A milkman on his way to make a delivery early one morning in January 1941 chanced upon a car with its headlights on in a ditch near the Nairobi-Ngong road, setting in motion one of the most thrilling unsolved crimes in modern history. In the passenger foot well of the Buick lay a man, an important man.
#7 Almost every aristocratic husband in Nairobi
The dead man was Josslyn Hay, the dashing 22nd Earl of Errol who had juggled cuckolding husbands with representing Kiambu in the LegCo and serving as the colony’s military secretary.
Before he got his war positions, Lord Errol had perfected the art of ensnaring rich married women and jostling between at least three women at a time. Cuckolded husbands could do jack, it seemed, and he knew it because his motto was To Hell with Husbands. It was a single gunshot to the head that had ended the rich life of this poor multitasker. A simple murder, or so it seemed at first.
There were strange white marks on the back seat and some powder on his corpse. Other than that and the bullet inside his brain, there was no other physical evidence to piece this murder together. It appeared the unknown assailant had flagged down the Earl at 3 am that fateful January morning. He or she might have been in the car all along.
To most male members of the aristocracy, Lord Errol was an appalling pile of shit who needed to die. The Earl had gotten a proper asswhooping outside the Nairobi train station in 1930 from the then husband of his last wife, Molly Ramsay-Hill. Molly, who died of a drug overdose a few years before her philandering husband was murdered, was the former wife of Hollywood actor and soldier Ramsay-Hill. It was for her that he, Ramsay-Hill, had accosted the tall Earl and given him the ass-whooping of a century outside the Nairobi Railway Station. He had then written a nasty letter to Errol telling him You have the bitch now buy her the kennel.
While he chose to bring out his anger in a beating and a subsequent divorce, other husbands may have decided to simply execute Errol to solve the problem for their peers. It was a double standard given the sense of generosity of spouses that defined the Happy Valley set.
#6 Gwladys DelamereThis theory is far-fetched but not entirely implausible. Gwladys was known to be in love with Erroll who had no time for old wives except, of course his former wife Molly whom he had driven to her self-destruction. Gwladys might not have pulled the trigger but she could have played a part, albeit indirectly, in his slaying.
Gwladys never became a Molly in Errol’s life. She was rich and married, just like Josslyn Hay liked them, but he never seemed to be enthralled by her. A few weeks before the murder, Broughton had received mysterious letters said to have been written by Gwladys. The curious notes taunted the man about his apparent helplessness as Errol made away with his young gorgeous wife. The letters were suspected to have been penned by Gwladys. She was a connecting point to all the people in the Happy Valley set and the murder.
Gwladys died three years after the trial. Her hostility to Jock Broughton was apparent during the trial but how exactly she was involved has never been properly investigated.
#5 Diana BroughtonAn unlikely theory has it that it is Diana herself who pulled the trigger. She was the last person to see him alive and had the opportunity to shoot her lover. Whether she had the motive is the matter of contention. The leading conspiracy theory is that Joss refused to marry her that night and killing him was her way of making sure he did not leave her for someone else.
At the trial, Broughton’s lawyer theorised that the job of killing Errol must have been done by two people. He implied that Diana and her friend, June Carberry had done the deed knowing suspicion would fall on Broughton. This theory was forwarded by Leda Farrant in Diana Lady Delamere and the Lord Erroll Murder (1993). In the book, Farrant suggests that Diana was having a lesbian relationship with her friend June Carberry.
After she divorced Broughton, she married the shy Gilbert Covile who bought her Djin Palace, once Erroll’s home with his second wife, Molly Ramsay-Hill. Diana and Covile divorced in 1955 and she married Tom Delamere. The last marriage, Farrant implies, was actually a three-way relationship. Lady Delamere died in 1987 at the age of 76 with the secrets of the murder intact. June had died in 1975 an alcoholic and left most of her money to her hairdresser and dogs’ home.
The theory that Diana did it is also not entirely implausible. She was a nymphomaniac who had embarked on an affair with a fellow passenger while en route from Dublin to Mombasa. She shot three of her subsequent lovers after Erroll, hitting one of them in the balls.
Leda Farrant claims that Diana must have been helped by a close family friend, Hugh Dickinson, whose alibi during cross-examination was that he had been in Mombasa with a poisoned foot. Hugh Dickinson’s role in the murder is often mentioned as an accomplice. He was said to have been involved in several insurance frauds with Delves in England, and supposedly took him a syringe and morphine during the trial in case the verdict went against him. His role would explain the major objection of Delves night blindness and his limp as they would not have mattered at the time.
#4 Sir Henry Jock Delves Broughton
He was the first and most obvious suspect after the murder. It was his young dashing wife, Diana that the serial Lothario was dropping off home on the night he was murdered. He had clear motive, arguably so, and more than enough opportunity to murder the Earl.
Broughton was dragged to a court that same year and charged with first degree murder. His guilt seemed obvious at first but then his counsel, the prominent South African lawyer, H. H Morris never took on a case he knew he would lose. He had a winning hand, he kept saying during the proceedings, something so simple I almost mistrust it. It was the ballistics, he later revealed, the gun that had fired the fatal?bullet could not have come from Broughtons (stolen) gun. Morris left even before the jury deliberations ended, he knew he had floored the little evidence the prosecution had.
The not guilty verdict was not a vindication of his innocence. There was the curious fact that the jury foreman was his barber. The prosecution contended that he had climbed down the drain pipe and hidden in Lord Errols car while the home-breaker bid his wife goodbye. He might also have walked the two and a half miles to the murder scene. He had knocked on Mrs. Carberrys house at 3.30am to ask whether she wanted anything. The next day, he made a big bonfire after where he burnt some articles of clothing thought to have been the bloody clothes of his dirty deed.
