GARBO – Juan Pujol Garcia (1912-1988)

GARBO

Juan Pujol was born in Spain and spoke no English when the war began. He was code named ARABEL by the Germans in 1941 and was code named GARBO by MI5 in 1942. The Head of MI5’s double agents division was Tomas Harris who was educated in Spain and spoke Spanish like a native. They worked very closely together in MI5 (B1(g) from 1942 until the end of the war.

1912 – GARBO (Juan Pujol Garcia) was born in Barcelona, on the 14th February 1912. His mother, a Garcia, was from Granada. His father (a Pujol) was from Gerona and a true Catalan through and through. Juan Pujol had one brother and two sisters. His brothers hobbies included photography and stamp collecting.

1940 – MI5 had recruited 8 double agents, who had all originally come to the UK as German spies and been caught, interrogated threatened with a choice between the death penalty and clemency if they co-operated with MI5, and were ‘turned’ into British double spies to spy on the Germans, and all the while the Germans continued to think that nothing had changed. This process became known as the Double Cross System, an elaborate secret campaign that resulted in the arrest of every German agent sent to the UK.

1940/Apr – Juan Pujol(Garbo) married Araceli Gonzalez in Madrid

1941 – MI5 moved to a new base, Latchmore House – that was a nursing Home, and became known as Camp 20. (Twenty is XX in roman numerals, which was an abbreviation for double cross). All agents were now supplied case officers.

1941/Jan – Juan Pujol(Garbo’s) wife approached the British consulate, offered her husbands services as a spy in either Italy or Germany, and because it was not taken seriously the rebuff Juan was determined to initiate contact on his own, which would not be difficult as Spain under Franco was firmly in the Nazi camp. It took 3 attempts with the German Embassy until he was taken seriously and informed that if he could get himself to Britain they might be interested in using him as spy for Germany.

1941/Apr – Juan left Madrid for Portugal where he created a forged a diplomatic passport and tried to get an entry visa for the UK without success. So he returned to Madrid

1941 – Juan Pujol madecontact witha German, Frederico, and managed to convince him, with lies and half truths about connections with the Spanish security Police and Foreign office, along with misleading telegrams from his ‘contacts’ in Lisbon, of his bona fides. So Pujolwas given a crash course in secret writing and with money and invisible ink from the Germans, went back to Lisbon with his wife, now as an official spy with plans to get to London. Again though he was rebuffed by the British Embassy in Lisbon, so he elected to develop his work further as a German agent and secure more proof of his position within the intelligence apparatus.

1941/July – Juan wrote letters to Frederico with the invisible ink, pretending to be in England, and pretending to send the letters via a non-existent KLM pilot from Britain to Portugal. MI5 then intercepted these letters when they were transmitted between Madrid and Berlin by the Abwehr (German military intelligence and counter-intelligence service) and were cause for concern to MI5 as they seemed authentic, substantial and plausible.

1941/Aug – Pujol began reporting to the Germans, that he had begun to develop connections, and recruited two sub-agents. Thinking this produced enough evidence to be accepted by the British authorities in Madrid, but was again rebuffed. Now beginning to worry about blowing his cover he thought the United States (although at this time still neutral), might find him of some use.

1941/Oct – MI5 were now all ready to search for a new ‘special’ double agent and heard rumours that a German agent had slipped through the net and was in Britain. MI5 (Anthony Blunt) analysed ISOS messages received by the Germans from what seemed to be a German Spy in England and tried to locate him. Tomas Harris now head of B1(g) determined that he was a Spaniard, actually still in Portugal, pretending to be in England.

1941/Nov – Pujol was reaching the point of despair. He applied for visas to emigrate to brazil with his wife and child. His wife (without Pujol’sknowledge) contacted the US Embassy, with information about a Spaniard working as a German agent and asked for $200,000 for them to take her seriously. Her information included invisible ink, letters, espionage paraphernalia, and a micro photo of one of the German questionnaires.

1942/Jan – Britain and the US were now firm allies so the US Embassy decided to represent the Spaniard with the British Authorities as a result of Pujol’swife contacts with them.

