From World War to Cold War: the records of the FO Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department, 1939-51

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From World War to Cold War Records of the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department, 1939-51

FCO Historians

Contents Introduction to PUSD records


Come dance with me, Argentina: the secret whirl of public diplomacy in 1910


A gift fit for a king? The accession of HM King George V, 1910


Gelignite in the basement: Scandinavian sabotage operations in 1940


Pierre Cot and the British Secret Services 1940-41


Mission Impossible: Sir Louis Spears in the Levant, 1942


The Secret Intelligence Service and the origins of the Anglo-American intelligence relationship, 1940-41


Diplomats, secret intelligence and sabotage: the Straits of Gibraltar and Operation Blake, 1941-43


The Man Who Was: the ‘Clamorgan’ affair and the origins of Operation Mincemeat


Wartime experience and the future of the Secret Services, 1940-51


Adjusting to ‘Indianisation’: British intelligence in independent India and Burma, 1946-48


Escape from Eastern Europe, 1947-48


The CORBY case: the defection of Igor Gouzenko, September 1945


Introduction From World War to Cold War: the records of the Foreign Office Permanent UnderSecretary’s Department, 1939-51 The Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD) did not come into being formally until 1949, but its name reflected the historical role of the principal Foreign Office UnderSecretary of State as a point of liaison between the FO and British secret intelligence. The Permanent Under-Secretary, or PUS, was the most important official point of contact in respect of the acquisition of secret foreign intelligence long before, and after, a whole department was named after him. For that reason, when for the first time a collection of these intelligence-related papers was opened at The National Archives (TNA) in 2005, they bore the designation PUSD, even though the earliest documents dated from the 1870s. The 2005 release comprised more than 100 pieces covering the period from 1873 until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, which can be found in class FO 1093. Now a second tranche of PUSD records, comprising nearly 500 pieces from September 1939 to 1951, is being added to that class. In addition, seventeen files from the period 1903-13, which had not been discovered at the time of the 2005 release, are also being transferred. The short essays in this collection are intended to give an indication of the variety and interest of the material now passing into the public domain. The files in the 1939-51 release have been divided up into rough subject areas as follows, for organisational convenience and ease of reference. The first category is ‘Intelligence: General’, containing both wartime and postwar files. It contains a wide variety of material, including two bound volumes of weekly Secret Situation Reports from 1939, correspondence concerning the appointment of a new Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in November 1939, documentation on propaganda schemes in the UK and overseas, efforts to bring the US into the war on Britain’s side and the financing of covert activities from the Secret Vote. There is also material on the setting up of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in July 1940, and its subsequent turf wars with the Secret Intelligence Service. Of particular interest in the postwar period is a unique collection called ‘Future of the Secret Services’, a set of seven files that have been assembled from miscellaneous papers relating to the organisation of the British security and intelligence services. Although some of the papers are already open elsewhere, there is no other departmental collection with such a 1

comprehensive range of material originating in the intelligence agencies, the armed services and in Whitehall departments generally. The collection opens with the Review carried out by the Cabinet Secretary, Lord Hankey, between December 1939 and May 1940, and covers detailed government planning for the postwar period, including the seminal 1944 report on SIS by Sir Nevile Bland. The second category of files is ‘Intelligence: Operational’. As the department responsible for all the intelligence agencies in wartime, the FO was the conduit for requests to the Treasury for funding secret operations, propaganda exercises and the setting up of intelligence HQs overseas. This category opens with files on the Venlo incident, when two British intelligence officers were lured into a German trap in November 1939, and covers a wide variety of schemes both cunning and hare-brained. It includes files on various peace proposals in the early part of the war, and efforts to persuade Spain, led by General Franco, to remain neutral, involving huge sums in ‘inducements’ to intermediaries. The postwar files contain important material on the work of SIS, and the overcoming of the initial reluctance of the new Labour government, under Prime Minister Clement Attlee, to engage in espionage and special operations. There are interesting papers on intelligence-gathering in postindependence India, the establishment of liaison with friendly intelligence services and, as the Iron Curtain descended, schemes to facilitate the escape from Eastern Europe of those threatened by political persecution and worse. The files also document the closeness of the Anglo-American security and intelligence relationship, as well as the difficulties caused by differences of approach. The third category deals with Signals intelligence and related matters. The majority of wartime files deal with arrangements for establishing wireless communications with diplomatic posts overseas and other authorities, and with the codebreaking work done at Bletchley Park. There are also papers about cipher security, and the interception or decoding of enemy traffic to discover, for example, movements of enemy shipping. Postwar material includes plans for GCHQ to move from Eastcote to Cheltenham, and the work of the Radio Security Service. A smaller category, Defence issues and nuclear weapons, contains a range of material including on Jewish paramilitary organisations in Palestine, 1941-45. Postwar files include a Soviet threat to the atomic scientist Professor Nils Bohr, Commonwealth military intelligence, plans for the reduction in British armed forces overseas and the supply of raw materials for atomic purposes. There is also material on Western European defence in the context of the formation of NATO in 1949. 2

Cold War issues, including espionage and defectors, includes four files on the ‘CORBY case’, concerning the defector Igor Gouzenko who in September 1945 provided details of an extensive Soviet spying operation in North America, and incriminating the British atomic scientist Dr Alan Nunn May. Other material covers the handling of potential defectors, as well as files on individuals. There is also a category of Foreign Office-specific material, less concerned with secret intelligence than with internal Foreign Office matters, although related to covert sources and liaison. The postwar files include the minutes and memoranda of the Permanent Under-Secretary’s Committee (PUSC) for 1949 and 1950, and of the Russia Committee for 1950 and 1951, both concerned with Cold War planning and strategy. Finally, there is a small collection of material on War Crimes, covering such issues as the Japanese treatment of British subjects, alleged German atrocities in Poland and the work of the War Cabinet Committee on the Treatment of War Criminals. As with the first release of PUSD papers in 2005, these papers lift a corner of the veil on the relationship between the Foreign Office and the British intelligence establishment in the first half of the twentieth century. As such, they are an invaluable resource for those interested in the ‘missing dimension’ of history. It is important to remember that the history of the UK’s intelligence agencies can only be understood in the context of their relationship with their Whitehall customers: and these papers provide an opportunity to study that key interaction during the critical period from World War to Cold War. Gill Bennett Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)


Torre Monumental, or Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires The tower is decorated with symbols of the British Empire and the inscription above its entrance reads al gran pueblo argentino, los residentes británicos, salud 25 de mayo 18101910.


Come dance with me, Argentina: the secret whirl of public diplomacy in 19101 Our own relations with the Argentine Republic have become so purely commercial, so entirely non-political, with all the growth of our trade and our intimate relations, that they offend no ambition and give rise to no jealousy or apprehension. Sir Edward Grey, Hotel Cecil, 25 May 19102 Sir Edward Grey had an eye for birds. As British foreign secretary during the decade preceding the Great War, he also reckoned he could spot a good relationship. At a banquet held on 25 May 1910 to celebrate the centenary of Argentina’s independence, he told fellow diners that the future of Britain and the Argentine Republic was ‘one based on good will and commercial relations, and that they [would] never excite jealousy or apprehension between them’.3 His words were reassuring and he drew upon Board of Trade figures which revealed a more than seven-fold increase in Anglo-Argentine commerce over the previous twenty-five years. Britain headed the list both of importers from, and exporters to, the Republic, and one estimate put British capital invested there at £350 million.4 But if this made for cordial mutual relations, it did little to assuage the fears of British diplomats over the successful challenge that foreign rivals, more especially the Americans and Germans, seemed to be mounting against British business interests in South America. This was particularly evident when in 1909 Argentina decided to commemorate a hundred years of its independent statehood by staging an international exhibition in Buenos Aires. It afforded an opportunity for combining commercial and public diplomacy on a grand scale, and left locals free to draw comparisons. Under pressure from representatives of British industry, Grey agreed in October 1909 to the appointment of Charles Edmond Akers, The Times correspondent in Buenos Aires, as British commissioner to the exhibition.5 In that capacity Akers was responsible for securing some 5,000 square metres of covered space for a British section for the display of machinery and other mechanical installations. The exhibition, which lasted from May to November 1910, was a great success, not least for British manufacturers. Akers estimated that sales effected directly and indirectly through the medium of the exhibitors would not fall short of £2 million, and the British section was awarded a unique diploma on account of its superiority in organisation and importance.6 Nonetheless, Akers was worried by the relative decline in Britain’s position in the country. In a lengthy memorandum of 24 May 1910 he highlighted how German competition had cut deeply into Britain’s export trade to Argentina, in textiles, hardware and machinery, how German shipping lines had gained at Britain’s expense, and how German industry was increasingly investing in civil engineering projects. 5

Other countries too, including Austria, Belgium, France, Italy and the United States, were making inroads into Britain’s commercial supremacy in South America. Much of this Akers attributed to the poor marketing skills displayed by British manufacturers and their failure to take any coordinated action in promoting their wares.7 Akers’s concerns were shared by Walter Townley, the British minister in Buenos Aires. An energetic diplomat, he was disturbed by the number of British firms which seemed too ready to rest on their laurels. They were doing better business than they had ever done in the recent past; they did not yet feel the pinch of foreign competition; and they seemed unperturbed by the fact that statistics revealed that British trade was losing ground. Meanwhile, the representatives of US business sought to win commercial favours by parading their Pan-American credentials; and German salesmen, unlike their British counterparts, resorted to such dastardly tactics as learning Spanish and advertising their goods in metric measures.8 Townley therefore sought to make the most of a ‘British Week’ scheduled for November 1910, and to combine this with a ball and a visit from a British naval squadron. He had originally been planning to host a ball in the name of the British government on 8 June. But the death of HM King Edward VII in May and the need to observe official mourning had meant that he had been unable to issue invitations. Moreover, although he had received through Akers £1,500 as a contribution towards the cost of the proposed ball, Townley’s personal funds had since been swallowed by expenses incurred in other centenary celebrations. He hoped, however, that Britain’s prestige could be reinforced by holding a much grander ball in the new Art Exhibition centre, which he thought a ‘splendid place for such an entertainment’. That would mean having to invite at least 2,000 people as the exhibition hall was a big place and a large crowd would be required to fill it, and that, Townley initially insisted, could not be done for less than £3,000.9 Public entertainments did not come cheap in Argentina. Townley later admitted that he could possibly manage with another £1,000 additional to the original £1,500: that, he claimed, ‘wd. enable me to do the thing well & leave me something with wh. to entertain the sailors’.10 He was nonetheless desperate for assistance and, as correspondence in the latest batch of PUSD releases reveals, he begged the Foreign Office for additional funding. He had already broadcast his idea in Buenos Aires and won enthusiastic support from the local dignitaries, and he was reluctant to prune down his plans to fill the exhibition hall. In a letter of 14 September to Louis Mallet, the assistant under-secretary responsible for supervising the Office’s Commercial Department, he pleaded: 6

I much hope you will do your best to get me some more money as I very much want the entertainment to be a real success, so that it may wipe out if possible the memory of all the North American butter that has been spread on the Argentine bread throughout the year, with a lavish hand.11 Townley also urged Akers to bring his persuasive powers to bear on the Foreign Office, and from Florence, where he was then on leave, Akers wrote to press Algernon Law, the Commercial Department’s head, to ‘further strengthen our interests by the course Mr Townley proposes to follow’.12 There was, however, no prospect of the Foreign Office being able to squeeze more money for what would effectively be an end-of-exhibition celebration from an ever parsimonious Treasury, and Sir Arthur Nicolson, the newly-appointed permanent under-secretary, blamed Townley for having ‘ventilated his project a little prematurely’ and having ‘given all the world to expect a great entertainment’.13 If extra money were to be found for Townley then Nicolson thought it must come from the Secret Service. There was a good precedent for using Secret Service money to maintain Britain’s public standing. Already in January 1910 the Foreign Office had drawn £500 from the fund to add to an equivalent donation offered by Edward VII to victims of the recent Paris floods. As Sir Charles Hardinge, the then Permanent Under-Secretary, had noted, ‘in view of our relations with France I felt the King should do not less than the Emperor of Russia and a good deal more than the King of the Belgians’.14 But much to Townley’s disappointment, Nicolson, with Grey’s approval, was not disposed to offer him more than an additional £300 for his partying in Buenos Aires. Even then, Nicolson cautioned Townley that a grant of this nature for entertainment purposes was ‘quite exceptional’ and that he should ‘keep the matter quite secret’.15 The sum offered was far from what Townley felt he needed. Indeed, Nicolson’s response to his request might be regarded as typical of the Foreign Office’s rather mean spirited attitude towards active involvement in trade promotion. A year earlier, the Midlands businessman Ludford Docker had been alarmed at the fact that the British government had not been planning to be represented at the exhibition by anyone ‘of more importance than the nearest admiral’, and his brother, Dudley Docker, had argued for the despatch to Buenos Aires of someone commensurate in rank to the Hohenzollern princeling that Berlin was intending to send.16 Fortunately, Britain had its own German princelings and the untimely death of one of them, the Queen’s brother Prince Francis of Teck, on 22 October 1910, 7

provided Townley with a pretext for abandoning the ball his legation would be unable to afford. With the Court again in mourning, Townley rejected the offer of £300 and decided to substitute other entertainments instead, the cost of which would fall within the limits of £1,500. Argentina’s feathers might be ruffled and its citizens would neither dance nor whirl at the British taxpayers’ expense. Secret Service money would thus be saved, possibly for less frivolous ventures, and Grey’s good relationship would have to survive on trade alone. But, like the trade, that too risked going into relative decline. Keith Hamilton FCO


This essay is based on a file originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/110, ‘Secret funds: use by British missions overseas’. Unless otherwise specified all references are to that file. 2 FO 368/381/18491, extract from The Times, 26 May 1910. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid., ‘Trade Relations with the Argentine Republic’, Board of Trade note enclosed in H. Fountain to Craigie, letter, 24 May 1910. 5 R.P.T. Davenport-Hines, Dudley Docker: the life and times of a trade warrior (Cambridge, 1984), p. 43; HC Deb. 8 Oct. 1909, vol. ii, c2459w. 6 Akers to Algernon Law (head, Commercial and Sanitary Dept., FO), letter, 14 Oct. 1910. 7 FO 368/381/27830, memo. on the commercial and economic conditions in the Argentine Republic by Akers, 24 May 1910. 8 Ibid., Townley to Grey, despatch No. 30 commercial, 5 July 1910; FO 368/382/33097, Townley to Grey, despatch No. 72 commercial, 17 Aug. 1910. 9 Townley to Louis Mallet (Assistant Under-Secretary, FO), letter, 14 Sept. 1910. 10 Townley to Sir Arthur Nicolson (Permanent Under-Secretary, FCO), tel., 17 Oct. 1910. 11 Ibid. 12 Townley to Akers, letter, 14 Sept. 1910; Akers to Law, letter, 14 Oct. 1910. 13 Nicolson to Grey, minute, 19 Oct. 1910. 14 Hardinge to Grey, letter, 28 Jan. 1910. 15 Nicolson to Grey, minute, 19 Oct. 1910, with note by Grey; Nicolson to Townley, draft cipher tel., 22 Oct. 1910. 16 Davenport-Hines, Dudley Docker.



The Ethiopian Imperial Flag The Emperor of Abyssinia, later renamed Ethiopia, bore the title ‘Conquering Lion of Judah’


A gift fit for a King? The accession of HM King George V, 19101 The gift not yet repaid debases the man who accepted it, particularly if he did so without thought of return2 What do you give to the Monarch who has everything? The accession to the throne of HM King George V in 1910 was an occasion of great pomp and ceremony. As befitted any great state occasion, it was accompanied by a range of gifts from other nations, some of which had underlying (social) price tags. At the time the British Empire covered a third of the globe. The countries within the Empire covered a multitude of different traditions, including those associated with gift giving. Gifts have historically served many functions; they celebrated occasions; they indicated the status of the giver; they strengthened alliances and relationships; they also created an expectation of some form of return. The anthropologist Marcel Mauss argued that despite appearances gifts were never ‘free’ and could not be separated from obligations of relationships and reciprocity. Nessib Bey (Iranian) brought a present for King George which was presumed to be ‘with the review of getting a decoration’. The gift given in return was a photograph, which was presumably not the decoration Nessib Bey had in mind. The Foreign Office asked King George to reconsider giving a photograph because of Nessib Bey’s association with difficulties in Lebanon. Some presents were more conventional or had less explicit expectations about the return. For example, the French President contacted George V’s office about giving a monogrammed silver china service with the royal crest on it. The Secretary of State decided that there should be a budget for the purchase and distribution of exchanged gifts, with a margin to cover any difference. The original budget was £700, but the amount spent was £1,064 14s 6d. This original budget merely covered a number of key foreign Posts. In 1911 further thought was given to the need for gifts to other countries. Between the Emperor of Abyssinia, Menelek II and the British monarchy, there was a tradition of gift giving. In 1898 the Emperor had exchanged wax phonographic cylinders with a recorded message on with Queen Victoria. In this he indicated his hope that Her Majesty’s Government would recognise the Abyssinian claim to the city of Metemma, a town on the disputed border with Sudan.3 11

For the accession of George V, Menelek (or his representatives) sent a lion. But the lion had to be transported from Abyssinia to the UK. This cost a total of £158 17s 3d which was paid for from Secret Service Funds. Sir Arthur Nicolson, the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary, suggested that the Somalian keeper who travelled with the lion should be given the sum of £4. The question remained what to do with the lion. The lion was donated to Dublin Zoo. The records didn’t show what gift was given to Menelek in return. Why wasn’t the lion given to London Zoo? Again, the records do not reveal this. Perhaps it was to remove a potential temptation from the new King, who was described as one of the best shots in the kingdom. The tradition of giving rare animals to the British monarch continues. Gifts given to HM Queen Elizabeth II include a canary from Germany, jaguars and sloths from Brazil, two black beavers from Canada, two young giant turtles from the Seychelles and an elephant called Jumbo from the Cameroon.4 Tara Finn FCO 1

This essay is based principally on two files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/112, ‘Royal matters: miscellaneous correspondence; includes special missions sent abroad in 1910 to announce the accession of HM King George V’, and FO 1092/120, ‘Use of Secret Service funds to transport lion presented to HM King George V by the Emperor of Abyssinia’ (1910-11). 2 Mauss, Marcel (1954) The Gift, Cohen& West. P63 3 Hamilton, Keith & Langhorne, Richard The practice of diplomacy (London, 2011), p. 116 4 .aspx



