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Jocelyn Lee Hardy
File:Jocelyn Lee Hardy 1918.jpeg
Born (1894-06-10)June 10, 1894
Died 30 May 1958(1958-05-30) (aged 63)
Place of birth Kensington, London, England, UK
Place of death Hammersmith, London, England, UK
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Unit Connaught Rangers
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Auxiliary Division, Royal Irish Constabulary (attached from military intelligence)
Home Guard
Battles/wars World War I
Anglo-Irish War
World War II
Awards Distinguished Service Order
Military Cross and Bar
Mention in Dispatches
Other work Author

Major Jocelyn Lee Hardy DSO, MC with Bar (10 June 1894 – 30 May 1958), was a British Army officer famed for his courage on the battlefield and repeated escapes from German prisoner of war camps during the First World War. Between 1920 and 1922 he served as an intelligence officer in Dublin during the counter-insurgency campaign against the IRA and afterwards retired from the army to become a successful writer. His nickname, "Hoppy", stemmed from the loss of a leg in combat during the final months of World War One. Fitted with an artificial prosthesis, he trained himself to disguise the fact, by walking at a very quick pace, almost completely disguising the notion that he had a wooden leg, but earning him the sobriquet 'Hoppy'.

Early lifeEdit

Jocelyn Lee Hardy was born 10 June 1894 in Kensington, London to Howard and Katherine Hardy. His father was a wool merchant from County Down, which may be why Jocelyn Hardy later joined the Connaught Rangers, gaining his commission and joining the 2nd battalion at Aldershot in January 1914.[1]

First World WarEdit

Hardy first saw action on 24 August 1914 when his unit acted as a rearguard to cover the retirement of the 5th Infantry Brigade in action at Le Grand Fayt, France. By 26 August, Hardy and a group of 19 men led by a Captain Roche found themselves cut off and took shelter in a house being used as a makeshift hospital in the village of Maroilles. During the night a large force of Germans entered the town, and the next day Hardy’s group were discovered and taken prisoner, among 286 men listed as ‘missing’ in the action.[1]

Prisoner of WarEdit

On 21 September 1918 Hardy was promoted to Lieutenant whilst a prisoner of war. He made twelve escape attempts from POW camps succeeding in actually escaping on 5 separate occasions. In early 1915 he attempted to escape from Halle Camp, near Leipzig, by breaking through a brick wall into an adjacent ammunition factory. After 5 months work the project proved impracticable. In the summer of 1915 he was transferred to Augustabad Camp, near Neu Brandenburg, and after being there 10 days he managed to slip away from a bathing party outside the camp, together with a Russian officer. After a difficult journey they covered the 50 miles to the Baltic coast. They swam a river, were nearly recaptured once, but eventually reached Stralsund. They nearly managed to get the crew of a Swedish schooner there to give them passage, but were arrested at the last moment. Hardy was returned to Halle, and joined an unsuccessful attempt with a group of Russian officers to break down a wall. He then made a solo escape attempt by picking locks and breaking through a skylight before sliding down a rope onto the street. From here he slipped into the rain and darkness. He spoke enough German to make his way by train to Bremen. Here, broken down by cold and hunger, the Germans recaptured him.[2][3]

He was then transferred to Magdeburg, where he escaped with a Belgian officer using "subterfuge, audacity and good fortune". They reached Berlin by train, and went on to Stralsund. From there they crossed to the island of Rugen, but were arrested before they could find a fishing boat to take them to Sweden. His next prisoner of war camp was Fort Zorndorf, from where escape was virtually impossible. Nevertheless he made several attempts, and one nearly succeeded when, with two others, he almost got out disguised as a German soldier. And on another occasion he managed to break away from his guards while being marched to the kommandatura, and got as far as the train before being recaptured.