1942/Feb – So when Juan made a third attempt in Portugal to make contact with the British S.I.S. via the American Embassy in Lisbon, to try to get them notice him as a potential double cross agent, it was finally successful. He now had German contacts who believed he had real British contacts that were giving him valuable confidential information, and contacts in KLM who were transporting letters from Britain to Portugal when in fact his letters were originating in Portugal.

1942-March MI5 and MI6(SIS) both wanted control of Pujol. MI6 wanted to control him in Lisbon, and MI5 sought to exploit him from the UK. This highlighted the need to amalgamate SIS’s counter-espionage section with MI5’s B Division. Tomas Harris from MI5 realised the urgent need to infiltrate Pujol from Lisbon, secretly to avoid discovery. This urgency resulted in Gene Risso-Gill a very well connected Portuguese working for MI6 in Lisbon, finally smuggling Juan, via Gibraltar to London by air (in top secret so the Germans would not discover that he was not already in England) . He arrived in the UK 24th April 1942

1942/April – On cold Spring day, one Juan never forgot, he arrived in London and was welcomed by Tomas, as he was head of B1(g) in MI5 and the only Spanish speaking controller. He was assigned to Juan Paulo (then known to the Germans as ARABEL). Juan knew then that they would be colleagues and good friends (Tomas was later known to Garbo as Tommy) . He was taken to a processing center for new arrivals and then on to a safe house at 35 Crespigny Road in Hendon. After a debriefing lasting several days by SIS Section V, Pujol stated his willingness to engage in deception stratagems providing his family be brought to the UK to join him.

GARBO totally trusted Tomas (later to be known to him as Tommy) from the day he first arrived in the UK and in his book he described him as a ‘great friend’ and a ‘hard working colleague’ .

THE INVASION of EUROPE – began on D-Day – (D-Day 6/6/1944)  – This date marks the start of invasion of Europe in Normandy, France

1942-1944  During the war Garbo and Tomas schemed and planned together to confuse the Germans over the time, the place and the magnitude of the attack which would inevitably be the start of the end of World War II. Together they invented more than 27 fictional German agents (The GARBO Network) , and wrote about 315 letters containing hidden paragraphs written in invisible ink and from the start of 1944 over 500 coded wireless messages were exchanged between London and Madrid (and forwarded to Berlin), all  1) To deceive the Germans into believing that the Allies were gathering in Scotland and N, Ireland to land in Norway, AND 2) To mislead the Germans into drawing a wrong conclusion from the false information received, that the cross channel assault was to occur in Pas de Calais, Northern France instead of in Normandy. As a result of their confusion they built an Atlantic wall of coastal defenses and had all their armed forces in the wrong locations. Even when the Germans were informed (intentionally late, by Garbo) that the Normandy landings had begun, the Germans were successfully led to believe (by Garbo)  that the Normandy landings were just a diversionary tactic by the Allies, and the Calais attack was still to come. It never did!

 

The Invasion of Europe was on a massive scale. The build up of British and American resources in the United Kingdom rose to more than 3,000,000 men, a huge fleet of warships, merchantmen and landing craft and 13,000 aircraft. 

1944- Britain awarded Garbo an MBE

1944/June – MI5 also embraced campaigns in North Africa and the V-weaon offensives.

1944/June 30th-  Garbo received instructions from the Germans to investigate and give the co-ordinates of precisely  where the V1 flying bombs were landing in London, so that the Germans could make adjustments and improve their aim. While bureaucrats and politiciansfumbled with the moral issues of lying or telling the truth about the bomb site locations which would/would not redirect the flying bombs from one part of London to another, Tomas came up with a solution. The plan was for Garbo to undertake the instructions from the enemy and then vanish for a few days and then report to the Germans that he had been arrested and held in custody, while suspiciously investigating the scene of a bomb site. Predictably the Germans instructed Garbo to curtail his activities and so Tomas and Garbo took a two week holiday! and moved from Hendon to a small hotel in Bray, in Berkshire. It was owned by a Spanish couple from Valencia named Terrades and he then commuted to London from Taplow to work at MI5’s little front office in Jermyn Street

1944/July 29th – Garbo received congratulations from Germany, because he was advised that the Fuerher has conceded the Iron Cross to him, for his extraordinary merits. But it wasn’t before many bureaucratic obstacles were overcome, that in December the Iron Cross could actually be awarded to someone who was not a regular member of the armed forces. No such problems arose when questions arose about awarding Garbo withan MBE (an honorary award of membership of the order of the British Empire), by Tomas Harris, who was himself decorated with the CBE for his role in the GARBO case).