Swedish iron ore routes, 1936


Gelignite in the basement: Scandinavian sabotage operations in 19401 During the first months of the Second World War–the so-called Phoney War–the British and French governments became obsessed with the need to prevent Swedish iron ore from reaching Germany. The German steel industry was heavily dependent on imports of highgrade ore from Sweden, but the belief that closing down this supply would bring the war to an end ‘within a matter of months’ was optimistic, to say the least. Sweden’s largest reserves (not actually the highest-quality ones) were located in the far north of the country at the ‘iron mountain’ of Kiruna and at Gällivare. In the summer months the ore was transported by rail to the Swedish port of Luleå, reaching Germany via the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea. During the winter, when much of the Baltic was frozen, it was sent to the ice-free Norwegian port of Narvik, linked to the ore fields in 1902 by an epic feat of railway construction, and then mostly via Rotterdam to the steel mills of the Ruhr. Further south, the high-grade iron ore of the Grängesberg region was exported to Germany via the Swedish Baltic port of Oxelösund, which was normally ice-free all year round. Many schemes were devised to cut off this traffic. Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, wanted to intercept it in Norwegian waters. Fearing confrontation with the neutral Norwegians, his Cabinet colleagues eventually hit upon a far larger and riskier scheme: to use the Soviet-Finnish ‘Winter War’ of November 1939-March 1940 as a pretext to send a military force ostensibly to help the Finns but in fact to occupy the Swedish ore fields. Somewhere between the two, in terms of potential offence to neutrals, if not actual effectiveness, came the schemes described by Churchill in December 1939 as ‘neither diplomatic nor military’.2 His colleagues knew exactly what the euphemism meant. A variety of secret sabotage operations were planned by the British government in the winter of 193940 but only one was attempted. It ended in fiasco in April 1940 when British agents were caught red-handed loading explosives into a car, having abandoned at the last minute their plan to blow up the harbour facilities at Oxelösund. Amid much embarrassing publicity, the hapless leader of the operation, Alfred F. (‘Freddie’) Rickman, was put on trial by the Swedish authorities and sentenced in July 1940 to eight years’ hard labour; his three coconspirators (including the Swedish secretary who later became his wife) received milder sentences. The main outlines of the ‘Rickman affair’ are well known to historians, but the newly released PUSD documents provide valuable additional detail.3 In particular they reveal that 15

the main operational decisions were taken at the very highest level, involving not only Winston Churchill but also Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Viscount Halifax as well as Lord Hankey, the experienced former Cabinet Secretary who served as Minister without Portfolio and took a special interest in intelligence matters. FO 1093/208 contains a four-page note of a meeting held at 10 Downing Street at 6.30 p.m. on 17 January 1940. Chamberlain was in the chair; the others were Halifax, Churchill, Hankey, Lord Chatfield, Minister of Defence, Sir Alexander Cadogan, the head of the Foreign Office, and Colonel Stewart Menzies, head of SIS, also known as ‘C’.4 The meeting began with Menzies explaining existing plans for the sabotage of Swedish oreloading facilities. He was in touch with ‘a prominent Swede’ (other sources suggest this was the shipowner Axel Johnson), who was prepared to arrange for the sinking of ships along the quayside or the sabotage of the cranes at Oxelösund. Menzies was also in touch with Swedish trade unionists about staging a strike (the workmen would refuse to handle all goods except those bound for Finland). He was sending an emissary to Sweden to sound out the prominent Swede about sabotaging Luleå and Narvik as well. If no Norwegian could be found for The Narvik operation, the plan was to sink British ships alongside the quay at Narvik. Menzies’ presentation was followed by a discussion in which it was agreed that all three ports should be attacked simultaneously and that as Luleå would not reopen until April, it would be better to defer action until closer to the time when the ice broke. It was also pointed out that delay would enable Britain to get as much iron ore out of Narvik as possible in the meantime. The best timing for any strike would be just before the sabotage took place. It was agreed that the prominent Swede should be sounded out about action at Luleå as well as Oxelösund. If he could do nothing about Narvik, he should be assured that the British authorities would take on this task. None of this, they agreed, detracted from the need to prepare a force that could be sent to Scandinavia in the spring, if necessary. The meeting then passed on to discussing the sabotage of German ships at Constanza, which could be used as armed merchant cruisers to attack British merchant shipping in the Black Sea. It was agreed that Menzies should arrange this, subject to the concurrence of the Foreign Secretary. Much of the initiative and most of the planning for these operations came from Section D of SIS, headed by the irrepressible Colonel Laurence Grand. At the Foreign Office, Colonel Grand came to be regarded as a dangerous liability. His judgement, wrote Gladwyn Jebb, Cadogan’s private secretary and principal link with SIS, ‘is almost always wrong, his knowledge wide but alarmingly superficial, his organisation in many respects a laughing stock, and he is a consistent and fluent liar’.5 But this was after the event. FO 1093/232 16

shows one of Colonel Grand’s Swedish operations on the verge of being put into action. The first document in the file is a letter of 9 March 1940 from Hankey to Jebb, informing him that Grand had raised with him ‘the question of putting in operation a plan which we refer to under the capital letter “O”’.6 This was of course the operation against Oxelösund, otherwise known as Operation ‘Lumps’, for which Hankey had, he told Jebb, secured the approval of the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary. Two further documents, however, record first the postponement and then the abandonment of the operation.7 Jebb told Cadogan that it had been called off because ‘at the last minute the Swedish Social Democrats (who were organising it) decided that they could not proceed owing to the wave of pro-German feeling which was sweeping over Sweden. . . . Colonel Grand thereupon asked Colonel Menzies whether he would allow the scheme to go on if British subjects were employed only. Colonel Menzies however decided that he could not authorise this.’ ‘I am afraid this is symptomatic and ominous’, minuted Cadogan, while Lord Halifax noted: ‘Let P.M. see.’ Jebb was right about the Swedish socialists’ reservations but he knew only part of the story. They were not worried only about their image but, as Rickman himself later admitted, were critical of ‘our vacillations, incorrectness of information, and instructions to act at short notice’.8 After the German invasion of Denmark and Norway on 9 April 1940, the Oxelösund operation was revived, only to end in ignominious failure. FO 1093/231 shows the Foreign Office trying to find out exactly what had gone wrong, and SIS at its most evasive. On 23 April Menzies sent Jebb a note informing him that Alfred Rickman, Ernest Biggs and another associate had been arrested three days earlier (Biggs was director of the Windsor Tea Company in Stockholm, and explosives and other equipment for the operation had been stored in the firm’s basement). The note stated that SIS was ‘unable to account for a telegram which we have received stating that he was found in possession of 5 hundred weights of explosives. We do know that Mr. Rickman has always been an extremely keen supporter of the Democratic cause, and a possible hypothesis may be that he was arranging to transmit explosive to Norway.’ Jebb was not impressed. ‘What, however, we should be told,’ he advised Cadogan, ‘is whether or not Messrs Biggs and Rickman were employed by friends [the euphemism for SIS]; and, if so, exactly in what capacity. Also, if they were employed, exactly how much were they in a position to give away?’ Menzies explained that Biggs was ‘a co-operator in work against Germany, but not . . . a direct employee’, while Rickman was a director of two companies, one in London, the other in Stockholm. ‘The London Firm places 17

his services at our disposal, and therefore the question of whether or not he should be directly regarded as an employee is a debatable point.’9 Only towards the end of May 1940, and after further prompting, did the Foreign Office receive a full account of the affair.10 ‘This report throws a very different light on the situation from that given in the report enclosed in “C’s” letter of April 23,’ Cadogan noted. ‘I am afraid that there has been a good deal of blundering, and that we have been unfortunate in our choice of agents. However, there is nothing useful to be done now, I suppose.’11 Meanwhile Victor Mallet, the British Minister in Stockholm, left the Foreign Office in no doubt as to the damage done to Britain’s position in Sweden at a crucial stage in the war: I do not want you to think that I am blind to the fact that it may sometimes be necessary to employ methods of this kind when we are waging a war against an enemy who hits persistently below the belt. But my complaints are, firstly, that our sleuths seem to be thoroughly bad at their job: so far they have achieved little in Sweden beyond putting me and themselves in an awkward position. Secondly, I am inclined to doubt whether the game is worth the candle in a country where not only are the police and the military very much on the alert and counter-espionage highly developed, but where a policy of mutual confidence has shown itself repeatedly to be the one which pays best.12 Worse was to come. On the eve of Rickman’s conviction, Mallet telegraphed, his Swedish counsel had made some ‘disquieting observations on the sabotage affair’: Rickman whose frank behaviour under examination made most favourable impression had been the unwitting tool of German espionage. Counsel had evidence that German refugee with whom Rickman was instructed to make first contact on his arrival here was Gestapo agent [? provocateur]. Suspicion of similar activities attached to two other Germans implicated in the case.13 Furthermore most of the information regarding the gang was obtained from German sources, not from Rickman’s confessions. In brief, to such an extent were Gestapo agents involved in the plot from the outset that it was difficult to resist the conclusion that it was engineered by highly-placed German agents in England in order that it should be exposed at the moment best calculated to do damage to the British cause.14


Of course there were no ‘highly-placed German agents in England’ but, with Britain’s wartime fortunes at their lowest ebb, it was perhaps better that the Swedes should believe in imaginary German spies rather than the reality of British incompetence.

Patrick Salmon Chief Historian, FCO 1

This essay is based principally on 3 files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/208, ''C', Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS): Swedish iron ore’ (1940); FO 1093/231, ‘Stockholm: Rickman case’, and FO 1093/232, ‘Sweden: miscellaneous’ (1940). 2 Churchill note, ‘Norway-Iron-Ore Traffic’, CAB 66/4, WP(39)162, 16 Dec.1939, printed in Winston S. Churchill: The Gathering Storm (London, 1949), pp.490-92. 3 The most reliable accounts are in Charles Cruickshank, SOE in Scandinavia (Oxford, 1986); W.J.M. Mackenzie, The Secret History of SOE: The Special Operations Executive 1940-1945 (London, 2000); Gill Bennett, Churchill’s Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (London, 2006); Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 (London, 2010). The autobiography of Sir Peter Tennant, Britain’s wartime press attaché in Stockholm, Touchlines of War (Hull, 1992) provides further colourful detail. 4 There is a brief reference to this meeting in David Dilks (ed.), The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan O.M. 1938-1945 (London, 1971), p. 247, where it is described as ‘Quite satisfactory and hopeful.’ Another copy of the record is being released concurrently on a related file from the Cabinet Secretary’s papers, CAB 301/34, ‘Sabotage of Swedish iron exports’. 5 Quoted in Jeffery, MI6, p. 352. 6 Hankey to Jebb, 9 March 1940, FO 1093/232. 7 Jebb to Hankey, 15 March 1940; Jebb minute for Cadogan, 18 March 1940, TNA, FO 1093/232. 8 Cruickshank, SOE in Scandinavia, p. 37. 9 Memorandum of 30 April 1940, , FO 1093/231. 10 Jebb minute of 7 May and letter from Menzies to Jebb of 22 May 1940, FO 1093/231. 11 Cadogan minute, 26 May 1940, FO 1093/231. 12 Mallet to Jebb, 12 May 1940, FO 1093/231. 13 One of these was the émigré journalist Kurt Singer, whose autobiography I Spied and Survived (New York, 1980) understandably makes no mention of the affair. 14 Stockholm telegram No. 197 Most Secret, 1 July 1940, FO 1093/231.


‘Marianne’, the historic symbol of the French Republic. During the Second World War, she represented Liberty against the Nazi invaders, and the Republic against the Vichy regime, a symbol of resistance.


Pierre Cot and the British Secret Services, 1940-19411 Documents in a newly-released PUSD file provide important new material for the already voluminous literature on the French Radical politician Pierre Cot, Air Minister in the Popular Front government (1936-38). Cot was a highly controversial figure, vilified at the time by the French Right, and since accused of having been a Soviet agent. This has aroused impassioned debate in France. The documents show that the Foreign Office (FO), the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) were all interested in Cot and another Left-wing activist, Louis Dolivet, not because they were considered spies, but as candidates for a possible key role linking London and the French Resistance. On 18 June 1940 General Charles de Gaulle broadcast his historic BBC appeal, urging those willing to fight on for a free France to come and join him. Among the first to offer their services was Cot, who arrived on 21 June.2 He implored de Gaulle for work, ‘even to sweep the stairs’, but the General told him ‘he was too visible’, and that if he accepted him he thought ‘all my pilots would leave.’3 Cot had two influential British friends, Philip Noel-Baker, a Labour MP, and the Conservative Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Robert Cecil, now Lord Cecil of Chelwood. During the 1930s, all three had been prominent peace campaigners. Cot and Cecil had jointly chaired the Rassemblement Universel pour la Paix (RUP).4 On 26 June 1940, Cecil wrote to the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, on behalf of Cot: ‘a friend . . . for a good many years . . . absolutely straightforward and extremely able’, who was a victim of defamation. Cecil stated that the French Right had been conspiring against Cot, accusing him of being a ‘Communist in disguise, which is certainly not true’. Cecil was concerned that Foreign Office officials had joined in the attack.5 Halifax asked Lord Vansittart, Chief Diplomatic Adviser, for ‘precise material’.6 Vansittart replied that Cot was a ‘perfectly good and moral person’ with ‘no sins, either carnal or financial’; but he was ‘probably the greatest disaster that, in the shape of a politician, has ever ruined a great country.’ This was ‘the only “precise” fact’ concerning Cot, but it was ‘an utterly damning one’. Vansittart judged him ‘not only the worst Air Minister that any country ever had; he was also found out. Consequently, the majority of Frenchmen would like to lynch him’. He advised keeping clear of him.7 Halifax sent a watered-down reply to Cecil, saying that he did not ‘know of any justification for the suggestion that members of the Foreign Office have joined in any attack on him’, but advising him not to see Cot too often: that would be ‘“mal vu” by nine 21

Frenchmen out of ten’.8 Noel-Baker met Vansittart on 27 June and assured him that Cot lived ‘for Anglo-French co-operation and anti-Nazism’, but without changing Vansittart’s view.9 They agreed that Cot should go to America to do propaganda work.10 Noel-Baker informed Cot of this, adding cryptically: ‘I took the liberty of telling Vansittart what you told me about Moscow’.11 Why was Vansittart so very scathing about Cot? Possibly because of the influence of Alexis Léger, former Secretary General at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vansittart’s opposite number in the 1930s when he was Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office.12 They had worked for an anti-appeasement Franco-British axis. They were also friends: Léger was living in Vansittart’s house. Léger was strongly anti-Soviet, whereas Cot had argued for military cooperation with the USSR and had covertly delivered planes to the Spanish Republicans, infuriating the Right and the Extreme Right.13 The Foreign Office was certainly hostile to Cot. On 29 June, Roger Makins, Head of the Central Department (which then included France) warned the French National Committee against ‘discredited French politicians’ of the Popular Front, who might deter loyal and patriotic Frenchmen from joining de Gaulle.14 The Committee of French Resistance–the ‘Vansittart Committee’–which had discussed the matter on 29 June, noted a statement on the BBC that Cot was supporting de Gaulle. It agreed that the BBC should be told ‘that General de Gaulle should not be connected with the names of any individual’.15 Gladwyn Jebb, Private Secretary to the Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Alexander Cadogan, had asked Sir Stewart Menzies, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, for any proof of Cot’s ‘misdeeds’. Menzies, ‘unfortunately’, had ‘destroyed certain records which contained references to his alleged nefarious activities’, and had only one report which ‘merely shows that the Comité Mondiale de Lutte contre la Guerre et le Fascisme, a body taking its direction from the Comintern . . . has been under the patronage of Cot’.16 Menzies also had a statement from a French officer with ‘a certain amount of ammunition, if that is what is needed’. He further offered to pursue enquiries: ‘I think I could get evidence from a British banker, who . . . might be able to throw light on certain financial transactions’.17 Cot left London for America on 16 August 1940, with FO assistance.18 He hoped to come back in a few months to ‘resume the fight’.19 In mid December 1940, Dolivet, the organiser and propagandist of the RUP, left France for America via Lisbon, from where he sent a highly pro-British letter to Cecil and Noel-Baker claiming that ‘people’ he knew wanted to take part in resistance: ‘I have much 22

information to provide as well as addresses.’ He wanted to ‘serve our greatest cause’ in London by establishing links between London and resistance networks in France.20 Cecil wrote to Noel-Baker saying that Dolivet had ‘a great deal of information’, and suggested a meeting with somebody from the government.21 Noel-Baker proposed Hugh Dalton, Minister of Economic Warfare, and responsible for SOE set up in July 1940 to ‘set Europe ablaze’. ‘There has’, Noel-Baker wrote, ‘been a great deal of mystery about [Dalton’s] governmental duties . . . in Dolivet’s line of country’.22 Noel-Baker duly wrote to Dalton about Dolivet: ‘He would, of course, join de Gaulle’s forces and fight, if that were decided upon . . . [but] he could be much more useful in some of your work.’23 Dolivet repeatedly pressed Cecil to be allowed to come to Britain, and sent him a nineteen-page report on the situation in France.24 He urged coordination by Britain and the Free French of many existing secret groups and committees. Thousands wanted to help, he claimed, but they felt isolated. Though de Gaulle was respected, Dolivet urged that the Free French leadership should include representatives of all resisting groups and well-known democratic leaders.25 Cecil and Noel-Baker agreed that Dolivet should ‘take a leading part in the movement’.26 Noel-Baker wrote to Dalton that Dolivet could ‘endeavour to establish contacts for you with people in France, occupied and unoccupied.’ Dalton’s Private Secretary replied that steps had been taken to ‘make contact with your friend’.27 Dalton was thinking of a similar role for Cot. On 21 May 1941, he dined with Cecil and Philip and Irene Noel-Baker: ‘without, of course, revealing why I had Pierre Cot in mind at present, I asked them whether they had news of him. Irene said that Phil had had a letter from him only a few days ago from America, where he was being very active, speaking and writing on behalf of our cause.’28 As Dalton told Jebb, now the Chief Executive Officer of SOE, they spoke about Cot’s career and the recurrent allegations. Irene Noel-Baker said that the Foreign Office was constantly spreading slanders against him. ‘All this may be called an ex-parte statement by Cot’s friends, but sometimes a man’s friends may be right about him.’ Cecil had also mentioned Dolivet, ‘who I think, in many ways, is even better than Cot’. Cecil said that he had been suspected in many quarters, including the TUC, of being close to the Communists, though he had never, Cecil believed, been a member. ‘He would just be the man, Cecil and Phil Baker thought, to organise our underground work in France.’ Dalton asked Jebb for any hard evidence against Cot or Dolivet: ‘We must reject no possibly serviceable tool . . . Neither political prejudice nor unfounded gossip must be allowed to obstruct us’.29 23

Jebb asked Henry Hopkinson, his successor as Cadogan’s Private Secretary, to consult Menzies: ‘We ought not necessarily and at all times to fight shy of Cot . . . the Minister is completely open-minded about Cot and only wants to be told the facts. The same applies to Dolivet.’30 Regarding Cot, Hopkinson found only the ‘one or two reports of last summer.’ He restated that nothing suggested peculation, but repeated the offer made by ‘C’ of seeking information about Cot’s financial transactions.31 Dalton favoured left-wing circles as allies of SOE: ‘What we have in mind . . . concerns Trade Unionists, Socialists, etc. the making of chaos and revolution’.32 He thought SOE had ‘too many businessmen; too little political gumption, and biases against the Left’.33 In the summer 1941, SOE’s subversion plans were prepared and reviewed in Whitehall and by the Chiefs of Staff.34 The German invasion of Russia in June meant Communists were full allies. Dalton met Menzies, and they ‘agreed that British Communists are no use . . . but that in France they may be most potent on our side. He is trying to find out what happened to the Comintern . . . I say we must make common cause’.35 The Foreign Office, however, was still no better disposed. Censors had sent them a letter from Cot to the Socialist Louis Lévy, in which Cot wrote that he thought de Gaulle presented a Fascist danger, and wanted him checked by parliamentarians in exile taking part in post-war planning.36 The French department commented: ‘Heaven preserve us from a shadow French Government of “democratic” exiles … M. Cot is thinking of his own political future rather than the needs of France’.37 So although Dalton seriously considered Cot and Dolivet for an important role in coordinating the French Resistance, nothing materialised. Dolivet does not seem to be mentioned again in official circles after Dalton’s meeting on 21 May with Cecil and NoelBaker. Some explanation lay in Dalton’s diary: ‘Later that evening I tell something of what they said to G [ladwyn Jebb] and then go through the Dolivet file, which shows at first great energy but then an unbelievable degree of ignorant capitulation and telegrams sent from a low level which should have been put up to me.’38 A few days later Jebb noted that ‘“C” has produced a paper showing that [Dolivet] is probably still in touch with the Comintern’.39 As for Cot, he was too unpopular. When in July Maurice Dejean, Political Director of Free French, told Dalton that he was ‘anxious to rally around de Gaulle a larger number of representative Frenchmen’, Dalton suggested Cot. But Dejean replied that feeling against him was too strong.40


Dalton left MEW in February 1942, and was replaced by Lord Selborne, an independent Conservative and a personal friend of Churchill who was unlikely to share Dalton’s enthusiasm for men of the Left. Isabelle Tombs FCO 1

This essay is based principally on a file originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/214, '”C', Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS): Monsieur Pierre Cot.’ 2 Sabine Jansen, Pierre Cot: Un antifasciste radical (Paris, 2002), p. 343. 3 Jean-Louis Crémieux-Brilhac, La France Libre (Paris, 1996), p.84. 4 See Jansen, Cot, pp. 218-30. 5 Cecil to Halifax, 26 June 1940, FO 1093/214. 6 Ibid., Halifax to Vansittart, 28 [?] June 1940. 7 Ibid., Vansittart to Halifax, 29 June 1940. 8 Ibid., Halifax to Cecil, 1 July 1940. 9 Churchill Archive Centre, Philip Noel-Baker papers (NBKR) 4/261 (part 2), Noel-Baker to Vansittart, 28 June 1940. 10 British Library, Cecil of Chelwood papers, MSS 51109, Noel-Baker to Cecil, 6 July 1940. 11 NBKR 4/261 (part 2), Noel-Baker to Cot, 6 July 1940. 12 Vansittart to Halifax and Cadogan, 24 June 1940, FO 371/24349,TNA. David Dilks, The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan (London, 1971), p. 306. 13 Renaud Meltz, Alexis Léger Dit Saint-John Perse (Paris, 2008), p. 626. 14 Makins to de Gaulle, 30 June 1940, FO 371/24349, TNA. 15 Ibid., Committee of French Resistance, minutes, 9 July 1940. Set up on 21 June, Vansittart chaired it. 16 Initiated by Henri Barbusse and Romain Rolland in 1932. After Barbusse’s death the RUP succeeded it. 17 ‘C’ to Jebb, 11 July 1940, FO 1093/214. 18 Richard Speaight and Frank Roberts to Passport Office, Herschel Johnson and C.W. Dixon, 17 July and 5 August 1940, FO 371/24355. 19 Cecil papers, MSS 51143, Cot to Cecil, 15 August 1940. 20 Ibid., Dolivet to Cecil and Noel-Baker, 27 December 1940. 21 Cecil papers, MSS 51109, Cecil to Noel-Baker, 3 January 1941. 22 Ibid., Noel-Baker to Cecil, 9 January 1941. 23 NBKR 9/50/1, Noel-Baker to Dalton, 6 February 1941. 24 Cecil papers, MSS 51143; Clark M. Eichelberger to Cecil, 7 March 1941. Eichelberger, American Liberal and supporter of the League of Nations, was Director of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA), formed in May 1940 advocating American military materiel support for Britain. 25 NBKR, 4/261 (part 1), ‘Confidential report on the situation in France’, February 1941. 26 Cecil papers, MSS 51143, Cecil to M. Olsen (CDAAA), 3 April 1941. 27 NBKR 9/50/1, Noel-Baker to Dalton, 18 March 1941 and Hugh Gaitskell to Noel-Baker, 25 March 1941. 28 Dolivet’s report initiated the International Free World Association, similar to the RUP. Dolivet was its Secretary, Cecil its European President and Cot on its political committee (Jansen, Cot, pp. 359-360).



