Tag Archives: britishspy

Christine Granville

Christine Granville

Christine Granville - spymuseum.comBorn Krystyna Skarbek in Warsaw, Poland in 1915 , the daughter of Count Jerzy Skarbek, a Polish aristocrat and the granddaughter of a wealthy Jewish banker in the Goldfeder family. Was educated in a convent in Warsaw and at age 17 was crowned Miss Poland after winning a beauty contest.

Was married briefly but divorced her husband soon thereafter. Remarried in , this time to Georg Gizycki, a writer who was twice her age. After they were married, they were living in Africa, where he was working on a book, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. The couple immediately traveled to Britain and she volunteered to work with British intelligence services (her husband joined the Free Polish Services and was later killed in combat).

Krystyna was brought into the Special Operations Executive branch of British intelligence, recruited because of her intellect and her fluency in several different languages. Was given the name Christine Granville by SOE and used it for the rest of her life. She was to work with resistance group in fighting the Nazi invasion and received special training in espionage.

Was assigned to Budapest where she worked under the cover of being a journalist. Her real purpose was to aid Polish refugees to escape across the border. An excellent skier, she skied several times across the Tatra Mountains into Poland to retrieve escaped Polish prisoners of war and bring them out of the country. She would go on to establish several escape routes, bringing Polish refugees back into England.

Was sent to parachute training in Cairo, Egypt and would use this training for numerous jumps into Nazi-occupied France. Was also assigned to gather information on German troop readiness in Poland as well as information on German armaments, including a new antitank gun. She traveled several times between England and Poland delivering this information. On her trip into Poland, she was stopped by German soldiers. She reportedly pulled the pins out of two live grenades and told the soldiers that if the they attempted to take her into custody, she would drop the grenades, killing all of them. The soldiers allowed her to retreat to safety.

Was stopped on another trip at the border but dumped incriminating evidence into a river beforehand. Unfortunately, she was still in possession of a large sum of money which she could not explain. Brazenly, she told the guards to either take the money and let her and her comrades or to turn everything over to their superiors (who would keep the money). The guards kept the money and let them escape. On another occasion, when stopped by border guards, she convinced them that she and her companions were simple farm peasants on their way to have a picnic. On yet another occasion where she and her companions were arrested by Hungarian police, she bluffed her way out of trouble, convincing them that she was related to Admiral Horthy, Regent of Hungary. She was soon thereafter released and made her way back to England with photos showing German troop buildup.

Was parachuted into southern France in 1944 and was used as a courier, using the name Pauline (and sometimes Jacqueline) Armand, delivering messages and materials that could not be transmitted via radio or telegraph to Cairo.

Granville was often used to spread propaganda, insisting that England would not abandon Poland in its fight against Nazi Germany and convincing Italian troops to desert their German allies. She worked for a period of time under Colonel Francois Cammaerts, head of the 10,000 troop maquis in Rhone Valley. When he and two allies were captured in Digne and imprisoned as spies, Granville reported met with the Nazi commandant and convinced him that if he did not release the three men immediately, he would be shot by the approaching Allied forces (A more likely scenario is that she claimed to be the niece of British General Montgomery, and threatened two local Digne liaisons. They demanded that she write out a statement clearing them of collaborating with the Nazi and also demanding monetary payment, both of which were accommodated).

Christine Granville - spymuseum.comAs soon as the war ended, Granville was released from her intelligence duties and was forced to find any work she could. She worked for a time as switchboard operator at the India Hotel in London, then as a saleswoman at Harrod’s department store and later an attendant at the Paddington hotel.

In 1951 she took a job as a stewardess on the ocean liner, Winchester Castle which sailed between England, Australia and South Africa. Her superior on the liner was a steward named Dennis Muldowney. Muldowney who suffered from schizophrenia became obsessed with Granville and declared his love for her. After she rebuffed his advance several times, Granville quit her job and moved to London. Muldowney followed her there, quitting his job and taking a position with the Reform Club in Winchester. Again professing his love for her, Muldowney was told by Granville in no uncertain terms that she wanted him to leave her alone. After this final rejection, Muldowney, began stalking her. On June 15, 1952, Muldowney spotted her walking down there stairs in her hotel and rushing to her, stabbed her to death. Muldowney was sentenced to death for the murder and was hanged in September 1952 at Pentonville Prison.

