The Spirit of England - The English Left

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The 'Cambridge Five' were a ring of spies, recruited in part by Russian scout Arnold Deutsch in the United Kingdom, who passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II, and at least into the early 1950s.
Four members of the ring have been identified: Kim Philby (cryptonym: Stanley), Donald Duart Maclean (cryptonym: Homer), Guy Burgess, (cryptonym: Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (cryptonym: Johnson); jointly they are known as the Cambridge Four.

Kings' College Cambridge
The term "Cambridge" in the name Cambridge Five refers to the recruitment of the group during their education at Cambridge University in the 1930s.
The four known members all attended the university, as did the alleged fifth man.
Debate surrounds the exact timing of their recruitment by Soviet intelligence; Anthony Blunt claimed that they were not recruited as agents until they had graduated.
Blunt, a Fellow of Trinity College, was several years older than Burgess, Maclean, and Philby; he acted as a talent-spotter and recruiter for most of the group save Burgess.
Several people have been suspected of being the "fifth man" of the group; John Cairncross (cryptonym: Liszt) was identified as such by Oleg Gordievsky, though many others have also been accused of membership in the Cambridge ring.
Both Blunt and Burgess were members of the 'Apostles', an exclusive and prestigious society based at Trinity and King's Colleges.
Cairncross was also an 'Apostle'.
Other 'Apostles' accused of having been the "fifth man" or otherwise spied for the Soviets include Michael Whitney Straight, Victor Rothschild and Guy Liddell.

Known Members

All four were active during World War II, to various degrees of success.
Philby, when he was posted in the British embassy in Washington, D.C., after the war, learned the U.S. and the British were searching for a British Embassy mole (cryptonym Homer) who was passing information to the Soviet Union, relying on material uncovered by VENONA.
Philby learned one of the suspects was Maclean.
Realizing he had to act fast, he ordered Burgess, who was also on the embassy staff and living with Philby, to warn Maclean in England, where he was serving in the Foreign Office headquarters.
Burgess was recalled from the United States due to "bad behaviour" and upon reaching London, warned Maclean.
In early summer 1951, Burgess and Maclean made international headlines by disappearing.
Their whereabouts were unclear for some time.
Strong suspicion that they had defected to the Soviet Union turned out to be correct, but was not made public until 1956 when the two appeared at a press conference in Moscow.
It was obvious they had been tipped off and Philby quickly became the prime suspect, due to his close relations with Burgess.
Though Burgess was not supposed to defect at the same time as Maclean, he went along.
It has been claimed that the KGB ordered Burgess to go to Moscow.
This move damaged Philby's reputation, with many speculating that had it not occurred, Philby could have climbed even higher in MI6.
Investigation of Philby found several suspicious matters but nothing for which he could be prosecuted.
Nevertheless he was forced to resign from MI6.
In 1955 he was named in the press, with questions also raised in the House of Commons, as chief suspect for "the Third Man" and he called a press conference to deny the allegation.
Philby was officially cleared by then Foreign Secretary Harold MacMillan; this later turned out to be an error based on incomplete information and bureaucratic inefficiency in the British intelligence organisations.
In the later 1950s, Philby left the secret service and began working as a journalist in the Middle East; 'The Economist' magazine provided his employment there.
MI6 then re-employed him at around the same time, to provide reports from that region.
In 1961, defector Anatoliy Golitsyn provided information which pointed to Philby.
An MI5 officer and friend of Philby from his earlier MI6 days, John Nicholas Rede Elliott was sent in 1963 to interview him in Beirut and reported that Philby seemed to know he was coming (indicating the presence of yet another mole), nonetheless, Philby confessed to Elliott.
Shortly afterward, apparently fearing he might be abducted in Lebanon, Philby defected to the Soviet Union under cover of night aboard a Soviet freighter.
MI5 received information from American Michael Straight in 1964 which pointed to Blunt's espionage; the two had known each other at Cambridge some thirty years before and Blunt had tried to recruit Straight as a spy.
Straight, who initially agreed, changed his mind afterwards.
Blunt was interrogated by MI5 and confessed in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
By 1979 Blunt was publicly accused of being a Soviet agent by investigative journalist Andrew Boyle, in his book Climate of Treason.
In November 1979, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher admitted to the House of Commons that Blunt had confessed to being a Soviet spy fifteen years previously.
As he was by 1964 without access to classified information, he had secretly been granted immunity by the Attorney General in exchange for revealing everything he knew.
He provided a considerable amount of information, and preventing the Soviets from discovering his confession increased the value of his information, however, Peter Wright in his book 'Spycatcher' gives a contradictory account.
Wright was one of Blunt's interrogators, and claimed he was evasive and only made admissions grudgingly when confronted with the undeniable.
The term "Five" began to be used in 1961, when KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn named Maclean and Burgess as part of a "Ring of Five", with Philby a 'probable' third, alongside two other agents whom he did not know.
Of all the information provided by Golitsyn, the only item that was ever independently confirmed was the Soviet affiliation of John Vassall.
Vassall was a relatively low ranking spy who may have been sacrificed to protect a more senior one.
At the time of Golitsyn's defection, Philby had already been accused in the press and was living in a country with no extradition agreement with Britain.
Select members of MI5 and MI6 already knew Philby to be a spy from VENONA decryptions.
Golitsyn also provided other information that is widely regarded as highly improbable, such as the claim that Harold Wilson (then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) was a KGB agent.
Golitsyn's reliability remains a controversial subject and as such there is little certainty of the number of agents he assigned to the Cambridge spy ring.
To add to the confusion, when Blunt finally confessed, he named several other people as having been recruited by him.