Report of conversation, 22 May 1941, FO 1093/214. Ibid., Jebb to Hopkinson, 29 May 1941. 31 Ibid., Hopkinson to Jebb, 7 June 1941. No evidence found of any follow-up. 32 Ben Pimlott, The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton, 1940-45 (London, 1986), 1 July 1940, p. 52. 33 Ibid., 17 May 1941, p. 210. 34 M.R.D. Foot, SOE in France (London, 2004 edn), pp. 149-151; TNA HS8/325, HS8/237, FO 954/24A. 35 London School of Economics, LSE/Dalton/1/25, Dalton diary, 6 August 1941. 36 Cot to Lévy, 28 July 1941, FO 371/28460. 37 Ibid., Speaight’s comment, 26 August 1941. 38 LSE/Dalton/1/24, Dalton diary, 21 May 1941. 39 Jebb to Hopkinson, 29 May 1941, FO 1093/214. 40 LSE/Dalton/1/25, Dalton diary, 9 July 1941. 30



Sir Edward Louis Spears and General Georges Catroux


Mission Impossible: Sir Louis Spears in the Levant, 19421 Spears has returned with one obsession—to harass, to degrade, to crush and to destroy the Free French Movement. I have heard of animals eating their young, but this is the first time I have seen a human being doing it. John Rosa, HM Treasury Rep. in Syria and the Lebanon, 26 April 1946 In 1946 a Foreign Office official found a bundle of papers stuffed in a cupboard that he thought were of historical interest and should be kept. Terence Garvey in PUSD agreed and instructed a file to be opened with the title—Sir E. L. Spears, Levant States, 1942. ‘No indexing is required’, he added, ‘except to the name Spears’. Sir Edward Louis Spears was an army officer, politician, diplomatist and long-time friend of Winston Churchill. In July 1941 Spears became Head of a British Mission (the ‘Spears Mission’) to the Free French in Syria and Lebanon following their invasion by Allied and Free French forces. He was tasked with implementing the agreement between Free France and Britain that the Levant states, which were French mandated territories, should get their independence. It was a task that would make him unpopular with the Free French who were determined to maintain French power and influence in the region. Spears was an ardent Francophile and during the First World War had served with distinction as a liaison officer to the French Army and headed the British Military Mission in Paris. In May 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill had made Spears his Personal Representative to the French Prime Minister and Minister of Defence. It was Spears who escorted General de Gaulle to London on the eve of the Fall of France and acted as his early champion, subsequently heading the British Mission to de Gaulle. However, constant exposure to de Gaulle and his hauteur had led to a cooling in the relationship. The documents in this file amplify the story told elsewhere of the acrimony between Spears and the Free French and the impact this had on relations between Spears and the Foreign Office, who believed he was antagonising the French unnecessarily.2 In February 1942, Spears was also appointed British Minister to the two Republics. Oliver Lyttelton, the British Minister in Cairo, rated Spears highly but warned that there was little doubt that he was disliked by the Free French who as a result did not cooperate as freely as they might. British intelligence obtained access ‘by extremely delicate means’ to the decrypts of telegrams exchanged between de Gaulle and General Catroux, the French representative in the Levant. The communications revealed that the Free French bitterly resented British interference in Syrian affairs and clearly felt that the British were secretly 29

working to dispossess them, which they were determined to resist. In March 1942 General Wilson, the commander of the British Ninth Army, sought the removal of certain French officials on security grounds but de Gaulle’s instructions to Catroux were clear: You do not have to take any orders from a foreign General in any matter whatsoever. The fate of our fellow countrymen, who are under your authority in a territory of which France is the Mandatory Power, and in which you are responsible for applying this Mandate, is dependent upon this principle. The General thought Wilson had a right to request removal but his rights ended there. He suggested a tit-for-tat move—finding British subjects whose activities in the Levant might constitute a danger to Allied unity and requesting Wilson to have them removed. ‘In any case’ he ended ‘persevere in your task of eliminating all British influence’. The telegrams revealed that the French chafed at British control over French military expenditure. In April Catroux telegraphed to de Gaulle: ‘I deplore interference by the Treasury and I am refusing to give them satisfaction’. He sought fresh funds from de Gaulle to avoid having to seek an advance from ‘Messieurs les Britanniques’. In May de Gaulle discovered that Britain had not yet delivered arms promised to Turkey and General Whitham was to visit Beirut in the hope of obtaining arms from the Troupes Speciales3. He instructed Catroux to give the General a negative answer and not to allow Spears or Wilson to interfere: ‘We ourselves will negotiate with the Turkish Government and profit hereby.’ In May ‘C’ proposed that Spears and the Minister of State in Cairo, now Richard Casey, be shown the telegrams on the understanding that they had been obtained in London, and not locally, in order to protect his source. Spears reacted furiously to the information, which he considered provided final proof of Free French lack of good faith, declaring that to adopt a conciliatory attitude towards them was now a ‘useless waste of time’. The SIS representative in Beirut reported to ‘C’ that the atmosphere of distrust permeating the telegrams was partly down to the personal differences of the actors on the scene. Relations between Catroux and Spears, which had never been good, had worsened since Spears returned to the Levant. Mutual antipathy between both men meant personal contact barely went beyond attending the same official functions. The US Consul-General was so concerned about the breakdown that he had telegraphed Washington to be allowed to offer his services to mediate between the two. Spears, he went on, was unpopular with his staff ‘most of whom regarded him as an ambitious and unscrupulous self-seeker’ and tried to insist all contact with 30

the Free French went through his Mission. Whilst recognising that the removal of Spears would be interpreted as a sign of weakness by the Free French, the SIS representative recommended that Spears be encouraged to improve relations with Catroux, his own staff and the British military authorities. Peter Loxley, on behalf of the PUS, Sir Alexander Cadogan, brought the view to the attention of the Eastern and French Departments of the Foreign Office who lost no time in putting the boot into Spears. The chief charge they levelled against him was that he was unsuited for what they considered primarily a diplomatic post. Spears had failed to observe diplomatic niceties, such as calling on Catroux immediately on his return to Syria. Although they conceded de Gaulle’s telegrams were provocative, Catroux was regarded as one of the most reasonable of the Free French authorities and they failed to understand why it was so impossible for Spears to maintain personally amicable relations with him. It may have been a hopeless task to maintain harmonious relations with the Free French in Syria, but Spears’ policy of the ‘big fist’ was the wrong approach to have adopted and had failed to achieve successful results. Spears had also given precedence to the military side of his Mission, who it was noted were accommodated in ‘all the best rooms’. Cadogan agreed the situation was unsatisfactory and suggested it would be impossible to have properly functioning and independent legations as long as Spears was Minister. He recommended that the Foreign Secretary send a personal telegram to Casey, who was due to visit the region shortly, to canvass his opinion, perhaps forewarning the Prime Minister of the intended action. Anthony Eden agreed somewhat reluctantly adding ‘it is likely to be a troublesome business, and we shall have to act with great circumspection’. The Foreign Office had had misgivings about maintaining separate Legations as well as the Mission, on the grounds of efficiency, but had not altered arrangements that they had been told were working well. They were now getting conflicting evidence of how things were shaping up. In April, Richard Laming, in a letter to the Department of Overseas Trade, complained that he had been posted as Commercial Secretary in Beirut only to be told on his arrival that his services were redundant matters were being handled by the economic adviser to the Mission. Lamming said Spears was a ‘heaven-born liaison specialist’ but he was compromised because the French hated him. Spears was overstepping his remit, acting as a Minister to the local puppet government to get round French influence, but the local government had no administrative power so the enterprise only antagonised the French and disappointed the locals. The huge Mission was unnecessary in a country of limited long-term interest to Britain, and chiefly served the ‘glory of H.M. Minister’ who, it was noted, ‘flies 31

two Union Jacks on his car.’ A Treasury official, John Rosa, wrote at great length confirming the view that the mutual animosity between Spears and the French was making liaison work unnecessarily difficult and at times impossible. Already strongly Francophobe before his departure, Spears has returned with one obsession—to harass, to degrade, to crush and to destroy the Free French Movement. I have heard of animals eating their young, but this is the first time I have seen a human being doing it. The French controlled all the local machinery of government and the British did not have the capacity to take over if the French were forced out. Although the Foreign Office realised that these were letters from disgruntled men they were concerned enough to send an official to Beirut and Damascus to check the situation firsthand, but he had succumbed to dysentery and had been unable to report. Eden tried to finesse the situation with Churchill, sending him a minute in which he chose not to trouble the Prime Minister ‘with all the detail’ but indicated that all was not well with the Spears Mission. Spears was not fulfilling effectively the diplomatic role which he was now, as Minister, called upon to play and Eden intended to task Casey with investigating and compiling a frank report with recommendations for action. Churchill was not going to give up his old friend so easily, asking for the case ‘in the utmost detail’ and objecting to Casey being sent to hold a ‘court of inquiry’. He noted: ‘Spears is very capable of standing up to French pretensions. No doubt Catroux would get on better with someone who gave way to him more easily.’ Churchill hinted the fault lay with the Foreign Office. Spears was new to the post—could the FO not give him the necessary guidance? A fuller minute was drafted in reply by the Foreign Office, employing the points made by C’s representative. It stated that ‘personal antipathy, rather than standing up to French pretensions’ was the root of many of Britain’s troubles with the Free French in Syria. The parallel existence of the Spears Mission and the legations was leading to ‘insecurity, inefficiency and reduplication of work’. The organisation in Syria should be put on a regular footing with a single diplomatic mission, with attached military, economic, financial and publicity branches. This telegram was cancelled for a far shorter missive in which Eden assured the Prime Minister that he would not have raised the matter ‘if there had not been sufficient cause for uneasiness’. However he chose not to push the issue. Eden offered no evidence and thought Casey might go to Syria and report what he observed, ‘without any 32

direction or mandate from me’. Churchill replied that if Eden confided his complaints he would give Spears guidance privately. In July 1942 Spears wrote a private and personal letter to Harold Caccia of Eastern Department, reporting that the Mission was enjoying a comparatively good passage as far as the French were concerned; relations with Catroux had improved and quite a number of questions were being settled on an amicable basis. As a result of Spears having taken a strong line he was now working with the French on British terms. However he had a ‘horrid feeling’ that this strong attitude, which had been characteristic of British policy towards the Free French, was no longer shared in London. He wished to be reassured as, ‘nothing is more difficult and discouraging than the feeling one may not be enjoying the full backing of London’. Caccia replied that Spears ‘need not have any qualms about the London end’. It was December 1944 before the Foreign Office could persuade Churchill to withdraw his support from Spears, who was finally forced to resign. Richard Smith FCO 1

This essay is based on a file originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/235, ‘Sir Edward Louis Spears’ mission in Beirut’ (1941-46). 2 For Spears’ life see: Max Egremont, Under Two Flags: The Life of Major General Sir Edward Spears (London, 1997). For Spears’ own account of his Mission see: Edward Spears, Fulfilment of a Mission (London, 1977). For Franco-British relations in the Levant see: James Barr, A Line in the Sand (London, 2011). 3 The 20,000 strong Syrian militia under French control.


Anglo-American Intelligence heroes: ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan presenting William Stephenson with the United States Presidential Medal of Merit, November 1946 (Reproduced in Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 (London: Penguin, 2010)


The Secret Intelligence Service and the origins of the Anglo-American Intelligence Relationship, 1940-19411 Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) maintained only a small presence in the Americas and from June 1938 had ceased operations altogether against United States targets. However, during the final days before the Fall of France in June 1940, Sir William Stephenson, on the orders of Colonel Stewart Menzies, the Chief of SIS, arrived in New York to revolutionise Britain’s intelligence relationship with the United States. That initial relationship had been nurtured by Stephenson with J. Edgar Hoover of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after Menzies had sent him out to the US in April 1940 to investigate the possibilities of close co-operation in the field of counterespionage in order to help protect war supplies destined for Britain. When Stephenson returned to New York on 21 June, Menzies briefed him to ‘to investigate enemy activities, to institute adequate security measures against the threat of sabotage to British property and to organize American public opinion in favour of aid to Britain’. Stephenson moved quickly, rekindling his relationship with Hoover, and setting up his headquarters on the thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth floors of the International Building in the Rockefeller Center, 630 Fifth Avenue. Stephenson soon began to build one of the largest British intelligence organisations of the Second World War, recruiting many staff from his native Canada, and extending his remit to cover not just intelligence gathering but security, special operations and propaganda.2 Stephenson was a colourful character–a First World War flying ace, amateur boxing champion and millionaire tycoon with wide-ranging business interests and connections–but his shameless attempts at self-promotion after the Second World War only served to damage his reputation, undermining some of his very real achievements during his time as the SIS representative in New York. Indeed, newly released PUSD papers provide some fascinating insights into Stephenson’s industry just months after his arrival in the United States and how he, together with SIS, worked closely with the Foreign Office to try and secure American entry into the war. Achieving that objective initially required lobbying senior American officials, which both Stephenson and Lord Lothian, the British Ambassador in Washington, worked hard to do with figures such as Frank Knox, the US Secretary of the Navy, who was very sympathetic to Britain’s current predicament of staring down the barrel of an imminent German invasion. Stephenson was introduced to Knox through an existing acquaintance, Colonel ‘Wild Bill’ Donovan, who would later famously become the head of American secret service operations during the war, with the help of British officials promoting his cause, 35

including Stephenson himself. Donovan, an Irish-American, had close links to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and earned the nickname ‘Wild Bill’ while fighting against Pancho Villa with General Pershing’s expedition to Mexico in 1916. Donovan also returned from the Western Front as America’s most decorated soldier.3 One of the first documents in the PUSD papers relating to this period, the first of many communications from Menzies to the Foreign Office, related to Stephenson’s efforts to manipulate the American press agenda in favour of Britain’s cause. On 6 August 1940, Menzies wrote to Henry Hopkinson, Private Secretary to Sir Alexander Cadogan, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, informing him that Stephenson had telegraphed the previous day regarding some favourable press coverage he (Stephenson) had successfully engineered. SIS’s New York representative explained that a well-connected contact had ensured a speech by Charles Lindbergh, the famous American aviator and proisolationist figure, received less attention in the headlines that day in favour of Pershing’s simultaneous speech on the necessity of providing destroyers for Britain.4 Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, had already sent a formal request to Roosevelt at the end of July asking urgently for the use of 50-60 destroyers in the Western Approaches against U-boats. Lothian suggested that these destroyers might be exchanged for long leases of British bases in the West Indies and Bermuda.5 Stephenson reinforced Lothian’s work, keeping SIS informed that the US administration would soon bring the destroyer question before Congress but that they only would be supplied ‘on condition we grant certain facilities in Caribbean’. Menzies delivered this message to Hopkinson on 8 August, sending a copy to Major Desmond Morton, Churchill’s intelligence adviser.6 The message was important, as Cadogan noted in his diary that the Prime Minister had been reluctant to accept a quid pro quo for the delivery of destroyers, which he was eventually coming to accept.7 In the background to this campaign to procure destroyers for the British, Donovan, who according to Stephenson was personally representing Roosevelt, Knox and Hoover, had paid a visit to London in July. The visit turned out to be a success, not least because of Menzies’s efforts to ensure that Donovan met an array of senior government officials and ministers, including Churchill.8 The result was that Stephenson was able to report back to SIS on 9 August that ‘Colonel Donovan was greatly impressed by his visit and reception. He has strongly urged our case regarding destroyers and other matters. He is also doing much to combat the defeatist attitude in Washington by stating positively and convincingly that we shall win’. Menzies immediately passed Stephenson’s message to the Foreign Office.9 Towards the end of August, Stephenson was able to tell Menzies the good news that the 36

delivery of 50 destroyers would now take place in September and on the night of 31 August, Menzies passed the final confirmation from Stephenson to Churchill.10 In the end, Roosevelt bypassed Congress, announcing that the US would be selling the destroyers for an in-kind payment, a lease on British naval bases in Canada and the Caribbean that would help strengthen American defences. Stephenson later telegraphed Menzies to congratulate him on the role he had played in cultivating Donovan, arguing that ‘without Colonel, it could not have possibly happened at this time’.11 Another emerging aspect of Anglo-American intelligence liaison with which Menzies was personally involved at this time concerned signals intelligence. As the Chief of SIS, Menzies was responsible for the overall control of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park and in the autumn of 1940, after discussion with the armed service directors of intelligence, all agreed that ‘a pretty free interchange of cryptographic information’ would be beneficial to both Britain and the United States. Menzies was not in a position to send technical experts to the United States in view of the urgent wartime demands placed upon his staff, but he urged that the Americans should send ‘qualified experts here to discuss the various problems’.12 Menzies laid his suggestion before the Foreign Office who agreed and Cadogan minuted, ‘They ought to understand that we can’t spare anyone at the moment’.13 This discussion had come about as a result of an offer from Brigadier-General George Strong, who was in charge of an American mission to Britain in the late summer of 1940 to encourage an exchange of military information. In September, Strong had suggested that the United States might be willing to offer full information on Japanese diplomatic cypher systems.14 There was, however, some nervousness on both sides about how much each country was willing to reveal to the other. On 22 November 1940, Menzies wrote to the directors of intelligence again indicating that he was now placed ‘in some difficulty’ as the question of a full interchange on Germany and Italy ‘cannot be entertained at this stage’. Commander Alastair Denniston, the head of GC&CS, had only days earlier written to Menzies, arguing that with regard to British progress on German and Italian cyphers, ‘we cannot agree at once to hand it over unreservedly’. According to Menzies, Cadogan concurred, noting that ‘we cannot possibly divulge our innermost secrets at this stage’, but if the Americans returned to the charge, Menzies felt it might become necessary to refer the question of policy to the prime minister. Indeed, it was Menzies who recognised that being unnecessarily obdurate or making reservations may not pay dividends in the long-term and might only serve to ‘annoy’ the Americans.15 37

In a bold move, when the question was referred to Churchill (who also had reservations) in late November 1940, Menzies argued for a more accommodating attitude to be adopted. ‘In view of the definite desire on the part of the United States Service authorities for a free interchange of cryptographic matters’, he told the Prime Minister, ‘I must point out that any restriction of discussion to Japan alone would almost certainly give a measure of offence, as clearly indicating we have something to hide. In that case, it is very doubtful whether the Americans will agree to send an expert over here at all’. Menzies assured Churchill that ‘there will be no risk whatsoever of disclosing any progress on German cryptography, since the work is conducted in separate buildings’. On Menzies’s recommendation, Churchill agreed not to limit the discussions to Japan but one official worriedly minuted at the bottom of the discussion, ‘What will they think if they find we have been reading their own stuff?’16 In January 1941, the battleship King George V which had just brought over Lord Halifax, Britain’s new Ambassador in Washington, embarked four American cryptanalysts carrying a reconstruction of the Japanese diplomatic cypher machine codenamed ‘Purple’. The Americans were warmly welcomed to Bletchley Park and in February 1941, at the request of the Chiefs of Staff, Menzies secured Churchill’s permission to reveal ‘the progress which we have made in probing German Armed Forces cryptography’ though this did not include showing the American cryptographers actual results. The decision was a monumental one and was a watershed moment in cementing the foundations of the modern day AngloAmerican intelligence relationship. During that process, Menzies undoubtedly played a crucial part in pressing colleagues and ministers to take a far-sighted approach in allowing Britain to reveal its most important secrets to the United States, even though that country was not yet at war.17 British co-operation with the Americans during this period continued unabated and Donovan made another visit to Britain in December 1940 after which he also planned to journey through the Mediterranean. Cadogan told Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, ‘“C” tells me that Mr. Stephenson, who travelled over with Colonel Donovan, has impressed upon him that the latter really exercises a vast degree of influence in the administration. He has Colonel Knox in his pocket and, as Mr. Stephenson puts it, has more influence with the President than Colonel House had with Mr. [Woodrow] Wilson. Mr Stephenson believes that if the Prime Minister were to be completely frank with Colonel Donovan, the latter would contribute very largely to our obtaining all that we want of the United States’.18 Menzies once again managed all the arrangements and secured an audience for Donovan with Churchill, after which the 38

Prime Minister instructed that the American should receive ‘every facility’ during his tour of the Mediterranean, Middle East and the Balkans.19 By March 1941, American neutrality was becoming even more exposed after the US committed itself to supporting the British war effort with the Lend-Lease agreement. From New York, Stephenson telegraphed further encouraging signs that the Americans were willing to do more by way of help for the British. Menzies told Hopkinson in April that, ‘I have had a wire from my representative in U.S.A. to the effect that Bill Donovan was given certain official directions, with a view to preparing the Nation for early acceptance of convoying’.20 Stephenson continued to report that ‘Bill Donovan has been working in our interests like a Trojan since his return [from the Mediterranean]’, particularly over such issues as war supplies to the Middle East.21 In another letter, Menzies told the Foreign Office that the ‘President has stated categorically to my liaison that he proposes “to act to bring U.S.A. in very shortly”.’ Menzies sent a copy of this particular communication to Churchill.22 One of the most significant telegrams from Stephenson before the United States entered the war in December 1941, was a message delivered to SIS that summer confirming that Donovan had accepted the position as Co-ordinator of Information (COI), the precursor to his appointment as head of the new Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in June 1942. In June 1941, Menzies reported directly to Cadogan that Stephenson had sent him the following message: ‘Bill [Donovan] saw President to-day and after long discussion wherein all points were agreed he accepted appointment...He will be co-ordinator of all forms Intelligence and will control all departments including offensive operations equivalent to S.O.2 [Special Operations] . . . He will hold rank Major-General and be responsible only to President’. Stephenson signed off his telegram by remarking, ‘Bill accuses me of having “intrigued and driven” him into appointment. You can imagine how relieved I am after three months of battle and jockeying for position at Washington that “our man” is in a position of such importance to our efforts’.23 Stephenson had somewhat over-simplified the chain of events, which included sending (with SIS’s support) Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, to the US to bolster Anglo-American intelligence relations and encourage the creation of such a post. But SIS was once more (as it had done since the despatch of Stephenson to New York in June 1940) playing a pivotal role in bringing about a closer degree of intelligence co-operation between London and Washington in the pursuit of what would ultimately become a joint goal of allied victory.24 Christopher Baxter, Cabinet Office 39


This essay is based principally on three files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/166, ‘USA: armaments supply’ (1940-41); FO 1093/238: ‘USA: liaison with authorities in US and London’ (1940-47); FO 1093/308, ‘C, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS): coordination of wireless interception and cryptography’ (1940-42) 2 Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 (London, 2010), pp. 438-41. 3 Ibid, pp. 441-42 and David Stafford, Roosevelt and Churchill: Men of Secrets (London, 2000), pp. 9-10 & 389. 4 Menzies to Hopkinson, 6 August 1940, FO 1093/166. Lindbergh’s involvement in the isolationist America First movement is described in FO 1093/167, ‘USA: Report on America First Committee’. 5 Thomas Troy, Wild Bill and Intrepid: Donovan, Stephenson and the Origins of the CIA (London, 1996), pp. 58-9. 6 Menzies to Hopkinson, 8 August 1940, FO 1093/166. 7 A telegram from Stephenson enclosed in Menzies to Hopkinson, 15 August 1940, ibid, carried a similar message. See also Diary entry for 14 Aug 1940 in David Dilks (ed.), The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan, O.M. 1938-1945 (London, 1971), p. 321. 8 Jeffery, MI6, p. 442. 9 Menzies to Hopkinson, 9 August 1940, FO 1093/166. 10 Menzies to Morton, 21 August 1940, FO 1093/166 and telegram enclosed in Pettigrew to Hopkinson, 31 August 1940, FO 1093/238. The original document from Pettigrew to Hopkinson is dated 21 August but this is presumed to be an error. 11 Jeffery, MI6, p.443. 12 Menzies to Hopkinson, 30 October 1940, FO 1093/308. 13 See Hopkinson, Balfour and Cadogan minutes, 31 October 1940, ibid. 14 Stephen Budiansky, Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II (London, 2000), p. 174. 15 See ibid, pp.174-75 for Denniston’s remarks. and Menzies to Beaumont-Nesbitt, Godfrey & Boyle, 22 November 1940, FO 1093/308. 16 Menzies to Churchill, 29 November 1940, FO 1093/308; unidentified official, minute, no date, ibid; and Morton, note for Menzies, 11 December 1940, ibid. On Churchill’s reservations see Stafford, Roosevelt and Churchill, pp. 44-5. 17 Washington to FO, tel. 3154, 18 December 1940, ibid; Jeffery, MI6, pp.443-45 and Budiansky, Battle of Wits, pp. 175-77. 18 Cadogan, minute for Eden, 17 December 1940, FO 1093/238. 19 Jeffery, MI6, pp. 446-47. 20 Menzies to Hopkinson, 27 March 1941, FO 1093/166. 21 Menzies to Churchill, 6 April 1941, FO 1093/166. 22 Menzies to Cadogan, 1 April 1941, FO 1093/238. 23 Menzies to Hopkinson, 19 June 1941, FO 1093/238. 24 Jeffery, MI6, pp. 448-49.


