Intelligence operations and cases

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Intelligence operations and cases

SOE collaboration with Soviet Intelligence (KV 2/2827)

This file is concerned with the rather curious matter of Russian Intelligence Service agents who were introduced to occupied Europe during the Second World War by the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The file, covering 1940-1956, makes it clear that there were considerable numbers of such agents and includes lists of NKVD agents handled by SOE and photographs of many of them, along with reports showing how they were received and handled in the UK and what intelligence they provided.

The first case on the file deals with four Austrian agents intended for espionage work in Austria. However, this never came off and while being returned to the Soviet Union by ship via the Panama Canal, the agents escaped and sought refuge in Vancouver, fearing retribution if they returned to Moscow.

After this it is clear that a regular flow of agents were dropped or landed in Europe. After the war, a letter of 12 November 1946 was sent from the Security Service to Kim Philby at the Secret Intelligence Service asking him to provide (presumably from the SOE archives) details of such agents, in case they remained at large in Western Europe and may have been active against the Western powers.

Rote Kapelle: final report (KV 3/349-351)

These three files dating from October 1949 contain the Security Service's final typescript report on the German Rote Kapelle penetration operation against the Russian espionage network in Europe. The western allies' use of this material, as acquired at the end of the Second World War when German intelligence officers and records fell into allied hands, was hugely important in understanding Soviet methods during the Cold War. It is in three parts: part 1 (KV 4/349) gives a historical account of the Soviet networks and their work. Part 2 (also in KV 4/349) gives the same account but chronologically. Part 3 (KV 3/350, alphabetically to M, KV 3/351 alphabetically to Z) is a detailed personality index, featuring photographs of many of the subjects.

See documents on Discovery

Czech refugees (KV 4/418)

Following the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, there was a dramatic increase in the number of Czechoslovak political refugees who made their way to the UK and other western European countries. This reconstituted file covers the Security Service's reaction to these events, and demonstrates the fear that communist agents intent on infiltrating the UK may have arrived among the genuine refugees coming into the country. Some individual cases are mentioned and the file deals in particular with concerns about the Czechoslovak husbands of British-born women.

Emergency detention in the UK post-World War Two (KV 4/420)

This slim policy file covers 1940-1950. It deals with the development of policy on detention under Defence Regulation 18 in peacetime emergencies. In particular it cites the case of the Duke of Bedford as an example of the issues that might need to be addressed.

Security Intelligence Far East organisation (KV 4/421-428)

These eight reconstituted files cover the establishment, organisation, working practises and problems of Security Intelligence Far East (SIFE). They give an account of this body's work in its first ten years from its formation in 1946.

KV 4/421 (1946-1947) covers the establishment of SIFE and includes the original instructions to the first head (serial 1a), its charter (serial 3a), and an extended debate between the head of SIFE and the Director General of the Security Service about whether or not, or to what degree, SIFE should be a secret organisation (for example, at serial 27a).

Correspondence setting out the organisation of business within SIFE can be found in charts at serials 87a and 112z in KV 4/422 (1947-1949). The functions of SIFE regional liaison officers are set out in KV 4/423 (1949, serial 170a).

There are reviews and summaries of SIFE's activities in KV 4/424 (1949-1952, serial 217b), KV 4/425 (1952-1953, serial 254a) and KV 4/426 (1953-1955, serial 271a).

The future of SIFE and discussions about ways to economise on its work can be found in KV 4/427 (1955) and KV 4/428 (1956). Throughout these files there is direct correspondence between the Director General of the Security Service and the head of SIFE in Singapore on various topics to do with the organisation.

Labour Research Department (KV 5/75-79)

These reconstituted files document the Security Service's monitoring of the activities of the Labour Research Department (LRD). LRD began in 1912 as an arm of the Fabian Society and completed overt work, such as helping the Miners' Federation prepare evidence to the Simon Commission in 1925.

The Society disowned LRD once it became aware of the extent of communist penetration. Both the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Labour Party banned affiliated organisations from being associated with it (though the TUC lifted this ban in 1943).

This file starts in 1925 with the first indications that the LRD was controlled from Moscow or was acting as a front for Communist activities (KV 5/75, 1925-1935). The files include LRD publications, intercepted correspondence to and from LRD officials (the first Home Office warrant to intercept mails was taken out in 1932). That check on mails was stopped in 1939 (KV 5/76, 1935-1947), but a check on phone calls to the LRD offices was initiated soon after and the files include reports of intercepted conversations.

Similar material continues in KV 5/77 (1947-1952) and KV 5/78 (1952-1953), which includes increased Metropolitan Police reporting of LRD activities in London and a summary report (serial 191c) identifying LRD's focus on uncovering discreditable facts about the government of the day. There was increased Service interest in LRD's activities at this time, continuing into KV 5/79 (1953-1956).