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.
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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.