Other subjects of Security Service inquiries

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Other subjects of Security Service inquiries

LARK Organisation (KV 2/2260)

This heavily weeded file covering 1941-1944 deals with the investigations carried out into the LARK Organisation, the SOE circuit based at Trondheim in Norway between February and December 1942, which fell under suspicion when one of its leading members, Herluf Nygaard, returned to Britain having escaped from Gestapo hands in questionable circumstances. Nygaard and many of his colleagues passed through the Royal Victoria Patriotic School (RVPS) in Wandsworth, the MI9 centre which screened refugees and escapees arriving in the UK during the war. The file includes copies of Nygaard´s own report of his escape, and the RVPS interrogation reports on Nygaard and Øiving Sørli. The file includes photographs of Nygaard and his colleagues Arthur Pevik, Johnny Pevik, Olaf Strom and Sørlie, and there are various other items of correspondence relating to the case, including consideration of the list obtained by British agents in Sweden of Trondheim residents granted an extra wine ration, which included Nygaard´s name and therefore raised great suspicion. An explanation for this was provided by Sørli in May 1944, and this is on the file. The file also includes receipts for possessions returned by RVPS signed by Nygaard and others in the LARK organisation.

Motor Vessel Reidar (KV 2/2246-2249)

The MV Reidar was a Norwegian fishing smack bought to Britain in early 1943 by three Norwegians, Arnold Evensen, Gunnar Pedersen and Louis Westrum. In a reversal of the famous Shetland Bus, this vessel was suspected of being used to introduce German agents into Scotland when it arrived in Lerwick on 8 January 1943. The main reasons for this were that the British had received advance warning of the mission, as recorded on KV 2/2246 (1942-1943): the Camp 020 interrogation of Hans Holteman had revealed the details of such a plot, and intercept sources had warned in a signal of 2 January 1943 that the Reidar was leaving Norway for the UK on a mission for the German Intelligence Service (serials 1a and 5a respectively). The confusion in the case came when Evensen, on arrival at Lerwick, immediately divulged the information that he had been in contact with the German intelligence services and had been sent by them, and offered to play the role of double agent. Evensen´s plan was to return, as the Germans had tasked him, with a radio transmitter, which the Germans would use to play back to the UK - but he would also bring back a secret second transmitter, which he would then use to send genuine intelligence. The possibility immediately occurred that Evensen might be intending to use this second set also for feeding false information as an intricate triple cross. The interrogation reports of Evensen and his colleagues Pedersen and Westrum received understandably minute examination. The minute examination of their respective stories continues through KV 2/2247, KV 2/2248 (both 1943) and KV 2/2249 (1943-1944). The men were brought to Camp 020 for detailed interrogation, and before too long it became clear (as detailed in the case history serial 86a, KV 2/2248) that Pedersen, despite his possible connection to the compromised LARK organisation, was innocent. He was released to join the free Norwegian forces. Later on the same file it was decided that Westrum too could also be released into the services, though his case was far less clear-cut. The full case history for Westrum is at serial 107a. Evensen´s case was altogether harder to determine. The Security Service felt he could not be trusted, but the interrogators at Camp 020, while sure he should not enter sensitive work, were convinced he could be released. They reported (serial 116a in KV 2/2248) that Evensen "ought not to be judged by ordinary standards as it is obvious that his mental powers are sub-normal, his memory hopeless and his mind an inchoate jumble." A former baker, he was freed to work in the bakers Allardyce of Isleworth, as recorded in KV 2/2249.

These four files on the Reidar case contain plentiful visual material. This includes photographs of the vessel itself and of all three men, along with photographs of Arfinn Hegdahl, a purported German intelligence contact of Evensen, and of German warships and armaments in and around Trondheim brought to Britain by Evensen. The file also includes Evensen´s 1942 pocket diary. See the annex of selected visual material for full details.

John Lehmann (KV 2/2253-2255)

Lehmann was a writer, poet critic and publisher associated with the Bloomsbury Set, whose left wing beliefs led him to be involved in the 1930s British anti-war movement, though it was not clear from the evidence in the files now released that he was ever a member of the Communist Party. KV 2/2253 (1932-1934) shows how Lehmann first came to Security Service attention because of his pacifist activities, and mentions of him in intercepted correspondence were enough to merit a warrant being taken out to monitor Lehmann´s own correspondence at his Bourne End, Buckinghamshire address from March 1934. From this point the files contain much in Lehmann´s intercepted correspondence.

