Paul Dukes was sent into Russia in 1918, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution, by ‘C’ (the mysterious head of the British secret service). His mission: to pull together the British spy networks operating against the new regime. With its spies and diplomats thrown out at the start of the Red Terror, Britain’s espionage efforts were left to a British businessman with no previous experience as a spy. Dukes operated under a variety of covers, the most daring of which was as a member of the Cheka secret police. On his return, the government publicised his account of Bolshevik terror to justify a joint US–UK military attack on northern Russia.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Henry Dukes was born on 10 February 1889 in Bridgwater, Somerset, England, the son of the Congregationalist clergyman, Rev. Edwin J. Dukes, and his wife, the former Edith M. Pope. His brothers were the playwright Ashley Dukes and the physician Cuthbert Dukes. He was educated at Caterham School, and Petrograd Conservatoire, Russia.
As a young man he took a position as a language teacher in Riga, Latvia. He later moved to St. Petersburg, having been recruited by MI6 (SIS) to act as a secret agent in Imperial Russia, relying on his fluency in the Russian language. At the time, he was employed at the Petrograd Conservatoire as a concert pianist and deputy conductor to Albert Coates. In his new capacity as sole British agent in Russia, he set up elaborate plans to help prominent White Russians escape from Soviet prisons and smuggled hundreds of them into Finland.
Known as the “Man of a Hundred Faces,” Dukes continued his use of disguises, which aided him in assuming a number of identities and gained him access to numerous Bolshevik organizations. He successfully infiltrated the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Comintern, and the political police, or CHEKA. Dukes also learned of the inner workings of the Politburo, and passed the information to British intelligence.
He returned to Britain a distinguished hero, and in 1920 was knighted by King George V, who called Dukes the “greatest of all soldiers.” To this day, Dukes is the only person knighted based entirely on his exploits in espionage. He briefly returned to service in 1939, helping to locate a prominent Czech businessman who disappeared after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. He was also a leading figure in introducing yoga to the Western World.
Read by PETER OWEN (The Man Who Would Be Jack, Under Every Leaf)
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