Granville was buried with the French Croix de Guerre, a medal from Poland, the George Medal for Special Services, the Order of the British Empire and the badge of the French Resistence.

Christine Granville – The Real Life Bond Girl! – Strange as it Seems



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Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Lionel "Buster" Crabbe - spymuseum.comBorn January 28, 1909 in Streatham, London.

Crabb and his mother Beatrice and father Hugh lived in poverty. Nicknamed “Buster,” Crabb served as a merchant seaman as World War II began and was commissioned into the Royal Nay Patrol service in 1941 after first serving as an army gunner. Because of an eye injury he was unable to travel to sea and volunteered for the dangerous task of mine and bomb disposal. He was assigned to Gibraltar in 1942 and aided other Navy divers in protecting British ships against Italian saboteurs. Italian frogmen ambitiously sought to install limpet mines to the hulls of British ships.

Initially Crabb was assigned to disarm bomb removed from ships, but he eventually asked to be trained as a diver. He was a quickly learner and received numerous commendations, including a George Medal. He was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Became the Principal Diving Officer for Northern Italy in 1943. A few years later he was stationed to Palestine and in 1948 he left the Royal Navy.

For a few years Crabb were in the private sector working for the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston. He also worked with searching through sunken Spanish galleons.

In 1952 Crabb returned to active duty and was assigned to frogman duties in various ports. He searched and investigated sunken Royal Navy submarines. Married Margaret Player and continued on as a frogman, and in 1955 worked with another frogman, Sydney Knowles, investigated the hull of a Soviet ship, the Sverdlov.

Crabb was recruited by MI6 and on April 19, 1956, he was assigned to perform surveillance on a Soviet cruiser, . The cruiser, the Ordzhonikidze, had carried Soviet premier Nikolai Bulganin and future premier Nikita Khrushchev into Portsmouth Harbor in England on a diplomatic mission. Crabb was inspecting the hull of the ship but did not check in with his MI6 contact. He was never seen again.

On June 9, 1957, a body was found in a frogman outfit off the coast of Pilsey Island. The body was missing its head and both hands and thus made identification impossible. Neither Margaret Player (the two has divorced years earlier) nor his girlfriend, Pat Rose, could identify him. A subsequent examination by a coroner announced that it was most likely Crabb’s.

Lionel "Buster" Crabb - spymuseum.comSpeculation swirled around Crabb’s disappearance. Rumors abounded that he was captured by the Soviets, that he was a double-agent and defected to the Soviet union and even that he was shot by the British services. However, in 1990, Joseph Zwerkin, a former Soviet Intelligence agent explaiend that Soviet security saw Crabb as he was inspecting the Ordzhonikidze and a sniper shot him in the water. The fallout from the disappearance was immense. Crabb was operating under the guidance of MI6 which is governed to operate outside of Britain while MI5 operates within the country. Although MI6 attempted to cover-up the operation. British Prime Minister Anthony Eden forced the resignation of John Alexander Sinclair, the Director-General of MI6.

British government documents related to the Crabb case will not be released until 2057.


Dedicated to Commander Crabb RN MI6


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Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan - spymuseum.comBorn on January 1, 1914 in Russia, the daughter of an Indian father and an American mother. Her father was assigned to spread Sufi (a sect of Indian Muslim) philosophy and his travels took him to Russia where he became friends with the writer Leo Tolstoy and the mystic Rasputin. The family moved to London in 1917 and then settled in France in 1920.

After the death of her father in 1921, Inayat began attending school, eventually entering the Sorbonne where she studied juvenile psychology. Unfortunately she suffered a nervous breakdown at this time. She returned to academics entering Ecole de Langues Orientales at the University of Paris in 1937.

