Other subjects of Security Service enquiries

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Other subjects of Security Service enquiries

John Freeman (KV 2/2756)

This heavily weeded and reconstituted file covering 1940-1947 contains the Security Service's records of its interest in the curious figure of John Freemen, aka the Duc de Berri, aka Prince Jean de Bourbon.

Freeman had a remote claim through marriage as a Bourbon claimant to the throne of France and he came to the attention of the Security Service in 1940 in connection with the Mlle Baudelot case (summary, serial 12a). Baudelot had been caught smuggling correspondence illicitly into Britain sewn into her clothing, and the correspondence identified Freeman, as well as the Duke of Westminster, in a supposed plot to stir up rebellion in Morocco.

Freeman, who was incredibly wealthy, was soon suspected of involvement with arms traffickers, of being a convinced fascist and of employing his own intelligence agents in France and North Africa. He had also come to the attention of the Secret Intelligence Service, which supplied such information as it had to the Security Service through Kim Philby. There is no evidence of action against Freeman on the file.

Joan Littlewood (KV 2/2757)

The wartime career of left-wing actress and producer Joan Littlewood can be traced to an extent in this file, covering 1939-1954. Littlewood and her erstwhile husband Jimmy Miller came to the attention of the Security Service because of their productions of subversive or communist propaganda plays.

The file includes details of them being fined and bound over in 1940 for putting on a production of Living Newspaper without first seeking the approval of the Lord Chamberlain. The file shows how official action was taken to prevent Littlewood working for Entertainment National Service Association during the war, but does not reveal any direct Security Service action.

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Louis de Wohl (KV 2/2821)

De Wohl was a Hungarian astrologer and author who came to the United Kingdom in 1935 and spent much of the war in official employment on propaganda work for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) and other agencies. The work was based on the assumption that Hitler was heavily influenced by his own astrologer, so that by employing their own prominent astrologer, the British could sway his thinking.

This reconstituted and heavily weeded file throws some official light for the first time on de Wohl's activities, about which he published an account in 1952. The first volume of the file was destroyed by fire in 1940, but the second volume opens in 1940 and continues to 1952. Principally, it consists of the Security Service's efforts to monitor de Wohl's activities and ensure that he did not become a security threat. The file is full of reports from people who met him and decided that he was a fraud and charlatan, mixed in with exasperated comments regarding senior officials who sought him out for astrological advice.

The file reveals how de Wohl had agreed to pass details of those who consulted him, and on what matter, to the War Office. The file minute at serial 131a (February 1942) is typical of the concerns de Wohl's case raised: "De WOHL is somewhat of a thorn in my side…a complete charlatan with a mysterious, if not murky past…struts about in the uniform of a British Army Captain and gives every reason for believing that he is in some secret employment…he is likely to be guided solely by his vanity…there is no case for interning him…if…left at large it is essential that we should keep a close tag on him…"

The file contains numerous astrological reviews and forecasts by de Wohl on the prosecution of the war (for example serial 201b), though much of it is concerned with de Wohl's difficulties obtaining a ration book, given his peculiar legal status in the UK (he was entitled to neither a military nor a civilian one), and efforts to resolve this issue for him. The file includes a poor-quality copy of de Wohl's aliens registration card with photo.

See documents in Discovery