The Sword and the Shield: The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB

By Christopher Andrew; Vasili Mitrokhin | Go to book overview

TWENTY - FOUR
COLD WAR OPERATIONS AGAINST BRITAIN
Part I: After the Magnificent Five

Soviet intelligence operations in Britain from the 1930s onward fall into three distinct phases. First, there was a golden age, begun by the Great Illegals, during which the KGB collected better intelligence (even if it did not always understand it) than any other hostile intelligence agency in British history. Next came a silver age during the 1950s and 1960s, which included fewer--though still substantial--intelligence successes. The third phase, in the 1970s and 1980s, qualifies, at best, as a bronze age, with few major successes and some spectacular failures.

The golden age of Soviet intelligence operations in Britain came to an end in 1951 with the flight of Burgess and Maclean to Moscow and the recall of Philby from Washington.1 The files noted by Mitrokhin, however, reveal for the first time that one major ideological agent recruited in the mid-1930s, Melita Norwood (HOLA), continued to operate after the demise of the Magnificent Five.2 From March 1945 onward, while working in the research department of the British Non-Ferrous Metals Association, she had been able to provide intelligence on the TUBE ALLOYS project to build Britain's first atomic bomb.

After the Second World War there was a recurrence of the wartime rivalry between NKGB and GRU for control of Norwood. Her first post-war controller was an NKGB/MGB officer at the London residency, Nikolai Pavlovich Ostrovsky. During the Committee of Information (KI) period in the early Cold War, however, when the MGB and GRU combined their foreign intelligence services, Norwood had two GRU controllers: Galina Konstantinovna Tursevich and Yevgeni Aleksandrovich Oleynik. In April 1950, following the conviction of the atom spy Klaus Fuchs and the MI5 interrogation of SONYA, the wartime GRU controller of both Norwood and Fuchs, Norwood was temporarily put "on ice" for fear that she might have been compromised. Contact, however, was resumed in 1951. Within about a year, follow­00 ing the demise of the Committee of Information, control of Norwood was reclaimed by the Centre from the GRU.3

In October 1952, a few months after Norwood returned to the MGB, the first British atomic bomb was successfully tested on the Monte Bello islands off the north-west coast of Australia, hitherto known chiefly for their pearl divers and shipwrecks. Stalin had been far better briefed on the construction of the bomb than most British ministers. Attlee never allowed discussion of the TUBE ALLOYS project by

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