She began writing for children soon after, first for radio broadcast and then for a children’s newspaper she founded called Bel Age. Upon the German invasion of France in 1940 she fled to England with her family. Her brother joined the Royal Navy and she became a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

She entered the Special Operations Executive and was trained as a radio operator. She was inserted into France to work with the French underground using the codename “Madeline.” and radioed information to the allies regarding resistance activities as well as providing intelligence for allied operations.

Working under the name Jeanne-Marie Regnier she rode her bicycle to the National School of Agriculture at Grignon (which served as her spy network’s headquarters) everyday, delivering messages from London and receiving new messages to send back to London.

On July 1, 1943, Noor arrived at the headquarters late, only to see almost a hundred SS and Gestapo agents entering the building. She watched helplessly as they led her fellow comrades from the facility and took them into custody. Returning to Paris she reported what she had witnessed but it was too late to fully warn her superiors as additional raids occurred. Most of the top SOE officials and resistance workers had been captured and were now in custody.

Because she had become a key figure in the SOE work, Maurice Buckmaster, the Chief of SOE operations feared for Noor’s life and ordered her back to England. Noor refused, staying on in France, determined to continue acting as a much needed radio operator.- For the next three months, Inayat Khan moved from location to location, transmitting messages late in the night to avoid detection.

Noor Inayat Khan - spymuseum.comHer courage and quick thinking helped her to get out of predicaments several times but eventually she was betrayed by a French woman who reported her activity to the Gestapo for 500 pounds.She was caught in the act by Gestapo agents as she tried to send a message to London. She was taken into custody and immediately escaped through a window, trying to move from rooftop to rooftop but was recaptured.

Noor was subjected to extreme interrogation but refused to talk and bravely requested to be shot immediately. When the Gestapo confined her two a room in its headquarters, she collaborated with two other prisoners and escaped from the facility. Just as they were making their getaway from the compound, air raids sirens caused Germans officers to conduct a security check, exposing Noor and her compatriots and prompting their recapture.

Inayat Khan was transferred to Pforzheim Prison in Germany where she was kept manacled to the wall in order to prevent further escape attempts. She was later transferred to Dachau and was ordered to be executed by SS Chief Heinrich Himmler She was executed on September 12, 1944 along with three other women and was posthumously awarded the George Cross by the French government.


Noor Inayat Khan — A Life of Bravery


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Paul Dukes

Paul Dukes

Paul Dukes - spymuseum.comBorn in London, England in 1889, the son of a clergyman. Was educated in Surrey and graduated from Charterhouse in 1909. Continued his education at St. Petersburg, Russia, where he studied music at the prestigious observatory and later worked as the assistant to the conductor of the Imperial Marinsky Opera. Took a job in 1916 with the Anglo-Russian Commission, reporting on the Russian press. The Anglo-Russian Commission coordinated the war efforts of the two countries during World War I.
Began working for the British government as a spy in 1918 and met with MI6 head Mansfield Cummings. Was given a brief training in espionage but was hurriedly sent to Russia where he monitored the turbulent activities surround the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Bolshevik party. He employed any number of disguises and covers as he worked from deep within, assessing the strength of the fragile, new Bolshevik government. He recommended the the British government support the White Russians, a group opposing the Bolshevik regimes and working towards its overthrow. Dukes went so far as to row in a small boat into the Baltic Sea where he met with British patrol ships.

Was made a spymaster within Russia, working with the National Center, an organization representing the White Russians. Dukes helped to finance this group and its soldiers with money received from Britain (although much of the money he received from England was counterfeit).

Worked on behalf of MI1c, a branch of the British intelligence system, aimed at rescuing political or military refugees. He set up elaborate plans to aid prominent White Russians to escape from Russian prisons and helped hundred of them escape to Finland. Worked alongside Naval Lieutenant Augustus Agar, a torpedo motorboat squadron leader. Dukes would pass on information about Russian warship deployment and Agar would use this as a guide to leading an torpedo assault on the squadron).