1944/September 8th – The deadly V2’s began to fall, and once again Garbo was asked to give the locations of where they landed. After giving false information Garbo odds at getting exposed increased greatly, and after a scare of being exposed by an Abwehr defector, MI5 decided he should go to ground.  His last message to the Germans  was to inform them that he would try to go to South America by boat as soon as possible.

1945/May 7th- London exploded with Joy, people invaded Piccadilly and Regent Street and traffic came to a standstill. Everyone was drinking, singing and dancing to celebrate the arrival of peace. The MI5 office was disbanded, and the team broke up.

1945/June – Garbo and Tommy left the UK for the US. MI5 were determined to look after GARBO right to the end. MI5 gave Garbo £15,000 as reward for his work. Garbo had an interview with J Edgar Hoover, the boss of the FBI, but didn’t get the job. Garbo went to Cuba, Mexico and other countries in South America to find a safe and comfortable place to settle down. He finally chose Venezuela, Caracas. Then he went to visit his family in Barcelona, and then to Madrid to meet up with Tommy and MI6. Garbo then arranged to meet with his German contacts in Spain for a final time, and then returned to Lisbon to meet Tommy again. Meeting his German contacts had been Garbo’s final proof that his double identity as GARBO-ARABEL had been an impeccably kept secret right to the very end.

1945/ Garbo retired to Caracas, Venezuela, Garbo and Tomas kept in touch after the war.

1948 – Garbo visited Tommy in Mallorca at his villa, in Camp de Mar, where he was living with his wife Hilda until he died in 1964. Tommy informed him he had written a book about all their MI5 activities, and that he had kept a copy for Garbo for his own memoirs. Garbo needed the memoirs kept secret as he still needed protection from the Nazis, he also asked Tommy to tell anyone asking after him that Garbo had ‘died’.

1955 – Oliver Campell (Shell Fiancial controller) met Juan Pujo in Lagunillas, on the east coast of lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. Garbo was teaching Spanish at Shell to expatriots and their spouses.

1959 – Tomas Harris had spread a rumour to protect Garbo living in Venezuela, that he had died of Malaria in Angola in 1959.

1971 – Oliver Campell paid Juan Pujol for a gift in a shop where Juan was working in a commercial center in Caracass.

1985 – Garbo was persuaded to make a sentimental return to London and come out of hiding from Venezuela. It was time for his family to learn about his past..

All his German contacts from during the war were now dead so it was safe to travel again.  He met his former colleagues from MI5 and MI6 and received formal recognition for the nations debt to him in the form of an audience at Buckingham Palace and was introduced to HRH royal Duke of Edinburgh.

1988 – Garbo died in Caracas.

 

—————— LINKS —————–

Tomas Harris (view Post)

MI5 Case Officer/Controller who worked with GARBO to create the GARBO network of 27 imaginary spies who mislead the Germans into thinking the invasion would occur in Calais instead of on the Normandy beachheads.

Anthony Blunt (view Post)

 at MI5 B1(b)- An Art historian workedduring the war, who was knighted then suspected of being a Soviet spy Agent which resulted in his knighthood being annulled.

Share

TOMAS HARRIS (1908 – 1964)

1908 – Tomas Born to my great Grand Parents Lionel and Enriqueta (Rodriquez) Harris

1923 – at 15 years old, Tomas won the Trevelyan-Goodall scholarship to the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art at the London University. Then went on to Rome to study painting and sculpture at the British Academy there. Then back in London he owned his own tiny gallery.

