Real stories from the world of espionage and special operations

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  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    It turns out the government decided to extend the official secret clasification on assassinations by the Norwegian resistance during WWII..... back in 2008!

    The members of the resistance who were "in the know" decided never to tell anyone who the assassins were way back when the war ended, so I guess the official secrets act won't matter regardless.

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,007MI6 Agent

    Is anyone familiar with David jason's Secret Service? Link to y-tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlJ2C7uA4x4

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited June 2022

    Great stuff! After watching the first episode I think it gets interesting when they focus on something properly, such as 30. Commandoes or the woman who checked if SOE candidates could be relied on not to talk. But the image presenter of the SOE is very far from comprehensive, at least so far.

    The focus on Bond and Ian Fleming is well done and probably of interest for everyone here.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited June 2022

    Now I've read The Rat Hunter. It's rare to read a novel about special operations and assassinations written by a legendary SOE agent. While Manus was never ordered to assassinated anyone (to his great relief) he obviously knew many of the assassins. In fact his boss Gunnar Sønsteby (The real Number 24) and the head of the military resistance often had the job of picking agents for the "rat work" and their targets. Max Manus' wife Tikken can best be described as Miss Moneypenny, and part of her job was handing assassination orders to SOE agents.

    The main character in the book who's named Freddy. There are aspects of him that are clearly autobiographical such as his experiences in Latin America before the war, but the assassinations aren't the only thing that separates Freddy from the author. Freddy is married, but their relationship is purely sexual. Out of the bed his wife disgusts him. Freddy also sees a woman he knew from the resistance work during the war. The two of them are best described as soulmates and this is clearly the type Max Manus married in real life.

    The book takes place when it was written in 1948. The back drop is the rebuilding of the country and the cold war, particularely the Berlin blocade. The former agents fear a new war is coming soon, a war where they have to go under cover again. It's interesting to note that their unit was disbanded in 1946, but because of the Soviet-controlled coup in Czechosovakia in 1947 the agents chose to meet again and for train to sharpen their "particular set of skills".

    Freddy and many of the other former agents still carry pistols. They fear revenge from the losing nazis, but the main reason is psycological. "It was wonderful feeling of safety the touch of a pistol gave him" thinks Freddy early in the book. I remember Gunnar Sønsteby writing about practicing walking around unarmed in the streets after the war ended. Norwegian SOE agents kept weapons after the war, usually a pistol, a US carbine and a stengun. I don't know if it was legal, but it was accepted.

    Freddy and his friends struggle with what we today call PTSD, experienceing nightmares and drinking too much. Some are more affected than others. In the evenings they meet up at the "X-club", a bar for former SOE agents, where they drink and talk with the only people who really understands them.

    The author sometimes sidetracks and writes about issues that obviously was on his mind at the time such as people picking apart German matriel and selling it on the black market. Ian Fleming did the same thing. It's not hard to imagine this as a book Fleming could have written if he had lived longer, a realistic novel about a retired James Bond.

    While the book lacks a strong plot it's never dull. Max Manus was a very good story teller and he wrote well. In 1948 he had already written a two-part bestselling autobiography about his war time experiences titled "It tends to end well" and "It gets serious". A shortened version is available in English. It's titled "Underwater saboteur", but you'd probably have to do some serious digging in the second-hand book market to find a copy. Any Bond fan worth his salt will love the book.

    The reason "Rottejegeren" (The rat Hunter) wasn't published back in 1948 was some of his more controversial views in the book. Manus is critical of the majority of Norwegians during the war. Many made money working on their construction sites (my grandfather was proud that he never did), or doing business with the Germans. Then after the war they bragged about some unimportant involvment with the resistance in the final months of the war, but didn't treat the men and women who really made sacrifices very well. Manus even shows more respect for some of the people on the other side during the war. This sort of talk wouldn't have gone down well in 1948.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited May 2021

    I guess most of have seen the news about the Ryanair passengers plane that was forced to fly to Belarus and land there, where an onboard journalist and regime critic was arrested. Belarus still calls their secret service KGB and it's believed KGB agents were among the passengers. Being old enough to remember the cold war and of course interested in the world of espionage I find seeing KGB in the news nostalgic. Don't you think so too? 🤗

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,007MI6 Agent
    edited May 2021

    No, neither did I feel nostalgic about the Salisbury or Vrbetice incidents... Although those were admittedly Russians

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited May 2021

    I think the old KGB had a complete lack of charm that I find charming compared to today's SVR and FSB's acivities on Facebook and Twitter (plus Salisbury and Vrebetice) .

  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 8,669MI6 Agent
    edited May 2021

    Well Russia is run by an ex-KGB man with a rather quaint view (compared to the West) of what democracy is. Putin isn't below using assassination and intimidation or arrest to remove or quell political opponents so the Cold War mindset hasn't totally disappeared yet. Although it now operates under a different name you could say about the KGB what Gerry Adams once said about the IRA, "They haven't gone away, you know."

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    I really miss the helpless, heavy-handled propaganda operations of the cold war KGB. They were so bad it was funny. Today's efforts are far more sneaky and sadly also successfull. The assassinations back then were more Bondian with their umbrella-veilding hitmen, where today's SVR uses sushi.