Dukes continued his use of disguises, which aided him in assuming a number of identities and gained him access to numerous Russian organizations. He joined (among others) the Communist Party, the Comintern, and the Russian secret police, the Cheka. He learned of the inner working of the top Russian leaders, and passed along their plans to British intelligence authorities and well as on troop movement and battle plans.

Was forced to flee Russia after N.N. Schepkin (the head of the National Center) and almost 70 White Russians were captured and executed in 1919. He was successful in evading the Cheka, traveling through long, brutal stretches of land until he ended up in Latvia. He recounted his adventurous escape to friendly White Russian, but was exposed when someone recounted these stories to the Latvian press. As such, he was unable to return to Russia.

Paul Dukes - spymuseum.comReturned to Britain a distinguished hero, and in 1920 was knighted by King George who called Dukes the “greatest of all soldier). Dukes was, at the time, the only person knighted based entirely on his exploits as a spy. Briefly returned to service in 1939, helping to locate a prominent Czech business who disappeared after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Died in 1967.

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Roger Hollis

Roger Hollis

Roger Hollis - spymuseum.comBorn the son of a Church of England bishop in 1905.

Attended Oxford University where he befriended a fellow student named Claud Cockburn but left the school without graduating. Obtained a job with the British American Tobacco Company and was sent to Shanghai. While in Shanghai was believed to have come in contact with Richard Sorge, a top Soviet spy as well as Communist agents Agnes Smedley and Ruth Kuczynski (Kuczynski developed several Soviet spy rings in Europe and the Far East).

Developed a case of tuberculosis in 1934 and traveled to Switzerland for medical treatment, passing through Moscow first by way of the Trans-Siberian railroad. After being cured, returned to England and sought employment with the SIS in 1938. Although he was rejected due to his poor health, he joined MI5 in 1939. Within MI5, worked with the Branch that focused on the Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Would later help to set up the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization and then served as the head of MI5’s C division that handled internal security issues.

Was promoted to the position of Deputy Director of MI5 in 1953 and then became the Director in 1956.

Was sent to Canada in 1945 for his first important mission. Was to debrief Igor Gouzenko, a former cipher clerk within the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada who had defected to the West (MI6 officer Kim Philby should have handled the matter but was busy trying hush up another Soviet defector). Was told by Gouzenko of a major Soviet penetration of MI5 and specifically about the existence of a high level mole within (codenamed “Elli”). Hollis failed to report Gouzenko’s allegations.

In 1961, KGB defector Anatoli Golitsyn described an elaborate spy ring within Britain, naming Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean as members of the “Ring of Five.” As MI5 began to close in on Philby, who it was thought, was another member of the ring, he was tipped off about his impending arrest and fled to Moscow in 1963. Hollis was one of only five senior-level MI5 officer who knew that Philby was to be arrested and it is believed that he tipped off his friend.

Roger Hollis - spymuseum.comIn 1963, failed to provide British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan with information concerning Russian spy Yevgeny Ivanov, who was involved in the Profumo scandal that rocked England and eventually forced MacMillan to resign his position. In 1964, approved of the deal in which Anthony Blunt, the fourth member of the Ring of Five, received immunity from prosecution. Was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and resigned in 1965.

Was the subject of intense speculation based on numerous close, personal friendships and contacts with known and exposed spies as well as his less than stellar tenure and the Director-General. Hollis was referred to quietly as Mr. Inertia because of his lethargy in taking action.

Was brought into MI5 offices and questioned at length by intelligence officer Peter Wright and Sir Martin Jones, the man who replaced him as Director-General. Hollis denied being involved in any espionage activities against Britain and the matter was closed. Still, several books have boldly stated the likelihood that Hollis was indeed the Fifth Man.

After his resignation, was divorced by his wife of more than 30 years and married his long-time secretary. Died in 1973.



Roger Hollis – Inside MI5 – The Real Spooks (Part 3)


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Sidney Reilly

Sidney Reilly

Considered by many the greatest spy in history. His heroic missions, quick thinking and love for the ladies made him the prototype for spies.

