Spies' double role revealed
TOP secret files – declassified today more than 50 years after they were compiled during the Second World War – tell how intelligence chiefs allowed German spies to commit acts of outrage in mainland Britain to conceal the fact that these double agents were actually working for us. In this exclusive report JAMES FRASER explores the clandestine world of an intriguing double-cross – and how MI5’s “enemy” recruits blew up a Suffolk power station in an effort to maintain their cover.
By James Fraser
In April 1941 two spies, Helge Moe and Tor Glad, Norwegian by birth but trained in the black arts of sabotage by German military intelligence, slipped into the UK. They landed their
rubber dinghy on a deserted Aberdeenshire beach after being dropped offshore by a Luftwaffe seaplane.
Their mission was to create panic on the Home Front by bombing food dumps and factories and to gather intelligence on Britain's war effort, reporting back troop movements, locations of airfields and the state of civilian morale.
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But they were swiftly arrested by police, who had been tipped off by spycatchers at MI5.
Britain's counter-espionage experts immediately saw their
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opportunity for one of the greatest intelligence coups of the war.
Under the direction of the Double Cross Committee, the spies were "turned" and began a highly successful campaign of double bluffing to dupe their German
"controllers" that all was well.
With wry humour, MI5 gave the pair the codenames Mutt and Jeff as they strove to ensure the Germans were, to their real intentions,
exactly what the cockney rhyming phrase meant – deaf.
The double agents fed back false information so persuasively that the Germans became convinced that the British planned to attack
southern occupied Norway. The invasion never happened.
In similar operations, other "turned" agents were used to mislead the Germans into believing that the Pas de Calais was the intended area for the D-Day landings, and not Normandy.
The most shocking revelation in today's release of secret documents was that intelligence officials even allowed double agents to bomb domestic targets in order to maintain their cover.
The MI5 documents at the time stated: "It should be recognised that friends as well as enemies must be completely deceived.
"It was obvious that if the case were to be kept going a faked act of sabotage would have to be committed and the decision was therefore reluctantly made to attempt an explosion in a food store." An incendiary bomb was placed in a food dump in Wealdstone in north west London, with security in place to ward off strangers.
The documents added: "This led to a very delicate situation in
connection with the inquiry being made by Scotland Yard. Ultimately the inquiry died out."
Another target was a power
station in Bury St Edmunds, whose exact site is unknown. Again an incendiary device was placed near the generator in an area not likely to cause serious damage.
The German employers of the two double agents were so pleased they claimed in a public radio broadcast that the device had killed 150 workmen. The claim was false.
Oblivious to MI5's scam, the Germans conducted four parachute drops to re-supply their agents with equipment, radios and cash.
But by late 1943 MI5 believed Mutt and Jeff had been compromised and their role fizzled out.
n Details on the Bury bombing are scant. Do you remember or know anything about the incident? Call the Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 282257, write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN
or e-mail james.fraser