How an Australian Took the Nazis for a Ride.
Sidney Cotton was a superb pilot, a talented inventor, a businessman who was decidedly shady - and a spy.
Born and brought up in Queensland, he served with the RAF in World War I. Over the next twenty years he did everything from delivering mail in Newfoundland and selling colour photography techniques to Kodak, to playing the stockmarket and entering the world of aerial reconnaissance . . .
He was recruited by MI6 to fly over Germany and Italy, taking photos of sensitive military sites (always using the very best German cameras). He posed as a businessman, and in that guise met Goering, and other high-ranking Nazis. It was on the last of these flights that he was taking off from Berlin as war was being declared . . .
For a time he had the direct support of Churchill, but lost support when he accepted money to fly a businessman out of France when Paris fell.
When the war ended, he made a fortune running guns to India after partition and then lost it in a decade of high-living and oil exploration in Saudi Arabia. To the end he remained a colourful, enigmatic figure - the classic lone figure in a world of intrigue and chaos.