Topic: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Since this forum is about celebrating and discussing a fictional secret agent, it's surprising to me that no such thread hasn't started years ago. This thread is for sharing stories from real covert operations, espionage and special operations, past and present. You can share videos, links to articles, podcasts etc. I have from time to time written stories in seperate threads about covert operations involving Norway and Norwegians that might not be known outside the country. I hope more members will share stories like that in this thread because there are many incredible stories out there.

I'll start with a Youtube link of the TV documentary "Operation Mincemeat" with the author Ben Macintyre. This is a true story about a bizarre covert operation in WWII first sugested by one Ian Fleming. ajb007/bond

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=op … ORM=VRDGAR


Last edited by Number24 (27th Oct 2018 20:26)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Please join in, people  ajb007/smile
Here is a more ambitious post from me, but please don't feel you have to put this much work into it if you want to post something.

Selmer Nilsen and the U2 spy plane


Before spy satellites became available it was very difficult to get photos taken from the air of the USSR. The American solution was the U2 plane, an unarmed plane that was able to fly above any enemy fighter jets and ground-to-air misslies. The plane was not a part of the US Air Force because flying a military airplane over USSR air space could be considered an act of war. Instead the U2 operated for the CIA. Most of you know a U2 plane was shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, causing a major crisis between NATO and the USSR.

Some of you know the final mission was ment to be from Pashawar in Pakistan to Bodø in Norway. Bodø is a town placed only slightly north of the Arctic Circle and had been used many times before by U2 planes. It's been discussed how many in Norway knew this, but it's unlikely the Prime Minister was briefed. U2 landed at night and was hidden in a designated hangar as quickly as possible. Locals who got a glimpse of the plane called it "the black lady". The hangar was guarded and operated by American CIA personel who were armed with sidearms in shoulder holsters. Norwegian Air Force personell weren't allowed near the hangar even though it was on a Norwegian base.


Now we intruduce Selmer Nilsen to the story. He was born in 1931 in Bakfjorden, pretty much as far north you can get in Norway or Europe as a whole. About as far north as northern Alaska. During WWII his family worked for the Soviet Secret service against the Germans, probably mainly because the USSR was by far the nearest ally. Two of his older brothers got training in the Soviet Union. Selmer was just a boy, but he remembered being punched in the face by a Gestapo officer. This area was an important part of the world during the war. It's worth mentioning that the German battleship Tirpitz was hiding in a narrow fjord close to their home.



In the fall of 1944 the Soviet army started moving into Northern Norway and Hitler ordered the region to be burnt completely to the ground, the so-called "scorched earth" strategy. An area the size of Denmark was torched, 200,000 German soldiers were evacuated along with 50 000 civilians who were moved against their will. 25,000 civilians decided to stay against the German orders. They hid for months in caves, under upturned rowboats and other hiding places for months while German units hunted them.

Civilians finally leaving the cave after being liberated by Soviet forces

The Nilsen family fled across the border to the USSR. After the war they returned and rebuilt their farm. In 1947 a Soviet intelligence officer knocked on their door. Sources sometimes say this was a GRU operation, other say it was the KGB. The intelligence officer said the Nilsen family had to give them one of the sons or they "would return", an obvious threat. The sixteen year old Selmer was chosen and taken back to the USSR. There he was given radio and Morse training and "ideological instruction".
He returned to Norway under orders to get a military career or marry into an officer family. He joined the army for National Service, but due to severe asthma he did not finish his training. He hoped he was off the hook, but around 1956 the Soviet secret service returned and ordered him to continue spying for them. Selmer traveled in Northern Norway as a fisherman and he even started his own little traveling amusement park as cover. He mainly looked out for ships, especially NATO naval ships. He visited the USSR several times in the following years. Usually by sea using his fishing boat (not unusual back during the war), but once he simply walked across the border on foot. There he got additional training, payment for his services and sometimes new equipment.

Selmer Nilsen

His radio set issued by the Soviets:

In 1960 he was ordered to do surveillance of Bodø Main Air Station to look if he could see the U2 plane. He hid in one of the bunkers near the air force base made by the Germans during WWII. He observed the plane and reported back to the Soviets.  Francis Gary Powers was shot down not very long after Selmer Nilsen had made his reports.  The next  time he visited the  USSR he was told two agents had placed a bomb with a timer on the plane while it was on the ground in Pakistan, but it's more likely the Soviet ground-to-air missiles Technology had finally caught up with the plane and they got their chance when they knew the approximate route.

