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What was Roger Hollis doing in Australia in 1948?

In February 1948, two senior officers of the British MI5 intelligence agency, director general Percy Sillitoe and future head of service Roger Hollis travelled to Australia’s capital Canberra with the intention of telling prime minister Ben Chifley and ‘Bert’ Evatt, his minister for external affairs that Australia had to improve its security; they had learnt that members of the Australian Department of External Affairs (Foreign Office) were leaking information to the Soviet Union. The MI5’s cover story was that they had learnt of the leak through a Soviet defector.


Hollis. Sillitoe. Evatt. Chifley.

Hollis and Sillitoe were surprised to find themselves being forcefully interrogated by Evatt to such a degree that their cover story was exposed as a complete sham. As a result, the MI5 representatives were forced into a series of humiliating retreats and compelled to share much more information with the Australians than they had originally planned. The fact that they disliked Evatt didn’t help. They eventually conceded that information about the leaks had come from intercepted Soviet cables decrypted in America by an organisation codenamed Venona, a US intelligence agency based in Arlington, Virginia and kept secret from both Harry Truman and the CIA. This extraordinary secrecy was made necessary because of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s belief that Soviet agents had penetrated the CIA. In fact the Venona Project itself was soon to be compromised by the presence of British spy Kim Philby.

Meredith Gardner, the Venona Project’s head cryptographer recalled that Philby was a regular visitor to Arlington Hall. He observed the strange intensity with which Philby had observed the decryption teams at work: “Philby was looking on with no doubt rapt attention but he never said a word, never a word.”

(Source: Spartacus International)

Philby. Hoover. Gardner.

But what has this to do with “indents on the rear of the Rubaiyat that were possibly caused when the book was used as a support to write on another piece of paper?”

(source: The Unknown Man by Gerry Feltus)


Gordon Cramer’s Q

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. ellen #

    The Fifth Man (according to Roland Perry) spied on Oliphant with impunity. I suspect in 1948 a lot of nasty secrets were being silenced.

    September 23, 2016
    • Fedor Nosov, the Tass correspondent, lived at Potts Point and liked the coffee and Bohemian atmosphere at Paki’s.
      He was seen entertaining Allan Dalziel, a secretary to the department of external affairs, Bert Evatt’s mob … caught red handed by Ray Whitrod.
      Hollis was right.

      September 23, 2016
  2. Another South Australian copper, well ex SAPOL at that time.

    September 24, 2016

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