Diplomats, secret intelligence and sabotage: the Straits of Gibraltar and Operation Blake, 1941-431 After the German conquest of most of Europe by the summer of 1941, the few remaining neutral countries on the Continent provided both opportunities and dangers for British policy. In Spain, the environment was particularly challenging as Britain’s diplomats and intelligence officers had to operate in a country that in reality was far removed from being neutral. Although the Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco, classed his country as a ‘non-belligerent’, Spain gave various forms of assistance to the Germans and Italians, in return for the generous help provided to Franco’s forces during the recent Spanish Civil War. One of the most important acts of support the Spanish gave was allowing the Axis powers to maintain a coastwatching organisation at the western entrance to the Mediterranean. By the autumn of 1941, a number of reporting stations had been established on the Straits of Gibraltar, providing information on the movement of Allied shipping.2 Newly-released PUSD files provide further background to papers already available at The National Archives about this fascinating story. We know that, fortunately for the British, the Abwehr (German military intelligence) was running the ship-reporting organisation and they were able to intercept the German reports through ISOS (Intelligence Service Oliver Strachey) and ISK (Intelligence Service Knox) decrypts gathered at the Government Code & Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park,3 then under the administrative control of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). These decrypts were codenamed ‘Ultra’ and more generally referred to as ‘Most Secret Sources’ when passed by SIS to various customers. Initially, however, there were few counter-measures the British could adopt against this German reporting system in the Straits apart from ships implementing evasive tactics based on advice from the Admiralty and the hope that conditions of poor visibility offered some protection.4 Events took a more sinister turn when Ultra decrypts revealed in September 1941 that the Abwehr planned to set up, on both sides of the Straits, advanced nightobserving apparatus, including infra-red searchlights, telescopes and signalling lamps, thermal detectors (bolometers), and ultra short-wave wireless telegraphy (W/T). To install and operate this equipment, the Germans intended sending to Spain some fifteen technicians and ten W/T operators. This move–codenamed ‘Bodden’ by the


Germans and ‘Blake’ by the British–aimed to make the Abwehr’s night reporting system as accurate as their day reporting, increasing the danger to British and Allied shipping in the area.5 It was perhaps no coincidence that two months later, the Germany Navy made plans to drive the British Fleet ‘out of the whole of the Mediterranean’, eventually redeploying the bulk of their U-boats from the Atlantic.6 In a move to counter this new German threat, in January 1942, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Britain’s clandestine sabotage agency, used two antiFranco locally-recruited agents, in an operation codenamed ‘Falaise’, to blow up a German observation station in Tangier. Although the raid demolished the building, the long-term benefits were arguable as the Germans simply moved the post to another location and other reporting stations continued to make visual sightings of Allied shipping. Sir Samuel Hoare, HM Ambassador in Madrid, had at the last moment withdrawn his permission for the operation to go ahead, but it was too late. Indeed, reports soon reached the Admiralty that British ships were being observed by the new ‘Bodden’ equipment. Rear-Admiral John Godfrey, the Director of Naval Intelligence, nevertheless remained keen to pursue the sabotage option.7 He told Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, the chairman of the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee (JIC), that ‘the only counter-measure possible is action by S.O.E. from Gibraltar and from Tangier simultaneously’ to carry out a ‘demolition’ of these stations.8 It was a course of action that met a fairly robust response. After consultation with the Foreign Office, Cavendish-Bentinck replied that the ‘position of our Consulate General at Tangier is likely to become untenable if there is another bomb incident in that neighbourhood and it is doubtful whether in the present state of affairs our relations with Spain will stand more strain’.9 Colonel (later Major-General Sir) Stewart Menzies, the Chief of SIS, was also brought into the discussion. Equally nervous, he feared the arrest of his representative in Tangier and a demand for the withdrawal of the British Consulate, the result being that his ‘Intelligence organisation which is producing much information on North Africa from Tangier, would disappear’. In Spain itself, Menzies feared ‘violent repercussions on the British intelligence system’ which he argued was ‘a vital centre for operations against the Axis’.10 Godfrey was not to be deterred, arguing for ‘vigorous intervention’ by Commandos and ‘special troops’ from SOE before U-boats ‘very quickly render these waters impassable in either direction’.11 His efforts ultimately ended in failure after


the Chiefs of Staff decided to refer the matter to ministers. Both Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden agreed that diplomatic action should be taken instead.12 Consequently, Menzies instructed SIS’s CounterEspionage Section (in which the notorious British traitor Kim Philby was directly responsible for Iberian affairs) to draw up available intelligence material in a form which could be laid as evidence before Franco.13 The FO then issued instructions to Hoare to make ‘a strong intervention with General Franco himself and let him see that we know what has been going on’, avoiding any references to secret sources, but indicating he had got much of his information from intelligence gathered locally.14 When Hoare saw Franco at the end of May 1942, the interview was strained but the Ambassador handled his brief adroitly and gave the general a Spanish translation of a statement summarising the British case. Franco replied that the British were merely referring to preparations for Spanish coastal defence but promised to make an inquiry into the matter.15 In a subsequent telegram, Hoare said Franco was ‘frightened’ and ‘could not stand the suspense of not knowing what I wanted to see him about’. After learning that all the Spanish service ministers had seen the British document, Hoare declared rather optimistically that, ‘apparently the greater part of the apparatus is still in cases and not yet erected’.16 Yet, just two weeks later, Menzies reported that Ultra decrypts revealed Franco had now agreed to a resumption of the erection of at least a part of the apparatus on the northern side of the Straits under the supervision of a Spanish officer. Intelligence also suggested that further equipment was to be shipped south.17 On 22 June, Menzies reiterated that SIS now had reliable information the apparatus was in use. The Germans were claiming it had enabled them to obtain information on the passage of the ‘Harpoon’ convoy to Malta through the Straits during the night of 11-12 June: ‘the Axis are naturally jubilant, because they consider that the information so obtained materially assisted the attacks on this vital convoy’.18 After interventions from Churchill and Eden, Hoare was instructed to return to the charge once more.19 On 1 July, he managed to secure an interview with Serrano Súñer, the Spanish foreign minister, explaining that the situation was ‘very grave’. After Súñer gave, what Hoare termed, a ‘tortuous statement’, the Spanish foreign minister said his government had now ‘reached a decision that in order to avoid risks and complications at a critical moment in the world’s history, German personnel had been sent back to Germany and all work would be stopped’.20 This time Ultra


decrypts revealed that Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the head of the Abwehr, and his chief of naval intelligence, Captain Hermann Menzel, had held a conference with Franco a week earlier at which it was resolved to withdraw German personnel but the Abwehr still hoped to hand it over to the Spanish.21 Other intelligence pointed towards work proceeding on the African coast,22 and, on 16 and 20 July, it was clear the bolometer near Algeciras at Villa León was working and that the Ceuta station (Chalet Ross) was operational again.23 Worse news was to come, when Menzies confirmed that on the night of 9/10 August, another Malta-bound convoy, operation ‘Pedestal’, was reported to German intelligence headquarters in Madrid in a series of messages emanating from no fewer than eight different sources in the immediate vicinity of the Straits. Although ‘Pedestal’ included three aircraft carriers among its escorts, it suffered heavy losses: nine out of fourteen merchant ships were sunk along with the aircraft carrier Eagle, two cruisers and a destroyer. SIS now wanted the Villa León in Algeciras to be subjected to a rigorous search at the earliest opportunity. The Villa was the centre of the German reporting service on the north side of the Straits and the headquarters of Albert Carbe, the chief of German espionage in the area. Menzies, straying into the role of policymaking, argued that Hoare should be instructed to affirm that unless ‘we can satisfy ourselves that the activity of the Germans in the Villa León has been stopped, the whole problem of supplies to Spain will be reconsidered’.24 When Hoare became aware of Menzies’s comments he reacted angrily. The Ambassador was visiting London at the time and added his comments to Foreign Office minuting on the subject. He claimed that the Straits were full of enemy agents and up to 6,000 Spaniards went in and out of Gibraltar every day, so ‘practically every detail about every allied ship will continue to be telegraphed and telephoned to Berlin whatever we do’. The Ambassador also believed that in ‘the low state of our military prestige any success that we may achieve in getting a particular enemy station closed will probably be followed by a German offensive in which we shall lose on balance’. Hoare brushed Menzies’s proposals aside, arguing they showed ‘a complete ignorance of or disagreement with our wider Spanish policy’. Rather fatalistically, Hoare summed up the situation: ‘the question is much less simple than “Why if the Germans do it, should not we?” I am afraid that until Spain ceases to be a semi-occupied country, the Germans will continue to do all kinds of things that we can’t do, and that nine times out of ten we shall be discovered and they won’t.’25


In addition to Menzies’s criticism, Hoare had also been irritated by SIS’s demands to install a wireless transmitter at Bilbao for secret transmissions, which the Ambassador was not prepared to countenance.26 At a Foreign Office meeting with representatives from SIS, SOE and the Admiralty, it was agreed it would be ‘a mistake to take both our fences at once, and that we should concentrate upon the German stations in the south, since this was much more the important issue.’27 The momentum to tackle the Spanish gathered pace once more in October 1942, when Menzies informed the FO that Ultra decrypts gave ‘the lie to Spanish assurances that the Blake project is entirely dead, and make it clear that many of the German personnel who were sent to Southern Spain to work the Blake installations have not yet left the area’.28 It was felt the time was now right to send instructions to Hoare to approach the Spanish government yet again.29 The Ambassador did so on 19 October, seeing Franco and lodging his protest by drawing obliquely on a memorandum that had been prepared by SIS. After discussing British and Spanish policy in general, Hoare eventually referred to the continued presence of German personnel on Spanish soil; five visits made by Admiral Canaris and his senior officers to Spain; and the spy centre and transmitter in Villa León in Algeciras. The Ambassador recorded that Franco ‘seemed throughout the interview more friendly and communicative than I have previously known him’ but Hoare also admitted he felt Franco ‘did not realise the gravity of the position’.30 Despite this further protest, the Germans continued to operate their ship-watching operations, this at a time when the Allies were planning to launch Operation TORCH, the invasion of French North Africa. Fortunately, in the run up to TORCH, the Abwehr were fed a wealth of deception plans, which made it difficult for the Germans to pinpoint the final location of the assault.31 By the end of 1942, the British started to receive more encouraging news as Ultra decrypts showed that two bolometers, which had hitherto been working at Ceuta and Algeciras, had now been dismantled and were awaiting transport to Germany. Menzies recorded this ‘means, in effect, that [after] all of the apparatus brought by the Germans to Spain in connection with the Blake night-observation enterprise not one single instrument remains in operation’. However, there were still German attempts to infiltrate Spaniards into the observation stations in place of Germans. One Spanish W/T operator, for example, had been attached to the staff of Villa León although there were signs that the Spanish General Staff were not eager to encourage this


development.32 And Menzies still reserved criticism for Hoare, complaining that his second protest in October seemed ‘less vigorous than his first one last May’, particularly as the Ambassador included this important issue alongside a number of other, and quite distinct problems, thereby diminishing the force of his arguments. An unidentified FO official minuted alongside this paragraph–‘This goes too far’.33 Despite Menzies’ remarks, he appreciated that the diplomatic protests were making an impact. Information from Ultra decrypts revealed that Canaris arrived in Spain on 27 December 1942, seeing General Juan Vigón, the Spanish Air Minister, the following day and then General Francisco-Gómez Jordana, the new foreign minister, on 29 December. Menzies told the Foreign Office, ‘I need hardly add that the very fact of Canaris’s visit in Madrid shows the measure of perturbation caused in both German and Spanish circles by the Ambassador’s protests’.34 On instructions from the FO at the behest of SIS,35 Hoare kept up the campaign to put pressure on the Spanish government, seeing Jordana in January 1943 and drawing his attention to the continued presence of German wireless operators and to the suspicious character of Villas León and Chalet Ross.36 On 17 January 1943, the FO sent a ‘Strictly Personal and Most Secret’ telegram to Hoare outlining the details of Canaris’ report of his visit to Spain, which had been obtained from Ultra decrypts. It related that when Canaris met Vigón on 28 December, the Spanish agreed the German intelligence service could continue observation of the Straits but that personnel would be reduced in number and Spaniards introduced in place of Germans. Vigón also added that in order to give the Allies no excuse for attacking Spain, activities hostile to the Allies and sabotage operations directed from Spain or Spanish colonial territory would have to cease. All this led the Foreign Office to declare confidently that the Germans ‘are retreating’.37 Despite FO confidence over the progress of events, there nevertheless remained an extremely effective system of observation by day which enabled the enemy to obtain accurate information about the movement of Allied ships through the Straits. In June 1943, the Germans even tried to re-activate their scientific apparatus but finally abandoned the effort in July. Only in October 1943 after yet another British protest did the Spanish take action against the Villa León in Algeciras, whose Abwehr personnel were told to leave, but visual reporting on Allied shipping continued well into the summer of 1944. In summary, then, this story has shown that while diplomatic protests backed up by intelligence ultimately proved successful in


stemming determined German efforts to run a 24-hour coast-watching organisation along the Straits, British attempts to halt German activity altogether met continual difficulties, faced as they were with operating in a country whose neutrality was often open to question.38 Christopher Baxter Cabinet Office


This essay is based principally on two files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent UnderSecretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/318, ‘”Blake”; German reporting stations round the Straits of Gibraltar’ (1942-43); and FO 1093/327, ‘C, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS): “Blake”; German reporting stations round the Straits of Gibraltar’ (1943). 2 See F. H. Hinsley et al, British Intelligence in the Second World War, ii, Its Influence on Strategy and Operations (London, 1981), p. 719. 3 The ISOS and ISK abbreviations were named after senior GC&CS staff in charge of the breaking of the Abwehr hand enciphered radio traffic (Strachey) and the Abwehr Enigma traffic (Dilwyn Knox). 4 See Hinsley, pp. 719-20 and Ralph Erskine, ‘Eavesdropping on ‘Bodden’: ISOS v. the Abwehr in the Straits of Gibraltar’, Intelligence and National Security, Vol.12 No. 3 (July 1997), pp. 110-29 5 See Historical note attached to Menzies to Loxley, 17 December 1942, FO 1093/318. 6 Erskine, ‘Eavesdropping’, p.110. 7 Ibid, pp.111-12 and J. G. Beevor, SOE: Recollections and Reflections 1940-1945 (London, 1981), pp. 131-32. 8 Godfrey to Cavendish-Bentinck, 7 March 1942, FO 1093/318. 9 Cavendish-Bentinck to Godfrey, 11 March 1942, ibid. 10 Menzies to Cavendish-Bentinck, 9 March 1942, ibid. 11 Godfrey to Cavendish-Bentinck, 21 March 1942, ibid. 12 Makins minute, 21 March 1942, Cadogan minute, 22 March 1942, Eden minute, 22 March 1942, and Cavendish-Bentinck to Godfrey, 24 March 1942; Cadogan minute, 20 May 1942, Makins minute, 21 May 1942, and copy of letter from Guinness to Price, 4 June 1942, all ibid. 13 This particular memorandum dated 14 May 1942 can be found in a covering letter from Reilly to Addis, 19 May 1942, ibid. 14 Hoare’s instructions can be found in FO tel. 689 to Madrid, 23 May 1942, ibid. 15 Madrid tel. 786 to FO, 27 May 1942, ibid. 16 Madrid tel. 810 to FO, 3 June 1942, ibid. 17 Menzies to Loxley, 12 June 1942, ibid. 18 Menzies to Loxley, 22 June 1942, ibid. 19 Churchill minute for Eden, 11 June 1942, Eden minute, 12 June 1942and FO tel. 765 to Madrid, 18 June 1942, all ibid. 20 Madrid tels. 951 & 952 to FO, 2 Jul 1942, ibid. 21 Menzies to Loxley, 1 July 1942, ibid and FO tel. 841 to Madrid, 6 July 1942, ibid. 22 Madrid tel. 1044 to FO, 22 July 1942, ibid. 23 Hinsley, op. cit p. 721. 24 See Menzies to Loxley, 22 Aug 1942, FO 1093/318. 25 Hoare minute, 29 August 1942, ibid.



