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Remembered Today:

Secret service work in Belgium/Netherlands


Chris_Baker

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Here is an extract from an email I recently received:

"Jean-Louis Coninx, born in hasselt-belgium on 14/6/1882, was working in Rotterdam-The Netherlands for the british secet service.[/size] he worked from 12.4.1918 until 20.1.1919 at the "Uranium Shipping Company" at Boompjes 76 in Rotterdam. This steaming company was british and the leading captain was..Richard Bolton Tinsley, a senior agent reporting (and belonging) to "Mr C" Mansfield Cumming, the founder of the secret service.

My grandfather, who worked in that period as a "porter" for this company, told my father he directly reported to captain Henry Landau, who was in service in Rotterdam since may 1916. This captain worked with Richard Bolton Tinsley and after the war he wrote three books about the organisation of the secret service both in the Netherlands and abroad. His book : "All's fair : the story of the British Secret Service Behind German Lines". (New York:G.P.Putnams's Sons, 1934) is therefore of great importance for the work my granddad did in Rotterdam during the war".

Now, can anyone tell me how I might find out more about Jean-Louis Coninx? Foreign Office papers? All thoughts welcome.

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Tinsley and Landau are mentioned several times in Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community by Christopher Andrew, Penguin, 1987, originally published as Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community, Christopher Andrew, William Heinemann Ltd., 1985. (Viking Penguin also published it in 1986.) Apparently part of one of Tinsley's networks was overly centralized and rolled up by the Germans. There is no mention of Coninx in the index but quite a few sources on Tinsley's and Landau's activities are cited in the endnotes. Sources cited that were written by Henry Landau include Secrets of the White Lady (New York, 1935) and Spreading the Spy Net (London, 1938). According to Nigel West's At Her Majesty's Secret Service, Landau's prolific book-writing after the war did not please HMG but because he had moved to America he was beyond the reach of British courts.

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Chris,

You may want to check the honours and awards to foriegn civilians, many of the agents were honoured, with the person running them going back for the presentations. I believe it was this source that the Germans used in 1940 to warn-off many of those who would have been likely to repeat their past efforts. Plus no doubt through Landau's books the Gestapo learnt enough to identify Sigismund Payne Best and Richard Henry Stevens, his books were simply outrageous when the problems with the Nazi party were growing.

Cheers,

Hendo

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Chris, if you want to google the company name, the correct name was "Uranium steamship company".

Roel

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Occleshaw mentions the Netherlands on several occasions in his book "Armour against fate". Coninx is not mentioned, although Landau and Tinsley are. Of more significance is the paucity of source material quoted by Occleshaw, with respect to this area of operations. Beyond the high level summary provided, there is little detail. This will not have been for want of trying on Occleshaw's behalf. He notes that primary sources were quite hard to come by, especially involving the Foreign Officer and other Government agencies. There is an extensive list of primary and secondary sources at the end of Occleshaw's book. Foreign Officer sources are very sparse and barely rate a mention. Sorry not to be of more help, though if you would some of the background from the book, feel free to PM me.

Robert

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According to At Her Majesty's Secret Service: The Chiefs of Britain's Intelligency Agency MI6, Nigel West, Naval Institute Press, 2006, in his book All's Fair Landau admitted that he had "not attempted to disguise the names of Allied agents. My friends in Belgium and France assured me that if damage could be done, it was done years ago when a complete list of agents' names was published in the various decoration lists." This backs up what Green Acorn said in his message.

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I would take Occleshaw with more than a pinch of salt (except as a source of references).

I found umpteen faults.

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Chris,

You may want to check the honours and awards to foriegn civilians, many of the agents were honoured, with the person running them going back for the presentations. I believe it was this source that the Germans used in 1940 to warn-off many of those who would have been likely to repeat their past efforts. Plus no doubt through Landau's books the Gestapo learnt enough to identify Sigismund Payne Best and Richard Henry Stevens, his books were simply outrageous when the problems with the Nazi party were growing.

Cheers,

Hendo

This certainly happened in Luxembourg in 1940. The Gestapo (on orders from Berlin) arrested all those still alive from the Rue St Roche network when they arrived in June 1940 on the charge of defaming Germany in WW1. They even went to the trouble of bringing an 80 year old back from Normandy. Fortunately for them, the head of the Gestapo in Luxembourg said he had never heard of anything so ridiculous and threw them out!

Obviously the medal presentations had given them the info

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