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Dr Helen Fry

(C) Greg Morrison

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Welcome to the official website of historian Dr Helen Fry.

Helen has authored and edited over 25 books covering the social history of the Second World War, including British Intelligence and the secret war, espionage and spies, and MI9 escape and evasion.

She is the foremost authority on the 'secret listeners' who worked at special eavesdropping sites operated by British Intelligence during WWII. Her groundbreaking research and extensive media coverage have shed light on one of the greatest intelligence deceptions of the war: the bugging of Hitler’s generals at Trent Park in North London, and thousands of prisoners of war at Latimer House and Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire.

Helen is the official biographer of MI6 spymaster, Colonel Thomas Joseph Kendrick. She has also extensively written about the 10,000 Germans who fought for Britain during WWII.

Thanks to her expertise, Helen has appeared in a number of documentaries, including David Jason’s Secret Service (Channel 5), Spying on Hitler's Army (Channel 4), and Secrets of the Spies (Britbox). She has provided advisory services for TV and drama, something that she particularly enjoys. Helen has covered the major D-Day commemorations in live BBC broadcasts from Normandy, and she regularly appears in media interviews and podcasts.

Helen is an ambassador for the National Centre for Military Intelligence (NCMI) and serves as a trustee of both the Friends of the Intelligence Corps Museum and the Medmenham Collection. She works in London.

Helen is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Contribution Award for Jewish Military History and Education, awarded by The Jewish Military Association (AJEX).

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WHY I BECAME AN X TROOP COMMANDO

A fascinating and moving biography of Colin Anson, the German refugee who became an elite British commando

Born in Germany in 1922, Colin Anson’s (Claus Ascher) childhood was marked by the trials of Nazism. His father was arrested by the Gestapo in 1937 and transported to Dachau, where he died shortly after. Colin, aged just 17, escaped to Britain in the Kindertransport. As soon as he was old enough, Colin volunteered in the Pioneer Corps. Then, in 1942, he was recruited for the elite commando unit X-Troop.
 
Colin took part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy in 1943, where he sustained a near-fatal injury. But just months later, he returned to duty. He fought in the Yugoslav islands, became the first Allied soldier to liberate Corfu, and was stationed in post-war Frankfurt.
 
In this unique biography, Helen Fry traces the remarkable story of Colin’s life. Drawing on extensive interviews, Fry recounts his actions in X-Troop and beyond in his own words—and sheds new light on the experience of refugees in the British forces.

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WOMEN IN INTELLIGENCE

This book is a groundbreaking history of women in British Intelligence spanning the 20th century.
 
It provides an incredible account of the efforts of women across two world wars, with tales of bravery and heroism. Many new stories are told for the first time, shining a light on the hidden legacy of women in intelligence from World War One to World War Two.

 

'Women in Intelligence' is now available for purchase in the UK and USA, both online and in all good bookshops and made the honorary list of Waterstones' Best Books of 2023, in the Military History category.

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SPYMASTER: THE MAN WHO SAVED MI6
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The elusive British Spy who fooled Hitler and the Nazis...

  • Named among The Daily Mail's Best Biographies of 2021.

  • Included in Waterstones' Top History Books of 2021.

Thomas Joseph Kendrick was one of the British Secret Service’s most senior spymasters of the 20th century. From tracking Communist agents across Europe in the 1920s to Nazi spies in the 1930s, he was placed as MI6 head of station in Vienna. There he crossed paths with the British spy and (later) traitor Kim Philby and Communist Edith Tudor-Hart, figures that would go on to rock the MI6 for decades. Kendrick entered the dangerous world of double agents and foreign spies... 

 

Dubbed ‘the elusive Englishman' by Hitler’s Secret Service, his real identity baffled the Abwehr, until he was finally denounced by a double agent. 

Kendrick's arrest by the Gestapo and ‘Soviet-style’ interrogation caused panic in Whitehall as the whole the European network of British spies was at risk. The spymaster refused to give up the SIS network...

 

Behind all this, he had quietly saved over 25,000 Austrian Jews from certain death in the Holocaust - a legacy that has yet to be recognised.
 

He soon disappeared from the public eye, but went on to orchestrate the longest spying operation against Nazi Germany but from within Britain's shores.

THE WALLS HAVE EARS

The Daily Mail's War Book of the Year 2019.

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At the outbreak of World War Two, MI6 Spymaster Thomas Kendrick arrived at the Tower of London to establish a top-secret operation. German prisoners' cells were to be bugged, and listeners would be installed behind the walls to record and transcribe their private conversations.

This mission proved so effective that it was later replicated at three additional sites, providing the Allies with crucial insight into new technology being developed by the Nazis. In this astonishing history, Helen Fry uncovers the inner workings of the bugging operation.

Upon their arrival at stately homes such as Trent Park in North London, high-ranking German generals and commanders were subjected to a phoney interrogation before being treated as guests, wined and dined at exclusive clubs, and encouraged to talk. Thus, the Allies gained access to some of Hitler's most closely guarded secrets and the individuals most entrusted with protecting them.

A secret life of spies, deception and British Intelligence in three of Britain's country houses... 

CAN YOU HELP?

Do you have family material and stories of relatives working behind enemy lines in Western Europe in WWI and WWII?

Please get in touch.

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