Defend the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5
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For over 100 years, the agents of MI5 have defended Britain against enemy subversion. Their work has remained shrouded in secrecy—until now. This first-ever authorized account reveals the British Security Service as never before: its inner workings, its clandestine operations, its failures and its triumphs.
threatened war, Hitler would not succeed in this kind of bluff. The German army was not yet ready for a major war.’79 When the Wehrmacht crossed into Austria on 12 March, it left in its wake a trail of broken-down vehicles ill prepared even for an unopposed invasion. The probability is that it would also have proved ill prepared for a war over Czechoslovakia in the following autumn. In May 1938 Putlitz left London and was posted to the German embassy in The Hague. Since the Security Service had
only a minority reached MI5 headquarters in Wormwood Scrubs.100 Reports by Swinton and the Security Executive on ‘the danger of retaining alien internees in this country’, where they might help a German invasion, led some to be deported to Canada. Deportations ceased after a former luxury liner, Arandora Star, carrying 1,200 German and Italian internees across the Atlantic, was torpedoed on 2 July by a German submarine and sank with heavy loss of life.101 On 24 July further mass internment was
the longest-serving of all B1a’s double agents, exchanging wireless messages with the Abwehr in Hamburg continuously from October 1940 until May 1945. His German controllers described him as a ‘pearl’ among agents, sent him large sums of money and had him awarded the Iron Cross, both First and Second Class.68 In the course of the Second World War, B1a, which usually had five case officers, ran a total of nearly 120 double agents. On average, five of its officers were running twenty-five agents at
[Kell] did not approve of familiarity between officers and staff. The officers were always known by their rank and surname and, of course, they called us Miss So-and-so. I worked for twelve years for Captain Liddell before he succumbed to the wartime habit of Christian names all round. In fact, the girls knew each other only by surname. I did not know the Christian names of most of my colleagues for years.100 Chief among those who broke the rule not to ‘socialise with the girls’ was Eric
seditious speeches but had decided not to do so.35 Kell was well aware, however, of Labour suspicions of MI5.36 MacDonald, who combined the post of foreign secretary with that of prime minister, quickly made clear that he was sceptical of the intelligence he received on Soviet and Communist subversion. When shown a report on subversive activities by the head of the Special Branch, Sir Wyndham Childs, on 24 January, he commented facetiously: it might be made at once attractive and indeed