Lady Grace Drummond-Hay
Born Grace Marguerite Lethbridge, she was the widow of a British diplomat, Sir Robert Hay Drummond-Hay.
As a journalist for the Hearst press organization, Drummond-Hay made her first zeppelin flight in October, 1928, when she was chosen to accompany five other reporters — including her companion and Hearst colleague Karl von Wiegand — on the first transatlantic flight of the Graf Zeppelin from Germany to America. As the only woman on the flight, Drummond-Hay received a great deal of attention in the world’s press.
In March of 1929, Lady Drummond Hay and von Wiegand were once again aboard Graf Zeppelin, for the ship’s “Orient Flight” to Palestine.
Later in 1929, the Hearst organization co-sponsored Graf Zeppelin’s historic Round-the-World flight, and their reporter Lady Drummond-Hay was once again a passenger. She was the only woman among the 60 male passengers and crew, which again included her companion von Wiegand. Drummond-Hay’s presence on the flight, and her reporting as the ship circled the globe, garnered tremendous attention in the press.
During the flight, Lady Drummond-Hay wrote and posted a letter to her friend Adams, looking forward to meeting again “as companions in adventure when the next Zeppelin is completed.”
The letter is dated is dated May 8, 1936; the age of the passenger zeppelin ended just a year later, with the Hindenburg disaster of May 6, 1937.
My dear Clara:
I cannot tell you how happy I was to find you on board the Hindenburg as one of the passengers on her first flight from Germany to America. I hope we will meet again as “companions in adventure” when the next Zeppelin is completed, and that once more we will pioneer a path through the air together.
Kindest thoughts always,
your sincere friend,
Grace M Hay Drummond Hay
Lady Drummond-Hay and her partner Karl von Wiegand were in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded the islands in 1942, and both were interned in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp set up by the Japanese in Manila.
Wiegand was injured in a bombing raid and both Wiegand and Hay were transferred to a hospital in Shanghai, where they were again interned by the Japanese. According to an obituary of Hay in the Milwaukee Sentinel (13 February 1946, p.3) they were both released in the autumn of 1943 and arrived in New York on the Swedish liner Gripsholm in December 1943. In late 1944, Wiegand and Hay traveled to Europe to report from Spain and Portugal and returned to the United States in January, 1946.
Lady Drummond-Hay died of coronary thrombosis on February 12, 1946 at the Lexington Hotel in New York, at the age of 50.
“Farewell” - A Film about Lady Drummond Hay
Grace Drummond Hay’s experience on the Graf Zeppelin’s Round-the-World flight and her romance with fellow journalist Karl von Wiegand is the subject of the recently released film Farewell by Dutch filmmaker Ditteke Mensink. Several elements of the film are fictional, as discussed in more detail on the blog.