1930 – First Tomas owned his own tiny gallery. Lionel Harris, Tomas’s father was the director and owner of the splendid Spanish Art Gallery in Mayfair (and another in Madrid),  founded in the turn of the century to show the finest Spanish, Italian and Flemish classical art. Tomas joined his father just before his retirement and did very well.  Tomas worked with ceramics, stained glass, tapestry, and engraving. Tomas inherited his fathers home, 6 chesterfield Gardens, which became a meeting place for MI5’s and SIS’s (MI6) few Bohemian employees. Tomas Harris  had an impressive art Collection by Velazquez, Goya and Rubens. After his fathers retirement as director,  Tomas was soon recognised as one of the most clever and respected art dealers, known worldwide for his exquisite taste and his infallible eye.

1931 – Tomas Harris and Hilda Webb were married, between July and September, a document shows they were married in 1931, in Marylebone, London, and their marriage certificate reference number is Vol 1 a/ 1648..

1940 – Tomas was posted to the SOE’s (Sabotage Organization created in July following the fall of France to the Germans) first Special Training School, which had been established at Brickendonbury Hall, in a large country house in Hertford. Tomas and his wife Hilde, stayed there for 6 months and he was then ‘snapped up by MI5’ where he was to conceive and guide one of the most creative intelligence operations of all time – it became known as ‘The Garbo Case’.

1941-Late in 1941 – Head of B1(g) Brooman-White was transferred to SIS (MI6) to run Section V’s unit known as V(d). Tomas Harris was appointed to succeed him. Expansion had taken place and workload was escalating daily. Three secretaries were not enough. Sarah Bishop (fluent in Spanish) who worked in MI5’s French section, was recruited by Tomas and after a brief spell of learning about the role of the security service, Sarah joined Tomas in B1(g).

It was at this time that the pieces of the jigsaw were put together. It now seemed likely to MI5 that the man who had visited the British embassy in Madrid and later in Lisbon to offer his services to the Allied cause, was the same man the Germans had code named ARABEL (later to be known as GARBO) . It was obvious to MI5 that ARABEL’s information provided to the Germans was fictitious, as his letters written in invisible ink to the Germans contained many errors – such as litres of wine and beer, moving south because of the hot summers in London!, errors in accounts (pre-decimal) always submitted in shillings instead of £ S . – but not so obvious to the Germans. ARABEL also came uncomfortably close to the truth in many ways too. So the question for MI5 was – ‘Is he genuine or a plant by the Germans, should we leave him well alone?’ After many debates and deliberations between MI5 and SIS, it was eventually agreed that the benefits of taking him on outweighed the risks.

1942/Jan – Britain agree to represent the Juan Pujol.

THE WAR YEARS –  Tomas and Garbo worked together during the war. Books have been written by both about their war efforts.. I have written more/other notes on Garbo and Tomas in the Garbo Post.  Please click this link to jump directly to 1942 in the Garbo Post

1944/September – Tommy and Garbo invented an excuse to avoid having Garbo give co-ordinates of the ‘landings’ of the V2’s, The first V2 bomb, which landed in Chiswick on the 8th September 1944 killing 3 people. As Garbo was expected by the Germans to give co-ordinates of the bomb sites, Garbo ‘got himself arrested by the police’ while supposedly going to the bomb site to determine the co-ordinates. Because of this, the Germans directed Garbo to suspend all operations until instructed otherwise. This was exactly what Garbo and Tomas had hoped for. They both took vacations, the first that either had taken since they started working together over two years before. Tommy and Hilde went to stay at Sarah Bishops parents at Chisbury in Wiltshire, where Tomas picked up his paintbrush and painted farm animals, and Garbo went on a motor tour of the British Isles.

During the 2nd World War Years – Tommy and his wife were lavish entertainers and during the war and moved from Chesterfield Gardens to a larger property, Garden House in Logan Place. He hardly did any painting during the war years.. Garbo described Tommy in his book as “sensible, capable, always impeccably dressed , smoked like a chimney, adored his wife, always cheerful, had an attractive smile, enjoyed good food and wine, had an impressive art collection by Velazquez, Goya and Rubens. He said in Tommy’s early days he was influenced by El Greco school, but later by Goya.