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,007MI6 Agent

    Yes, I realize now that I was unnecessarily brief in my post: What I meant was that 1) no nostalgia; bc they have not gone away, and 2) No nostalgia; bc the feelings I get from KGB of the cold war era, the main arm of the Soviet Union to battle against dissidents in the Soviet sphere of influence, are pretty far from warm and fuzzy.

    For example, the operations of the Alpha and Zenith special operations troops in Afghanistan were neither bad nor funny.

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    You are of course right. It was mainly an attempt at humor, even though their propaganda is much more subtile and dangerous now.

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,007MI6 Agent

    Yes I know, I was basically being a dick on purpose. Bad day at the office and you happened to pop up on the sights...

    Sorry about that.

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    That's perfectly allright 😎

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    Danish DR (public broadcaster) reports that American NSA has spied on Norwegian and Swedish politicians with the help of EF (Danish military secret service).

    Much of the internet and other electronic signals from Norway and Sweden are sent via cables through Denmark. DR claims both parliament members and cabinet members were targets. This happened during the Obama administration. If this is correct this is a very wrong way to treat allied and friendly nations. If Swedish and Norwegian elected officials are seen as fair game to the NSA, who isn't?

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    Have you seen the Roger Moore movie The Sea Wolves? It's based on real events, and the events are unusual and fantastic. If you want to know the actual story you can listen to the Youtuber Lindybeige. He tells the story in the episode "The last charge of The Bombay Light Horse". Search and enjoy! 😃

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    Those of us who enjoyed the Where Eagles Dare watchalong last night (and everyone else interested in secret operations and darling-do) will almost certainly enjoy this podcast about a real secret mission into Bavaria in WWII.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    The Israeli company NSO has developed a computer program that can take control of a smartphone just by knowing the telephone number. They can turn on the microphone and camera whenever they want. Customers of NSO includes charming governments like Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Azerbadjan and the Emirates.

    Traces of the program was found om the French president's phone.

    Orwell's 1984 is fast becoming reality. 😟

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    I've started listening to the BBC podcast "MI6: A century in the shadows". So far I've only finished the first episode, but I can say it's very good and anyone interested in the topic should check it out.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent

    Now I've heard all three episodes of the podcast. "MI6: A century in the shadows" is from 2009, but it's still very good.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited October 2021

    There are unconfirmed rumours that British special forces have saving their Afghan SF allies from Taliban-held territory in daring operations. The reports claim US forces haven't been allowed to do this in fear of Americans getting caught, and British SF have been critisized by the US for making them look bad.

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited September 2022

    I'm reading Antony Beevor's "The battle of Grete". It's interesting and containes a fair bit of info about elite units and espionage. Here's a fun anectote about Ian Fleming's brother. Peter Fleming and another British officer were shooting on a range in Scotland. The other officer noticed Peter was wearing hunting boots instead of millitary issue ones and asked him why. "I have to." replied Peter, "I broke my leg yesterday".

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited October 2021

    There's quite a lot about Peter Fleming in Beevor's book. He was part of MIR, an organisation that later merged with MI6 Section D and became SOE (Special Operations Executive). He was part of a small group of MIR officers who were sent to Greece to form a stay behind network there to fight the fascist Italian invasion. When the far more powerful nazi Germany attacked they realised there wasn't enough time to build a local resistance network. Instead re-imagined themselves as saboteurs. Peter Fleming comanded a team that offered their services to British staff officers to use the plastic explosives they brought to blow up trains and railways. They blew up a lot of infrastructure before they had to evacuate from Greece with the other British forces.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent

    On a side note, although it is completely fictional, isn't that evacuation the basis for Alistair MacLean's The Guns of Navarone?

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited October 2021

    You'd think so, but no. The fall of Greece was in 1941. The fictional Navarone is based on the British attempts to take some of the islands in the Eagean in 1943, especially Leros. Several elite units were involved in Leros. If memory serves German paratroopers and Brandenburger commandoes, but also the British SBS, Long Range Desert Group and the Greek Sacred Squadron.

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 3,238MI6 Agent
    edited October 2021

    OK, thanks. That's cleared that up nicely. Maybe time to read the book again. 😁

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited February 2022

    A movie about Number 24 will probably get made! Not me. The other Number 24, the legendary Special Operations Executive agent Gunnar Sønsteby. The project got a few millions in a development grant. Andre Øverdal is the director. He made cult hit Troll Hunter and a couple of not too big Hollywood movies. If this really happens I'll be very happy!

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited November 2021

    Company Linge (and probably the rest of SOE) had a unusual way to train agents in shooting at a moving target and at the same time checking if no-one froze while under fire. A man put an empty tin can on a stick and held it up in the air while running around in front of the other agents who shot at the can! After a while they changed turns to make sure everyone had a go. If you declind you were kicked out of the unit.

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,007MI6 Agent
    edited November 2021

    "Your father really doesn't mind you earning a little money on the side Kirill, he'd just prefer that it wasn't for selling secrets...."

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10176919/Russian-secret-agent-fell-death-executed-cooperating-West.html

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 21,763MI6 Agent
    edited November 2021

    No. He just "slipped and fell" like the Czechoslovakian foreign minister right before the Soviet-backed coup in 1948. 😏

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 1,007MI6 Agent

    Oh, you mean like on a misplaced bar of soap? Makes sense....

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
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