KV 2/2254 covers 1934-1941, but the chief interest emerges in late 1939 when Lehmann applied for employment in the Ministry of Information, and the Service insisted that his application be turned down. The details of the rejection are at serial 128a, of November 1939, and include the following justification: "(a) that he is a homosexual, and as such is open to blackmail, and, (b) that he has friends who are morally or politically undesirable: (c) that his own sympathies are left wing." It was the combination of these three factors that led the Service to block his appointment. The chief undesirable character referred to in point (b) was Gerald Hamilton. The Ministry of Information was put out by the Service´s stance, and it emerged that Colonel Bridge of the Ministry had told other people, including various Foreign Office officials prepared to act as referees for Lehmann, that it was the Security Service which had blocked Lehmann´s appointment. This resulted in a debate recorded on the file about how much of the reason for blocking the appointment should be released, and an exchange of letters with the Ministry.

KV 2/2255(1941-1945) continues with the Service´s attempts to stop Lehmann joining the BBC, though it did eventually agree to him broadcasting, so long as he was not an employee of the Corporation.  By the end of the war, however, security concerns about Lehmann had decreased, not least because his own views seemed to have moderated. The file includes the original of Lehmann´s June 1945 travel permit application for his visit to France to re-establish literary links. The last point of general interest on the file is at serial 171a, which records an interview of June 1951 with Lehmann as one of the contacts of Soviet spies Burgess and Maclean following their defection.

Sicherheistdienst activities in France (KV 3/236-238)

During the Second World War and in its immediate aftermath, The Security Service assiduously collected information about the operations, organisation and personnel of the German security service (the Sicherheistdienst or SD) organisation in France, much of which is collected in these three files. Information, at first hard to come by, began to flow from 1944, and KV 3/236  covering that year includes interrogation reports from captured agents and contacts of the SD, the contents of captured German documents and reports from other intelligence services, detailing the activities and organisation of the SD, with many lists of known or suspected agents. This file includes plans of the SD headquarters at 60 Boulevard Victor Hugo compiled from the interrogation of SS Grenadier Carlois, who was captured near Periers in June 1944 (serial 10a); and information gleaned from interrogation at Camp 020 of Guy Vissault de Coetlegon, who had been responsible for SD efforts to recruit stay-behind networks in Brittany and had a (largely unsuccessful) record of working with Celtic minority groups (serial 13b). Security Service concerns at possible SD re-organisation as France began to be liberated can be seen at serial 15z.

Similar material continues in KV 3/237 (1944-1945), which includes reports of the development of a covert SD stay-behind organisation, accounts of SD successes against resistance movements (serial 22a, for example) and at serial 31a reports of intelligence gained from RSHA agent Horst Kopkow about co-operation of local police forces with the SD.

KV 3/238 (1945-1946) is mostly taken up with the French intelligence interrogation report on  Karl Oberg (serial 32a), and an American report on French employee of the Gestapo Marguerite Lauber, which the file shows was passed to Kim Philby.

German espionage activity in Gibraltar (KV 3/239-243)

KV 3/239 (1935-1940) opens with a detailed Colonial Office report about suspicious activity by some German civilians in Ceuta, Spanish Morocco, who had established a villa as an observation post to oversee Gibraltar and view all shipping movements through the Straits. The Defence Security Officer (DSO) in Gibraltar started gathering information about German activities in the area generally, for instance receiving a report from a Spanish military intelligence source in 1936 on German activity in Gibraltar. In the run up to the war, the file contains reports of suspected female agents attempting to compromise British servicemen in Gibraltar - two, Marquesa de Povar and Marquesa de Najera, are in August 1939 reported to ´have been making a "dead set" at the junior officers of the Welsh Guards ever since the battalion arrived in Gibraltar´ (serial 107a).

By 1940 (KV 3/240, 1940-1944, continuing for 1944 in KV 3/241) the DSO was making regular ´counter espionage´ reports back to the Security Service about the activities of the many known and suspected German and Italian agents, including his own cross-border counter espionage activities, and there are many lists of these scattered throughout the files.

KV 3/242 (1944-1945) includes correspondence on the provision of ´chicken feed´ information for double agent JEEP to pass on. It also includes, at serial 272a, a photograph from January 1945 of German agent Enrique Llanderal Garcia, who had operated as the link between German agents in Madrid and Morocco and Tangier. KV 3/243 (1945) includes the DSO´s complete list of suspected and known German agents.

