole place to myself. My first act was to look for another ladder as a line of escape in case of being chased. It is always well to have a back door to your hiding place that is one of the essentials in scouting.

Presently I found a short ladder leading from my platform to the stage below, but it did not go to the ground. Peering quietly over the scaffolding, I saw my friend the policeman below, still at fault. I blessed my stars that he was no tracker, and therefore had not seen my footmarks leading to the foot of the, ladder.

Then I proceeded to take note of my surroundings and to gather information. Judging from the design of the building, its great chimneys, etc., I was actually on the new power-house. From my post I had an excellent view over the dockyard, and within 100 feet of me were the excavation works of the new dock, whose dimensions I could easily estimate.

I whipped out my prismatic compass and quickly took the bearings of two conspicuous points on the neighbouring hills, and so fixed the position which could be marked on a large scale map for purposes of shelling the place, if desired.

Meantime my pursuer had called the other policeman to him, and they were in close confabulation immediately below me, where I could watch them through a crack between two of the foot-boards. They had evidently come to the conclusion that I was not in the power-house as the interior was fully open to view, and they had had a good look into it. Their next step was to examine the goods shed close by, which was evidently full of building lumber, etc.

One man went into it while the other remained outside on the line that I should probably take for escaping, that is, between it and the boundary wall leading to the gateway. By accident rather than by design he stood close to the foot of my ladder, and thus cut off my retreat in that direction. While they were thus busy they were leaving the gate unguarded, and I thought it was too good a chance to be missed, so, returning along the scaffolding until I reached the small ladder, I climbed down this on to the lower story, and, seeing no one about, I quickly swarmed down one of the scaffolding poles and landed safely on the ground close behind the big chimney of the building.

Here I was out of sight, although not far from the policeman guarding the ladder; and, taking care to keep the corner of the building between us, I made my way round to the back of the lodge, and then slipped out of the gate without being seen.


I was once in a country where the mountain troops on their frontier were said to be of a wonderfully, efficient kind, but nobody knew much about their organisation or equipment or their methods of working, so I was sent to see if I could find out anything about them. I got in amongst the mountains at the time when their annual maneuvers were going on, and I found numbers of troops quartered in the valleys and billeted in all the villages. But these all appeared to be the ordinary type of troops, infantry, artillery of the line, etc. The artillery were provided with sledges by which the men could pull the guns up the mountain sides with ropes, and the infantry were supplied with alpenstocks to help them in getting over the bad ground. For some days I watched the maneuvers but saw nothing very striking to report.

Then one evening in passing through a village where they were billeted I saw a new kind of soldier coming along with three pack mules. He evidently belonged to those mountain forces of which, so far, I had seen nothing. I got into conversation with him, and found that he had come down from the higher ranges in order to get supplies for his company which was high up among the snow peaks, and entirely out of reach of the troops maneuvering on the lower slopes.

He incidentally told me that the force to which he belonged was a very large one, composed of artillery and infantry, and that they were searching amongst the glaciers and the snows for another force which was coming as an enemy against them, and they hoped to come into contact with them probably the very. next day. He then roughly indicated to me the position in which his own force was bivouacking that night, on the side of a high peak called the "Wolf’s Tooth."

By condoling with him on the difficult job he would have to get through, and suggesting impossible roads by which he could climb, he eventually let out to me exactly the line which the path took, and I recognised that it would be possible to arrive there during the night without being seen.

So after dark, when the innkeeper thought I was safely in bed, I quietly made my way up the mountain side to where the "Wolfs Tooth " stood up against the starry sky as a splendid landmark to guide me. There was no difficulty in passing through the village with its groups of soldiers strolling -about off duty, but on the roads leading out of it many sentries were posted, and I feared that they would scarcely let me pass without inquiring as to who I was and where I was going.

So I spent a considerable time in trying to evade these, and was at last fortunate in discovering a storm drain leading between high walls up a steep bank into an orchard, through which I was able to slip away unseen by the sentries guarding the front of the village. I climbed up by such paths and goat tracks as I could find leading in the direction desired. I failed to strike the mule path indicated by my friend the driver, but with the peak of the Wolfs Tooth outlined above me against the stars, I felt that I could not go far wrong -and so it proved in the event.

It was a long and arduous climb, but just as dawn began to light up the eastern sky I found myself safely on the crest, and the twinkling of the numerous camp fires showed me where the force was bivouacked which I had come to see.

