Spymaster – The man who saved MI6 by Helen Fry

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5.00 star(s)
This book is tells the story of Thomas Kendrick, a South African who helped to set up and operate the Secret Service from its beginnings in South Africa (who knew?) until after the Second World War, when he retired to live quietly in the English countryside.

As many spies did, he worked as a British Passport Control Officer in Vienna, and in that role, facilitated the escape of thousands of Austrian Jews, whilst building up a comprehensive picture of German activity across Europe.

On recall to the UK, he set up the ‘M Room’ (Miked Room), as listening service which gathered a huge amount of information from German POWs. Houses were bugged intensively, and the conversations of prisoners from Private Soldiers to Generals were analysed, giving Britain early warning of developments from the V2 rocket to submarine and tank building programmes, and an understanding of morale in the German forces as the war progressed. He felt that the approach of listening in to relaxed people chatting between themselves would generate more information than the torture and shooting practices carried out by the German Authorities. It worked.

This man of American/South African heritage served Britain through three major wars, and used his experience in the Second Boer War to set up protocols for spy networks that are still in use today. He recruited people from all walks of life to pick up snippets of information, including Princess Michael of Kent’s mother Countess Marianne Szapary and officials/citizens across 1930s Europe, all reporting back to him in Vienna. He was arrested by the Gestapo and released, but was on a list for immediate arrest in the event of a successful German invasion of Britain.

This book is a fascinating insight into the man, how much information he gathered, how he stored it and disseminated it to the right people. Churchill trusted him so much that he had a virtually unlimited budget for his miked houses and recruiting of German speakers (many of them refugees looking to help the fight against those who had persecuted them).

The author has had access to a huge number of records, and the glossary is extensive. Much information has yet to be released into the public domain, and I do hope I live to see the full extent of his achievements. Helen Fry has taken all this and made a very readable, pleasurable, informative book. She has written other books about intelligence, espionage, prisoners of war and the social history of the Second World War. I shall look out for more of her work.

Amazon product
 
This book is tells the story of Thomas Kendrick, a South African who helped to set up and operate the Secret Service from its beginnings in South Africa (who knew?) until after the Second World War, when he retired to live quietly in the English countryside.

As many spies did, he worked as a British Passport Control Officer in Vienna, and in that role, facilitated the escape of thousands of Austrian Jews, whilst building up a comprehensive picture of German activity across Europe.

On recall to the UK, he set up the ‘M Room’ (Miked Room), as listening service which gathered a huge amount of information from German POWs. Houses were bugged intensively, and the conversations of prisoners from Private Soldiers to Generals were analysed, giving Britain early warning of developments from the V2 rocket to submarine and tank building programmes, and an understanding of morale in the German forces as the war progressed. He felt that the approach of listening in to relaxed people chatting between themselves would generate more information than the torture and shooting practices carried out by the German Authorities. It worked.

This man of American/South African heritage served Britain through three major wars, and used his experience in the Second Boer War to set up protocols for spy networks that are still in use today. He recruited people from all walks of life to pick up snippets of information, including Princess Michael of Kent’s mother Countess Marianne Szapary and officials/citizens across 1930s Europe, all reporting back to him in Vienna. He was arrested by the Gestapo and released, but was on a list for immediate arrest in the event of a successful German invasion of Britain.

This book is a fascinating insight into the man, how much information he gathered, how he stored it and disseminated it to the right people. Churchill trusted him so much that he had a virtually unlimited budget for his miked houses and recruiting of German speakers (many of them refugees looking to help the fight against those who had persecuted them).

The author has had access to a huge number of records, and the glossary is extensive. Much information has yet to be released into the public domain, and I do hope I live to see the full extent of his achievements. Helen Fry has taken all this and made a very readable, pleasurable, informative book. She has written other books about intelligence, espionage, prisoners of war and the social history of the Second World War. I shall look out for more of her work.

Amazon product
One for the Christmas Hint hint list , just printing this out to be left in plain sight of Mrs WW
 

Grownup_Rafbrat

ADC
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One for the Christmas Hint hint list , just printing this out to be left in plain sight of Mrs WW
You're bound to enjoy it. Let me know if she produces the goods!
 

Sarastro

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
He felt that the approach of listening in to relaxed people chatting between themselves would generate more information than the torture and shooting practices carried out by the German Authorities. It worked.
Well that can't be right, I was told that the way to get human intelligence was to do a long course of driving and weapons skills, only after which were you qualified to ask people questions with a mildly grumpy attitude while refusing to answer any yourself. Surely that's the best way to generate information?
 

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