Gordon Lonsdale


Welcome to Spies of London. This episode is a book review of the illegal by Gordon Carrera from the BBC the hunt for a Russian spy on a post-war London and it's about the Spy Gordon Lonsdale Gordon. Lonsdale was a Canadian man who came to Britain by ship. He told everyone had been born on the 27th of August 1924 in Ontario Canada in reality. He was Conan meladi born in Moscow. Now, I've come across God in Lonsdale many times. He was easily one of the best and most Professional Russian spies operating in Britain at any time. He was known to me because he was involved in a prisoner swap without wanting to give you too many spoilers as he was highly valued by the KGB and he met George Blake in Moscow and George Blake & Garden Lonsdale were betrayed by the song. So some people suggest that if they hadn't been portrayed particular Lonsdale might never have been discovered by the time he was discovered clearly his super deep secret undercover of work which involved him taking on this Canadian identity living in Britain away from his young family was taking its toll and more than that as with so many of the best writers when Lonsdale go back to Moscow. He started to compare it to what he'd seen in the west and realized that the West Was better. I was richer more exciting more interesting more. Make more fun and he had serious alcohol problems, but there were a few details about Lonsdale which intrigued me and I have to say I thought God God unless there was a man a name is not quite true. I thought it was a little bit like Douglas Adams when describing the alien Ford prefect. He had researched and discovered that Ford prefect were in such wide use birth. That the name Ford prefect would be an inconspicuous name for a human younger listeners including me might not know that the Ford prefect was a car. So God and Lonsdale to me sounded like a sports bag. But in fact goddamn long was a real name a real person of a young boy who had a Canadian boy who had gone to Russia and died there and to Garden Lonsdale Melody took up that identity theft too easy to fake up a few dates and things and and make it look like you are the person who's died. A lot of intelligence agencies in the past have used this technique. I find it a bit creepy because the people died waiting to be very young quite often children even babies and to me I don't know they would see it as a cat a form of warfare and it's all in the cause and everything but stealing the identity of a dead baby just seems bizarre. Anyway God along there was not a baby, but he did die in Russia and his identity was there for for taking and the KGB took it and assigned it to miladi Once home. Trained up had been in the Red Army had gone to school in America. He had this kind of international background. He sailed to New York or an ocean liner and became a spy as with all good spies. They all bought several names. He met a man on a bench in Central Park who introduced himself as Emile goldfish. He was really William Fisher but better known as a Rudolf Abel. He had been born in New England in 1903, but to Russian parents. So the thing about communism Cold War spying post-war spying and indeed the moles of the thirties the King Philip and so on they will often driven by ideology and I've mentioned this several times on the walks and in the podcast that it is difficult to put ourselves into the mindset of the thirties forties in Europe. War was inevitable sides had to be chosen and some people chose the Victoria side and some people chose the other side that's always happening but for some reason the echo And the ripples from that time still live with us today. It is very obvious for us to say that communism has its limitations that it's economically bankrupt ideologically bankrupt way. It works on a Ponzi scheme at the center where if you get rich and the masses the millions and millions of normal people get manipulated and lied to now that may be a very brief overview of Communism, but it's a pretty accurate one not to say Catholicism isn't without its faults, but it at least tries or strives to be meritocratic and fair that's a different conversation to say that it might not always work like that. But getting rich is part of the leader of capitalism, whereas in communism. It's it's described as a kind of a failing of an evil unless you're one of the elite of course in which case it's strongly encouraged communism has at its heart a a deep cynicism and a double life and from a distance from England from France Germany, even from Canada and America if you read the text books about communism, you think we'll okay. Everybody has a job every looked after wage. He has a home is no homeless people. Everybody's fed. Nobody's hungry. It kind of looks great at a time when people were hungry in Britain. They were starving in the thirties in America this kind of notion of a society which could be organized in which everybody got along and was nice to each other and looked out for each other and helped each other and there were no rich people and there were no poor people and everybody was middle class. These were powerful ideas for first of all, upper-middle-class people never had to work and never needed to but also for anybody working classes anybody would be attracted to that. Once they saw the poverty in wage Europe is completely understandable to me that intelligent people in huge numbers thought that communism was a good idea. You have Kim filter you have charge blade you have melodia Lonsdale all on different sides different Nash his different backgrounds, but all agreeing with each other that communism was better than Fascism and that it had to be one of the other there was no middle way you either a communist of the left or a fascist of the right place. And everybody hated the fascists there for anybody with a rational logical mind would become a communist. So that kind of thinking has led me to soften my opinions of filthy and the rest of that particular the episodes about guy Burgess and the walking special episodes as well. But I will be coming back to this with a Donald MacLean book to Alan Bennett has helped to persuade me that the spies were not the traitors that allows people like to think he wrote to at least two players about spies possibly more and one of them in particular about guy Burgess and he is off the view that there were no worse than the rest of them and that they weren't half wrong bad as people make out Lonsdale originally entered Canada using the identity of a live double that