Double Cross agents
Double Cross agents
Background to the Double Cross System The Double Cross System was one of the greatest intelligence coups of the Second World War. J C Masterman, Chairman of the Double Cross Committee, concluded that "we actively ran and controlled the German espionage system in this country [Britain]". The Double Cross Committee was known as the Twenty Committee because the Roman numerals, XX, formed a double cross. In the Near and Middle East, Double Cross was run by the Special Section of SIME (and its sub-section in Persia and Iraq, CICI - the Combined Intelligence Centre, Iraq).
Due to a combination of counter-espionage work prior to the War and signals intelligence during it, MI5 were in a position to monitor and pick up German agents as they were "dropped" into Britain. These agents were then "turned" and began working for the British authorities. The preferred communication was via wireless telegraphy, although secret ink, microphotography and, in some cases, direct contact with the enemy was also employed.
Initially the Double Cross System was used for counter-espionage purposes, but its comprehensive success provided an excellent conduit for strategic deception, culminating in the D-Day deception operation, known as FORTITUDE. This plan misled the Germans into believing that the Pas de Calais was the real landing area of the Allied invasion, rather than Normandy. Further successes were achieved in U-boat and V-weapon deception, and during operations HUSKY and TORCH.
A good summary of the most significant Double Cross cases may be found in JC Masterman's book, The Double Cross System.
CARELESS was an aptly codenamed Polish airman (born Kronstadt, 1914) who, after being shot down by the Germans in 1939, made his way to Spain where he volunteered to spy for the Germans in Britain. While on his way by boat to England from Portugal in July 1941 he also volunteered to the British and was interned in Camp 020 where, despite his subsequent refusal to co-operate he nevertheless provided useful information and was used to provide deception information prior to the TORCH landings. Both the British and the Poles in Portugal were profoundly mistrustful of him (though the Poles, who sent him into Britain, hoped he would uncover Poles in Britain who were spying for the Abwehr), but the Germans seemed to find his disregard of basic security measures to be evidence of his good faith, which enabled his contribution to the TORCH operation.
The CARELESS files were heavily weeded after the War.
KV 2/1438 opens the story in 1941 when CARELESS's arrival in Portugal was notified to the Security Service by the Secret Intelligence Service officer in Lisbon. As he was known to be in contact with German agents, he was carefully watched, and the file includes reports about his activities in Lisbon, on board the boat carrying him to Glasgow (when he first attempted to recruit fellow Polish passengers as German agents, and subsequently declared himself to the British authorities on the boat as a German agent who wished to co-operate), and in the UK (where he settled at an address in the Old Brompton Road and under Security Service supervision wrote letters to his cover addresses to announce his arrival). He was recognised as being a potential double agent because of the trust the Germans placed in him (he had sold out the Polish escape routes into Spain to them). The file includes original letters written (but not sent) by CARELESS, and correspondence with Polish intelligence officers in London about the handling of this case.
KV 2/1439 continues the story of running CARELESS through 1941, including a detailed comparison of CARELESS's statements and those made by various Polish contacts who had denounced him as a German spy. The decision to run CARELESS as a double agent, and the Security Service's decision to clear him of suspicion of being a German agent, are both on this file.
KV 2/1440 continues the story to the end of 1941, and contains further narrative of the running of this case. It includes details of relations between the British and Polish intelligence services, including British efforts to get the Poles to drop their threat to try CARELESS for treason after the War, and interesting correspondence about the difficulties in accommodating Double Cross agents such as CARELESS with other interned prisoners.
KV 2/1441 (1941-1942) includes the instructions for dealing with CARELESS and MUTT in the event of a German invasion. In 1942 CARELESS was allowed to join the Army (he ended up in the Pioneer Corps), and the file covers in some detail his various scrapes with the military authorities. By this time his cover story as belonging to a barrage balloon unit was established and accepted by the Germans.
CARELESS's parents had been in Vichy France, where his father, a colonel, ran a camp for displaced Poles, but by 1942 they had arrived in Portugal, and correspondence between them is recorded on KV 2/1442 (which also includes details of CARELESS's complicated medical history). There is a photograph of CARELESS's parents, taken in Lisbon in July 1942, which they sent to him, on file. The file also includes initial discussion of the use to be made of CARELESS for invasion deception.
By October 1942 (KV 2/1443) CARELESS had been discharged from the Army on account of his poor health. On discharge he was interned at Camp 020, and on falling ill again was transferred to Brixton Prison Hospital, where he attempted to commit suicide. The file documents ongoing discussions about the handling of his case, developments in his personal situation (and the arrival of his parents in the UK, where they settled in Falkirk), and includes a copy of the letter written before his suicide attempt.
These discussions continue into 1943 (KV 2/1444) where the best approach to terminating this case is also discussed.
The last file, KV 2/1445, covering 1943-1945, covers the end of the case, and includes interesting discussions about CARELESS's fate. The Security Service feared he would be persecuted and probably shot if he was deported to Poland, and made representations along these lines to the Home Office, which remained unmoved. The Service did not fight too hard against this result, for, in the words of a minute of January 1945 "...the real case for detaining [CARELESS] at Camp 020 is that the man is a wastrel and a blackguard of high order who has proved himself time and again not only to be utterly irresponsible but completely untrustworthy " He did manage to get married at Chelsea in 1946 shortly before he was deported, at which point his file closes.
CARROT was a Luxembourger intelligence agent for the Vichy France 2eme Bureau intelligence service, who arrived in Britain from Portugal in 1942. Though suspected of having a German intelligence role, he was able to satisfy the British authorities of his innocence and was used to a very limited degree as a double agent.
These two reconstituted files mainly cover the Security Service's investigations into CARROT's story, and include many interrogation reports and CARROT's own notes on his wartime history including his treatment while under arrest. The case opened when SIS informed the Security Service that CARROT had arrived in Lisbon and was heading for the UK, and was originally handled by Anthony Blunt. CARROT was identified as a likely XX agent by C H Hamer in July 1942, and from this point the file covers arrangements for using him to feed information to the Germans, and following up information supplied by CARROT about other 2eme Bureau agents in the UK.
KV 2/1436 covers 1942, and holds the papers of greatest general interest, while KV 2/1437 is mainly of interest for copies of his correspondence with his various 2eme Bureau contacts. Both files throw some light on the wartime relations between the British intelligence service and the Vichy French administration and the Luxembourg government in exile.