Digby Hardy (J L or J H Gooding)
1920 Aug 12. A convicted forger serving a 5 year sentence in a London prison, one F. Digby Hardy, offered his services as a spy. Hardy was to travel to Ireland and establish contact with the IIS.
Hardy's letter, however, had been intercepted and transmitted to IIS Headquarters, where Irish operatives began to amass a dossier of incriminating information concerning Hardy's past. Collins actually got a copy of the letter Gooding wrote offering his services.
1920 Sep 20. Collins permitted Hardy to make contact with the IIS, and shortly there after arranged what Hardy had been led to believe was a conference with IIS officers. Those present were in fact American and British journalists anticipating the scoop that Hardy was shortly to provide. During this meeting the leaders of the IIS confronted Hardy with his criminal past, and his mission to penetrate the IIS. When Hardy learned the true identity and purpose of his host, he made a full confession, hoping thereby to obtain leniency from his inquisitors. Because of Hardy's cooperation, the IIS spared his life and gave him until the next morning to be out of Ireland. The story made international news headlines, and the BIS suffered a humiliating reversal before world opinion.
Beaslai of the IRA has in his papers a number of "F D Hardy's" papers from 1918 to 1920
- Confession by J.H. Gooding alias F. Harling befoe Mr Justice
Gordon at Ulster Winter Assizes. Belfast. December 1918.
- Release licence of Frank Harling, alias Hardy, alias Saville.
- Letter from C.R. [surname illegible], Leysian Mission, London, to
Brigadier Linane, asking him to help find a job for the bearer of the
letter, 22 Aug. 1919.
- Police notice ordering Frank Harling to report monthly to a police
station, 11 Sept. 1919.
- Letter in Béaslaí’s handwriting, signed in the name of F. Harper Shore,
to Hardy, referring to the situation in Dublin and his expenses,
2 Mar. 1920.
- Note stating, ‘This was addressed to Captain Hardy DCM MC, Room
235, War Office, Whitehall, London, England’, 4 Mar. 1920.
- Letter from Lt Commander Kenworthy, London, to Mr Hardy, asking
him to give ‘the addresses of the houses where the arms were
concealed and the exact date on which you informed the Irish Office of
this location’, 24 June 1920.
- Letter from the Asst Private Secretary, Vice Regal Lodge, Dublin, to
F.D. Hardy, stating that his case will be forwarded for consideration,
12 July 1920.
- Letter from the Dean of Westminster to F.D. Hardy concerning his
application for a vacancy on the staff of Westminster Abbey,
28 July 1920.
- A testimonial for F.D. Hardy from the Christian Herald Co., London.
- F.D. Hardy’s account with Buckley and Cook, London.
- Letter from F.D. Hardy to the Manager, Lloyd’s Bank, London,
requesting cash for a cheque, 20 Aug. 1920.
- Telegram from H. Wark, Belfast to F.D. Hardy, concerning
arrangements to meet, 25 Aug. 1920.
- Personal letters and a telegram to F.D. Hardy from his wife, Annie,
28 Aug.-15 Sept. 1920.
- Telegram to F.D. Hardy, stating ‘Second letter not received. Are you
remaining there or coming over. Leaving for London Tuesday’,
2 Sept. 1920.
- Letter from Phillips, manager, Lloyd’s Bank, London, enclosing cash
in exchange for a cheque, 11 Sept. 1920.
- Summary of the contents of Hardy’s bag. See note in pencil on back of
- Hardy’s account with the Kensington Hotel.
- 2 empty envelopes addressed to F.D. Hardy, 17 Farmers Road,
Kennington Park, [London].