MI5

Photo of the Day

Image of Juan Pujol Garcia disguised in glasses and a beard.

Garbo

The Story Behind Britain’s Greatest Double Cross Agent

The Normandy Landings of 6 June 1944 marked the beginning of the liberation of occupied Western Europe. Until the very last minute, the place of invasion – Normandy – was the most heavily guarded secret on the planet. The Security Service made a significant contribution to the success of D-Day through its double agent Juan Pujol, codenamed GARBO, who has been described as the greatest double agent of the Second World War. On his own initiative, the industrialist’s son from Barcelona approached the Germans and tricked them into thinking he wanted to spy for them.

Possibly the greatest double cross operation in British espionage history was nearly ruined by a Spanish double agent’s homesick wife and her horror at wartime British food. He went to England, working with MI5 to create a whole network of entirely imaginary agents and feeding misinformation to the Nazis, culminating in the ultimate triumph: a leading role in securing the success of the D-Day landings by convincing the Germans the main invasion would happen around Calais, not in Normandy.

Throughout it all, “the small meek young Spaniard”, as his MI5 handler called him, was never the problem. He fooled the Germans so completely they awarded him the Iron Cross.

The problem was the meek young Spaniard’s wife.

“Mrs Garbo”, Araceli Gonzalez de Pujol, had never left the Iberian Peninsula before she arrived in London in the spring of 1942. Speaking no English, missing her mother, the 23-year-old became terribly homesick. Mrs Garbo was, horrified by having to swap a Mediterranean diet for the rationed offerings of a country that was still decades away from accepting haute cuisine or the gastropub.

Her despair at “too much macaroni, too many potatoes and not enough fish,” was duly noted by MI5.

So too was the fear that driven by the desire to go home to mother, or to the Spanish Embassy in London, Mrs Garbo might divulge to a fascist power the secrets of what was fast becoming the most successful double cross of the Second World War, and arguably of British espionage history.

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Photo of the Day

Glyndwr Michael Martin:Glyndwr Michael as William Martin was buried in Huelva, Spain. In 1998, the inscription GLYNDWR MICHAEL; SERVED AS MAJOR WILLIAM MARTIN, RM was added to his grave-stone by the British government.

Glyndwr Michael:Glyndwr Michael as William Martin was buried in Huelva, Spain. In 1998, the inscription GLYNDWR MICHAEL; SERVED AS MAJOR WILLIAM MARTIN, RM was added to his grave-stone by the British government.

Operation Mincemeat

How a Corpse Fooled the Nazis

 In World War II, a secret department of British ‘corkscrew thinkers’ hatched a plan to use the cadaver of an unclaimed homeless man to turn the tide of the war in the Allies’ favour. It worked.

Ewen Montagu and his team of deceivers achieved in Operation MINCEMEAT what all deceivers endeavour to achieve upon commencing an operation: complete success. By adhering to the six principles of Military Deception (focus, objective, centralized control, security, timeliness, and integration), Montagu duped the Germans into altering their strategic plans; thereby enabling the Allies to achieve theirs.

“You can’t get bodies just for the asking, you know . . . each one has to be accounted for.”

—London coroner Bentley Purchase

Seventy three years ago, the mission of acting Major William Martin of the British Royal Marines was determined to have been a success. The top secret operational documents on the planned Allied invasion of the Balkans and Sardinia Martin had carried with him had been intercepted and transmitted all the way up to the highest levels of the German high command and even to Adolf Hitler himself.  This seemingly disastrous outcome was a positive for the Allies because the success of Martin’s mission, Operation:  Mincemeat, hinged upon the Germans discovering and believing the documents that he carried with him to be real when in fact they actually composed a part of one of WWII’s most ambitious and elaborate misinformation campaigns.  Nothing about the documents was real: not even their carrier.

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Dennis and Joan Wheatley 1930's.

Dennis and Joan Wheatley 1930’s.

Dennis Wheatley : Churchill’s Storyteller

Few people are aware that Dennis Wheatley spent the Second World War as a member of Winston Churchill’s Joint Planning Staff, dedicating his talents to the formation of ideas and plausible scenarios to assist the war effort.

Before Ian Fleming there was Dennis Wheatley. A best-selling spy novelist at the outset of World War II, Wheatley became a master of deception for Great Britain, turning pulp fiction fantasies into real-life espionage. This is the amazing true story of one man who applied the plots of his own novels to the battlefield—and changed the course of history.

Dennis Wheatley was born in London in January 1897, the son and grandson of Mayfair wine merchants. From 1908 – 1912 he was a cadet on HMS Worcester, then spent a year in Germany learning about wine making.  In September 1914, at the age of seventeen, he received his commission and later fought at Cambrai, St. Quentin and Passchendaele.

Gassed, he was subsequently invalided from the army and entered the family wine business, and following the death of his father in 1926, became its sole owner. During this period he began to write short stories, a number of which were later published or expanded into full-length novels.  Following the failure of his first marriage, in 1931 he married Joan Younger.

