Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ferguson Smith, Spycatcher Who Cracked Cold War Communist Spy Rings, Dies At 98

The British newspaper the Mirror offers a piece on former Chief Inspector Ferguson Smith, the U.K.'s supreme spycatcher.

With his neat military moustache, upright bearing, dapper dress and old-fashioned charm, Ferguson Smith seemed like any other ex-RAF gent enjoying his retirement.

The former Bomber Command flight lieutenant lived quietly in his home of more than 60 years, indulging his love of poetry and the countryside and doting on his wife, Margaret, until her death 10 years ago.

But few of his neighbours in Malden, Surrey, had any idea he was a decorated war hero, former personal bodyguard to ex-King the Duke of Windsor and, most remarkably, a supreme spycatcher.
Smith, who died at the age of 98 this month, hero died at the age of 98 this month, was instrumental in snaring the most notorious traitors and Russian spies of the 50s and 60s.

During a 36-year career in Special Branch, his quiet manner, obsession with detail and determination to go the extra mile saw him catch the infamous Portland spy ring – who were selling nuclear submarine secrets to Moscow – and arrest the most dangerous of all Red spies, George Blake.

Smith also helped jail naval attache-turned traitor John Vassall as well as Klaus Fuchs, the German physicist who sold details of Britain and America’s atomic bomb programme to the Soviets.

... Last night spy expert Neil Root said the nation owed a huge debt to spycatcher Smith – who must have been a master of mind games and tough James Bond 007-style counter-espionage techniques.
Neil, author of Twentieth Century Spies, said: “There was a real fear of Communist spies in the 50s and 60s.

“At the time espionage and counter espionage were about face to face contact, it was all meeting in dirty macs on park benches. It was much more psychological, you had to be able to read people.

“The things you see in James Bond now, that was the kind of stuff happening then. It was much more brutal, people were killed much more quickly.

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