Loxley minute, 27 August 1942, ibid. Roberts minute, 31 August 1942 and Williams minute, 11 September 1942, ibid. 28 Menzies to Loxley, 9 October 1942, ibid. 29 FO tel. 1147 to Madrid, 15 October 1942, ibid. 30 See Madrid tels. 1439-41 to FO, 19-20 October 1942, Madrid tel. 1465 to FO, 22 October 1942 and Madrid tel. 1505 to FO, 27 October 1942, all ibid. 31 Erskine, ‘Eavesdropping’, pp.118-19. 32 Menzies to Loxley, 21 Dec 1942, FO 1093/318. 33 Menzies to Loxley, 17 December 1942, ibid. 34 Menzies to Loxley, 1 January 1943, FO 1093/327. 35 Menzies to Loxley, 5 January 1943, ibid. 36 See FO tel. 52 to Madrid, 7 January 1943, Madrid tel. 40 to FO8 January 1943, ibid. 37 FO tel. 128 to Madrid, 17 January 1943, FO 1093/318. 38 See Hinsley, Appendix 15, p. 721 and Erskine, ‘Bodden’, p. 122. 27


The Man Who Was: The ‘Clamorgan’ Affair and the origins of Operation Mincemeat1 Around nine-thirty on the morning of 30 April 1943 the body of a British serviceman was recovered from the sea off Huelva in southern Spain. The local authorities notified their superiors and soon considerable official interest was generated about the corpse and, more particularly, the locked attaché case that was found attached to it. Pro-German elements amongst the Spanish military ensured that copies of the official, secret documents discovered on the corpse were passed to Nazi intelligence officers in Madrid. But this apparent disaster for the Allies was, in reality, a complex ruse engineered by British intelligence to deceive the Germans as to the true location of the impending invasion of Sicily. Operation ‘Mincemeat’ was an audacious deception stratagem using the body of a down-and-out obtained from a London mortuary. The corpse had been kitted out as ‘Major Martin’ of the Royal Marines (with all the appropriate personal documentation) and was deposited in the sea from a Royal Navy submarine. The official papers planted on the body had been carefully drafted to suggest that the next Allied landings would take place in Sardinia and Greece rather than Sicily. The progress of the deception was closely monitored in London thanks to the British ability to read enciphered German wireless traffic sent between Madrid and Berlin. Although the macabre elements of the operation have over the years threatened to overwhelm the true strategic impact of the scheme, it was an imaginative and successful enterprise.2 But Operation ‘Mincemeat’ did not spring fully formed from the imaginations of the deception planners. It had its origins in a real life air crash involving an officer of General de Gaulle’s secret service that resulted in classified French documents falling into the hands of the Spanish authorities in September 1942. Louis Daniélou was a thirty year old French naval officer (Enseigne de Vaisseau) and the son of Charles Daniélou, a writer and politician who between the wars had served as Minister of the Merchant Marine. In March 1941 Daniélou joined General de Gaulle’s Fighting French forces having made his way to the United Kingdom via Tangier.3 He was recruited into the secret service, the Bureau Central de Renseignement et d’Action (BCRA), and, in order to forestall possible reprisals against members of his family who were still in occupied France, he assumed the nom de guerre ‘Clamorgan’–his mother’s maiden name. His superiors in the BCRA decided to send him to Tangier to oversee its activities there and to organise the penetration of Vichy-administered French North Africa. In this Spanish-occupied 49

territory he was to liaise with the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS).4 On 25 September 1942 Daniélou flew by a Catalina aircraft of No 202 Squadron, Coastal Command, from Plymouth bound for Gibraltar whence he would proceed to his ultimate destination, Tangier.5 Around half past three in the afternoon, the aircraft crashed into the sea off Cadiz killing the crew of seven and all three passengers, including Daniélou. It seems that the accident occurred as a result of a mechanical malfunction although a severe thunderstorm in the area may have been a contributory factor.6 Such accidents were an everyday feature of aviation in the middle of the twentieth century but, putting aside the personal tragedy of ten servicemen’s deaths, the crash constituted an immediate and significant security crisis for the Allies. One of the passengers, the twenty-three year old Royal Navy Paymaster-Lieutenant James Turner, was carrying documents that concerned the impending Allied invasion of French North Africa, Operation TORCH. News of Turner’s death resulted in frantic enquiries in London and Madrid but it was only when the body and personal affects accompanying it were delivered to Gibraltar that a proper damage assessment could be made.7 Meticulous forensic examination of Turner’s documents and close analysis of deciphered German wireless traffic from Spain to Berlin gave sufficient reassurance that TORCH was not compromised.8 But Turner was not the only courier bearing secret documents. Daniélou was carrying a variety of secret BCRA papers and although they were not specifically related to Operation TORCH, the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) was particularly concerned about their fate. If they had been passed to the Germans by the Spanish, Allied agents and clandestine operations in North Africa might very well have been compromised. Their fears were not based on idle speculation for British intelligence possessed ‘a good source in Spain’ who reported ‘that eighteen documents were found in the pockets of Lieutenant Clamorgan’s body. The Spaniards have photographed all these and it is more than likely, in fact almost a certainty, that they have been communicated to the Germans.’9 Signals intelligence confirmed their fate, ‘ISOS [Intelligence Service, Oliver Strachey] shows that these documents are in the hands of the Germans.’10 British relations with de Gaulle were rarely smooth and the early autumn of 1942 was a particularly difficult period. On 29 September Sir Alexander Cadogan, the Permanent UnderSecretary at the Foreign Office, noted in his diary, ‘A. [Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary] 50

and P.M. [Churchill] had a pitched battle with de Gaulle . . . On their instructions I put a stop on all outward telegrams from de Gaulle!’11 The ‘Clamorgan affair’ soon became yet another cause célèbre between the British and French and even excited friction between the Foreign Office and the main British secret services (SIS, SOE and the Security Service). On 12 October 1942 Colonel Guy Westmacott, an SIS liaison officer with the Free French, initiated the British enquiry into the likely ramifications if the secret documents carried by Daniélou had been compromised. The SIS agent in Spain had provided ‘an inventory of the papers, of which he has seen photostats’ and Westmacott wished the French to provide copies of the documents to the British ‘so that we can judge what harm has been done and who should be warned of the dangers they are in’.12 Charles Peake, a British civil servant attached to the Fighting French, was asked by Westmacott to make enquiries about the documents carried by Daniélou and administer a rebuke: ‘it is strictly forbidden for officers to carry secret documents unless they have been put into a properly sealed and weighted bag. If this obvious precaution had been taken in this case, the Spaniards would have been unlikely to have obtained the documents.’13 Peake did as requested and spoke with de Gaulle and the head of the BCRA, Colonel André Dewavrin (‘Passy’). In his report to Peter Loxley, Cadogan’s Private Secretary, Peake stated that he had been assured by the French that there was no security risk and that they had fully apprised Claude Dansey, the Assistant Chief of SIS, of the issues. Peake therefore did ‘not feel inclined to touch it again’.14 He was however to be disappointed in this ambition for the matter had definitely not gone away. William Codrington, who was responsible for security in the Foreign Office, wrote to Loxley on 19 October, ‘I think Mr Peake has been bluffed by Passy & de Gaulle’, and questioned whether Dansey was quite as content with the situation as Dewavrin had intimated.15 The Joint Inter-Service Security Board, a body responsible ‘for the co-ordination of all means of preventing leakage of information to the enemy’, launched an enquiry into what had been compromised and how Daniélou was able to take such a compromising package of documents out of the country with no apparent check.16 There was worse to follow. On 22 October Desmond Morton, Winston Churchill’s intelligence adviser and a man closely involved in Anglo-French matters, wrote to the Prime Minister about the affair. He did not mince his words, ‘Owing to incredible acts of folly, if not worse, on the part of the Fighting French Headquarters, the British, American and Polish Secret 51

Services in North Africa have been given away to the Germans.’17 Hardly surprisingly, Churchill’s response was to ask his Foreign Secretary what action he intended taking regarding this apparent cataclysm. Somewhat peeved by Morton’s pessimistic intervention, Eden replied five days later briefly offering reassurance that the risks had been mitigated and outlining the steps that had been taken. But the circle was soon to widen further when the Foreign Office and SIS sought an explanation from SOE as to the means by which Daniélou had come to possess a British passport in the name of ‘Charles D Marcil’. Beneath the politely worded exchanges, it is not difficult to discern the question of Daniélou’s passport having become yet another manifestation of the fratricidal rivalries in London with the Foreign Office/SIS axis ranged against SOE. Concerns over the damage to British Intelligence interests in Tangier and North Africa had sufficiently receded so that it now became a Whitehall debate over the necessary protocols for issuing alias passports to foreigners. Enquiries carried out by MI5 and SIS resulted in a note from Dansey to Codrington in which he more than inferred that SOE had acted inappropriately (and deviously) in securing a British passport for Daniélou. Neither SIS nor the Foreign Office was keen to provide opportunities for Spanish recriminations in Tangier about the bona fides of Allied representatives posted to the city. At Loxley’s prompting, Cadogan corresponded with Sir Stewart Menzies, the Chief of SIS, and Sir Charles Hambro, the Executive Head of SOE–the letter to the former being rather more congenial than the one to the latter.18 It is perhaps not insignificant that replies were very different too. Menzies–‘Dear Alec’–supported a clamping down on SOE’s procurement of passports while Hambro–‘Dear Cadogan’–offered a rather convoluted and not very convincing explanation of the circumstances surrounding the issue of Daniélou’s passport. Loxley summarised matters, ‘S.O.E. is fortunate in having on their staff some very good solicitors who are adept at putting the best possible complexion on a thin case [the process by which SOE had acquired the passport]’ but expressed his desire that the matter be concluded, ‘We don’t want to enter in a wrangle with them [SOE] over this affair which had now best be forgotten’.19 Cadogan took the matter in hand and on 26 November 1942 wrote to Hambro, ‘I think that the Clamorgan affair had now best be forgotten, and I do not want to pursue this particular matter further’. That said, he could not resist the temptation to administer an admonition: ‘I have therefore felt it necessary to instruct the Passport Control Department to refer to me any application which they may receive for a British passport for a foreigner. I 52

recognise that there may be occasions when it is desirable to provide a foreigner with a British passport, and I do not want to be sticky about agreeing to such applications. But I do want to know about them first.’20 So what effect did the ‘Clamorgan’ (and Turner) affair have on the gestation of Operation ‘Mincemeat’? It can be no coincidence that a plan, entitled ‘Trojan Horse’, was laid before the primary British deception group, the Twenty Committee, on 5 November 1942 barely a month after the Catalina crash. Compiled by Flight Lieutenant Charles Cholmondley, an RAF officer attached to MI5, it proposed that a corpse dressed as a military officer and bearing misleading documents should be dropped in the sea near to enemy territory. It was hoped that the body would be assumed to have been a casualty of an air crash and that the papers on it were genuine.21 It was not just the tragic experience of the fates of Turner and Daniélou that shaped Cholmondley’s scheme. The seeds of the plan might also have been nurtured by informed appreciations of the allegiance of the Spanish authorities during the ‘Clamorgan’ incident. The British Ambassador in Madrid, Sir Samuel Hoare, reported to London, ‘I fear we must assume that information of this kind will always find its way to the Germans. Whilst in this case the [Spanish] Air Minister may himself give it to them in most cases the Germans will obtain it from minor officials in their pay.’22 The ‘Clamorgan’ affair had provided many of the preconditions to inspire ‘Trojan Horse’/‘Mincemeat’; it was a tragic but inevitable feature of 1940s aviation that aircraft crashed; passengers on military aircraft often carried secret documents; (some) Spanish officials had a predisposition to support the Germans. The planners of Operation ‘Mincemeat’ had been provided with the concept and it was now just a matter of adaptation, fine tuning and attention to detail. This has largely been the perceived view but there are grounds to suggest that Cholmondley and his colleagues misinterpreted several features of the ‘Clamorgan’/Turner accident and their scheme therefore acquired flaws. If Turner, in naval uniform, was not searched by the Spanish authorities, why did ‘Mincemeat’ dress ‘Major Martin’ in military attire? As Daniélou carried a British passport in which his profession was ‘private secretary’ there must be a possibility that he was travelling in civilian dress. So, the question needs to be asked whether the Spanish authorities had respected the body and personal effects of a military man (Turner) but plundered that of a civilian (Daniélou).


Similarly, was there any analysis of the impact upon Spanish allegiances of the changing tide of war? In September 1942 Allied fortunes were far less favourable than in April 1943 when ‘Mincemeat’ was launched. So, if Turner’s corpse was left inviolate before the Allied occupation of the whole of North Africa, were there not solid grounds for assuming Spanish sensibilities might be even less inclined to tamper with an Allied casualty as the invasion of Italy loomed? But amidst all this speculation and ‘what ifs’ about Operation ‘Mincemeat’, it offers some consolation that the tragic deaths of the aircrew and passengers of the Catalina crash in September 1942 had, however indirectly, helped the Allied cause. Mark Seaman Cabinet Office 1

This essay is based principally on a file originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/227, ‘Lieutenant Clamorgan (Free French officer (case). 2 The literature on Operation Mincemeat is substantial. An early hint of the story appeared in Duff Cooper’s fictionalized account Operation Heartbreak (Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1950) while Euan Montagu’s The Man Who Never Was (Evans, London, 1966) became an international best seller. Michael Howard offered an official version with British Intelligence in the Second World War Volume 5 (HMSO, London, 1990) while more recent writers have benefited from the release of official files; Denis Smyth, Deathly Deception (OUP, Oxford, 2010) and Ben Macintyre Operation Mincemeat (Bloomsbury, London, 2010). A feature film, television documentaries, plays and countless newspaper features have also appeared over the years. 3 De Gaulle’s organisation enjoyed a variety of titles during the war. By the time of the ‘Clamorgan’ affair it was La France Combattante, translated by the British as the Fighting French or ‘F.F.’ (Atlas de la France Libre, Sébastien Albertelli, Autrement, Paris, 2010). 4 Sébastien Albertelli, Les Services Secrets du Général de Gaulle, Le BCRA 1940-1944 (Perrin, Paris, 2009) pp. 235-36 and Colonel Passy (André Dewavrin), Souvenirs, 10, Duke Street (Raoul Solar, Monte Carlo, 1947), pp. 34546. ‘Clamorgan’s’ personal SOE file is at HS9/318, TNA. 5 The date of the crash has confused some writers. The official history (Howard) states it was 29 September, the Inter-Services Security Board report gives it as 26 September (Smyth) and Macintyre and the Commonwealth War Graves (on Turner’s gravestone) offer 25 September. The last cited has been taken. 6 Smyth, pp. 16-17. 7 He is buried in a Gibraltar Commonwealth War Graves cemetery. 8 Smyth, p. 11 There is a first-hand but somewhat confused account of the arrival of Turner’s corpse and his documents in Gibraltar in Donald Darling, Sunday at Large (William Kimber, London, 1977). Darling, an SIS/MI9


officer based in the colony, attributed the return, untouched, of the documents to an honourable, ‘old school’ Spanish admiral in Cadiz (p. 56). 9 Memo, ‘To the British Mission’, 12 October 1942, FO 1093/227. 10 Nigel West (ed), The Guy Liddell Diaries, Volume II 1942-1945 (Routledge, Abingdon, 2005), entry for 26 October 1942, p. 20. 11 David Dilks (ed), The Diaries of Sir Alexander Cadogan O.M., 1938-1945 (Cassell, London, 1971), p. 479. 12 Memo ‘To the British Mission’, 12 October 1942, FO1093/227. 13 Ibid 14 Letter, Peake to Loxley, 14 October 1942, FO 1093/227. Loxley was to be yet another air casualty when the Liberator in which he was travelling to the Yalta Conference crashed into the sea near Malta on 1 February 1945. See Cadogan Diaries, p. 701. 15 Letter, Codrington to Loxley, 19 October 1942, FO 1093/227. 16 Howard, p. 22 and, Codrington to Loxley, 19 October 1942, FO 1093/227. 17 Memo, Morton to Churchill, 22 October 1942, FO 1093/227. See also Gill Bennett, Churchill’s Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (Routledge, London, 2006), p. 272. 18 Letter, Cadogan to Menzies, 14 October 1942 and letter, Cadogan to Hambro, 14 November 1942, FO 1093/227. 19 Memo, Loxley to Cadogan, 13 November 1942, FO 1093/227. 20 Letter, Cadogan to Hambro, 26 November 1942 FO 1093/227. 21 Smyth, p. 19. 22 Telegram from Madrid to Foreign Office, 28 October 1942, FO 1093/227.



Wartime experience and the future of the secret services, 1940–511 The history of the British secret services during the Second World War was one of hugely expanding responsibilities and outstanding success after a distinctly shaky start. This was particularly so for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). There was a flurry of criticism from the service ministries about SIS’s early wartime performance during the search to find a new Chief after the unexpected death of Sir Hugh Sinclair on 4 November 1939.2 Less than a week later, SIS faced the very public embarrassment of two of its officers being captured by the Germans at Venlo on the Dutch-German frontier after having been lured there in the mistaken belief that they were dealing with German soldiers opposed to Hitler.3 Partly because of concerns about the efficiency of SIS, the appointment of Sinclair’s de facto deputy, Colonel (later Major-General Sir) Stewart Menzies, as his successor was accompanied by the commissioning of the old Whitehall hand, Lord Hankey,4 in December 1939 to review the work of SIS. This was the first of a series of reviews during the war and its aftermath which considered the performance, organisation and direction of Britain’s security and intelligence agencies. Hankey’s report, delivered in March 1940, was on the whole quite welldisposed towards SIS. No fundamental changes were recommended concerning the SIS’s core human intelligence-gathering functions, and Hankey specially mentioned the ‘strong impression’ he had ‘derived of the healthy spirit of loyalty, esprit de corps and devotion to duty which animates all ranks of S.S. [the Secret Service]’. He was especially circumspect regarding signals intelligence-gathering, which was the responsibility of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), under the overall charge of SIS. He noted the ‘extreme secrecy of this branch’ and, while he thought it ‘inadvisable to put anything on paper about its present work’, he assured the Prime Minister that ‘in no case’ did he ‘form an adverse opinion’ of its activities.5 The first recommendation in his report was that ‘the utmost care should be exercised by all those who have knowledge of the existence of this work, not even to mention it except in conditions where secrecy is certain to be inviolable’.6 Bearing in mind the crucial importance which the signals intelligence effort (based at Bletchley Park) had to the winning of the war, this was prescient indeed. Among recommendations to improve liaison between SIS and its customer departments (and, through this, perhaps also the higher direction of the Service), 57

Hankey proposed that there should be monthly meetings of representatives of SIS, the Foreign Office (FO), the three service ministries, the Ministry of Economic Warfare (MEW) and the Security Service (MI5).7 In the event, very little resulted from this. Jealous of its established independent and interdepartmental character (albeit under loose Foreign Office direction), and anxious not to be dominated by the service ministries, SIS (with FO backing) consistently resisted any formalisation of its illdefined position within British government. While regular informal meetings were held, the anticipated ‘Secret Service Committee’ only met very intermittently during the war. There was a meeting in June 1940 when intelligence arrangements following the fall of France were discussed, and one in March 1941 which discussed intelligence in a number of countries, as well as the possibility of invasion.8 Following his review of SIS, Hankey also reported on the Security Service (MI5), and (as with SIS) recommended measures for improved coordination. Any specific impact of the report was swept away in the wholesale reorganisation of MI5 which followed the sacking of the longstanding Director-General, Sir Vernon Kell, in June 1940.9 Hankey had noted some duplication of covert activities by different government departments, and among his recommendations was that the ‘special operations’ activities (comprising such things as subversion and sabotage) of SIS’s Section IX should be co-ordinated with those of the War Office’s ‘MIR’ branch. In July 1940 these two departments were amalgamated into a new body, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), under the Ministry of Economic Warfare.10 Sharing many interests and requiring similar resources, but with sometimes inimical activities, SIS and SOE had intermittently strained relations. The authors of a general review of SOE in mid-1942 reported ‘bad relations’ between the two services, and were ‘much disturbed by the tone of petty bickering and sniping which one finds in S.I.S. communications’.11 The ill-will generated by poor inter-service relations certainly coloured the lively debate about the future status of SOE which emerged towards the end of the war. In March 1943 Duff Cooper (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) suggested to Churchill that a committee be set up to consider the future of British intelligence organisation, and proposed a unified Secret Service combining MI5, SIS and SOE. Churchill was against another committee, but suggested that monthly meetings between the heads of the three organisations (which his intelligence adviser Desmond Morton could attend on his behalf) might enable ‘causes of friction’ to be ‘smoothed 58

away and common action promoted’.12 Despite the Prime Minister’s backing, this proposal came to nothing, but Duff Cooper’s initiative stimulated thinking about postwar intelligence organisation which developed into the appointment of a threeman review committee, chaired by Sir Nevile Bland (at the time British ambassador to the Netherlands government-in-exile, and with long FO experience of intelligence matters). It also included Peter Loxley, Private Secretary to Sir Alexander Cadogan, FO Permanent Under-Secretary, and Victor ‘Bill’ Cavendish-Bentinck, who had been chairman of the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee since the beginning of the war. Loxley’s preliminary thoughts about postwar intelligence priorities indicate the range of activities contemplated. ‘One useful function that I think S.I.S. could perform after the war’, he wrote, ‘would be to keep in touch with opposition groups in semi-dictator countries . . . (e.g. pre-war Poland or Greece under the Metaxas régime)’. Then there were ‘the political activities of Big Business’, such as the German chemical conglomerate, I. G. Farben, or the French steel giant, the Comité des Forges. ‘What of our friends?’ he asked ‘Is it more important that we should run no possible risk of an incident with e.g. the United States or Russia or that we should know something of the secret plans of American business interests in Latin America or of hidden Russian activities, if any, in the Balkans?’13 Bland himself expressed ‘the strongest disinclination for “working” the U.S.A.’. He did not believe that there was ‘anything there which we couldn’t find out by legitimate methods . . . and the result of detection would be utterly calamitous’.14 As to methods of intelligence-gathering, while Cavendish-Bentinck urged his colleagues ‘not [to] forget that the S.I.S. and “C” have been saved by “Ultra”’, he believed knowledge of signals intelligence would be widely known after the war, and that ‘we must in future rely on agents’.15 Bland agreed, asserting that SIS would be more important than ever, especially ‘as it seems unlikely, in the light of developments in cyphering, that we can count indefinitely in obtaining the bulk of our most valuable and secret information through the G.C. & C.S.’16 The Bland Report firmly came down against any integration of SIS with GC&CS ‘since it could only result in the long run in making the personnel of the S.I.S. feel they could rely on the fruits of cryptography, instead of having to bestir themselves to obtain intelligence through agents’. It recommended that SIS continue as an independent agency under the Foreign Office, but with much more secure finances than the shoestring basis of