New evidence further suggests that he slipped into the back of the Buick while Erroll was bidding Diana farewell. After doing the dirty deed, he was picked by another car, driven by a Dr. Athan Philip, a doctor from Bulgaria who was Delves neighbour and was heavily in debt. A few days later, Broughton made the journey to visit the Carberrys in Nyeri, and is thought to have stopped over a bridge in Thika to toss the murder weapon into the raging river below. The gun has never been found.
This theory was forwarded most prominently by James Fox in his famous book,?White Mischief?(1982). It was supported by Child of Happy Valley, written by Juanita Carberry who knew Delves personally and claims that he confessed to the murder three days after the murder when he got to Nyeri.
Broughton told me, on the way to the stables, that the police were following him, recalls Carberry. I was a kid and I said, Oh, why? and he said, They think I killed Joss. I said, Oh, well, and then, for some reason known only to himself, he said, Well I did, actually. He told me, but he didn’t, like some of these media people say, confess to me. He was merely chatting away about it.
#3 MI6, Operation Highland ClearanceThere were indeed to sets of tracks in the crime scene but the preceding theory suggests they belonged to a car owned by Broughton’s neighbor. Another theory suggests the getaway car belonged to a hit squad, an MI6 hit squad doing Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s bidding.
This theory was forwarded by the coincidentally named Errol Trzebinski in her bookThe Life and Death of Lord Erroll. Trzebinski bases her claims on the Sallyport papers compiled by Tony Trafford, an intelligence officer. The material bore the testimony of a former naval commander called Edmund who had personal knowledge of how Hay died. Edmund claimed that he was assassinated by the Special Operations Executive because he was a fascist sympathiser in possession of certain unspecified information critical to the war effort. In this theory, Jock and Diana Broughton were MI-6 assets who came to Kenya to spy on Erroll.
In 2001, Errol Trzebinski’s son, Tonio Trzebinski was found slumped on the reclined driver’s seat of his car on the Nairobi-Ngong Road. There was a pair of ladies’ knickers beside him and a 9mm bullet lodged in his heart. It was a murder like any other, it seemed, a clear crime of passion by a female who had first seduced him before shooting him dead. But it wasn’t; there was too much coincidence with a similar murder that took place six decades prior and only a mile away.
Was it a copycat murder, a way to silence his mother for investigating Lord Errol’s murder?
Like Errol (the lord, not his mum) before him, Tonio was a philandering husband on his way from (or to, if you believe his mistress’s side of the story) visiting his mistress, the dashing Danish blonde Natasha Illum Berg. His wife, Anna Cunningham Reid, a relative of the Delameres, had left their home in a huff four days before the murder. She had sent Natasha a string of nasty emails, finally telling her she could keep him. The murder has also never been solved.
When he was not busy stealing other men’s wives and getting his ass whooped by the cuckolded husbands, Lord Errol was a politician with clear fascist leanings. Erroll was indeed a known supporter of Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists. There were further claims that he was a Nazi supporter and collaborated with the Germans during the war, and that he was part of a renegade group which included Duke of Windsor and Rudolph Hess. Like flies, the other members of the conspiracy died within three years of each other: ?Sir Harry Oakes (1943), Lord Rothermere (1940) and Lord Lothian (1940). Oates murder had curious similarities to Josss death.
The government conspiracy to kill Lord Errol in 1941 also mentioned in the biography of Stewart Menzies by Anthony Cave Brown. Menzies was the head of MI6 during and after World War II giving some credence to the otherwise far-fetched theory.
#2 The Germans
An alternate theory to the government conspiracy was that if Joss had been killed by professionals, they were most likely Nazi agents. The rationale is that he had been working for the British government all along and he had ingrained himself in the movement to get Churchill to appease Hitler. There is however very little circumstantial evidence forwarded to support this theory.
The idea behind it further includes some evidence that the British Government may have been considering a deal with German generals to depose Hitler and institute a Nordic Alliance to battle the Soviet Unions growing power and influence. At the time of his death, Errol was also the member of the colonial legislature for Kiambu and the assistant Military Secretary with critical intelligence and military duties. Killing him at the onset of the war effort dealt a huge blow to the preparations for an East African campaign. Joss had a photographic memory and hardly ever wrote anything down.
#1 Alice de JanzeAlice de Janze had a history and she was an unrepentant psychopath. She had tried to kill a man who tried to leave her once before, and she had gotten away with it. Could the psychotic Alice de Janze have finally decided to keep Errol all to herself? As Errol’s body lay in a morgue in Nairobi, Alice waltzed in, lifted her skirt and smeared her vaginal fluids all over his corpse and said:
Where Diana’s lover-shooting history emerged after Joss was dead, de Janze’s had emerged long before.
She had taken multiple lovers in her previous marriage to Count Frederic de Janze. She shot one of them, Raymund de Trafford, and then turned the gun on herself at the Gare du Nord in Paris. Both survived and she was subsequently charged with manslaughter. She appealed her suspended sentence and was acquitted on the grounds that her actions were a clear display of crime passionnel, or crimes of passion. She was only fined 100 francs for her crime. The French tend to be very easy on crimes of passion.
She married de Trafford in 1932 but they divorced in 1937. Alice and Josslyn Hay had an on-off relationship when she returned to Kenya. Her motive for killing him must have been was his ongoing relationship with the 22-year old Diana. She later committed suicide and, according to The Temptress, a book by Paul Spicer, Alice left five letters. The doctor who was called to the scene delivered all of them, including one addressed to the police. Another, addressed to her daughter, is said to have contained a clear confession by Alice about why and how she killed Lord Erroll. There is no word today of whether any of the five letters survive today and her likely guilt remains a matter of speculation.
One Story is Good
till Another is told.
Last modified: November 4, 2018