And now I have just been reading two books. this post is my first draft, and I have now broken this post down into newer, more up-to-date seperated posts that should make reading easier. Please check out the more recent posts from the list of posts in the top right corner of this website…
One called ‘GARBO’ – written mostly MI5’s double Agent called Juan Pujol (codenamed GARBO) . The book tells the personal story of the most successful double agent EVER and his MI5 controller/case officer who directed, channelled, encouraged and sustained the agents remarkable talents.
This case officer was Tomas Harris – my Great Uncle.
The second book I am reading is called ‘ The Spy who saved D-Day – (view book online) ’ and was mostly written by Tomas Harris.
Both books describe GARBO and Tomas’s three years of scheming, planning and working together during World War II, and they tell of their efforts which were supported by various agencies of British intelligence, of how they contributed to a huge reduction of casualties among tens of thousands of allied servicemen who landed in Normandy in France on D-Day to fight to hold the Normandy Beachheads. Many, many more would have perished had their plan failed. They devised a plan to build a network (The GARBO Network) which was eventually composed of 27 imaginary characters, to mislead the Germans into expecting the landings to occur in Calais and maintain all their forces there, instead of moving them to Normandy. Their other activities in MI5 also embraced campaigns in North Africa and the V-weapon offensives.
Following are notes that I have made from these two books, which are relevant in my search for new information about my great aunts and uncles in my recently discovered family tree..
Lional Harris (Born 1862 – my Great Grandfather) – Married Enriqueta Rodriquez and they had 7 children
Violetta Harris (1898-1989) – Followed Tomas into MI5 as a Spanish Speaking officer serving in B1(a)
Maurice Harris (1990-?)
William Harris (1901-1982) – Had 4 children (Gordon, David, Ronald (my Father) and David)
Lionel Harris (1903-?)
Conchita Harris (1904-?)
Tomas Harris (10/4/1908-27/1/1964) – MI5 controller of double agent code named GARBO – named after the best actor in the world…
Enriqueta Harris (17/5/1910-22/4/2006) – Worked in MOI, who sparked off an idea for the Harris-Garbo collaboration, of a non-existent senior source (J3) in the Spanish Section of the MOI..
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 made contact with a 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 Pujol was 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’s knowledge) 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’s wife 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’ .
1942/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 with an 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/June – When the V2’s fell, Garbo moved from Hendon to a small hotel in Bray, in Berkshire. Owned by a Spanish couple from Valencia named Terrades and commuted to London from Taplow to work at MI5’s little front office in Jermyn Street
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 iin 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.
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’.
1959 – Tomas Harris had spread a rumour to protect Garbo living in Venezuela, that he had died of Malaria in Angola in 1959.
1985 – Garbo came out of hiding from Venezuela to travel to London to be introduced and thanked for his war efforts, by HRH royal Duke of Edinburgh and to meet old colleagues, as he considered it safe to travel again. All German contacts were now dead. It was time for his family to learn about his past…
*** See individual postings for GARBO on this Blog for most recent updated notes
*** See individual postings for Tomas Harris on this Blog most recent updated notes
*** See individual postings for Blunt on this Blog most recent updated notes
TOMAS HARRIS (1908 – 1964)
1908 – Tomas Born to my great Grand Parents Lionel and Enriqueta (Rodriquez) Harris
1923 – at 15 years old, won the Trevelyan-Goodall scholarship to Slade School of Fine Art at the London University. Then went on to Rome to study painting and sculpture at the British Academy there.
1930 – Joined his father (Lionel Harris – a Mayfair Art dealer in London and Madrid) in his business 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. He had an impressive art Collection by Velazquez, Goya and Rubens.
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