is a living Canadian communist who had volunteered his passport for the cause and in later on became this dead double goddamned to have a child born in Canada in nineteen twenty-four who had emigrated to the Soviet Union with his finish mother and died there in nineteen forty-three melotti first got hold an identity card, which is easier to get than a passport wage. And then that led on later to a passport of Canada. He then writes too so s the the Chinese school at the University of London gets on a course there and somebody recommends to him. He should join the Royal Seas league in Saint James is on the S and James's which is interesting to me cuz I nearly joined that once cuz they have a deal with the London Library. They do have clubs all around the world and it strikes me as a very obvious place for a spy to arrive at home. You can live there in an International Community where not many questions will be asked meladi returned from Canada to New York crossing over Niagara Falls is Gordon Lonsdale in February 1955 and made his way back to London. Now, this is a book review in the style of the London Review of Books. So we don't really mention the book very much. It is a Kindle single. It's only sixty or seventy Pages. It'll cost you about eighty pounds about a dollar home and it's fabulous definitely recommended. It's clean. It's short. It's factual. It's done by a pro. You can read it in about an hour, but it's just amazing. It's really good. There's a guy in Bridge. The one who eventually led to his downfall was Harry Horton Horton joined the Navy at sixteen and after the second world war took a position at the admiralty that led him to a posting in Warsaw in nineteen fifty-one by now in his mid-forties. They felt out of place in the Diplomatic community and Halton dealt in the black market selling penicillin. It seems to be money that drove him to reproach a secretary of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs in Warsaw. So Horton was in it for the money not for radiology, which immediately put him down the ladder in lonsdale's eyes and indeed many other people's eyes to he was British, but he portrayed his country for cash but nevertheless his wartime service and background eventually led him to a real life a top-secret job. The KGB were not sure that he could be bought as they pretended to be from Poland and said look, we're polish spies went to work for us. It was only later that they admitted that they were actually the kg be dead. But by this time Horton had a job at the underwater weapons establishment at Portland in Dorset, and he had absolutely white-hot connections there. So he was working on with his girlfriend off the sonar for Britain's first nuclear submarine, the dreadnoughts. Absolutely Prime information KGB had a few problems with him. He was difficult to manage and the eventually assigned him to God and Lonsdale home run him for I think a number of years certainly quite a while. It was the 11th of July 1959. When Horton was first introduced to Lonsdale both men had completely opposite opinions of each other still hated Horton and Horton thought they were kind of friends now no story about spies in Britain during this period of time would be complete without mentioning Peter right the Spy Catcher And fact the writer of the book called home I capture and this seems to be a common theme that Peter Reich wrote his book to make money because his MI5 pension was so bad. There is somebody in this story who had to go into business in retirement age. His his armor five pension was so bad. It makes you wonder whether am I five would have done better just to give them all a proper pension to be honest, especially at that time as public-sector pensions were supposed to be generous. Anyway, that's just my sniping and indeed the man who eventually betrayed Lonsdale and George Blake was given the codename sniper. It was late April nineteen sixty and someone had been sending Anonymous letters to the CIA written in German. So the agents sniper claimed that the Russians have two very important spies in Britain one in British intelligence the other in the Navy these two unknowns were codenamed Lombardo one and Lombardo to and this was during the aftermath of the philby scandals British intelligence were certain they had no mole, but he'd later turned out to be George Blake. It was the Navy one that worried people because they didn't know who it could be. This was Horton remember and the claim was that the name sounded something like Hopkins or hopner, which is very far away in SpongeBob. And sound but the case was eventually handed to a guy called Charles L. Will it was later found that LOL was in one of the photographs found in one of lonsdale's briefcases some of the words he had unwittingly off or was he at a party with Lonsdale before Lonsdale was suspected. In fact lol became suspected as well by Peter right and others and part of the handling of this month. Let painter right to suspect Hollister head of MI5 who I've also mentioned in a previous episode. This is absolutely why I start to think that human intelligence. This kind of agency wage work is never a good news. It leads everybody to a state of febrile paranoia on both sides of the table MI5 who are trying to catch these moles becoming more paranoid than everybody else and start seeing moles everywhere and the whole thing every ten or twenty years degenerates into this kind of paranoid meltdown which in any other business wage Walk of Life would be seen as absolutely potty and it seems absolutely normal when it's upper-middle-class people with degrees talking about Marxism and I think this kind of amateurishness which wage went on in the security services certainly through the late eighties and the fall of the Berlin Wall was partly what the 1994 intelligence had was trying to address was trying to say look if this thing is so secret that nobody actually knows about it. How do we know we're doing the right thing in the right way in the most efficient way is costing hundreds of millions of pounds a year to run these agents and to catch the foreign agents and all we end up doing is offering a paid each other now again, that's a simplification. But sometimes you have to simplify in order to illustrate the point. So on we go Halt and starts to meet Lonsdale in London and hand over paperwork and so on and they train each other up of rather Lonsdale trends of Halton to take good photographs using spy cameras and other equipment and later on some of the briefcases that are