Japanese espionage activities (KV 3/251-254)

The Security Service began to receive regular reports of Japanese espionage activity in the Far East, particularly in and around Singapore but also in China, the Netherlands East Indies, Malaya, Burma, India and even as far afield as Afghanistan and British East Africa from the mid 1930s, and they are collected in these files. Activity to counter this threat was largely carried out by Colonial police and Special Branches.

KV 3/251 (1934-1938) contains the only photograph of a suspected Japanese agent in this release, that of Kanichi Nisiyama. It also includes interesting reports (serials 9a and 18a) of the voyage of a Japanese spy ship, the Wani Maru, which sailed under cover of a Japanese Boy Scouts friendship mission. There are also numerous reports of Japanese fishing vessels being used as cover for espionage, of extensive photographic intelligence gathering in Burma and of huge expenditure (a reported $500,000 in two years) by the Japanese intelligence organisation in Shanghai. Serial 61a includes reports of an intelligence network being established in Afghanistan under commercial cover.

These reports continue in KV 3/252 (1938-1939) which includes reports of conversations with Japanese agents reported by a British intelligence agent at serial 65b, in which the Japanese are reported to have spoken freely about the likely course of the coming war. At serial 69x is the report of the Singapore Special Branch´s raid on Japanese commercial properties suspected of being cover for espionage carried out in January 1939.

There is a detailed Straits Settlements Special Branch survey from 1940 of the Japanese espionage network in Malaya in KV 3/253 (1939-1941).

Finally, KV 3/254 (1940-1946) includes reports detailing increased Japanese espionage activity, and British moves to try to counter it, in the run up to the attack on Pearl Harbour and the subsequent Japanese offensives against the British position in the Far East.

Press censorship and D Notice files (KV 4/317-319)

KV 4/317 deals with policy and particular cases of the Security Service´s involvement in press censorship during the Second World War, and includes some interesting exchanges with the Press and Censorship Bureau of the Ministry of Information showing the development of the relationship between the two organisations.

KV 4/318-319 record the Security Service´s involvement with the development of D Notice policy during the war - D Notices being the regulations controlling what information the media could and could not publish. The Security Service was concerned that the practice of distributing D Notices widely was in itself a security risk - many of the media organisations on the distribution list were ones which the Service had deep suspicions about (and there is a list of these at serial 9a, KV 4/318 ). Also the manner of distribution (by wire, rather than double sealed envelope into the hands of the editor, as had been the practice in the First World War) was also seen as carrying risks. These files show the Service´s efforts to improve the security of the system, while the KV 2/319 shows the Service´s involvement in the drafting of the post-war D Notices. Particular examples of problem cases that came to the Service´s attention (for example, a parish magazine which printed details of air raid damage and casualties) are included in these files.

Disposal of escapees (KV 4/320-323)

These four files constitute the last four remaining of five volumes of Security Service correspondence on the policy for disposal of escapees and evaders arriving in Britain from occupied Europe during the Second World War (the first volume is noted as having been destroyed in 1960).

KV 4/320 (1942-1943) includes the first detailed arrangements at serial 80a, and also includes a detailed account of the escape of two Russian airmen at serial 148b. There are further revisions to the policy in KV 4/321 (1943-1944), which also includes at serial 230al the script given to British escapees and evaders for them to follow explaining why they were not allowed to discuss the story of their escape. There is lengthy correspondence with MI9, the escapers´ organisation, on the system for disposal, including assessments of the weakness of the system at serials 240b and 259a. The policy had to be urgently revised at the time of operation OVERLORD (covered in KV 4/322 , 1944). This file also includes the detailed evasion story of British airman Nicholas Stockford.

The stresses on the system after OVERLORD, when instead of there being hardly any cross-channel military traffic, there was now too much to cope with, are detailed in KV 4/323 (1944-1949). Escapers hitching unauthorised lifts on military transports back to the UK caused great problems for the disposal system, which was now also trying to track possible returning renegades (see especially serial 399a).

Establishment of CSDIC (Bad Nenndorf) (KV 4/327)

This release includes the Security Service policy file on the setting up of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre (CSDIC) at Bad Nenndorf at the end of the Second World War. The file deals with the administrative arrangements only. Events at CSDIC and its predecessor Camp 020 have been the subject of recent media coverage.