|Birth: ||Jun. 10, 1892|
|Death: ||Dec. 1, 1941|
He served in WWI and was a career Army Air Corp officer. He was considered one of the top air corps technical engineers. In June 1941 he was posted to London as a military attache on a diplomatic passport. However, by December 1st he was in neutral Portugal waiting a flight on a Pan Am Clipper to New York. There he and his his ex-wife, Vesta, planned to reconcile according to friends and family.
This was less than a week before Pearl Harbor and Portugal was seething with secret agents, crooked businessmen, etc in a "neutral" country. The Pan Am flying boats from Portugal were one of the few connections between Europe and the United States. It took real influence to get a scarce seat. Money alone was not enough.
Although in prime physical condition, he died suddenly at the Palacios Hotel. A doctor called to treat him said it was a heart attack. However, an American publisher, William B. Ziff, of Chicago said he thought it was poison. Ziff was a wealthy Zionist leader. In 1938 he had published a book called "The Rape of Palestine" heavily criticising British policies. From then on, the British Foreign Office kept close surveilance of him. Ziff heavily documented his charges against the British in the book.
Ziff stated he had a run in with a waiter and then suffered terrible abdominal pains. He said a few days later Col. Cummings had an altercation with the same man and then died suddenly for no apparent reason. Ziff left on December 5th by the ship SS Excalibur to New York. The embassy wrote Ziff a letter saying the death was from natural causes and had a cold formal attitude towards him. The State Department at that time was riddled with Anti Jewish haters.
An autopsy performed by Portugese authorities claimed it was a cerebral hemmorage. American embassy officials took charge of his possessions and the military attache took charge of all military documents. The Palacios was used by allied spies while the German spies hung out at the nearby Atlantico Hotel.
Meanwhile in New York City, within 24 hours, his wife was killed when her apartment exploded blowing out all four windows on the 11th floor of her building. Fire officials told her employers at the Associated Press that it was an accidental gas explosion from her cooking stove from an unlit burner. She knew a great many important people and had been reporting on efforts to get America prepared for the coming war.
In 1942 his sister, Alice Cummings, was still trying to get his personal effects from the American embassy in Lisbon and a financial accounting of his affairs. They finally sent them railway express collect on the SS Thome after they and the Portugese officials tacked on as many fees as they could. Although the embassy had said he would probably be buried at Arlington National Cemetery he was instead taken back to his home town.
During his career Cummings had many adventures. One came in July 1935. He was flying Major General George E. Leach, head of the Arizona National Guard, from Washington, DC, to Santa Rosa, California. The plane caught fire from leaking gasoline near Kingman, Arizona over the desert. Cummings told Leach to get ready to jump but he heard only the word jump. He bailed out immediately injuring his left arm. Cummings crash landed the burning plane 10 miles away and organized a search party. Meanwhile the general followed a fence line until he found a sheepherder who got him to Kingman.
Lewis Q Cummings (1861 - 1921)
Mary Holbrook Cummings (1859 - 1911)
Vesta Marie Kelling Cummings (1901 - 1941)
Created by: Ash Montagu
Record added: Jan 04, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 103102730