First World War spooks

A century ago, the War Office created a shadowy organisation whose remit was to snare enemy spies in Britain and plant secret agents abroad. Michael S Goodman tells the story of the Secret Service Bureau's clandestine war with Germany

Commander Mansfield Smith-Cumming (later head of the British Secret Service), Professor Redwood and Bernard Redwood at the Motor Yacht Club Reliability Trials on Southampton Water, 1907. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the December 2009 edition of BBC History Magazine

DISCLAIMER: This article is drawn only from released official records and published sources and the views expressed are those of the author in his capacity as an academic historian and do not represent the views or carry the endorsement of the government.

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