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Bletchley Park spies
Bletchley Park

Milton Keynes Citizen, March 29, 2012

How the Communists infiltrated Bletchley Park during World War Two

Strike a light. Just when you thought things couldn’t get sillier, in the realm of interviews up pop ‘dinosaur’ questions.

In the jargon, apparently a ‘curved ball’ to test how one thinks on one’s feet. But personally it seems pretty obvious that the only dinosaur you’d want to be is one that wasn’t extinct.

However, in the wacky world of ‘H.R’ the ludicrous has long become the norm and nowadays it’s always a chuckle when some new broom tries to ossilizat a ‘team’ with the inevitable ‘bonding’ and ‘team building’ exercise.

Always good for a giggle although if they think I’m going to ‘group hug’ with some of the females where I work they can go and whistle.

But perhaps the real motive is for these young dudes to impress an immediate superior who, not infrequently being in an advanced stage of ossilization, and with therefore only the preservation of a pension as the prime concern, is all too happy to nod through any ‘trendiness,’ at the risk of being otherwise deemed archaic.

Yet regarding interviews, in the realm of national security the vetting has to be thorough although during the desperate days of World War Two it was the view of MI6 that ‘Anyone who was not pro-German was all right for us.’

Which was rather alarming because several who were covertly pro Communist would gain access to Bletchley Park, and indeed most of the infamous Cambridge spies would have association with the code breakers in one form or another.

Whilst teaching him at Cambridge University, Anthony Blunt had ‘talent spotted’ John Cairncross who, due to his fluency in German, having studied modern languages at Trinity College, found work in 1942 at Bletchley Park in Hut 3, dealing with air intelligence intercepts.

Via Blunt he then covertly supplied the Soviets with a mass of deciphered information and MI5 came to harbour few doubts about his guilt.

Another Communist penetration was almost made by Kim Philby. He underwent a promising meeting, but his interviewer, Frank Birch, a notable of Bletchley Park, who would head the German naval signals interception centre in Hut 4, turned him down, thinking the position would pay the potential recruit insufficient money!

However, Philby became romantically involved with Aileen Furze, a fiercely patriotic young lady who worked with the Bletchley code breakers.

Another to compromise the security was Leo Long, a Trinity College graduate. Mainly dealing with the assessments of the German army he was an officer in M114 of the Directorate of Military Intelligence and at his offices, in a bomb proof basement in Central London, teleprinters constantly chattered out information coming from Bletchley. This then formed the basis of the information he passed to Blunt at meetings arranged in snack bars or pubs.

Meanwhile at the offices of MI5 in St. James, London, Herbert Hart sifted through the summaries of Abwehr traffic deciphered at Bletchley, completely unaware of the duplicity of his colleague, Anthony Blunt, who, scribbling down notes based on the documents he had seen, dropped the information at pre-arranged locations for his Soviet controller.

Fortunately MI5 only received summaries of the Bletchley information which, although able to confirm the British ability to read the German signals, gave no indication as to the method.

On a more positive note, throughout the war the Germans believed they had an established network of spies in Britain.

This was basically true but the information they sent was selected by the British, for the spies had been captured and could either co-operate or be shot.

Agent 3719, a parachutist captured in September 1940 near the village of Denton, Northants., chose to co-operate and his subsequent ‘interview’ revealed a second agent, who was arrested at Yardley Hastings.

But back to the present, and, who knows, in modern interviews there may be something in this dinosaur thing.

So the next time I need an emergency plumber I’ll ask if he’d rather be a diplodocus or a brontosaurus. And it will be entirely dependent upon the answer as to whether he gets to change my tap washer.