This is the second time 'Garbo' has appeared in these distinguished columns, I first wrote about him three years ago and it is entirely right, proper and fitting that the late Snr. Juan Pajol, for he was 'Garbo', has had several books and films made of his life because according to his latest biography (just out) he had more lives than a cat! He certainly had 29 names during the war according to Jason Webster, the author of the latest biography: The Spy with 29 Names: The Story of the Second World War's Most Audacious Double Agent. This was because, with the aid of MI5 during WWII, he invented an entirely false cast of characters whom he passed off to the Germans as intelligence sources. These characters included 'Stanley the Welsh nationalist'; 'Rags the Indian poet'; 'Fred the Gibalterian'; the 'Widow'; the 'Mistress', and, with a stroke of genius, the 'Low Grade Spy' - it sounds a bit like the cast from 'Under Milk Wood'! All of this disparate group of characters provided little nuggets of information which in themsleves were of no interest but when, as the British knew the Germans would do, you began to put them together then suddenly, like a jigsaw puzzle, a picture emerges. Thus it was in Snr. Pujol's greatest coup, when in 1944 Hitler was convinced by his 'intelligence' that the allies were intending to invade across the shortest route into France at the Pas de Calais and so he ordered the German generals not to shift their armoured divisions down to Normandy.
At the end of the war, fearing German vengeance, 'Garbo' faked his death and disappeared to South America but eventually in the 1980s he re-emerged to receive a long overdue MBE from Prince Philip. It takes nothing away from his and MI5's ingenuity that there is a possibility (nothing is ever definite in the world of intelligence!) that a senior member of Admiral Canaris's staff smelled a rat but kept 'schtum'! Anyway, I suggest that in June this year as we mark the 60th anniversary of the D-day landings we raise a surreptitious glass - well, can't be too careful, old boy, you never know whose watching! - and drink a toast to the late and very great Juan Pujol, er, in Spanish brandy , of course, or my Spanish e-pal, Ortega, will be very hurt!