Walsworth-Bell, Ian Archibald and Gowland, Nigel

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

File entitled "Nigerian Digest" comprising papers concerning Walsworth-Bell's appointment to the International Observer Team in February 1969 to his dismissal in the following September; papers concerning a proposed article in The Sunday Times about W-B’s involvement in Nigeria, Jan 1970; file containing resumé of proposed book by W-B and Nigel Gowland with supporting material; papers concerning the immediate aftermath of the Biafran war and the effect on the civilian population; papers concerning W-B's claim for unemployment benefit and his successful appeal against the decision of a local tribunal; presscuttings re the Biafran conflict Jan-Feb 1969 and 1970 to 1971, including coverage of the trial of Jonathan Aitken for offences under the Official Secrets Act; extracts from The Spectator covering the conflict in Nigeria from September 1968 to January 1970.

Administrative / Biographical History

Ian Archibald Walsworth-Bell (W-B) was born on the 28th December 1921. He joined the Indian Army in 1940 and transferred to the Seaforth Highlanders in 1946. He retired from the army in 1964. He then became Chief Administrator of the Zambia Training Service for about eighteen months. From 1966 to 1969 he was an administrator in Hoechst UK.

In February 1969 he was invited by Maurice Foley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, to join an International Observer Team set up in Sept 1968, to observe the conflict in Nigeria between the Federal forces and Ibo secessionists. In addition to work on the IOT Walsworth-Bell was asked to collect military intelligence in Nigeria to pass back to Britain and to act as an unofficial military adviser to the Federal forces. The British High Commissioner in Nigeria took exception to Walsworth-Bell acting outside his official brief but Walsworth-Bell continued to liase with the Nigerian military forces and to collect and send back military intelligence. In September 1969 he was dismissed for acting “in a manner inconsistent with his status as an international observer.” Walsworth-Bell subsequently claimed unemployment benefit to cover the period immediately after his dismissal but lost his case. However, an Appeal Tribunal held in 1971 found in his favour. Walsworth-Bell sought to publicise the affair in the months and years following the Nigerian Civil War. Together with Nigel Gowland he put together a synopsis for a book and drafted a number of articles.

Conditions Governing Access

Unrestricted.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Nigel Gowland in 1999.

Other Finding Aids

This description constitutes the only finding aid at present.

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Rosemary Seton, Archivist, SOAS.

Conditions Governing Use

No publication without prior written permission. Apply in SOAS Archives in first instance.

Related Material

SOAS Library contains a number of collection relating to the Nigerian Civil War:MS 380252 comprising press cuttings, articles and papers relating to Biafra, 1968-1971; files of the Committee for Peace in Nigeria (Ref. MCF/CPN); and the Nigerian Civil War Collection (Ref.MS 321463).

Geographical Names