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MI5 and the Bondish Agent

Guy Liddell

Guy Liddell, head of MI5's B Section (counter-espionage overseeing double agents), was the only British intelligence officer allowed to keep an official war diary. On this day, March 15, 1941, he made a journal entry which hinted at frustration over a new playboy now in his stable.

"Skoot [the initial code name for double agent Dusko Popov] left for Lisbon this morning taking with him notes on his questionnaire and the Ministry of Supply circular for which he was asked and certain particulars of mine fields put forward by N.I.D. [naval intelligence, where one Ian Fleming worked]. All these notes were written in secret ink on innocuous correspondence from Friedl (his girl friend) ...."

Dusko Popov

Liddell, ever watchful, had noticed that Popov (now working for MI5 and MI6) wasted no time wooing (and seducing) his new MI5 sub-agent, the lovely Friedl Gaertner, codenamed GELATINE. After their introduction on February 28, the espionage co-workers wined and dined at London's finest in a hurried, romantic frenzy. MI5 records show that Popov and Gaertner enjoyed each other's company the night they met, and again on March 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

All in faithful obligation to His Majesty's Secret Service, mind you.

What Liddell would soon learn was that Friedl was only the first entry in Popov's notoriously active black book. Love letters from various women—some in England, some abroad—would be culled by British censors and find their way to Liddell's desk. Guy made nothing of Popov's romantic affairs, knowing full well that in Lisbon and Madrid the Germans would likely send agent provocateurs his way.

They did, and Popov enjoyed their company while ever maintaining His Majesty's secrets.

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