On 1 January 1917 Hardy was promoted to the rank of Captain. There were another 9 months in this camp, before he was transferred to Schweidnitz in Silesia. Within a short period of his arrival he broke out with Captain Willie Loder-Symonds, Wiltshire Regiment. Carrying forged police passes, they climbed a wire fence, scaled a glass topped wall, and caught a train. They were able to travel across Germany via Dresden, Leipzig, Cologne and Aachen. Then by tram to Richtericht, and reached the safety of Holland within 2 days of getting out of Schweidnitz. A fellow prisoner wrote of this escape:

"Hardy, had, together with another officer, just escaped over the frontier. They were in a camp in Silicia, [sic] and had travelled over five hundred miles through Germany. After escaping, in some civilian clothes, which they had managed to get into the camp, they walked to a nearby railway station, and Hardy, having learned to speak German fluently since his captivity, bought a ticket at the railway station for Berlin. The first part of their journey was uneventful, but after leaving Berlin, they were asked for their passports, and Hardy, who had helped us to make the passports at Fort Zorndorff, and had made for himself and his comrade passports, had an anxious moment while the official was examining it. But after turning the passport over several times, the official was satisfied, and gave it back, and they were safe again for the time being. A little later, however, Hardy's comrade was taken very ill, no doubt from the effects of his long imprisonment, and for some time it looked as if the people in the carriage would notice something wrong, as unfortunately he could not speak any German. At several other places along the line they had to leave the carriage, and in some cases had to change trains to get away from one or other who had become too inquisitive. In the end they arrived at Aachen, when again their passport was examined, and as before, the officials were evidently satisfied that it was bona fide, and let them pass. After leaving the station at Aachen, they boldly walked through the town, and hiding themselves in a forest near the frontier, they managed to crawl into Holland during the night. Nobody was more pleased than myself to hear of Hardy's escape, as he had made many attempts, and certainly deserved to succeed."

On 5 March 1918, Hardy boarded at boat at Rotterdam after 3 1/2 years as a Prisoner of War. The boat sailed a week later and Hardy returned to England where he was received by King George the Fifth at Buckingham Palace on 18 March. Captain Loder-Symonds of the Wiltshire Regiment was killed in a flying accident a short time later as he joined the RFC on his return to England.[4]

Later War ServiceEdit

In April 1918 Hardy transferred to the 2nd Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers. On the 1st of August 1918 he was awarded the Military Cross on the Ypres front for leading a fighting patrol which engaged a group of enemy soldiers, killing one and causing the rest to flee. Hardy then used rapid fire to silence one of two German machine guns firing on the patrol before he was wounded by a grenade. Hardy ordered the rest of the patrol to retreat back to their lines whilst he remained to drag his badly wounded Sergeant back 200 yards to safety. In the wording for his decoration it declared “Throughout the operation he set a splendid example to his men, and also obtained valuable information as to the enemy's dispositions”.[2][5] On 2 October 1918, Hardy led a counter attack near Dadizeele, during which he was shot in the stomach and received such severe wounds to his leg that it had to be amputated. He was evacuated back to England and was still in hospital when the war ended a short time later. He was fitted with an artificial limb and his resulting rapid manner of walking to disguise this earned him the nickname "Hoppy".[2][6]


On 1 November 1919, Hardy married Kathleen Isabel Hutton-Potts in London. On 30 January 1920, Hardy was awarded a bar to his Military Cross, and the Distinguished Service Order "in recognition of gallant conduct and determination displayed in escaping or attempting to escape from captivity".[1]

Anglo-Irish WarEdit

From April 1920 Hardy ceased to be employed by the Military Intelligence Directorate due to "ill health caused by wounds". He was posted to 'F' Company of the Auxiliary Division Royal Irish Constabulary (ADRIC), seconded as an Intelligence officer based at Dublin Castle, retaining his Connaught Rangers uniform. He later stated that he worked for Scotland Yard which was the recruiting centre for ADRIC and to whom the information he gathered was relayed for analysis. Despite his wounds Hardy was to lead raids on various IRA locations including Vaughn's Hotel in what is now known as Parnell Square. His main role however was interrogating prisoners in Dublin Castle who had been captured with weapons or seditious documents of any importance. Hardy had experienced several such interrogations himself as an escaped prisoner of war and he was often aided by his colleague, Captain William Lorraine King, MC. On 10 June 1920, Hardy was awarded a Mention in Dispatches.[2][7]

Hardy became a hated figure for the IRA who regularly accused him of brutality whilst interrogating prisoners, dubbing the cells "The Knocking Shop" and alleging he tricked suspects into providing information by using a revolver loaded with blanks to stage fake executions or threatening to burn them with a hot poker.[8]

