Kim Philby


St. John’s son Kim Philby (1912-1988) quickly rose to prominence in the intelligence services. He joined the SOE in 1940, transferred to the SIS (better known as MI6) in ‘41, was promoted to head of station in Istanbul by ‘47, and was assigned as the SIS’s Washington liaison in 1949, where he had access to the most sensitive information under the UK USA pact. All that was rather unfortunate, as Philby was also part of the “Gang of Five” – five Soviet spies, recruited at Cambridge in the 1930s.

Two other members of the Gang, Guy Burgess and Roger Maclean, were exposed and fled to Moscow in 1951. Philby was recalled to London and interrogated to determine if he too was a Soviet agent. He managed to conceal his connections to the KGB, but his career in MI6 was largely over. He spent several years as a journalist in the Middle East before he too fled behind the Iron Curtain in 1963. If he expected a hero’s welcome in the Soviet Union, he was disappointed – the KGB never trusted Philby, and some believed that he was a deep cover British agent. He died in 1988.

Just before fleeing, he was investigating some item of iport within the National Museum of Iraq.

His final handler and friend was Arkady Shevlenko.

The KGB always treated Kim as a valued agent, despite his insistence that he was a KGB officer, not an asset. (Kim always maintained that he was recruited as a full officer by Arnold Deutsch in 1934, and that therefore he was a full member of the KGB prior to his recruitment by British intelligence.) By the 1980s, Philby’s intelligence on British and American espionage was years out of date, but he was still considered an authoritative source on British culture and thinking, as well as several other topics.

He hid part of his father’s plot in a bank vault. It apparently was a bacterial culture medium. where the bacteria is remains a mystery.

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Kim Philby

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