1944/June – When the V2’s fell, Tommy left Chesterfield Gardens and took temporary refuge at the Bull, at Gerrards Cross, NW London.

>1945 : Tomas received an O.B.E for his war efforts as offcer in MI5, for his imagination and work with Garbo.  After years of frenzied activity in MI5,  Harris sold his gallery and designed and built a house and art studio in Camp de Mar, in Andratx, in Mallorca, and settled there, where he devoted himself to his own art, mastering almost all techniques: oil, engraving, lithography, sculpture, stained glass and tapestries. His main inspiration was the island landscape, particularly that of Andratx, which he loved.

1964 – Tomas died (and there was an inquest) in Mallorca, crashed his new car .  His wife Hilde was also in the car and was thrown clear and survived. ( ***1/***2 Tomas and Hilde were on their way from Camp de Mar to purchase plane tickents to fly to Madrid the following week, they had had lunch in Palma with Robert Graves (a famous English Author)  and then drove on towards Felanitx (a little town in Mallorca) to see a man who was going to bake more of  Tomas’s ceramics in his kiln. On their way there, in Leuchmayor,  their new  Citroen DS (5,000 miles on the clock) crashed, it was a fatal car accident. Hilda was thrown clear of the car and survived, but Tomas Harris died (1964).  An inquest was held – see Anthony Blunts newspaper article about this ) Hilda died about four years later. My Grandfather (William Harris, Tomas’s Brother) was specifically named in Tomas’s will, which also mentions Enriqueta (Tomas’s sister) along with his wife’s three sisters. And when Enriqueta’s Obituary was published in the Sunday Times one day in 2006, my father recognised the name and immediately checked it against the copy of Tomas’s Will that he had a copy of. My father then realised that he had made an amazing connection with his own fathers rather large family of MI5 employees, art dealers, artists and antique dealers with whom he had no contact at all since he was a young boy.

2009 Aug –  Andratx segon Harris – Art Exhibition held in August 2009,  in Andratx, Mallorca, the organizer of the exhibition was of Lumen Publishing in Barcelona, He knows an incredible amount about Tomas Harris, and perhaps a book is on the cards. He owns the house of Tomas Harris. in Andratx, Camp de Mar,  and a famous singer Ana Torrojo (lead singer of the trio Mecano, which has probably been the most popular band from Spain) now owns the painters art studio.

*  If anyone has contact details for Andreu please let me know – I would love to get in touch with him.. — LATEST NEWS : Andreu has made contact with me through this website – the wonders of the internet!!

* I have been contacted by David Moore through this website who has several paintings by Tomas Harris, and went to the ‘Adnratx segon Harris’ exhibition in Mallorca this year,  gave me the names of two organisers and informed me one now ownes the house Tomas owned. Also that during the exhibition a nephew of Tomas (from his wife’s side) gave a very moving tribute to Tomas Harris. I would very much appreciate being notified if anyone knows how I can possibly contact any members of the Hild’s family (sisters – Ella Powell, Madge Tribe, Ivy Web)

—————— LINKS —————–

(D-Day 6/6/1944) – (view Link)

This date marks the start of Europe invasion in Normandy, France – during World War II

MI5 (view Link)

was responsible for counter-espionage intelligence within the UK

MI6/SIS (view Link)

Secret Intelligence service for counter-espionage intelligence in foreign countries.

Garbo (view Post)

Spanish Agent, a double Agent for Britain MI5, was awarded the Iron Cross by the Germans

Anthony Blunt (view Post)

MI5 Agent,  was An Art historian before and after the war, he was knighted then when suspected of being a Soviet spy Agent his knighthood was annulled.

 

 

  • ***1  Details about the crash were supplied by Andreu.
  • ***2 Additional details of the crash were supplied Novemeber 2010 by Bill Bristow (son of Desmond Bristow) who says :-

Hilly did not die in the car crash with Tomas. They had a very serious argument that morning. Tomas had dropped off some of his ceramics at the local kiln so they could be fired. Hilly blamed herself for the crash as the argument was quite heated. My father went out to comfort Hilly after the crash.

Share