the interwar years, and with senior naval, military and air representatives to enhance liaison with important customer departments.17 Bland also considered what Loxley called ‘the thorny subject of covert action, as opposed to the covert gathering of intelligence’,18 and concluded that it was ‘inconceivable that there should exist in peace-time any secret organisation operating in foreign countries that is not responsible to the Foreign Secretary’; that SOE should be wound up as an independent organisation; and that such special operations functions as it was thought appropriate to retain should be managed by SIS.19 This recommendation was strongly resisted both by SOE itself, as well as elements in the armed services who wished to retain an independent special operations organisation under military control. In November 1944 Anthony Eden (then Foreign Secretary) told Churchill ‘that the only sound plan in the ultimate future will be to place “special operations” and the S.I.S. under the same controlling head’,20 but it took some ten months for this to be settled. And even Eden agreed that SOE could not be closed down altogether. Its services would be needed ‘until the end of the war with Japan’, and ‘in liberated territories and in neutral countries there may from time to time be useful scope for a covert organisation to further the policy of H.M. Government; and I should therefore be sorry to see the abandonment of all machinery for “special operations” even when the war is over’.21 This opinion was echoed by Cavendish-Bentinck in April 1945 when he reported the opinion of Lord Selborne (who as Minister of Economic Warfare had had responsibility for SOE) that it would be ‘necessary in the future for H.M.G. to facilitate from time to time, in special cases, their policy in foreign countries by bribing foreign officials’ and employ ‘the judicious use of public funds to influence the opinions of important persons’.22 With different ministers—Churchill, Eden, Selborne—taking varying lines, and Churchill apparently offering the leadership of SOE to different individuals, the issue of political control over whatever postwar organisation emerged exercised Cavendish-Bentinck after he had been put in charge of a committee to sort the matter out in May 1945. ‘I trust that we shall firmly keep S.O.E. away from Ministers’; he wrote, ‘we have had enough trouble owing to that organisation coming directly under a Minister. Clandestine organisations and politicians should be kept apart.’23 Cavendish-Bentinck was further exercised by a suggestion from the Commando hero, Lord Lovat (who had been mooted as a possible head of SOE) that 60

the Canadian Sir William Stephenson be brought over to advise on the future of SOE. Stephenson had very successfully run British Security Co-ordination in New York, co-ordinating the work of British covert agencies in the Americas, but was widely regarded as an empire-builder. Lovat’s idea ‘made me smile,’ minuted CavendishBentinck, as he knew that Stephenson was ‘angling to become controller of all British clandestine services, i.e. S.O.E., S.I.S., M.I.5 and any P.W.E. [Political Warfare Executive] that may be maintained in the future’. He said he had warned Lovat off the proposal, ‘pointing out that the great British public might be displeased if, after destroying Himmler, they suddenly found that they had allowed a similar person from Canada to come up in their midst’.24 After some evidently hard bargaining with the War Office and the Chiefs of Staff Committee, Cavendish-Bentinck reported agreement that SOE would become a branch of SIS, and this was recommended to Eden, who also agreed.25 By the time ministerial approval was given, the government had changed after the Labour Party’s landslide victory in the August 1945 General Election. Having consulted the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, the new Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, assented to the reorganisation, but only ‘pending the result of an examination by Sir Findlater Stewart’s Committee now in progress, on the whole future status of the Intelligence Services’.26 This was a misunderstanding for, as Menzies anxiously pointed out, Findlater Stewart’s investigation was limited to MI5, and only peripherally involved the counter-espionage side of SIS.27 It was left to Bevin to clarify the position. Having ‘discussed this point with the Prime Minister’, he told Menzies that he was categorically to be head of both SIS and SOE, and instructed him to amalgamate the two services.28 Thus, finally, was SOE absorbed into SIS. Although its primary focus was on the Security Service, in two respects the Findlater Stewart report was not, in fact, quite so irrelevant to SIS concerns as Menzies claimed. First there was the question of ministerial responsibility, which had clear implications across the whole British security and intelligence community. Second was the matter of relations with SIS, and areas of overlapping and complementary activity. Noting that MI5 ‘served many Departments’, and that its funds were provided by the Treasury, Findlater Stewart noted that since 1940 it had had three ministerial heads, ending up with Eden ‘but only in his personal capacity and not as Foreign Secretary’. Feeling ‘strongly that the time has come to regularise the situation’ and asserting that the primary purpose of the organisation was the 61

‘Defence of the Realm’, Findlater Stewart recommended that ministerial responsibility should rest with the Minister of Defence, ‘or, if there is no Minister of Defence, the Prime Minister’.29 In fact, Attlee wanted to keep his own control of MI5, and when Sir Percy Sillitoe was appointed Director-General in May 1946, the Directive given to him stated that ‘you will be responsible to the Prime Minister, to whom you will have the right of direct access’.30 This powerful right of direct access could not but affect the comparative position of the Chief of SIS, whose ministerial overlord was the Foreign Secretary and whose right of access to the Prime Minister, while established by practice, was not underpinned by any explicit document. As to ‘Relationships with S.I.S.’, Findlater Stewart confirmed the existing arrangement that, while MIS and SIS had overlapping counter-espionage functions (and SIS’s had expanded considerably during the war), MI5 was ‘responsible for the collation and appreciation of all intelligence bearing upon espionage or subversive movements aimed at the Empire’ and should continue ‘to be responsible for obtaining counter-intelligence in the Empire’. Although there had been ‘friction and duplication of effort’ in the past, Findlater Stewart did not propose ‘amalgamation, either complete or partial’, just the (apparently) clear demarcation of responsibilities outlined above, along with a pious injunction that the two service should co-operate with each other and that ‘good working relationships would be facilitated by arrangements for the interchange of staff’.31 But, as the British empire began to contract in the postwar years, this would pose demarcation difficulties over which service would be responsible for ex-imperial territories. It was not long before strains emerged in MI5-SIS relations. In November 1948 Sillitoe argued that MI5 had to maintain liaison with both Commonwealth and foreign countries (especially in the Middle East, where Britain deployed armed forces in several places), and complained that SIS was seeking to replace MI5 representatives with its own personnel. ‘The root of the trouble’, argued E.P. Donaldson in the Cabinet Office, ‘is the tradition of hostility between M.I.5 and S.I.S which results in a mutual reluctance to exchange information and a general atmosphere of non-co-operation’.32 MI5 and SIS, in fact, managed to sort out their differences themselves, and, working on the assumption (as was planned) that the two organisations would ‘ultimately share headquarters premises in London’, negotiated a ‘Memorandum of Agreement’ providing that they would integrate work in foreign countries as much as possible, and that Middle East territories would be regarded as a 62

‘special case’ on account of the ‘presence there of British Defence Forces’. This agreement, noted Sir Edward Bridges (Permanent Secretary to the Treasury and Head of the Home Civil Service), was ‘really rather a notable achievement, in that it shows a greater willingness on the part of the departments to work together than has ever existed before’.33 During 1949 Bridges began to consider the possibility of a unified security and intelligence organisation, combining MI5 and SIS. Sillitoe thought that ‘ultimately there should be one Head of both organisations’, and they both considered that the retirement of Menzies might provide an opportunity to restructure the intelligence machine. In October 1949 Sillitoe told Bridges that ‘C [Menzies], ‘who is about 60’ would ‘not retire until 65 unless pushed out’, which meant that there was ‘probably some time’ to consider the possibilities. On the other hand, Bridges observed that the Foreign Office were ‘insanely jealous of the arrangement whereby C is responsible to them only and they might well be inclined to take measures to perpetuate the existing arrangement without consultation in a wider circle’.34 In fact the FO had already begun to discuss Menzies’ possible retirement and successor, considering his approaching sixtieth birthday in January 1950, though there is no evidence that they were thinking about any amalgamation of SIS with MI5.35 In the spring of 1950 Attlee decided that there should be ‘some further enquiry into the security and intelligence services’, focusing on ‘the possibility of securing a closer linkage between the various organisations concerned’, and also assessing that ‘the money provided for this work was fairly allocated between the different organisations, and that full value was being obtained for the money spent’. At the end of May, Sir Norman Brook, the Cabinet Secretary, was appointed to conduct the enquiry.36 The Brook Report of March 1951 provides a fascinating snapshot of the midcentury British intelligence machine, along with some clear indicators of how the organisations concerned would develop in the future. There is a cool appraisal by Brook of the outstanding issues which had dominated thinking about security and intelligence since the beginning of the Second World War: the distribution of covert functions between different organisations; the relationships between the departments involved; and the higher direction of those agencies. Inevitably, too, there were recommendations which came to nothing.37


Brook’s overall judgment of ‘the present state of intelligence’ was largely positive. Despite the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) having recently issued a particularly gloomy report on the ‘general state of our intelligence on Russia’, the conclusion which Brook drew from his enquiry was ‘that the undoubted gaps in our knowledge are due more to the inherent difficulties of the task than to slackness or inefficiency in the agencies responsible for the collection of intelligence’. Brook was generally complimentary about both MI5 and SIS, though he commented on the ‘heavy administrative overheads’ of the latter. ‘A very large proportion of the staff of S.I.S.’, he observed—indeed, the whole of the headquarters staff and, ‘to a large extent’, SIS officers overseas—were ‘engaged, not in collecting intelligence, but in organising its collection’. In the main this was because SIS were ‘attempting to do a war-time job in peace-time circumstances’. In contrast to wartime, for example, when the armed services could readily provide all the support required for, say, inserting an agent into hostile territory, in peacetime SIS ‘have themselves to charter a boat or an aircraft’, and go to a good deal of trouble to conceal their own involvement in then transaction. But he warned that ‘the tendency towards an over-elaborate administrative structure needs to be carefully watched’. Brook was quite positive about special operations. Since the UK largely relied on émigrés to provide agents to work behind the Iron Curtain, he felt that their help would ‘be far more readily given if we are willing to do something to further their cause in their own countries’, and argued that current intelligence could be obtained ‘ as a by-product of any operations undertaken in these countries’. He was also firmly of the ‘view that even in war S.I. and S.O. should be kept under a single control. Experience in the last war’, he added, ‘provided a striking illustration of the dangers of separate control’. The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ, as GC&CS had been re-titled) was also part of Brook’s review. Bland’s pessimistic prediction about the loss of signals intelligence capability had not come to pass, and ‘all users of intelligence . . . agreed that more valuable information comes to them from G.C.H.Q. than from any of the other secret sources of intelligence’. Brook recommended, nevertheless, that the current arrangement ‘by which the head of S.I.S. is DirectorGeneral of G.C.H.Q.’ should continue. On the other hand, he emphatically came down against any fusion of MI5 and SIS under one head: ‘These two services have grown so large and complex that no single individual could now exercise effective 64

control over them both’. Besides, the spirit of co-operation between the two agencies was now as good as it had ever been, as was particularly illustrated by the integrated staffs of SIME and SIFE (Security Intelligence, Middle East and Far East). Brook had great faith in the potential of the plan to house the two services ‘in a single building, which is now in course of construction’. This ‘should be ready for occupation by the end of 1953’, and it was ‘most important’ that the plan ‘should not be allowed to miscarry, and that its execution should not be delayed’. This was one of the recommendations which never materialised. While architectural concentration was to be still-born, institutional circumstances were to prove more enduringly influential. Apropos the coordination of intelligence generally, and liaison between agencies, Brook thought that the JIC, which was gradually extending its reach from its purely inter-service origins, served a particularly important function, and ought to be strengthened (for example by expanding the secretariat and adding the Director of GCHQ). Here he identified accurately what was to be the principal mechanism over the coming decades for concentrating, directing and improving the British intelligence community as a whole. In effect the JIC developed into the interdepartmental co-ordinating body which Hankey had envisaged in 1940. As to the higher political direction of secret agencies, Brook proposed no change in the situation whereby SIS and GCHQ were responsible to the Foreign Secretary. However, he was emphatic that MI5 should not remain responsible to the Prime Minister but come under the Home Office, ‘which has the ultimate constitutional responsibility for “defending the Realm” against subversive activities and for preserving law and order’. ‘I see no reason’, he mordantly reflected, ‘why this Service should enhance its prestige at the expense of the Prime Minister’. Brook recommended that ‘for general advice on the work and efficiency of these services the Prime Minister should in future rely on the Committee of Permanent Secretaries’ (from Treasury, Defence, Foreign and Home Offices) which he suggested should meet annually to consider the allocation of resources between intelligence agencies. Thus, perhaps, might be achieved Cavendish-Bentinck’s wise injunction in 1945 that ‘Clandestine organisations and politicians should be kept apart’. Keith Jeffery Queen’s University, Belfast 65


This essay is based principally on seven files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent UnderSecretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/193-99, ‘Future of secret services’, Parts 1-7 (1940-45), and on the first tranche of Cabinet Secretary’s Miscellaneous Papers released concurrently in CAB 301. All these files were consulted in the preparation of the official history of SIS: Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909-49 (London, 2010). 2 See FO 1093/127, ‘Death of Admiral Hugh Sinclair and appointment of his successor as “C”, Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)’, 1939. 3 FO 1093/200-02, ‘German Generals: October-November 1939: Venlo Incident, Vols, I-III. See also Jeffery, MI6, pp. 328–45. 4 Hankey, currently Minister without Portfolio, had been Cabinet Secretary from 1916 to 1938. 5 Hankey to Neville Chamberlain, 11 Mar. 1940, FO 1093/193. 6 ‘The Secret Services. Inquiry by the Minister without Portfolio. First report’, 11 Mar. 1940, ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 Note of first meeting of Secret Service Committee, 3 June 1940; and Second meeting of Secret Service Committee, 19 Mar. 1941, ibid. 9 Hankey to Winston Churchill, 24 May 1940, enclosing Report on the Security Service, FO 1093/193. For the reorganisation of MI5, see Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (London, 2009), pp. 227–29, 235–37. 10 For an excellent overview of SOE, see Mark Seaman (ed.), Special Operations Executive: A New Instrument of War (London, 2006). 11 Report on SOE, by J. Hanbury-Wlliams and E. W. Playfair, 18 June 1942, CAB 301/51, TNA. 12 Duff Cooper to Churchill and reply, 23 Mar. and 4 Apr. 1943, FO 1093/194. For Morton, see Gill Bennett, Churchill’s Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (London, 2006). 13 Note by Loxley, 6 Apr. 1944, FO 1093/194. 14 Note by Bland, 18 July 1944, FO 1093/195. 15 Cavendish-Bentinck to Loxley, 11 Oct. 1944, FO 1093/195. 16 Bland to Cadogan, 13 Oct. 1944, FO 1093/196. 17 Future Organisation of the S.I.S. (Bland Report), 12 Oct. 1944, ibid. 18 Note by Loxley, 6 Apr. 1944, FO 1093/194. 19 Bland Report, FO 1093/196, TNA. 20 Eden to Churchill, 23 Nov. 1944, FO 1093/198. 21 Ibid. 22 Cavendish-Bentinck to Sir Orme Sargent (FO), 19 Apr. 1945, ibid. 23 Minute by Cavendish-Bentinck, 29 May 1945, ibid. 24 Cavendish-Bentinck to Cadogan, 12 June 1945, FO 1093/198. Stephenson is a contentious figure and the subject of much speculative writing. A mostly reliable starting-point is Timothy J. Naftali, ‘Intrepid’s last deception: documenting the career of Sir William Stephenson’, Intelligence and National Security, vol. 8 no. 3 (July 1993), pp. 72–99. 25 Cavendish-Bentinck to Cadogan and note by Cadogan, 14 August; Cadogan to Eden and reply, 15 August 1945, FO 1093/198. 26 Bevin to Attlee (PM) and reply, 21, 28 Aug; Defence Committee, 4th meeting, 31 Aug 1945, ibid. 27 Bromley (FO) to Cadogan, 4 Sept. 1945, ibid. 28 Bevin to Menzies, 1 Sept. 1945, ibid. 29 , CAB 301/31, ‘The Findlater Stewart report and Prime Minister’s directive to the Director General of the Security Service (MI5)’. 30 See CAB 301/31, also Andrew, Defence of the Realm, pp. 332–33. 31 CAB 301/31. 32 Sillitoe to Sir Edward Bridges (Treasury), 11November; E. P. Donaldson to Bridges, 8 December 1948, CAB 301/30, ‘Security Service (MI5) organisational issues’. 33 Sillitoe to Bridges, enclosing Memorandum of Agreement, 1 July; minute by Bridges, 8 Aug. 1949, ibid. 34 Minutes by Bridges, 8 Aug. and 11 Oct. 1949, ibid. 35 See FO 1093/379, ‘”C”, Chief of Secret Intelligence Service (SIS): future appointment’. See also Jeffery, MI6, pp. 748–50. 36 Note by Sir Norman Brook of meeting with prime minister, 20 Apr.; Bridges to Brook, 30 May 1950. CAB 301/18, TNA. 37 The Secret Intelligence and Security Services. Report of Enquiry by Sir Norman Brook, March 1951. CAB 301/17.


Adjusting to ‘Indianisation’: British intelligence in independent India and Burma, 1946-481 When India ceased to be part of the Empire on 15 August 1947 and was partitioned into two independent states, India and Pakistan, there were profound implications for British intelligence. From every point of view, economic, geographic and political, India remained of key strategic interest to the British government, and in the early Cold War context good intelligence on the region was if anything even more important than before. But India was now a foreign country. Its government might no longer share the same interests and priorities as the British government, and would certainly resent any attempt to perpetuate arrangements perceived as prejudicial to its new status. It would take time to establish new working relationships.2 Meanwhile, however, the increasing Soviet threat enhanced India’s importance in British policy, particularly in the realm of intelligence.3 Historically, there had been extremely close relations between the Intelligence Bureau of the Government of India’s Home Department and British intelligence agencies. Pre-independence intelligence arrangements in the region were complicated. As part of the British Empire, India fell within the responsibilities of the Security Service or MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency. But there was also Indian Political Intelligence (IPI), run jointly by the India Office and the Government of India. Originating with the appointment in 1909 of a single Indian police officer stationed in Britain to keep an eye on Indian revolutionaries and criminals, IPI had grown during the interwar period into a large organisation with agents all over Europe and in America, while in India there was a Central Intelligence Officer in every province. In Britain, IPI worked closely with Scotland Yard, the India Office and MI5.4 It also worked with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, later also known as MI6), Britain’s overseas intelligence service, since both were engaged in gathering intelligence about hostile foreign movements. Indeed, a number of senior SIS officers had begun their careers either in IPI or in the Indian Government itself. During the Second World War, all these agencies worked together against common enemies, and had generally good relations, particularly in the field. Towards the end of the war, however, and in the early postwar period British intelligence was the subject of major review and reorganization.5 Relations between the Agencies could be fractious, particularly since the gradual dismantling of the British Empire led 67

to jurisdictional disputes between MI5 and MI6. The issues raised by the independence of India, and to a lesser extent Burma, provide a good illustration of the problems experienced.6 In December 1946 the Permanent Under Secretary of the India Office, Sir David Monteath, wrote to the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Edward Bridges, that the appointment on independence of an Indian Congressman as Home Member of the Government of India—thus having control over the Indian Intelligence Bureau— made it necessary to change the current system whereby the Bureau had a representative in the UK and worked closely with MI5. Monteath suggested an exchange of Security Liaison Officers (SLOs) between the two governments on mutually agreed subjects, but admitted that this ‘would inevitably mean that HMG would cease to receive a great deal of information about subversive activities by Indians’ against the Empire. Bridges responded by suggesting that SIS, MI5 and IPI should prepare a joint report on how to fill the gaps that would follow from ‘the Indianisation of the Indian Bureau’.7 In fact, the Agencies had already been discussing the question between themselves, and thought they could see a way forward operationally. A meeting on New Year’s Day, 1947 discussed the possibility of establishing proper liaison between MI5 and the new Indian security authority, while SIS set up a covert organisation under cover of the British High Commission to take over part of IPI’s work.8 On a political level, however, the Foreign Office (FO) was gloomy about the prospects. The Indian Government might not be willing to cooperate with British intelligence, and even if it were, its information might prove ‘wholly unreliable’. No one knew at this stage whether India and Pakistan would be in the Commonwealth, and even if India were to have Dominion status it would, as one official put it, ‘never be in quite the same category as Canada and Australia’.9 There were, in addition, political difficulties in getting authorization for the solution favoured by the Agencies. The Labour government, under Prime Minister Clement Attlee, tended to take a very restrictive view on where British intelligence agencies might operate in the early postwar period. For MI5 to operate in what counted as a ‘foreign’ country went against the Prime Minister’s directive of May 1946, while both Attlee and the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, were reluctant to sanction any SIS activities in ‘friendly’ countries. There were also financial considerations to iron out: IPI cost £10,000 per annum to run; who would pay for it 68

now? As Bridges pointed out in a letter of 13 February 1947 to Sir Orme Sargent, FO Permanent Under-Secretary, it was essential that any plan be agreed by the Prime Minister.10 In short, India presented the kind of problem where flexibility was essential but hard to achieve. Given the need to get something agreed before Indian independence, bureaucratic compromise (some would call it fudge) came to the rescue. Guy Liddell, Deputy Director General of MI5, provided some creative wording: ‘It is impossible to foresee what the state of our relations with India is likely to be in June 1948, and the present arrangements and division of functions between the Security Service and SIS have, therefore, been reached without prejudice to any possible modification of the existing directive which may be thought necessary in the meantime.’ The following month, on a visit to India, Liddell secured the Nehru government’s agreement to the stationing of an SLO in New Delhi after independence.11 Attlee, though rather a stickler for detail in matters of jurisdiction and with a particular interest in India, seems to have concurred in these arrangements. Possibly this was due to the skill of Bridges, who admitted to Sargent that he had not argued the case to the Prime Minister in detail, but had rather presented the proposals ‘as something which the Prime Minister will accept as right’.12 Trouble arose, however, when in March 1947 the SIS Chief put forward the name of his candidate to serve in Delhi, a former officer in the Indian Police. The British High Commissioner, Sir Terence Shone, objected to the appointment of someone who was already well-known in India for his intelligence connections, making it impossible, in Shone’s view, for him to carry out credibly a mainstream diplomatic role as cover. The man in question did not help by being very indiscreet in making his arrangements for travel and accommodation (demanding, among other things, an American car, two airconditioning units for his bungalow and lodging for two English female secretaries). However, despite Shone’s protest and representations from the FO in London, Menzies insisted that his officer was the only possible candidate and would be able ‘to work in India without detection’: he would, the SIS Chief said, ‘confine his activities . . . entirely to handling first-class, trustworthy, British head agents’.13 In retrospect, it seems extraordinary that Menzies persisted with a plan so unwelcome to the senior British diplomat on the spot, who eventually capitulated somewhat grimly with the comment that if it all went wrong, no one could say he had 69

not warned them. And go wrong it did. The SIS officer had hardly arrived in post when the Indian authorities made it quite clear that his presence was unacceptable. He was withdrawn, and political difficulties intervened before he could be replaced. In the summer of 1948, alerted by indignant protests about British intelligence activities in India from Shone’s successor Sir Archibald Nye, Attlee realized rather belatedly what he had agreed to in 1947. In October 1948 the Prime Minister insisted that all SIS operations in India must cease. Menzies and the FO protested in vain against this decision. Sargent argued to Bevin that it was important both to build up a skeleton intelligence organisation ready to function if India seceded from the Commonwealth, and to obtain information about Communist-inspired activities in the region. But Bevin and Attlee were obdurate, and on 21 October 1948 Sargent told Menzies that he should disband his organisation in India and confirm that he had done so.14 The problems posed when Burma became an independent republic on 15 January 1948 were similar, though as an intelligence-gathering centre it was less significant. There was a prolonged wrangle in Burma between MI5, who had a Security Liaison Officer there, and SIS, who post-independence were sending a representative to Rangoon. MI5 was anxious for their SLO to remain and make use of the contacts he had already established. SIS insisted he must confine his activities to liaison and counter-intelligence: agent-running, and counter-espionage, were for them. The FO acted as intermediaries in this dispute, which was unresolved at the end of 1948. In fact, MI5 and SIS soon found a way of working cooperatively in both India and Burma, but the early postwar period is interesting as a typical example of the jurisdictional dispute between the agencies, while discussions on the intelligence arrangements for both India and Burma illustrated the difficulties the British government faced with the dismantling of the British Empire. Gill Bennett FCO



