A Brief History of Spies
by Bob Skelt
Thursday 30th October 2014
Bob Skelt worked at GCHQ for 38 years; he then spent a period as a tour guide at Bletchley Park, so he was very well qualified to speak to the Society on the history of spying. Bob began with a brief look at Elizabeth I and her spy network under Sir Francis Walsingham and moved swiftly through history to give a biographical sketch of one of the more colourful characters of WWI – Mata Hari. Bob was of the opinion that she was in fact never a spy.
WWII also threw up a host of colourful characters – many of whom were double agents (the double agent appears again and again in the history of spying). Among them were the British safecracker Eddie Chapman, known to MI5 as “Zigzag” and to the Abwehr affectionately as “Fritzchen”, and the Serbian double agent Dusan Popov (“Tricycle” to MI5 and “Ivan” to the Abwehr).
Altogether an instructive and enjoyable evening! Members left the talk not only very well informed as to the lives of historical agents, but also instructed in the art of recruiting spies.