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Showing posts from November, 2018

Blog Review - B2B or Not B2b - Coldspur blog

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Another blogger, and intelligence researcher, Tony Percy has recently tackled the issue of MI5's B-Division structure during the 1939-1941 period.

B Division, under Guy M. Liddell, underwent a significant restructuring in mid 1941 and most authors reference the sections of B Division using the post-restructuring nomenclature.

T.A. Robertson's section, for example, is generally referred to as B1A, it's post mid-1941 restructuring title. The problem is that most authors will use that same title for Robertson's section BEFORE mid-1941, when it was actually called B2A.

There is a pre mid-1941 structural nomenclature and a post mid-1941 structural nomenclature, and they two are very different.

Tony Percy has posted a well-written blog about this issue, and readers are encouraged to visit his blog to get a more in-depth look at the issue.

Tony calls into question the organizational chart of Curry and asks some pointed questions about "authorized" or "official…

National Archives Spy Files

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Over the years, I've amassed a fair few National Archive files on some of the WW2 spies. I thought I'd list them here. Just in case anyone is interested in trading hockey cards. For private study or educational/instructional use of course...

Unless otherwise noted, all are KV 2... I'm particularly interested in enhancing my Liddell diaries...

11 to 13 - Kieboom et al
14 to 19 - Vera et al
24 to 27 - Jakobs
30 to 33 - Richter
43 to 47 - Dronkers
50 to 52 - Job
60 - Caroli
85 to 88 - Ritter
114 - Fukken
450 to 451 - Owens
1315 to 1316 - Steiner 
1333 - Boeckel
1452 - Kieboom et al
1699 - Kieboom et al
1700 - Kieboom et al
1701 to 1706 - Vera et al
2106 to 2107 - Moerz
2428 - Meems
2736 - Schipper
2844 to 2845 - Starziczny

HO 144/21472 - Kieboom et al
KV 4/187 to 189 - Liddell diaries

Phyllis Gwendolen Townshend - first wife of Robin William George Stephens

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Sometimes, when you hit a brick wall, it's good to back up, and try another route. Given the current brick wall with the unknown death date of Robin William George Stephens, former commandant of Camp 020, I thought I would back up all the way to his first wife. I have tried various side tracks with his second wife, Joan Geraldine Pearson Dowling and gotten nowhere. So this time, I thought I would take it back another step to his first marriage - to Phyllis Gwendolen (née Townsend) Fletcher in 1927. I wanted to see what had become of Phyllis. Did she remarry? Did she have children who might perhaps know something of her marriage to Robin Stephens. I thought this would be a rather simple blog post but I seem to have caught a tiger by the tail.

Before we start, a few caveats are in order. Phyllis's middle name has be spelt many different ways: Gwendolen, Gwendoline, Gwendlyn - I have generally chosen Gwendolen for consistency. The same can be said of her surname - Townsend, Towns…

Expanded British Army Personnel Records from Robin William George Stephens

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A few months back, I received an expanded version of the British Army personnel record for Robin William George Stephens. A couple of years ago, I was contacted by a cousin of Stephens' and with his assistance was able to apply as a "family member", which meant that more documents were released than to a general member of the public.

One of the most intriguing documents in Stephens' folder was a letter written by his father, William Henry Stephens to The War Office on 25 February 1946. I mentioned the letter in a previous post and in this one, I would like to address some supporting documents that Stephens' father sent to the War Office.

The first document is entitled: Career of Captain R.W.G. Stephens (Indian Army, Retired 1931). The document covers some of the key moments in Robin's career and confirms much of what we already know about his history.

Education:
Dulwich School; Athlete; Captain of Ist.XV.Army Service:
Woolwich Entrance [likely the Royal Militar…

Book Review - Deckname Dr. Rantzau (Cover Name Dr. Rantzau) - Nikolaus Ritter (1972)

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The Book
Deckname Dr. Rantzau - Die Aufzeichnungen des Nikolaus Ritter, Offizier under Canaris im Geheimen Nachrichtendiesnt. [Cover Name Dr. Rantzau - The Notes of Nikolaus Ritter, Officer under Canaris in the Secret Intelligence Service.] Nikolaus Ritter. Hoffman and Campe. 1972.

Summary
I bought this book several years ago but never got around to reading it. Although I did write a post about the book written by Ritter's first wife, Mary Aurora Evans. A few weeks ago, after reading Hitler's Spies & Saboteurs by Wighton and Peis, I got up the energy to plow my way through the German.

Written by German spymaster Major Nikolaus Ritter, the book provides a fascinating glimpse into the German Abwehr, from a German perspective. Some caveats are in order, however. It's pretty clear that Ritter has modified some names and even some events in order to protect the living (e.g. TATE). The book is also based, to a large extent, on his memories and notes taken by his wife (who init…

Book Review - Hitler's Spies & Saboteurs - Charles Wighton & Gunter Peis (1958)

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The Book
Hitler's Spies and Saboteurs. Charles Wighton and Gunter Peis. Charter Books. 1958.

Summary
I may have read this book years ago but given Bernard O'Connor's reliance on it (see the previous post which reviews O'Connor's book - Operation Lena - Hitler's Plans to Blow up Britain), I thought I would read it again and give a quick review.

This book's primary claim to fame is that it is ostensibly based on the wartime diaries of Erwin von Lahousen, former chief of the German Abwehr's sabotage section (Abteilung II) and Admiral Canaris' right-hand man.

A few caveats are in order. The book was published in 1958, thirteen years before Masterman's account of the British double cross system. The book is therefore quite one-sided and lacks balance. In fact, any wartime espionage book published prior to the declassification of the British Security Service files (starting in 1999/2000) will be hamstrung to a certain extent by the absence of reliable i…

Coldspur Website by Tony Percy

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A few weeks back, I landed on the website of Tony Percy. Can't quite recall the internet crumb trail that lead to his door (I think it might have had to do with Bernard O'Connor's book). Either way, Tony's site has proved to be thought-provoking.

He recently wrote a series of blog posts about the Radio Security Service (RSS) during the Second World War and even touched upon the fate of Engelbertus Fukken (Jan Willem ter Braak). While I don't necessarily support all of Tony's conclusions, I must say that his research is meticulous and his blog posts are thoughtful and thorough. It's definitely worth a look.

Tony recently published a book - Misdefending the Realm: How MI5's Incompetence enable Communist Subversion of Britain's Institutions during the Nazi-Soviet Pact. I think the title says it all and while I haven't yet managed to get a copy onto my desk, it's definitely on my to-read list.

The three Radio Security Service posts are:
The Myst…