As the daylight came on the troops began to get on the move, and, after early coffee, were beginning to spread themselves about the mountain side, taking up positions ready for attack or defence, so as it grew lighter I hastened to find for myself a comfortable little knoll, from which I hoped to be able to see all that went on without myself being seen; and for a time all went particularly well.

Troops deployed themselves in every direction. Look-out men with telescopes were posted to spy on the neighbouring hills, and I could see where the headquarters staff were gathered together to discuss the situation. Gradually they came nearer to the position I myself was occupying, and divided themselves into two parties; the one with the general remained standing where they were, while the other came in the direction of the mound on which I was lying.

Then to my horror some of them began to ascend my stronghold.

I at once stood up and made no further efforts at concealment, but got out my sketch book and started to make a drawing of " Dawn Among the Mountains." I was very soon noticed, and one or two officers walked over to me and entered into conversation, evidently anxious to find out who I was and what was my business there.

My motto is that a smile and a stick will carry you through any difficulty; the stick was obviously not politic on this occasion; I therefore put on a double extra smile and showed them my sketch book, explaining that the. one ambition of my life was to make a drawing of the Wolfs Tooth by sunrise.

They expressed a respectful interest, and then explained that their object in being there was to make an attack from the Wolfs Tooth on the neighbouring mountain, provided that the enemy were actually in possession of it. I on my part showed a mild but tactful interest in their proceedings.

The less interest I showed, the more keen they seemed to be to explain matters to me, until eventually I had the whole of their scheme exposed before me, illustrated by their own sketch maps of the district, which were far more detailed and complete than anything of the kind I had seen before.

In a short time we were on the best of terms; they had coffee going which they shared with me, while I distributed my cigarettes and chocolates amongst them. They expressed surprise at my having climbed up there at that early hour, but were quite satisfied when I explained that I came from Wales, and at once jumped to the conclusion that I was a Highlander, and asked whether I wore a kilt when I was at home.

In the middle of our exchange of civilities the alarm was given that the enemy was in sight, and presently we saw through our glasses long strings of men coming from all directions towards us over the snows. Between us and the enemy lay a vast and deep ravine with almost perpendicular sides, traversed here and there by zig-zaging goat tracks.

Officers were called together, the tactics of the fight were described to them, and in a few minutes the battalion and company commanders were scattered about studying with their glasses the opposite mountain, each, as they explained to me at the time, picking out for himself and for his men a line for ascending to the attack.

Then the word was given for the advance, and the infantry went off in long strings of men armed with alpenstocks and ropes. Ropes were used for lowering each other down bad places, and for stringing the men together when they got on to the snows to save them from falling into crevasses, etc. But the exciting point of the day was when the artillery proceeded to move down into the ravine; the guns were all carried in sections on the backs of mules, as well as their ammunition and spare parts.

In a few minutes tripods were erected, the mules were put into slings, guns and animals were then lowered one by one into the depths below until landed on practicable ground. Here they were loaded up again and got into their strings for climbing up the opposite mountains, and in an incredibly short space of time both mules and infantry were to be seen, like little lines of ants, climbing by all the available tracks which could be found leading towards the ice fields above.

The actual results of the field day no longer interested me; I had seen what I had come for-the special troops, their guns, their supply and hospital arrangements, their methods of moving in this apparently impassable country, and their maps and ways of signalling.

All was novel, all was practical. For example, on looking at one of the maps shown to me, I remarked that I should have rather expected to find on it every goat track marked, but the officer replied that there was no need for that; every one of his men was born in this valley, and knew every goat track over the mountain. Also a goat track did not remain for more than a few weeks, or at most a few months, owing to landslips and washouts; they are continually being altered, and to mark them on a map would lead to confusion.


My mountain climbing came into use on another occasion of a somewhat similar kind. A map had been sent me by my superiors of a mountainous district in which it had been stated that three forts had recently been built. It was only known generally what was the situation of these forts, and no details had .been secured as to their size or armament.

On arriving at the only town in the neighbourhood, my first few days were spent strolling about looking generally at the mountains amongst which the forts were supposed to be. I had meantime made the acquaintance through my innkeeper of one or two local sportsmen of the place, and I inquired among them as to the possibilities of partridge or other shooting among the mountains when the season came on.

I told them that I enjoyed camping out for a few days at a time in such country for sketching and shooting purposes. I asked as to the possibilities of hiring tents and mules to carry them, and a good muleteer was recommended to me, who knew the whole of the countryside, and could tell me all the likely spots that there were for camping grounds.

