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SPYMASTER: The Man Who Saved MI6

Thomas Joseph Kendrick was one of the most senior spymasters of the British Secret Intelligence Service in the 20th century. He was placed in Vienna as the British passport officer, but this was a cover for his true role in running spy networks into Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Italy and Nazi Germany for SIS / MI6. 


After Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938, he issued fake visas and papers, saving up to 200 Jews a day. Dubbed ‘the elusive Englishman’, his real identity eluded the Hitler’s Secret Service (the Abwehr) until his betrayal by a double agent. Kendrick faced the Gestapo, before being expelled for spying. He returned to London and disappeared from the public eye…


But behind the scenes in the Second World War he headed one of the most important intelligence operations that shortened the war. At the heart of it were the German-Jewish refugee “secret listeners” who eavesdropped on prisoners’ conversations and Hitler’s Generals in captivity.


Helen's talk brings this spymaster out of the shadows of MI6 secrecy, to be able to appreciate his true legacy. 


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Secret Listeners Who Bugged The Nazis In WWII

​During WWII, British intelligence bugged the conversations of thousands of German prisoners-of-war at three stately houses: Latimer House and Wilton Park in Buckinghamshire, and Trent Park in north London. Hitler’s Generals, captured on the battlefields, were housed in luxurious conditions and lulled into a false sense of security. They relaxed and became unguarded in their conversations, little realising the house was ‘wired for sound’. They inadvertently gave away from of Hitler’s most closely guarded secrets.


For over 60 years the secret listeners never spoke about their work, not even to their families. They died, little knowing that they, alongside Bletchley Park, not only shortened the war but helped toward the victory on VE Day. Helen has researched and written about it for the first time.

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When Allied fighters were trapped behind enemy lines during WWII, one branch of military intelligence helped them escape: it was called MI9. The organization set up clandestine escape routes that zig-zagged across Nazi-occupied Europe, enabling soldiers and airmen to make their way back to Britain. Secret agents and resistance fighters risked their lives and those of their families to hide the men. Central to MI9’s success were figures such as Airey Neave – the first British prisoner to successfully escape from Colditz.


Helen’s talk sheds light on escape and evasion with the previously untold stories behind the establishment of MI9 which was headquartered at Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. She reveals for the first time that not only did MI9 save thousands of Allied lives, it contributed to a massive intelligence gathering operation that impacted on the Allies’ ability to turn the tide of the war.

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THE LONDON CAGE: Britain's Secret Wartime Interrogation Centre 

In WWII, behind locked doors in Kensington Palace Gardens, British intelligence established a clandestine interrogation centre. Dubbed ‘millionaire’s row’ and located in one of London’s most exclusive streets, the London Cage held German prisoners of war who could not be broken under normal conditions of interrogation. Then at the end of the war, it was transformed into the most important war crimes investigation unit outside Germany and across its threshold came the worse Nazi war criminals and perpetrators of Nazi atrocities.


Would justice be done? But, at what price? Helen Fry talks about life inside the cage, reconstructed fully for the first time from declassified files.

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