dead. Stolen by MI5 apprehended by MI5 contain all this amazing 1960s spy equipment and I have to say that 1960s by equipment is way more exciting than modern technology because everything had its specific purpose. You wouldn't have a phone that could take pictures. You know that everybody had you know, there were Specialists cameras miniaturized cameras, which the mayor possession of such a device would cast suspicion on you. First of all, they were very expensive to make difficult to get hold of and why would any normal person have a spy camera because they take bad photos was now everybody's got a spy camera in the Palm this a thousand times better than what the KGB could make in the sixties. So the times have changed the technology has changed and I think there's something really romantic and exotic about this Old Town. She thinking about the umbrella on the bridge again, of course. So on we go the Watchers there were surveilled Horton was followed to a bench outside the Old Vic where he met Lonsdale and wage. When the MI5 guys followed Lonsdale after the meeting they realized he walked around in circles for a long time before going back to his car which had already previously passed in the street. This is spy trade craft. This is not something that you'll person would do. So the Finger of Suspicion went to Lonsdale as with all Spy operations, they didn't just arrest him because what they really wanted was to find out who he knew and what he was doing. He had a flat at the white box near Regent's Park flat 334. He had a bungalow in ruislip and this Bungalow in ruislip turns out to be pretty important not least to me because I used to live near here and I can imagine exactly where this Bungalow is. You can get the book if you want to know the exact address, but it's precisely positioned between ruislip station and ruislip Gardens at the end of a road and the the cul-de-sac leads into a footpath that's not wide enough for a car to go down. This means that you can approach or leave the cottage being sure that you're not being followed because obviously if you follow by pedestrian, you could spot them straight away and you certainly can log Live by a college town down a footpath even better. I said Gardens is across the road from North Pole to the RAF base, which is actually the base where Lonsdale was exfiltrated from when he was involved in a prisoner swap many years later. The location is fabulous. It was owned by two Russians. Again, they lied about their backgrounds and so on and pass themselves off as other people Russian book dealers Lonsdale lived with them for many months. And in fact MI5 lost wages of them in London and it took them a while to catch him in ruislip and after he had been arrested and jailed the people in the house were also arrested and jailed as well for helping him. And because Lonsdale was the prize assets. He was sprung out of jail bath KGB in a prisoner swap with gravel win, another famous spy, all the people that helped and worked with the Hortons the Russians in the Rye slip Bungalow stayed in jail for many more years and long sell only got 25 years. Whereas famously George Blake. I think it was forty-two. It was so long that Blake escaped was Lonsdale didn't even need to escape cuz he was sprung out by a prisoner swap. The whole thing is a who's home. Of spies and Spike catches Peter writes here Rodger. Holly says here. Lonsdale's here legs here Philip. He's here and really none of them suspected God and Lonsdale if it was off that polish tip-off and Hortons amateurism. He might never have been caught it's easy to say that if this hadn't happened then that would never have happened people say that all the time but Lonsdale was such a professional and he'd grown to like his lifestyle in the west as wheeler to find which is crucial for me. I think if you hate to the west and you hate capitalism and you hate all of that, it's easy to sneak loyal to Communism but having lived in America lived in Canada lived in Britain, he got a taste for the lifestyle and although he remained loyal to Russia until the end. When his Allegiance was tested to save a lease and he may have been have been killed in a poisoning which if you've heard minor Valley episode, he will realize it still going on Lonsdale retained his allegiance to Russia until the towards the end, but he did enjoy birth. Left and I think he might never have been caught wearing not for the tip-off right became paranoid started to suspect Rodger Hollis, everybody else. He suspected anybody who wasn't him basically and indeed by catch a book has largely been discredited but they eventually traced Lonsdale to ruislip. They investigated the owners of The Bungalow found a communist past and Lonsdale was caught and given 25 years. This is a great lunch time read it'll take you about an hour or 90 minutes. If you're a slow reader, it's virtually free. It's less than a pound on Amazon. It's a Kindle single Gordon Carrera from the BBC is the right tone. He's a very rational journalist. He's used all the usual sources that we took in archive Christopher Andrew and so on Nigel West a lot of this was already known but what I liked about this book is its shortness and the wage sticks the fats and really clearly describes a time and a place in Western European history. So that's got in Lonsdale not a sports bag, but a dead Russian boy who had his eyebrows. Stolen and used for Espionage Garden on stale died in suspicious circumstances after drinking vodka. He might have had a stroke his father died young equally. Well, he might have been poisoned so off on that bombshell I leave you for another week. We have lots coming up in the podcast. We have Donald MacLean. We have a few John le carre things lined up for you and I want to dig deeper into some of the locations on the same box as well. The original episodes were done in fifteen minute chunks to help you out. Keep it short one thing. I realized that the podcast allows is a walk a virtual walk where the locations are further apart. So Spies of the home counties might be coming soon to take in John the carriers childhood home under home. He lived in grammar sinden as a professional man working for MI5 and MI6 and of course the race live Bungalow lived by Golden Lamb style so that Spite of the home counties. I will also revisit some of the London spy walks as well. We have a very very full Autumn for you as the weather and the leaves turn off. Of London will return next week. home

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