On one occasion Hardy was shadowed on a visit to England but evaded his assassin at Euston Station by quickly transferring from his train to a waiting taxi before he could be ambushed. On another occasion a group of assassins were waiting for him on the dockside on his return to Ireland but aborted their attempt when an armoured car arrived to pick him up. Hardy was a target in the IRA's attempt to destroy British intelligence in Ireland by drawing up a list of intelligence agents to be assassinated in the morning hours of 21 November 1920, resulting in 13 deaths. This would come to be known as "Bloody Sunday". Hardy escaped death as he was not at his residence when would-be assassins arrived. The previous evening Hardy had taken part in a series of raids that led to the capture of prominent republicans Dick McKee and Peadar Clancy, who had done much of the planning around "Bloody Sunday". Hardy later prevented Clancy escaping by slipping into a group of prisoners being transferred out of Dublin Castle [2] and both prisoners were later killed in disputed circumstances by the Auxillaries guarding them. Between 13 and 15 February 1921, Captain William L King would be tried by court martial and cleared of the allegation of the extrajudicial killing of two other IRA members in what would become known as the "Drumcondra Affair". Dublin Castle's Under Secretary Sir Alfred Cope later speculated that Hardy may have influenced other witnesses in the inquiry.[1]


In November 1922, Hardy was placed on the army half-pay list and in April 1925 he retired from the army on account of ill-health caused by his wounds. He worked for Lloyds Bank in Pall Mall, London and later went into full-time book writing and farming, at Washpit Farm near King's Lynn, Norfolk. His publications were often based on his own true life adventures and included:

  • I'Escape!, 1927; the true story of Hardy’s numerous escapes from German prisoner of war camps during the First World War with a foreword by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.[4]
  • Everything is Thunder; the story of an escaped POW aided by a German woman to return to allied lines.
  • The Stroke of Eight, 1938
  • Pawn in the Game, 1939


Two of his works were made into films. One of these was The Key, dealing with a love triangle between military officers during the Irish conflict. As a play it opened at the St Martin's Theatre London on 6 September 1933 and a film version was made in 1934. It would be re-released in the U.S. in 1960 as High Peril.

Everything is Thunder (1936) was made with an all-star cast was on the P.O.W. theme, with an amorous P.O.W. officer's romance with a German woman, and her helping him return to allied lines. It received favourable reviews and well-received in Germany at a time when overtures to the Nazis was acceptable in Great Britain. The film disappeared from circulation at the onset of World War II.


In the 1930s Hardy became a supporter of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists (BUF) as did Sir Ormonde Winter, the head of British Intelligence in Dublin Castle. In March 1934, he addressed the King's Lynn BUF, recounting his wartime experiences.[9]

Later lifeEdit

As well as his literary accomplishments Hardy would establish a reputation as a polo player and a Rolls Royce enthusiast. In 1937 he would take a round the world trip on the liner SS Rawalpindi along with his wife Kathleen Hardy and children William and Winifred, obstensibly as a holiday but including visits to the strategic Japanese ports of Kobe and Yokohama on the eve of World War II. According to War Office records during the Second World War Major Hardy commanded an anti-aircraft battery, possibly as a member of the Home Guard due to his injuries. He was also a frequent attender of Connaught Ranger reunion dinners and is shown as living in Kensington, London in the 1950s. [2][10]


Hardy died of natural causes 30 May 1958 in Hammersmith, London. He was buried on 5 June at Wells Church, Norfolk leaving an estate of £57,000, on which £19,000 death duty taxes were paid. In the foreword for Hardy’s autobiography I’Escape!, Conan Doyle pays tribute to Hardy, stating that a "more gallant gentleman never lived."[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Hardy profile at
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5
  3. I Escape by Major Jocelyn Hardy
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Excerpt from I Escape, written by Capt. J L Hardy
  5. London Gazette 15th October 1918
  6. Michael Collins Intelligence War by Michael T Foy page 114
  7. London Gazette 10th June 1920
  8. Michael Collins Intelligence War by Michael T Foy pages 114-116
  9. Barley and Peace: The British Union of Fascists in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, 1938-1940
  10. The Times Obituaries 5th June 1958

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