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Desmond Morton, Winston Churchill's Man of Mystery - Former FO Chief Historian Gill Bennett

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Published on Sep 24, 2013

Former Foreign Office historian Gill Bennett who had access to the secret archive of MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service. Her book, Desmond Morton Winston Churchill's Man of Mystery, is the most detailed account so far of Winston Churchill's personal assistant and clandestine Intelligence officer Desmond Morton. Gill explains his background and how he lived at Earlylands in Crockham Hill, just a short walk from Winston Churchill's own home, Chartwell, near Westerham in Kent. Gill does not believe that Winston Churchill was a Freemason but evidence suggests otherwise. Morton was also involved after the war in the important role of Britain's representative on the Tripartite commission looking into the whereabouts of Nazi Gold.
The mysterious life and career of Desmond Morton, Intelligence officer and personal adviser to Winston Churchill during the Second World War, is exposed for the first time in this study based on full access to official records. After distinguished service as artillery officer and aide-de-camp to General Haig during the First World War, Morton worked for the Secret Intelligence Service from 1919-1934,
As Director of the Industrial Intelligence Centre in the 1930s, Morton's warnings of Germany's military and industrial preparations for war were widely read in Whitehall, though they failed to accelerate British rearmament as much as Morton - and Churchill - considered imperative. Morton had met Churchill on the Western Front in 1916 and supported him throughout the 'wilderness years', moving to Downing Street as the Prime Minister's Intelligence adviser in May 1940. There he remained in a liaison role, with the Intelligence Agencies and with Allied resistance authorities, until the end of the war, when he became a 'troubleshooter' for the Treasury in a series of tricky international assignments.
Major Sir Desmond Morton KCB CMG MC (13 November 1891 -- 31 July 1971) was a British military officer and government official. Morton played an important role in organizing a response to appeasement of Germany under Adolf Hitler during the period prior to World War II by providing intelligence information about German re-armament to Winston Churchill. In 1940 Morton was Churchill's personal assistant when he became prime minister.
Morton joined the Royal Artillery in 1911. He saw action in World War I, and was shot in the heart at the Battle of Arras in 1917. However, he survived and recovered, serving again with the bullet still inside. He served as aide de camp to Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force from 1917 to 1918.
He was seconded to the Foreign Office in 1919 where he was head of the Secret Intelligence Service's Section V, dealing with counter-Bolshevism in the mid-1920s, and was Head of the Industrial Intelligence Centre of the Committee of Imperial Defence from 1929 to 1939. From 1930 to 1939 he was also a member of the CID sub-committee on Economic Warfare.
In 1939, he became the Principal Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Warfare, and became Churchill's Personal Assistant in 1940. He served on the Economic Survey Mission to the Middle East in 1949, and served in the Ministry of Civil Aviation from 1950 to 1953.
Morton was portrayed by Jim Broadbent in the 2002 film The Gathering Storm.
Millions of words have been written about the fate of Marin Bormann, Hitler's indispensable private secretary, and head of the Nazi Party Chancellery, who vanished at the end of the Second World War. In October 1946 the most-wanted Nazi war criminal was condemned to death in absentia at Nuremberg, but he was never found or brought to justice.
Christoper Creighton now reveals that in the final night and day of the war, as the Soviet armies closed in on the capital of the Third Reich, Bormann was lifted from Berlin by a Commando raiding party, led by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, and himself.
The team spirited their captive down the waterways to meet the Allies on the River Elbe, and by mid-May 1945 Bormann was safe in England, where he assumed a new identity.
Operation James Bond was ordered by Major Desmond Morton, head of the ultra-secret M Section of naval intelligence. Its ulterior purpose was to recover the immense fortune appropriated by the Nazis and salted away in numbered Swiss bank accounts, to which Bormann alone had access.
Christopher Creighton, whose real name, the book-jacket informs us, is John Christopher Ainsworth Davis, has written a thumping yarn.
Mr Creighton claims from adolescence to have been befriended by Von Ribbentrop, Lord Mountbatten (a college friend of his father), Major Desmond Morton, Churchill's friend and head of the Industrial Intelligence Centre, and by Churchill himself, when he and his mother rented a cottage on the Chartwell estate. Morton recruited our hero, age 16, via Dartmouth into his ultra-secret "M-section"

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