4 September 2006 releases: Other subjects of Security Service enquiries

Alexander Abaza

File ref KV 2/2394-2395

Abaza was the head of the Czarist secret service in London during the First World War, and this heavily weeded file contains some lively insights into his activities, before, and in more detail after, the Revolution. He became the leader of a White Russian group in London, the Russian (Imperial) Counter Revolutionary Group, and MI5 took some interest in this because of suspicions that Abaza was in collusion with German anti-Bolshevik factions.

However, the files, which cover 1916-1919 (KV 2/2394) and 1920-1940 (KV 2/2395) are perhaps of most interest for the light they throw on inter-war Russian émigré society in London. We read for instance of the efforts Abaza's wife Sophia went to in 1919 to secure safe passage for her parents out of Russia; and how her parents jeopardised the undertaking by their wish to also bring out their two servants. The file records how Abaza's Group wound up once he determined to go into business in France, with minute 194 noting that it "has now gone out of existence, primarily owing to lack of funds."

Basil Liddell-Hart

File ref KV 2/2410-2411

Basil Liddell-Hart (1895-1970) has the reputation of having been Britain's leading strategist on tank warfare in the inter-war years, whose ideas were taken up by German commanders such as Rommel, but were largely ignored by the Allies in the years preceding the Second World War. The files now released show how, as early as 1927, the Security Service feared him as a possible source of leaks of sensitive military information, a fear that reached its apogee when it emerged in March 1944 that he was privy to the details of the OVERLORD plans.

As the file KV 2/2410 (1927-1944) also contains allegations that he had fascist sympathies, and details investigations into his defeatist propaganda in the early years of the war, this caused understandable alarm. The file records how government minister Duncan Sandys had reported to General Ismay a conversation over lunch with Liddell-Hart, where the latter produced a critical paper he had written on OVERLORD planning. Ismay took his concerns to The Security Service, and they agreed together (serial 60a and following) that Ismay would inform the Prime Minister. Churchill approved further investigation to try to identify the source of the information, and a watch of Liddell-Hart's phone calls and correspondence was initiated. The file includes Liddell-Hart's critical paper, with certain passages razored-out (serial 62a); Duncan Sandys statement (serial 66a) and a memorandum on the case (serial 63a).

The second file, KV 2/2411 (1944-1954) contains more cuttings of Liddell-Hart's journalism and further intercepted correspondence. An explanation for the razoring-out of details from his paper is given at minute 105 (it was to keep the details of the OVERLORD plan away from civilians who would have to see the paper to advise on possible legal action, such as the Attorney General), along with confirmation that Liddell-Hart was correct in the details of his paper. No legal action was taken against Liddell-Hart, and the source of his information is not positively identified (he had close contacts with too many military planners to be certain) but the file indicates that the most likely source was General Sir Tim Pile. The warrant on Liddell-Hart's correspondence and phone calls was suspended after the invasion, in July 1944.

Margaret Chapman, aka Storm Jameson

File ref KV 2/2415

The author Storm Jameson (1891-1986) turned to anti-war and pacifist propaganda work in the 1930s when she became increasingly concerned at developments in continental Europe.

She first came to the attention of the Security Service in 1933 as a supporter of the British Anti-War Congress, and her name was regularly found in connection with this and similar organisations, and in the intercepted correspondence of like-minded individuals. This reconstituted file draws together references to her from various other files made in 1940 when Jameson was being considered for work with the Ministry of Labour. The Security Service had already, in 1939, objected to her recruitment by the Civil Service Commission. In August 1940, Graham Greene submitted a memorandum supporting Jameson to write for the Ministry on the women's war effort, work that would necessitate her having access to factories. A copy of Greene's minute is at serial 18a. Again, the Security Service raised objections.

Though nothing against Jameson was found, and no action was taken against her, the file was kept open into 1952, and it includes some intercepted correspondence of her activities in the PEN Club, and one intercepted letter to Basil Liddell-Hart. The file includes a copy of her 1948 passport application with photographs.

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