The Fifth Man

On the basis of the information provided by Golitsyn, speculation raged for many years as to the identity of the "Fifth Man".
The journalistic popularity of this phrase owes something to the unrelated novels 'The Third Man' and 'The Tenth Man', both written by Graham Greene - who, coincidentally, knew and worked alongside Philby during the Second World War.
It is now widely accepted that the spy ring had more than five members, possibly many more, since three other persons are known to have confessed, several more were nominated in confessions, and circumstantial cases have been made against others.
The following were certainly Soviet spies.
John Cairncross (1913–1995), confessed to spying in 1951 and was publicly accused of being the "fifth man" in 1990.
He was also accused by Anthony Blunt during Blunt's confession in 1964.
Cairncross is not always considered to have belonged to the 'Ring of five'.
He was a fellow student at Cambridge and a member of the Apostles with Blunt, therefore present at the recruitment of the others.
Leo Long (later an intelligence officer), similarly accused by Blunt in 1964.
Also accused:
Ludwig Wittgenstein is alleged by Kimberley Cornish, in his 1998 book 'The Jew of Linz', to have been a Soviet recruiter at Cambridge; but Cornish's theories about Wittgenstein, and his influence on Hitler have found little acceptance.
Guy Liddell was an MI5 officer, and nearly rose to become Director of the service, but was passed over because of rumours that he was a double agent; he took early retirement from MI5 in 1953 after being investigated for his personal links to Kim Philby.
He was accused of having been the "fifth man" by Goronwy Rees as part of Rees' confession in 1979.
The academic consensus is that he was naïve in his friendships rather than a spy.
Andrew Gow: in his memoirs published in 2012, Brian Sewell, suggested that Gow was the 'fifth man' and spy master of the group.

Secret Intelligence Service

Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6), is the British agency which supplies the British Government with foreign intelligence.
It is frequently referred to by the name MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6), a name used as a flag of convenience during the First World War when it was known by many names.
The service is derived from the Secret Service Bureau, which was founded in 1909.
The Bureau was a joint initiative of the Admiralty and the War Office to control secret intelligence operations in the UK and overseas, particularly concentrating on the activities of the Imperial German Government.
The bureau was split into naval and army sections which, over time, specialised in foreign espionage and internal counter-espionage activities respectively.
Its first director was Captain Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, who often dropped the Smith in routine communication.
He typically signed correspondence with his initial 'C' in green ink.
This usage evolved as a code name, and has been adhered to by all subsequent directors of SIS when signing documents to retain anonymity.

Second World War

During the Second World War the human intelligence work of the service was overshadowed by several other initiatives:
The cryptanalytic effort undertaken by the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), the bureau responsible for interception and decryption of foreign communications at Bletchley Park.
The extensive "double-cross" system run by MI5 to feed misleading intelligence to the Germans
GC&CS was the source of Ultra intelligence, which was very useful.
In 1940, journalist and Soviet agent Kim Philby applied for a vacancy in Section D of SIS, and was vetted by his friend and fellow Soviet agent Guy Burgess.
When Section D was absorbed by Special Operations Executive (SOE) in summer of 1940, Philby was appointed as an instructor in the arts of "black propaganda" at the SOE's training establishment in Beaulieu, Hampshire.
In early 1944 MI6 re-established Section IX, its prewar anti-Soviet section, and Kim Philby took a position there.
He was able to alert the NKVD about all British intelligence on the Soviets—including what the American OSS had shared with the British about the Soviets.
Despite these difficulties the service nevertheless conducted substantial and successful operations in both occupied Europe and in the Middle East and Far East where it operated under the cover name Interservice Liaison Department (ISLD).

The Cold War

In August 1945 Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Volkov tried to defect to Britain, offering the names of all Soviet agents working inside British intelligence.
Philby received the memo on Volkov's offer, and alerted the Soviets so they could arrest him.
SIS operations against the USSR were extensively compromised by the fact that the post-war Counter-Espionage Section, R5, was headed for two years by an agent working for the Soviet Union, Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby.
Although Philby's damage was mitigated for several years by his transfer as Head of Station in Turkey, he later returned and was the SIS intelligence liaison officer at the Embassy in Washington D.C.
In this capacity he compromised a programme of joint US-UK paramilitary operations (Albanian Subversion, Valuable Project) in Enver Hoxha's Albania (although it has been shown that these operations were further compromised "on the ground" by poor security discipline among the Albanian émigrés recruited to undertake the operations).
Philby was eased out of office and quietly retired in 1953 after the defection of his friends and fellow members of the "Cambridge spy ring" Donald Duart Maclean and Guy Burgess.
SIS suffered further embarrassment when it turned out that an officer involved in both the Vienna and Berlin tunnel operations had been turned as a Soviet agent during internment by the Chinese during the Korean War.
The real scale and impact of SIS activities during the second half of the Cold War remains unknown, however, because the bulk of their most successful targeting operations against Soviet officials were the result of "Third Country" operations recruiting Soviet sources travelling abroad in Asia and Africa.

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