Wheatley’s business was badly affected by the slump of the early thirties and by 1932 he was forced to sell up and came close to bankruptcy.  As a diversion from his financial worries and with the encouragement of his wife, Wheatley set about writing a full-length murder mystery that he called ‘Three Inquisitive People’. His agent’s reader considered the book to be weak, commenting:

“This story shows considerable promise but does not conform to the accepted formula for murder stories. We do not see enough of the murderer, and the construction is poor in that the heroine is not brought in early enough and plays no essential part, and that after the point at which the book should normally be concluded there is a long epilogue tacked on which is unduly loaded with bathos.”

However, this book introduced the characters of the Duc de Richleau and his friends who were to become Wheatley’s most popular inventions.  Whilst ‘Three Inquisitive People’ was in the hands of his agent he set about writing a second book featuring the same characters, ‘The Forbidden Territory’, which was immediately snapped up by Hutchinson. This adventure story won immediate acclaim from both the press and public alike. It was reprinted seven times in as many weeks, was translated into many languages and the film rights were bought by Alfred Hitchcock.

This book was followed by a string of thrillers that, throughout the 1930s, propelled Wheatley into the category of best selling author.  As an avid reader himself, and fanatical collector of modern first editions, he was familiar with the work of authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle, William Hope Hodgson, John Buchan and his particular favourite Alexandre Dumas, and was influenced in varying degrees by each.  His work in the thirties seemed to be perfectly in tune with the spirit of the age, enforcing the virtues of imperialism in which he totally believed, and countering the rising threat of communism.

In 1939 he became the editor of the ‘Personality Pages’ of the Sunday Graphic and a volunteer speaker on behalf of the war effort. In the early days of the war, despite his best efforts, Wheatley was unable to find suitable war-work and so continued to write his novels, being one of the first writers to use the real life events of the day as the backdrop to his stories.

Then in May 1940, following a chance conversation between his wife and her passenger while she was a driver for MI5, Wheatley was commissioned to write a series of papers on various strategic aspects of the War. These ‘War Papers’ were read by the King and the highest levels of the General Staff, and as a result in December 1941 he was re-commissioned, becoming the only civilian to be directly recruited onto the Joint Planning Staff. With the final rank of Wing Commander, for the rest of the War, Wheatley worked in Churchill’s basement fortress as one of the country’s small handful of ‘Deception Planners’ who were charged with developing ways to deceive the enemy of the Allies real strategic intentions. Their top-secret operations, which included the plans to deceive the enemy about the true site of the Normandy landings, were highly successful and saved countless lives.

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Photo of the Day

Members of the Cambridge spy ring. (Photo by Katie Engelhart from the National Archives, London)

Members of the Cambridge spy ring. (Photo by Katie Engelhart from the National Archives, London)

Britain’s Most Infamous Spies Were Drunk and Loose-Lipped

On May 25, 1951, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess disappeared.

Four days later, Maclean’s wife rang the UK Foreign Office, where both men worked, to report that her husband was missing. Security Service investigators would later report that Mrs. Maclean was “rather more annoyed than disturbed” about his departure. Asked why she thought Donald might have fled the UK, she was evasive — “except to say that when under the influence of drink he did the most extraordinary things.”

It would be five years before the two men resurfaced publicly — in the heart of Soviet Moscow.

And so began the greatest real-life spy-thriller in modern British history. Soon after they skipped town, Burgess and Maclean were exposed as Soviet spies: double-agents who had been feeding intel to the Kremlin for years, after being recruited from Cambridge University in the 1930s. The two men, along with three associates, would come to be known as the “Cambridge Spy Ring” or “Cambridge Five.”

Back in London, the Foreign Office professed to be dumbfounded. The spies had been slick in their operating. And nobody had seen it coming. So the story goes — or went.

Signs of Burgess and Maclean’s treachery and ineptitude were manifest and many, and tended to involve inordinate amounts of liquor.

In January 1951, Maclean got wasted a party and admitted to being a card-carrying Communist. “Of course you know I am a Party member,” he slurred. “Have been for years.”

Around that time, officials became aware that Maclean had suffered “a sort of nervous breakdown in Cairo,” while on diplomatic assignment. He had been involved in a “drunken brawl” and broken the leg of a colleague.

Meanwhile, Burgess had been reported to MI5 for “irresponsible and indiscreet behaviour” — and had been pressured to resign from his post after numerous incidents of “loose talk.” He had a tendency to leave sensitive documents lying around, unattended.

Nevertheless, the two men were maintained in their high-level posts: Maclean, as head of the Foreign Office’s American Department, and Burgess as a diplomat with the Far Eastern Division.

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Face of the day

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Sources claim that a specific threat was made against the Queen, triggering an urgent review of security for next weekend’s events

 

Today’s face of the day Queen Elizabeth, is in danger next weekend of being blown up by British jihadis at an event to mark the anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

…police and MI5 are involved in a frantic race against time to thwart the assassination plot being orchestrated from Syria by Islamic State commanders.

The extremists aim to strike on Saturday by exploding a deadly pressure cooker bomb during events in Central London to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day – Victory in Japan.

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