Eventually I engaged him to take me for a day or two in exploring the neighbourhood, with a view to fixing on camping grounds and seeing the view. We went for a considerable distance along a splendid high road which led up into the mountains. As we got into the high parts he suggested that we should leave the road and clamber down into the ravine, along which we could go for some distance and then reascend and rejoin the road higher up.

He then explained that this was a military road, and that It would be desirable to leave it for a space In order to avoid the guard-house upon it, where a sentry was posted with orders to allow no one beyond that point.

We successfully evaded the guard-house according to his direction, and eventually found ourselves on the road again, in a position well up towards the top of the ridge but on our left as we progressed up the road was a steep minor ridge which we presently proceeded to ascend.

When we were near the top he said to me with a knowing grin:

"Now if you look over there, you will see before you exactly what you want."

And as I looked over I found below me one of the new forts. It was exactly what I wanted to see spread before my eyes like a map. I simply had to take a bird’s-eye view of it to get its complete plan.

Beyond it on another ridge lay another fort, and almost behind me I could see part of the third, while beyond and above were still more forts up on the heights. I had got into a regular nest of them. My position on the ridge gave me a splendid view Of mountains and referring to them I said

"Yes, indeed, you have brought Me to exactly the right spot."

But he grinned again maliciously, pointing down to the fort, and said:

"Yes, but that is the best view of all, I think."

He seemed to grasp my intentions most fully. Far below the forts lay the straits which they were designed to protect for the vessels steaming through them. I started at once to make a sketch of the panorama, carefully omitting that ground where the forts lay, partly in order to disarm my friend’s suspicions, and partly to protect me in the event of my arrest.

Presently my companion volunteered to go down to the fort and bring up his brother, who, he said, was a gunner stationed there, and could give me every detail that I could wish about their guns, etc.

This sounded almost too good to be true, but with the greatest indifference I said I should be glad to see him, and off went my friend. The moment that he was out of sight I took care to move off into a neighbouring kopje where I could hide myself in case of his bringing up a force of men to capture me.

From here I was able to make a pretty accurate sketch of the fort and its gun emplacements on the inside of the lining of my hat, and when I had replaced this I went on as hurriedly as possible with my sketch to show that I had been fully occupied during the guide’s absence.

Presently I saw him returning, but as he was only accompanied by one other man, I crept down again to my original position and received them smiling.

The gunner was most communicative, and told me all about his guns and their sizes and what were their powers as regards range and accuracy. He told me that once a year an old vessel that was about to be broken up was towed along behind a steamer down the straits to afford a target to the defence forts as she passed on. He said regretfully:

"We are number three fort, and so far, no vessel has ever successfully passed one and two-they always get sunk, before they reach us" — and he gave me the exact range and the number of rounds fired, which showed that their shooting was pretty good.

Many other details I found out as to the number of the men, their feeding and hospital arrangements; and a few days later I was able to take myself home with a good stock of valuable information and the good wishes and hopes of my various friends that I some day would return to shoot the partridges. But I am certain that one man was not taken in by my professions, either as an artist or as a sportsman, and that was the muleteer.

Table of Contents

link-spy2.jpg (1947 bytes) Part One. Introduction—The Different Degrees of Spies—Strategical Agents—Tactical Agents—Residential Spies—Officer Agents—Commercial Spying—Germany’s Invasion Plans—Field Spies—Catching a Spy.
link-spy2.jpg (1947 bytes) Part Two. Conveying Information—Secret Signals and Warnings—Spies in War Time—The Pluck of a Spy—Traitorous Spying—The German Spy Organization—The Value of Being Stupid—Concealing a Fort in a Moth’s Head—Butterfly Hunting in Dalmatia.
link-spy2.jpg (1947 bytes) Part Three. How Spies Disguise Themselves—The Sport of Spying—The Value of Hide-and-Seek—Spying on Mountain Troops—Posing as an Artist.
link-spy2.jpg (1947 bytes) Part Four. Fooling a German Sentry—A Spy is Suspicious—Hoodwinking a Turkish Sentry—Tea and a Turk—Sore Feet—Austrian Officers—An Interesting Task.
link-spy2.jpg (1947 bytes) Part Five. An Interesting Task—Encounter with the Police—Success with the Balloon—How to Enter a Fort—How We Got the Secret Light—How the Big River was Swum—Caught at Last—The Escape—Conclusion.
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