This essay is based principally on three files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent UnderSecretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/359, ‘India and Burma: future intelligence arrangements’; FO 1093/365, ‘C’ (Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, SIS): appointment of Security Service (MI5) Security Liaison Officer in independent Burma; and FO 1093/439, India: intelligence-gathering post-independence. 2 More than a year after independence, in November 1948, a brief for the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, noted that India was so new to independence that, as its Prime Minister Pandit Nehru admitted, it had ‘not yet achieved a policy in world affairs nor determined her objectives’. See British Documents on the End of Empire (BDEEP), Series A, Vol 2, Ronald Hyam (ed), The Labour Government and the End of Empire 1945-51, Part IV, p. 150. 3 Other files in the PUSD collection relevant to the Soviet threat to the British Empire and more widely include: FO 1093/272, ‘USSR: activities of British missions, 1943’, FO 1093/545, ‘Report of Communist activities in the Empire, 1946’, FO 1093/404, ‘Persia: Russian intelligences approaches to Indian consular officials in Tehran, 1946’, and FO 1093/447, ‘Soviet Union: future intelligence activities, 1948’. 4 IPI files are held in the British Library, and detailed accounts of IPI’s work can be found there. 5 On organizational questions, see the series of seven PUSD files called ‘Future of the Secret Services,’ FO 1093/193-99. Although some of these papers are already in the public domain, the PUSD collection is unique in covering all aspects of British intelligence, including special operations and signals intelligence. Related files are also being transferred at the same time in CAB 301/11, 13-14, 25, 30-31, 47-48, 51-53, 59. The issues are also discussed in the official histories of MI5 and MI6, published in 2009-10 to mark the centenary of those Agencies: Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 (London, 2009); and Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 (London, 2010). 6 Other PUSD files referring to relations between MI5 and MI6 include FO 1093/363, ‘Security Service (MI5) representation overseas’, and FO 1093/393, ‘Relations between the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service, memorandum of agreement, 1949’. See also CAB 301/20-21, 29 See also the official histories by Andrew and Jeffery. 7 Correspondence between Monteath and Bridges, 24 and 31 December 1946, FO 1093/359. The interdepartmental report entitled ‘Future Indian Intelligence Liaison’, sent to Bridges on 7 February 1947, is also in this file. 8 See Jeffery, MI6, pp. 637-38. 9 Minute by Adrian Halford, Private Secretary to the FO Permanent Under-Secretary, 22 January 1947, FO 1093/359. See also Jeffery, p. 638. On the question of India’s relationship to the Commonwealth and the Dominions see BDEEP, Series A, Vol 2, Ronald Hyam (ed), The Labour Government and the End of Empire 1945-51, Parts III and IV. Documents reproduced in these volumes show that relations with an independent India were the subject of close consideration in Whitehall. 10 FO 1093/359, TNA. On these questions see Jeffery, MI6, Chapter 19, ‘Adjusting to Peace’; and Andrew, MI5, Section D, ‘The Early Cold War’. CAB 301/31 contains correspondence on the Attlee Directive of 1946. 11 FO 1093/359, TNA; Andrew, MI5, p. 444. 12 Bridges, 13 February, Liddell, 26 February 1947, FO 1093/359. 13 Correspondence in FO 1093/359. 14 The 1948 correspondence is in FO 1093/439.


Stanislaw Mikolajczyk


Escape from Eastern Europe, 1947-481 As the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe tightened after the Second World War, Eastern European nationals who opposed or rejected the spread of Communist control, or who were openly favourable to the West, ran the risk of persecution, expulsion, imprisonment or even execution. Western diplomats, and their secret service colleagues, were often asked for help by desperate people seeking to escape to the West. Their instinct was to help where they could, and in some cases Western representatives promoted actively the exfiltration of prominent individuals whose presence in the West could be beneficial. In addition, they tried to help their locallyemployed staff, who faced constant pressure from increasingly aggressive security authorities to inform on their employers, and were threatened with imprisonment or worse if they refused. Although British and other Western diplomats were sympathetic, official assistance to escapees was not risk-free. All routes were insecure and open to compromise; the practical difficulties were considerable; and unsuccessful attempts could produce diplomatic repercussions that might damage the ability of the missions to do their job properly. As the FO’s Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Orme Sargent, wrote to Pierson Dixon, HM Ambassador in Prague, on 15 May 1948, the British government’s primary interest was to preserve the Embassy ‘as a means of exerting influence there and also as a source of information and intelligence of what is going on behind the Iron Curtain. It may later on become almost our only source of uncensored information.’ The important thing, therefore, was to protect the Embassy at all costs, giving the local Communist authorities ‘as little excuse as possible to restrict our movements, contacts and activities’.2 Helping people to escape from Eastern Europe also raised questions of principle for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). In the early postwar period SIS were still trying to establish an effective presence in Eastern Europe, and they were often forced to rely on outsourcing courier routes to freelance organizations, set up by former members of wartime intelligence bodies. These could be troublesome, unpredictable and unreliable, as well as expensive. Consequently, SIS were reluctant to agree to FO requests to help people escape from Eastern Europe unless it was of high political importance or of direct benefit to SIS itself. Terence Garvey, who had been appointed in 1946 to the new position of Foreign Office assistant to the Chief of 73

SIS, wrote in November 1947 that if the FO was going to take the view that it had ‘inescapable obligations to all these people in the Iron Curtain countries’, then it might be necessary to consider setting up ‘a clandestine organisation on the lines of MI9 in the war,3 devoted solely to the evacuation of escapers and not concerned in any way with intelligence’. William Hayter, head of Services Liaison Department (the precursor of PUSD), agreed: ‘C’s organisation exists to provide intelligence. Its use for other purposes can only be justified in very exceptional cases of major importance.’4 Nevertheless, there were occasions when the FO pressed SIS hard for help in getting people out of Eastern Europe, and there was cooperation—sometimes fruitful, sometimes less so—on potential escapes, as the PUSD files show. One high-profile escapee was Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, who got out of Poland following the fall of Warsaw to the Nazis in September 1939, and served in the Polish government in exile in London, becoming Prime Minister on the death of General Sikorski in 1943. Seen by the British as the best hope for standing up to the Communists in the Soviet-controlled government set up after the Yalta Conference in February 1945, he was encouraged to return to Poland in July 1945 by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who promised him that he ‘need have no fears for his personal safety’, and that the British government would ‘back him to the limit of their strength’.5 Churchill added that this guarantee was a non-Party matter, and when he was replaced as Prime Minister by Clement Attlee, shortly after Mikolajczyk’s return to Poland, the Labour government assumed responsibility for the promise Churchill had given. By 1947, Mikolajczyk, Deputy Prime Minister and the only non-Communist in the Polish government, knew it was only a matter of time before he was arrested. The FO received intelligence that if attempts to incriminate him and his Peasant Party through show trials were unsuccessful, the Ministry of Security was liable to arrange for him to have an ‘accident’. Though Mikolajczyk did not want to leave Poland— reports said he found the prospect ‘repugnant’—it was increasingly clear that he might have to do so if he wanted to stay alive. The FO asked SIS to consider how he might be exfiltrated, and several schemes were proposed using alternative routes. However, SIS insisted that a long period of planning could be needed, and that Mikolajczyk must be prepared to adopt without question whatever timing and method they proposed.


The FO suspected that Mikolajczyk would want to choose his own moment to escape, and need help at short notice. So in fact it proved. Although in early October 1947 the Chargé d’Affaires in Warsaw, Philip Broad,6 told the FO that he ‘did not think M. Mikolajczyk would want to leave or seek asylum’, ten days later Mikolajczyk approached the US Ambassador in Warsaw and asked for help in getting out of Poland. He had been warned that a secret council headed by the Russian General Malinov planned to strip him and his associates of their parliamentary immunity, stage a show trial for espionage, condemn them to death and dissolve the Peasant Party. Meanwhile, Mikolajczyk was to be ‘lulled into a false sense of security’; in the circumstances, he concluded it was pointless for him to remain in the country.7 Both Broad and the US Ambassador consulted their intelligence colleagues, and various schemes were discussed. Broad was worried lest any hint of this should reach the Polish authorities, while in London the Foreign Office was concerned over the possible consequences of helping Mikolajczyk to escape. The depth of this concern is shown by the fact that the draft of telegram No 1351 to Warsaw of 20 October was amended personally by Sargent and by the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. Broad was told not to involve himself in any scheme in which the chances of success were ‘not at least 80 per cent certain’. They suspected a deliberate attempt by the Polish authorities to provoke an escape embroiling both Mikolajczyk and the British and American governments. Bevin added in his own hand: ‘It seems as if United States Embassy has alone been approached. This is all to the good. Leave it alone.’8 Behind the scenes, however, as the PUSD papers show, Broad and his American colleague were quietly making preparations of their own, and it is clear that a small circle of people in London, including Bevin, Sargent and R.M.A. Hankey, head of Northern Department, were aware of them. The plans were not discussed with SIS, both for reasons of security and because SIS were thought likely to object to a plan that by-passed and pre-empted their own arrangements. On 21 October 1947, Mikolajczyk was hidden in a lorry and taken to the port of Gdynia. While the British Vice-Consul, Ronald Hazell, distracted the Polish guards, Mikolajczyk, wearing the US Ambassador’s coat and hat, walked on to a British ship, the SS Baltavia, in the middle of a group of Americans. No one noticed when one less American left the ship. Mikolajczyk was hidden by the captain throughout the voyage, to avoid his 75

being recognized by any of the crew, disembarked at London Bridge on 24 October and was hidden by MI5 at a safe address, where Hankey debriefed him. Attlee and the Home Secretary, Herbert Morrison, were told that he had arrived, as were Churchill and Eden (SIS were not informed immediately). Top Secret telegrams to Warsaw congratulated Broad on the success of the operation. Hazell sent a telegram to Hankey asking him to arrange for the US Ambassador’s coat and hat to be returned via the diplomatic bag.9 The plan was to keep Mikolajczyk hidden until it was plausible to claim he had escaped under his own steam and made his way to the British Zone of Germany, from where he was flown to Britain. Sir D. Gainer, summoned to see the Polish Foreign Minister on 6 November, rebutted smoothly accusations that the British had helped Mikolajczyk to escape: ‘What did he expect us to do with a person who had arrived in the British Zone claiming right of asylum?’ Both Polish and Soviet security authorities were furious, but unwilling to make too much of an episode that reflected badly on their competence. Lurid stories of the escape continued to circulate, and Mikolajczyk’s own account, published in 1948, was a masterpiece of invention (beginning with an exciting car chase). The FO kept quiet, and in Washington the State Department refused to discuss it with the British Ambassador, Lord Inverchapel. On 6 November Hankey wrote to Inverchapel that ‘this affair is never to be referred to even in conversation between staff. Please burn correspondence.’10 The full story is revealed for the first time in this PUSD file. After Mikolajczyk’s escape the Polish authorities watched the British Embassy and its staff even more closely. Particular pressure was applied to a locallyemployed member of staff, Mrs Buyno, and it was feared that if she were arrested she might pass on information that would prejudice the Embassy and its contacts. At first, both Gainer and the FO in London thought that ‘in view of the disappearance of M. Mikolajczyk and his collaborators, it would be really running an unreasonable risk for the Embassy to stage an illicit departure’. From an SIS point of view, too, it was too risky: only if Mrs Buyno posed a serious security threat would they be willing to help. As Garvey pointed out in a minute of 7 November 1947, there was no reason for ‘C’ to take risks for the sake of ‘pulling minor Foreign Office chestnuts out of the fire’. Hayter agreed that neither Mrs Buyno nor other local employees counted as ‘very exceptional cases of major importance’.11 Nevertheless, SIS did help Mrs Buyno, largely because they wanted to test out a commercial escape route. She and her young 76

son had first to get themselves to Stettin, where they were met by guides to escort her to Berlin. Despite one false start when the guides were arrested, Mrs Buyno and her son eventually reached Berlin and from there travelled to the UK. There followed some rather unseemly wrangling about who would pay the cost of the escape, 52,000 zloty: SIS, unsurprisingly, were unwilling to foot the bill. In 1948, after the Communist takeover of the Czechoslovak government in February, similar discussions took place about the possibility of helping prominent Czechs to escape, including President Eduard Benes. In early March HM Ambassador in Prague was asked to suggest the names of those who should be helped to escape, so that SIS could be asked to draw up plans. Sargent told Dixon that Denis Healey, then Secretary of the International Department of the Labour Party, was ‘particularly anxious that we should help dissident Social Democrats’. Dixon, who welcomed the idea, provided a list of those who were in hiding, on the move and in fear of their lives. Benes, however, felt that ‘by staying here and remaining President as long as possible he will still be able to afford some protection to his followers’. Dixon disagreed, considering that ‘to bring about his escape would be the most effective blow which we could administer to the regime in the present circumstances’, but Benes remained reluctant.12 The situation became even more dangerous after the suspicious death of Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk (the only non-Communist member of the new government), found dead outside his apartment window on 10 March 1948. Benes, however, was in poor health (he had had two strokes in 1947), did not consider himself in personal danger and still hoped that by remaining he could have some influence. In any case, according to a friend of his family, who did manage to get to the UK, the President was very closely guarded–‘virtually a prisoner’–and thought it would be impossible to escape even if he wanted to. His attitude towards the new regime, she said, was ‘one of complete disgust’. Indeed, Benes resigned the Presidency in June 1948 and died in Czechoslovakia on 3 September.13 In Czechoslovakia, as in Poland, the Foreign Office had to balance the potential benefits and risks of helping prominent dissidents to escape. SIS, who had on the whole better resources to facilitate escapes, had to do the same. In the end, British missions, both overt and covert, had to be able to operate effectively in Eastern Europe, and were unwilling to do anything that might prevent them from doing so. As Sargent told Dixon in May 1948, the British government could not allow 77

its embassies to be used as a front for escape organization. They must confine themselves to ‘special cases where really major advantage might be gained’.14 Gill Bennett FCO 1

This essay is based principally on three files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent UnderSecretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/421, ‘Poland: evacuation from British Embassy Warsaw local employee’, FO 1093/430, ‘Czechoslovakia; escapes and refugees’ and FO 1093/445, ‘Poland: escape of Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, former Prime Minister’. 2 FO tel. No. 664 to Prague of 15 May 1948, FO 1093/430. 3 See MRD Foot and JM Langley, MI9: Escape and Evasion, 1939-1945 (London, 1979). 4 Minutes by Garvey and Hayter, 7 and 11 November 1947, FO 1093/421. See also Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909-1949 (London, 2010), pp. 621 and 667. 5 Minute by R.M.A. Hankey, head of the FO Northern Department, 20 October 1947, FO 1093/445. See also Martin Gilbert, Road to Victory: Winston Churchill 1941-45 (London, 1986), pp. 1293-98. 6 In 1947 Victor Cavendish-Bentinck, wartime chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, was succeeded as HM Ambassador in Warsaw by Sir David Gainer. Gainer took up the post formally in June, but for much of the summer and autumn of 1947 Broad was in charge of the Embassy. 7 Minute by Hankey, 13 October 1947, record of 27 October on debriefing Mikolajczyk, FO 1093/445. 8 FO tel. 1351 to Warsaw with draft by Hankey, and Warsaw tel. 1471, 19 October 1947, FO 1093/445. 9 Warsaw tel. No. 1478 of 20 October, Gdynia tels of 21 and 28 October, FO tells to Warsaw 1361, 1371 and 1378 of 22-25 October; record of 27 October by Hankey on debriefing Mikolajczyk, all FO 1093/445. 10 FO tel. 3070 to Berlin, 31 October 1947, Warsaw tel. 1593 of 6 November, FO1093/445. Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, The Pattern of Soviet Domination (London, 1948), Chapter XVIII. 11 Warsaw tels.1515 and 1681, 26 October and 25 November 1947; note by Hankey, 29 October, minutes by Garvey and Hayter, 7 and 11 November, FO 1093/421. 12 FO tel. 216 to Prague, 2 March 1948; Prague tels 188, 193, 196, 2-3 March, FO 1093/430. 13 FO tel. 304 to Prague, 16 March 1948; letter from Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, a former member of SIS who had been liaison officer with the Czechoslovak government in exile during the war, to Sargent, 29 May 1948, FO 1093/430. 14 FO tel. 664 to Prague, 15 May 1948, FO 1093/430.


The CORBY case: the defection of Igor Gouzenko, September 19451 In September 1945 the defection of a cypher clerk in the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa uncovered an extensive and sometimes highly-placed network of Soviet spies in Canada and the USA, with clues to others in the UK and elsewhere. Codenamed the CORBY case,2 it might have been seen as an eye-opener for the Western leaders at a time when the Soviet Ally was still held in high esteem by many and Stalin was still very much a part of Great Power counsels. Yet although Gouzenko’s revelations caused consternation both in governmental and intelligence circles in London, Washington and Ottawa, little action was taken until February 1946, when the Canadians appointed a Royal Commission to look into the affair. By this time, most of the network had disappeared. There were a number of reasons for the delay, including the fact that Kim Philby was involved in handling the CORBY case at the London end. But there were also important political constraints on both sides of the Atlantic, as these newly-released PUSD files make clear. There have been a number of published accounts of the CORBY case, sometimes conflicting.3 Many questions about Gouzenko’s defection remain unclear. Some documentation is available, including VENONA material.4 Since British subjects were implicated in Gouzenko’s revelations, the case was of primary interest to the Security Service (MI5), whose files on CORBY are open at The National Archives (TNA) in KV 2/1419-24. The PUSD files, however, are interesting for what they show not just about the political context, but also about the role of Philby, then head of Section IX of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS); the role of Sir William Stephenson, head of British Security Coordination, the intelligence organisation he had headed in the USA since 1940 on behalf of Sir Stewart Menzies, Chief of SIS; and about SIS’s, and Menzies’ position in Whitehall.5 The beginnings of CORBY are confused, but the following course of events, detailed in the report of the Canadian Royal Commission, seems clear. On the evening of 5 September 1945, Igor Gouzenko removed some documents from his office in the Soviet Embassy, and approached first a local newspaper and then the Canadian Ministry of Justice (which was closed) in an attempt to defect. He later claimed to have been planning this for some time, rather than obey orders to return to Moscow with his wife and son. The following day, 6 September, he approached the Ministry of Justice again, but was turned away. By this time, he knew he would have been missed at the Embassy, and fearing for his and his family’s safety, took refuge with a neighbour. There they heard four Soviet officials, led by Vitali Mavolv (head of the NKVD in Canada) break in and ransack the Gouzenko apartment, before


being disturbed by the police. After this the Canadian authorities finally took Gouzenko seriously, and on 7 September the family was taken into the protection of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Later that day the Soviet Ambassador, Zaroubin, sent a note demanding that Gouzenko be handed over, claiming he had stolen some valuables.6 Gouzenko’s interrogation by the Canadians began on 8 September, and the initial results were communicated to London next day in a message from Norman Robertson, Permanent Secretary of the Canadian Department of External Affairs, to his British counterpart, Sir Alexander Cadogan.7 It reported that Soviet agents had had access to secret telegrams between the British and Canadian governments, and that Gouzenko’s statement was ‘supported by convincing documentary [evidence of] political and scientific espionage in Canada’. Further reports stated that Gouzenko had worked to the Soviet Military Attaché, Colonel Nikolai Zabotin, running a new bureau under GRU (Soviet military intelligence) control. The espionage network extended across Canada, with agents in a range of organisations including the Department of External Affairs, the office of the UK’s High Commissioner in Ottawa, Sir Malcolm MacDonald, and atomic research establishments. Gouzenko supplied names, codenames and contact details. These included Dr Alan Nunn May (Soviet codename ALEC), a British atomic scientist working with the Canadian National Research Council, who was said to have supplied both information and samples of Uranium 235 to the Russians.8 Gouzenko’s revelations came at a time when the American, British and Canadian governments were increasingly preoccupied with atomic energy and its implications. During the Second World War, all three governments saw the mutual advantage of full collaboration and the exchange of information and scientists, and of keeping the secret to themselves. The Quebec Agreement of 19 August 1943, which set up a tripartite Combined Policy Committee to handle programmes of atomic work and allocate raw materials, forbade imparting any information to third parties; and the Hyde Park Agreement reached by Roosevelt and Churchill in September 1944 stated unequivocally that ‘Full collaboration between the United States and British Governments in developing Tube Alloys [codename for atomic energy] for military and commercial purposes should continue after the defeat of Japan unless and until terminated by joint agreement.’9 Once the war in Europe was over, however, the British found the Americans much less amenable to requests for information-sharing on atomic matters. The successful testing of the bomb at Alamagordo on 16 July 1945, and the fact that its use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August ended the war against Japan, cemented US confidence in the power


