Salisbury in the late forties.
Part of the weapons complex in suburban Adelaide was under UK guardianship and was manufacturing component parts of a guided missile system based upon the successful German V2 rocket design – as were similar industries in the US and Russia – all of them using technical documents and parts they were able to liberate from the German rocket complexes before the cupboards were bare. A free for all. All those boffins falling over each other to get to the biggest prizes.
Russians, English and Americans – all eager to build similar weapons and none of them trusting each other not to steal what they didn’t have, whether it was skilled personnel or technical data: a situation of such concern England had to send the two highest representatives of MI5 to deal with the shortcomings of the Australian spy agencies in their attempts to get to the source of the known intelligence leaks. This was the price the Australian government had to pay to re-establish trust between America and England.
This was also about the time Kim Philby learnt of the Venona successes, particularly how they related to Australia. So you could say Russia was a step ahead. Quite an athletic step, Philby being an Englishman in America while working for the Russians. That’s the MI5, FBI and MVD all in the same room, soon to be joined by the fledging CIA. Pity they didn’t all play golf.
But what made the operation in Salisbury so horribly complicated for the government of the day was that many of the German personnel involved in building the Salisbury weapons were ex-Nazis.
Surprising that wasn’t leaked as well. Surprising the local newspapers never heard of it.
Header image from Salisbury site – pics below.