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Vernon Kell

Vernon Kell

Vernon Kell - spymuseum.comBorn November 21, 1873 in Yarmouth, England, Kell was the son of a wealthy family, provided with advanced training, speaking polish and English at an early age. Graduated from the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst in 1892, fluent in several languages. Including French, German and Italian in addition to the Polish and English.

Served in the British military and was sent to Moscow where he quickly learned Russian. Returned to England where he married Constance Scott on April 5, 1900. Immediately thereafter was sent to China where he fought to put down the Boxer Rebellion.

Returned to London and was transferred to the War Offices’ German Desk and was placed on the Committee of Imperial Defense in 1907. Was named director of MO5 (Military Operation 5), the newly developed counter-espionage department in 1909. In 1916, the name of the agency was changed to MI5. Worked alongside of and asked advice from many of the top military and security experts in Britain.

Initiated a purge of spies from throughout England. Kell ordered that the purge take place all at once in order to prevent any from escaping due to being tipped off. Many of the top spies in the country were gathered up in the purge. Later Kell would authorize the hunt for Karl Lody, the top German spy in London.

Enjoyed a heralded career during World War I and into the 1930’s, being promoted all the way to the rank of Major-General. Was considered one of the top counter-espionage experts in the world, both for his methods of investigation and for his knowledge of the subject.

Vernon Kell - spymuseum.comHad an acrimonious relationship with Winston Churchill, Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II. Speculation was that Churchill held a grudge against Kell for not sharing classified information with him in the 1920’s, a period where Churchill was not in power.

On October 14, 1939, a German submarine sent a torpedo into the side of the British battleship the Royal Oak. When the ship sank, 834 men died. Later, in 1940, an explosion occurred in the Royal Gunpowder Factory in Waltham Abbey. Both incidents were initially considered to have been the result of espionage and sabotage undetected by Kell’s MI5.

Although later investigations tended to prove that this was not the case, Churchill jumped at the opportunity to cast a dark shadow on Kell. On May 25, 1940, Churchill fired Vernon Kell, removing him from his position as the head of MI5.

Crushed shocked and devastated by his dismissal, Kell, having dedicated his life to serving his country was heartbroken and retired to a small cottage in Buckinghamshire where he died on March 27, 1942.

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Violette Szabo

Violette Szabo

Born in Paris in 1922 to a British taxi fleet owner and French mother, Violette Bushell was raised in Britain and married at a young age, but lost her husband when he was killed fighting against the Germans, leavings behind a young daughter.

Violette, a skilled shot with a rifle who could speak French fluently, was recruited into the SOE by Selwyn Jepson. A Raven-haired beauty, Szabo was considered a great candidate to work with the French underground. Her superiors, however, were greatly concerned with her urgent desire to put herself in danger, possibly a psychological reaction to her husband’s death. They worried that she risked her life with a suicidal passion but they assigned her nonetheless.

Violette Szabo - spymuseum.comSzabo flew through her training with merit and was placed with a former Havas news correspondent named Phillippe Liewer. She was dropped by parachute into France and was assigned to determine how many resistance forces were in place. She established communications between underground leaders and British intelligence forces. Making back to England, she was arrested twice by French gendarmes but was able to talk her way out of trouble and made her was to safety.

Upon reaching England, Szabo immediately sought another assignment, and although reluctant, her handlers sent her back into France. She passed along vital information to the French underground but was interrupted in one meeting when a German patrol discovered their meeting in a farmhouse. As one of the French resistance leaders fled, Szabo provided cover for him, shooting several German soldiers with a Sten gun. Eventually her gun ran out and she was taken into custody.

Violette was taken to the Gestapo headquarters where she was raped repeated and tortured. Despite the cruelty she refused to provide any information and was subsequently sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. Upon reaching the camp she was subjected to more brutal torture but again refused to talk to her captors, thus establishing her reputation for courage and bravery. After growing frustrated with her refusals, the Gestapo executed Violette in April 1945. In January 1947, she was posthumously awarded the George Cross by the British government acknowledging her valor.


True stories Violette Szabo


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