afforded by atomic ‘know-how’, and their determination not to share it—with anybody, if possible. As for the Russians, Stalin offered a laconic ‘thank you’ when President Truman told him about the bomb on 24 July during the Potsdam Conference. As Attlee, now Prime Minister, reported to his predecessor Churchill on 1 August, ‘Uncle Joe had not crossexamined [Truman] at all’ on the subject. In the light of what is now known about ‘atomic spies’, this is perhaps not surprising.10 Attlee took his responsibilities as co-guardian of Tube Alloys secrets very seriously, believing that the bomb had changed the world irrevocably. He considered that Britain and the US should take the lead—enlisting Soviet support—in ensuring that atomic energy was controlled by international agreement under the proposed United Nations Organisation.11 Truman, however, was not interested in idealism, but in American power and its perpetuation by securing favourable peace settlements making the world safe for US commercial dominance. If Soviet Russia looked like threatening the stability necessary to this scenario, atomic secrets were a useful bargaining counter to have in the back pocket. What the British thought, despite comradely rhetoric, counted for little. Britain’s leverage was reduced further by its parlous economic state: at the time of Gouzenko’s defection, the economist John Maynard Keynes was leading a British delegation to try and secure US financial help. 12 Meanwhile, the British, Soviet and US governments were about to enter negotiations at the first meeting of the newly-created Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), intended to sort out the international problems raised by the end of the Second World War. The CFM opened in London on 11 September 1945: the same day that financial negotiations opened in Washington; and the day on which the Foreign Office produced a memorandum on the international aspects of atomic energy, with options for dealing with Russia. At the same time, the Cabinet was discussing problems raised by a divided postwar Germany, where the quadripartite control machinery was already beset by disagreements with the Soviet Union and the US on industrial disarmament.13 The diplomatic landscape was already very crowded when the CORBY case dropped into it as an unexpected bombshell. The British intelligence landscape was also troubled, beset by uncertainty about postwar organisational arrangements.14 Gouzenko’s revelations were naturally alarming to all the agencies, with disturbing indications of Soviet espionage on a broader scale in both the UK and Europe. The SIS Chief, Menzies, found himself occupying a central position in the CORBY affair, giving personal briefings to Attlee and to the Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. All the high level CORBY messages were transmitted through SIS channels, between Stephenson’s BSC headquarters in New York and the SIS Chief in London. Stephenson,


determined to enhance his own position and provide valuable leverage in his dealings with Ottawa and Washington, insisted on this. Unfortunately, these messages, headed ‘CSS [Chief of SIS] to 48000 [Stephenson’s SIS designation]’ and vice versa, were handled at the London end by the head of Section IX, who was in fact a Soviet agent—Kim Philby.15 Philby was at the centre of the CORBY case from the moment the story hit SIS, and was the principal point of contact with MI5. He was in a position not just to inform his Soviet contacts of the case’s progress, but also to delay communication of details when it suited him. He recommended that Roger Hollis from MI5 be sent out to Canada rather than the abler and more knowledgeable Jane Archer.16 Hollis became the linchpin of the interrogation of Gouzenko, but his reports had to pass via Stephenson and Philby, an arrangement MI5 found unsatisfactory and slow; Philby was adept at weeding out or delaying key messages, without being obvious enough to incur complaint. Stephenson’s insistence that the telegraphic traffic must pass between BSC and SIS played into his hands. As Gouzenko gave more details of Soviet espionage, the question of what—if any— action to take in response became more acute.17 The alleged treachery of Nunn May (now codenamed PRIMROSE for investigative purposes) was obviously a serious blow to the British. He was planning a trip to London early in October 1945, and SIS and MI5 agreed it would be better to let him travel and see who his contacts were; the RCMP were asked not to take any action against him meanwhile. In fact, both RCMP and the British authorities faced a dilemma: to arrest Nunn May, or otherwise show that he was suspected, would alert the Soviets (they did not know, of course, that Philby had already alerted them.) Meanwhile, the Council of Foreign Ministers in London brought to the fore the question of what to say to the Russians about the atomic bomb. On 12 September 1945, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, British Ambassador in Moscow who was in London for the CFM, warned that the Soviets were likely to approach the British and Americans soon about the bomb: he advised that they be told ‘we shall hold the secret in trust for the World Organisation’, though ‘we must be prepared for a real hubbub when the Russians hear that we are trying to corner the raw material’.18 The Russians were, indeed showing signs of a lively interest both in technical know-how and in raw materials. A Soviet plan to kidnap Nils Bohr, the atomic scientist now living in Denmark, had been picked up by SIS, though Bohr was disinclined to take the threat seriously. In Bohr’s view, there were ‘no essential secrets to impart to Soviet Government which are not known to them already’, an opinion borne out when Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov told US Secretary of State JF Byrnes on 13 September that ‘we have the bomb’, though Byrnes did not believe it.19


At this point Byrnes, like most of the US Administration, knew nothing of CORBY, since the circle of knowledge had been kept deliberately narrow. As information began to come through from Gouzenko’s interrogation, Lord Halifax, British Ambassador in Washington, felt bound to inform General Leslie Groves, Director of the Manhattan Project, about the possible treachery of Nunn May. In a telegram to Nevile Butler in the FO on 12 September, Halifax expressed the fear that this would have an adverse effect on current attempts to persuade the Americans to share atomic know-how: ‘You will of course realise that as a British subject for whom we have vouched is principally involved on the TA side, we shall be held responsible if anything further goes wrong, eg if he is spirited away. I am afraid this episode may possibly have some unhappy consequences on future collaboration on certain aspects of the project and we must do everything we can to reduce the damage.’20 A continuous stream of telegrams resulting from CORBY’s interrogation flowed into SIS during September and early October 1945. However, Canadian plans to arrest those named as Soviet spies in Canada were delayed by political doubts. Both Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Norman Robertson were worried about the consequences of revealing to the Soviets that they were holding Gouzenko. They were unwilling to act without the agreement of Washington and London, though reassured by the fact that none of the agents whom they were watching had shown signs of alarm. Presumably Philby’s information had led Moscow to issue instructions to Zabotin that he and the network should sit tight. Meanwhile, PRIMROSE (Nunn May), now in the UK, was at liberty and working at King’s College London; from Ottawa, Hollis confirmed that Gouzenko’s allegations alone did not give sufficient grounds to arrest him. Writing to Cadogan on 24 September, Guy Liddell of MI5 urged that the cooperation of the Canadian and US authorities be secured for the arrest of Russian agents, even if there were not enough evidence to hold Nunn May. Cadogan himself was quite clear, as he minuted to Bevin on 27 September: If we have uncovered a Soviet spy network, we should smash it by legal means—after obtaining all the information we can by interrogation etc. We have two objectives— (1) to stop this network doing us any further harm and (2) to try to follow up its ramifications, to avert as much as possible of future mischief . . . If the Russians get caught out spying on us—and that must become known, even if trials are in camera— that will do the Russians (and us) quite a lot of good. Bevin agreed: ‘I am in favour of prosecution.’21


Cadogan had told Halifax on 26 September that the British government were ready to face the diplomatic repercussions: were the Americans and Canadians ready as well? The answer was no. Truman, who had no foreign affairs background, professed to Halifax on 25 September that he was ‘frankly fogged as to what had apparently so soon and so darkly clouded the atmosphere of Potsdam’, and ‘immensely conscious of all arguments in favour of trying to get some explicit arrangement with the Soviet’.22 He was persuaded also by the FBI’s reluctance to take any action that might compromise its own concurrent investigations into a spy ring in the US: Elizabeth Bentley began telling her story to the FBI at almost the same time Gouzenko was telling his to the RCMP.23 Dean Acheson reinforced the message on 1 October that the President preferred ‘very strongly’ that action on Gouzenko be deferred, a preference that was reinforced when the CFM ended in stalemate on 2 October.24 Though Bevin and Cadogan might disagree, they were acutely conscious of their dependence on Presidential goodwill towards the loan negotiations, and for support in difficult CFM discussions. This meant keeping the Americans on side: and if the Americans would not act on CORBY, neither would the Canadians. Neither Mackenzie King, nor Robertson was comfortable dealing with intelligence, and despite enjoying the status that involvement with the atomic project conferred, they were happy to defer to their powerful neighbour. Robertson, in London at the beginning of October, told a meeting at the Dominions Office that he feared that public opinion, including the Canadian Parliament and the United States Congress, would be so stirred by the story of this Russian network stealing our secrets that prejudice would inevitably be brought both to the possibility of sharing with the Soviet Government on terms some of our atomic secrets, and to the general prospects of financial and economic cooperation with Soviet Russia . . . Mr Robertson felt the extreme desirability of not risking a showdown with the Soviet Government, unless the Allied Governments concerned were assured of the overwhelming support of their own public opinion, and he was doubtful whether this unanimity could be secure until an offer of collaboration in these questions had been made to the Soviet Government which the latter had either accepted or rejected.25 Truman, meanwhile, was torn between the attraction of using atomic informationsharing as a carrot to induce more amenable Soviet behaviour on international issues, and the pressure he faced domestically to keep atomic secrets under US control. On 3 October 1945


the May-Johnson Bill, embodying the War Department’s wish to establish domestic control of atomic energy, was introduced in Congress; and on 9 October Senator McMahon introduced a resolution establishing a Senate Committee to study atomic energy and deal with all legislation. In this climate, Truman had no desire to upset the apple cart by washing Soviet espionage linen in public. Mackenzie King proposed ‘confronting the Russians secretly and demanding they cease such activities’, but as Bevin retorted, ‘It is not difficult to imagine what sort of reply the Russians would give to an invitation to abandon their espionage system, or indeed what reply we ourselves would give in like case’. Though MI5 continued to press for action on CORBY, Roger Hollis, in Ottawa, accepted that the choice between publicity and the public humiliation of Russia must be a political one. Attlee continued to hope that Truman would agree to a high-level initiative on atomic control.26 Meanwhile, the Chiefs of Staff argued that the best deterrent was progress on the development of British nuclear capability, while Frank Roberts reported from Moscow that ‘the “secret” of the atomic bomb was well known to Soviet physicists’.27 By the middle of October 1945, both the CORBY case and the British loan negotiations seemed to have reached a stalemate. Keynes concluded there was no prospect of a US grant in aid or interest-free loan, and that it was necessary to ‘think again substituting prose for poetry’.28 A telegram from New York, sent to the FO from SIS on 19 October, wondered whether CORBY might be useful as leverage in the loan negotiations, and ‘whether due consideration has been given to effect which would accrue in this country by sudden and authenticated evidence that a third power was so actively engrossed in our joint affairs, including American military dispositions particularly’. In the FO, however, it was felt the time was not right to play this card, which would be ‘difficult to reconcile with the Canadian and US view that publicity would prejudice any decision which might be reached by the Heads of Government on control of the atomic weapon’. This exchange would, presumably, have been of interest to Philby.29 As time passed it became increasingly likely that the members of the Zabotin network had been warned off, and the urgency for neutralising the agents decreased. But the diplomatic implications became more pressing. The Americans hesitated to announce forthcoming tripartite talks on atomic energy for fear of adverse Soviet reactions, and Truman insisted nothing could be done about CORBY before the matter had been discussed with Attlee and Mackenzie King. Attlee arrived in Washington on 10 November 1945 determined to discuss the next steps in the CORBY case: a brief for his visit by Nevile Butler had opened by saying ‘the action we want is the destruction of this network at the earliest possible


moment and the discovery of all its ramifications’. A statement had been drafted announcing that the Canadians were taking action to arrest the agents named by CORBY.30 These preparations were over-optimistic. Under the restraining influence of the State Department, and in the light of new discoveries by the FBI of an extensive NKVD network in the US, Truman had every excuse to do nothing. He promised to reach a decision by the end of the month: Bevin wrote ‘it makes me despair.’ No further discussion of CORBY took place before Attlee left Washington, and even as he travelled home via Ottawa he learned Truman wanted further delay, though J Edgar Hoover had assured Sir William Stephenson that the FBI would favour action in the CORBY case as soon as possible. Nevile Butler suspected it was Byrnes who was holding things up, and soon this was confirmed. To Bevin’s fury, Byrnes sent a message to Molotov suggesting a three-power meeting in Moscow in December. Both Bevin and Attlee thought that yet another foreign ministers’ meeting, without adequate preparation, was pointless, but their protests were to no avail. When it became clear that Byrnes would, if necessary, go to Moscow alone, Bevin was forced to agree, particularly since the loan negotiations had reached a crucial stage.31 There was no question of any action on CORBY in the circumstances, even though the Canadians had, finally, been making concrete preparations to act against those named by Gouzenko as Soviet agents. On 3 December 1945, a series of telegrams arrived in London from Ottawa, setting out the action proposed by Mackenzie King, including an approach to the Soviet Ambassador in Ottawa. But within a few hours King had abandoned this plan, explaining that the trend of thought among Canadian authorities was ‘to wait until Americans are ready to take action on their own case. This might conceivably happen at any time in the near future, but is more likely not to materialise for several weeks, if not months.’ That afternoon, King had an interview with Soviet Ambassador Zaroubin, who announced that he had been recalled to Moscow in accordance with the Soviet policy of ‘having consultations with various of their Ambassadors on termination of war’. He mentioned his ‘cordial friendship for Canadian Government’. King reciprocated. No one mentioned Gouzenko. 32 In London, Menzies felt the Canadians had been ‘very pusillanimous’, but conceded that their plans would not have put a stop to Soviet espionage. FO views were stronger. Butler, in particular, thought the Canadian attitude ‘pathetic’: A few weeks ago the Canadians were talking of asking for the withdrawal of the Soviet Ambassador. Now Mr King sees him and gives him kind words. The serious


points from our point of view are (i) that the Russians know that we have known for months about their brilliant espionage network and have (apparently) not dared to do anything about it. They will not ascribe this to ‘tact’ or goodwill on our point, for in our handling of atomic energy we shall have seemed to show little regard for them. The harm is done. (ii) PRIMROSE will continue untackled for many more weeks. This may not do much material harm for he is under surveillance and has few contacts.33 In January 1946, however, the Canadians were ready to revisit CORBY, and this time the Americans, now the Moscow Conference had passed, did not object. Two broadcasts by Drew Pearson, alluding to Gouzenko, were thought to be potentially damaging and pushed the Canadians into action. An Order in Council was passed on 6 February setting up a Royal Commission, and a number of Soviet agents were arrested on 15 February. The interrogation of Nunn May was coordinated with this. After initial denials he confessed and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Gouzenko himself was interrogated by the Royal Commission, and a transcript of his evidence was, much to Philby’s chagrin, sent directly to Bevin by the Canadian Department of External Affairs. Philby was forced to write to the FO on 20 February 1946, saying that ‘As this apparently is the only copy which will be sent to this country we would be grateful to have a look at it when the Foreign Secretary has finished with it.’34 This is the last sign of significant action by Philby in the CORBY case, so it is a good place to stop: although the trail laid by Gouzenko was later to lead to the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss and others. On 6 June 1946, the Daily Telegraph reported that Zabotin had been recalled to Moscow, where he apparently died of a heart attack four days later. Gill Bennett FCO



This essay is based principally on four files originating in the Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary’s Department (PUSD), and transferred to The National Archives (TNA) in 2013: FO 1093/538-41, ‘Canadian spy case: defection of Igor Gouzenko (Corby case); investigation of Dr Alan Nunn May’ (1945-46). 2 The codename CORBY was not adopted officially until 13 September, but is used here throughout. According to Sir William Stephenson, the SIS representative in New York and head of British Security Coordination (BSC), the name was coined by BSC officers who drank Corby’s Canadian rye whisky during long nights working on the case: see William Stevenson, Intrepid’s Last Case (London, 1984), p. 51. However, Stevenson’s account should be taken with a considerable pinch of salt. 3 In addition to Stevenson’s Intrepid’s Last Case, see Amy Knight, How the Cold War Began: The Igor Gouzenko affair and the hunt for Soviet spies (New York, 2005), and David Stafford, Camp X: SOE and the American Connection (Toronto, 1986). Both Knight and Stafford contain important detail, though there are inconsistencies, due in part to Stephenson’s muddying the waters by emphasising the role played by BSC. See also Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: the KGB in Europe and the West (London, 1999). 4 VENONA was the codename for a long-running Anglo-American programme intercepting Soviet cables, 1943-85. Its results were first made public in 1995. An account of the VENONA programme, and decrypted messages, can be found via the website of the Central Intelligence Agency, 5 On these issues, including the CORBY case, see Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 (London, 2010), Chapter 20. 6 On the events of 6/7 September see Section X, Vol. 3 of The Defection of Igor Gouzenko: the Report of the Royal Commission (Ottawa, June 1946), which sets out the story as Gouzenko told it to the RCMP, and reproduces Zaroubin’s note (pp. 645-46). 7 Robertson’s message was transmitted in New York telegram CXG 251 of 9 September, sent by Stephenson to the SIS Chief from New York through BSC channels (KV 2/1420; see also MI6, p. 656). Whatever Stephenson’s earlier involvement, he made sure to keep the channel of communication on CORBY firmly within his control, insisting on all messages passing between BSC and SIS in London. 8 Cadogan summarised the information for Bevin in a minute of 11 September 1945, and Menzies briefed Attlee personally on 13 September, FO 1093/538. 9 Margaret Gowing, Britain and Atomic Energy 1939-45 (London, 1964), pp. 444-46. 10 See Documents on British Policy Overseas (DBPO), Series I, Volume I, Nos. 258, note 17, and 522. For the passing of atomic secrets to the Russians, see Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive: the KGB in Europe and the West (London, 1999), pp. 166-77. 11 There was a pragmatic underlay to Attlee’s idealism: an Advisory Committee on Atomic Energy under Sir John Anderson was set up to explore the idea of developing a British bomb, and the use of raw materials to be found within the British Empire and Commonwealth. On the British government’s handling of atomic issues at this period, see DBPO, Series I, Vol. II. 12 The financial negotiations leading up to the granting of a US loan in December 1945 are documented in DBPO, Series I, Vol. III. 13 The CFM is documented in DBPO, Series I, Vol. II, the loan negotiations in Vol. III The FO memo is printed in Vol. II, No. 193. 14 Details are given in the PUSD files on ‘Future of Secret Service’, FO 1093/193-99. 15 Section IX of SIS was set up in 1943 to make ‘a specialised study of the “illegal” or underground aspects of the Communist movement in foreign countries and of handling cases of Communist of Soviet penetration and espionage’: see FO 1093/173, ‘USSR: Communist activities in foreign countries.’ It was headed by Kim Philby. 16 See MI6, p. 657. 17 Telegrams giving details of Gouzenko’s information and discussing how to handle Nunn May can be found in KV 2/1420, TNA. 18 DBPO, Series I, Vol. II, No. 194. 19 See ‘Atomic energy: Professor Nils Bohr in Denmark’, FO 1093/496. Molotov told both Byrnes and Bevin that the Soviet Union had the bomb: see DBPO, ibid,, No. 200. 20 Tel ANCAM 415 from Joint Staff Mission Washington FO, 12 September 1945, FO 1093/538. 21 Liddell to Cadogan, 24 September, tel ANCAM 427 to JSM Washington, 26 September, minutes of 27 and 28 September, FO 1093/538. 22 DBPO, Series I, Vol II, No. 125. 23 See The Mitrokhin Archive, pp 170-89. 24 DBPO, Series I, Vol. II, No 125; JSM Washington tel ANCAM 427, 1 October, FO 1093/538. 25 Record of meeting on 7 October 1945, FO 1093/538. 26 Bevin to Attlee, 10 October 1945; discussion between Attlee and Mackenzie King, 11 October, PREM 8/116, quoted in DBPO, Series I, Vol. II, No. 198, note 6.



Gen L.C. Hollis to Attlee, 10 October 1945, Roberts to Warner (FO), 12 October, DBPO ibid., Nos. 199 and 207. 28 Washington tel NABOB 177 of 18 October 1945, DBPO, Series I, Vol III, No. 74. 29 New York tel of 18 October 1945, with minute by Bromley, FO 1093/539. 30 Butler to Cadogan, 6 November 1945, and to Attlee, 13 November, FO 1093/539. 31 For documentation on the conference of foreign ministers held in Moscow in December 1945, see DBPO, Series I, Vol. II, Chapter III. 32 New York telegrams CXG 855-62, 3-4 December 1945, FO 1093/539. 33 Minute by Nevile Butler, 6 December 1945, FO 1093/539. 34 FO 1093/540.