Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain by Davenport-Hines R. P. T

Enemies Within: Communists, the Cambridge Spies and the Making of Modern Britain by Davenport-Hines R. P. T

Author:Davenport-Hines, R. P. T. [Davenport-Hines, R. P. T.]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: 2018-01-24T16:00:00+00:00

Cairncross hooks BOSS

Early in the war Cairncross was instructed to seek work with Lord Hankey, who had been brought into the War Cabinet in September 1939 as Minister without Portfolio and was pursuing a roving strategic brief. As Cabinet Secretary and Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence in the 1930s, Hankey had been conspicuously security-conscious: he ordered that papers must never be left on desks overnight, prowled round the offices in Whitehall Gardens to check that his rule was being kept, and was unforgiving when in 1933 he spotted ‘a sheet from THE most secret of documents which had just been issued to THE most secret of committees’ lying in a fire-grate, where it had been placed as a grate-screen by a charwoman. Yet even Hankey was vulnerable. He was a devout vegetarian, who often ate at the Vega restaurant near Leicester Square. Cairncross made a show of becoming vegetarian, sat demurely by himself at a table in the Vega when Hankey was there, and was finally introduced to the great man by his son Henry Hankey, who had been one of the few colleagues who liked Cairncross at the Foreign Office. In due course, Lord Hankey asked the Treasury to release Cairncross to act as his private secretary.33

All official papers and much personal correspondence came to Cairncross’s desk before they reached Hankey’s. His job was to skim and assess them, and order them on the minister’s desk with the most urgent files on top. He monitored Hankey’s telephone calls, was sometimes expected to listen on an extension, controlled the minister’s visitors and held the keys to his safe. BOSS was the codename bestowed on Hankey by Moscow. When Chamberlain’s government fell in May 1940, the new Prime Minister Churchill demoted Hankey from the War Cabinet, but gave him the solace of a ministerial post, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, which had Cabinet rank outside the War Cabinet and came with offices off the Strand. In July 1941 Hankey was shifted again, to the post of Paymaster General, with rooms in the Privy Council Office. Churchill finally shunted him out of the government in March 1942. This progressive loss of favour owed much to the bitter antipathy between him and the more powerful minister, Beaverbrook; something also to the fact that from 1941 onwards Hankey engaged in open but ineffective intrigues against Churchill’s exuberant and idiosyncratic leadership.34

Cairncross claimed in his memoirs that between the Nazi–Soviet pact of 1939 and the German invasion of Russia in 1941, he supplied no documents to Moscow. In truth, the London rezidentura complained that the secret material supplied by him in that period was too profuse to encipher for telegrams to Moscow. Hankey prepared authoritative ‘War Appreciations’ at six-monthly intervals, which summarized such matters as the strategic views of the Chiefs of Staff, enemy strategy, problems of inter-allied cooperation and likely developments in the actual fighting. Hankey was involved in preparations for biological warfare, in disrupting the supply of Romanian oil to Germany and in planning military assistance to Turkey in the event of an attack by Russia.



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