John Leslie William Yeowell (10/4/1918 — 25/9/2010), known in Odinist circles as Stubba, was the main founder of modern Odinism in the UK.
Stubba was a prolific author on many topics, particularly the Royal House of Stuart: he was himself supposedly 7th in a line of lineal descent from Bonnie Prince Charlie — a fact not widely known to many in the Odinist community. Indeed, Stubba seems to have been quite happy to keep the various parts of his long and active life somewhat separate, which has led to some enduring mysteries that could only be resolved by a future biographer.
For instance, it is well-known that he had an active military career, but the details are sketchy. He is widely said to have served with General Eoin O’Duffy’s “Green Shirts” in the Spanish Civil War. This unit, numbering about 700, fought against the communists in 1936-37. Stubba must have been about eighteen at the time.
He later went on two serve two terms in the French Foreign Legion, a fact confirmed with him by this writer. In between these two stints he seems to have joined the British regular army, since he served in the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, a “special force” trained to use guerrilla tactics deep behind Japanese lines in Burma during 1943-4.
If, as seems likely, he then rejoined the Foreign Legion after WW2, it should be remembered that the Legion played a major and distinguished role during the First Indochina War of 1946-1954, particularly at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954).
Those who knew Stubba in his later years, or even (as with this writer) merely corresponded with him over a long period, could scarcely miss his courtesy, charm, and irrepressible humour. Some may have failed to recognize under these delightful qualities the tough veteran of several of the nastiest and most dangerous wars of modern times. But perhaps this background was reflected in his unflinching idealism.
In 1973 Stubba was the leading light in the creation of the “London Odinist Committee for the Restoration of the Odinic Rite”, which soon became known as “The Odinist Committee”. In the same year he founded Raven Banner, the first Odinist magazine of any quality in the UK. By 1980 it was felt that the Odinic Rite had in fact been restored, so the name of the organisation took that final form.
Stubba issued various Odinist publications from time to time, perhaps the most influential being This is Odinism (1974), Hidden Gods: the Period of Dual Faith (1982), The Book of Blots (1991), The Odinist Hearth (1992) and Odinism, Christianity and the Third Reich (1993).
Despite his massive service to the revival of our faith, Stubba’s later years witnessed a gradual withdrawal from the Odinist movement, a withdrawal that was not due entirely to his advancing age. He was, for instance, far from happy when the extensive and valuable Odinist library he had created for the Odinic Rite was wantonly destroyed – by a person who has no connection to the current Odinic Rite.
Yet Stubba had by no means lost faith in Odinism. Even when suffering badly from terminal cancer he assisted this writer with a project on Odinist music, posting at considerable expense to himself rare vinyl recordings, sheet music and painfully typed lyrics. That help was typical of the man: offered without ever having been requested, in a firm determination to advance Odinism in whatever way he could for as long as he drew breath.
Sadly, Stubba in the end didn’t even receive an immediate Odinist send-off. His funeral, at the West London Crematorium, Kensal Green, was conducted by the Reverend David Skeoch, an Anglo-Catholic priest and Honorary Chaplain of the Royal Stuart Society. The eulogy was pronounced by Count Nikolai Tolstoy, who then took over Stubba’s position as a Vice-President of the Royal Stuart Society. The lesson was read by Stubba’s god-daughter, Xenia Tolstoy (by then Lady Buckurst). However, Asrad of the Odinic Rite in England assures us that after his Christian funeral service Stubba’s ashes were subsequently given a proper Odinist send-off.
For many years before his death Stubba had planned to write a history of modern Odinism. In 1999 he wrote to Australia asking for further information about and photos of Rud Mills, and from the tone of his questioning it seemed as though his research was almost complete. Unfortunately, this work has not appeared. The whereabouts of the manuscript appears to be unknown, and since Stubba seems to have left no blood relatives it may have been carelessly destroyed by whoever dealt with his final affairs.
As an indication of the sorts of difficulties that will face some future biographer, consider a photo which is or was being offered for USD $250 on the website of “History For Sale”. They specifically say: “John Yeowell, the Stuart descendent and advocate, should not be confused with a person of the same name who has headed the Odinist movement to restore worship of the Germanic Gods in England.”
The signature on the photo, however, is certainly that of Stubba. The face is that of Stubba, albeit in his earlier years. The Jacobite Yahoo Group stated in its obituary that their John Yeowell was also the “reviver of the Norse cult of Odin”, in contrast to the disclaimer from the commercial site. It’s Stubba, OK, and no doubt he’d have a good healthy laugh over the confusion.
In memory of Stubba’s seminal contribution to modern Odinism, an authorised second edition his collection of Odinist rituals, The Book of Blots, was published in December 2014. It is available by clicking here.