The control tower of Bodø air station is now a museum

The wreck of the  U2


The (very optimistic) survival equipment Francis Gary Powers was issued with

Selmer Nilsen was finally caught in 1967, after being an agent for twenty years. He felt relieved. He only served seven and a half years in prison because of his health problems, then he returned to his family farm. In 1971 a long TV interview was made of him, but it wasn't aired until 2007. Selmer Nilsen died in 1991.

Last edited by Number24 (8th Feb 2019 18:28)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

An interview with a KGB "illegal" - a deep undercover agent who lived as an American for the last ten years of the cold war.

https://www.spymuseum.org/multimedia/sp … ck-barsky/


Last edited by Number24 (1st Nov 2018 17:47)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Interesting stuff, N24.


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

A documentary about the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the WWII predecessor of CIA and Army Special Forces:
(Ian Fleming visited, and perhaps trained, at Camp X in Canada)

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=es … ORM=VRDGAR


Last edited by Number24 (31st Oct 2018 23:35)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

"Women spies in WWII" documentary.

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=se … ORM=VRDGAR



Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

An article in NYT of recent development in Finland: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/worl … itary.html

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

New information was just made public about Joachim Rønneberg, the leader of the legendary Vemork sabotage mission in WWII. Rønneberg recently died aged 99. An historian got hold of Joachim Rønneberg's file in the British National Archives and found a previously unknown document. Six months after the sabotage misson in February 1943 Rønneberg suggested a second sabotage on the heavy water plant in Vemork to colonel Skinner, the head of the Norwegian section of Special Operations Executive (SOE). While the first sabotage had damaged the factory severely the Germans were able to restart a limited production of heavy water. "I know my friends will be obligated to play another trick on the guards at Vemork." wrote Rønneberg. What the SOE leadership knew that Rønneberg didn't know was that the German security in Vemork had been strengthened since the sabotage in February. The windows into the cellar where the production took place had been closed with masonry, minefields had been laid and the guards now had guard dogs.

His suggestion was rejected. Instead the area was bombed by the US Air Force using 175 B-17 and B-24 bombers dropping 711 bombs. 600 bombs missed their target and twenty civilians were killed. Some damamge was done to the factory and production stopped for a while. The Germans decided to move the remaining heavy water to Germany, but the SOE and memebers of the local resistance managed to place a bomb in the ferry that transported the valuable cargo accross a lake. The fery sank along with all the remaining heavy water and eighteen people, fourteen of them civilian. We will never know what would have happened if there had been a second sabotage mission.

The Vemork factory and Joachim Rønneberg after the war

Last edited by Number24 (11th Nov 2018 21:21)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

A short video about the Teufelberg (Devil's Mountain) SIGINT listening station in cold war West Berlin.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2017040 … idden-past



Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

A 1969 US Army training film about Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and espionage. You half espect George Smiley walk by in the background or the music from The Third Man to kick in  ajb007/biggrin

Video: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Sp … ORM=VRDGAR



Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

To round up the cold war Berlin trilogy, here is a facinating podcast about the US Army Special Forces detachment in West Berlin with an interview with a former member. The unit's mission was closer to espionage and "stay behind" than other Green Beret units.

Podcast: https://www.spymuseum.org/multimedia/sp … -stejskal/


A Green Beret with a WWII era Welrod silenced pistol.



Last edited by Number24 (19th Dec 2019 15:39)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

https://www-independent-co-uk.cdn.amppr … 26476.html
Moscow  square to be named after the spy Kim Philby.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Incredibly,  the U2 "Dragon Lady" surveilance plane is still in use after sixty years in service. Last winter an U2 pilot flying over the Arctic experienced flying through the northern lights and took photos of it, including this selfie:


Spying can be beautiful


These photos were taken while flying 800 km/h and up to 70 000 feet above the ground



Last edited by Number24 (10th Nov 2018 13:41)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Wow, those are incredible photos!


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl … cians.html
Plot by 200 neo-nazi German SAS soldiers to kill politicians  and
Immigrants  exposed !

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Christ! 200 members of the KSK is about a fifth of the entire unit. And extremists trained to that level is very scary  ajb007/amazed

Last edited by Number24 (10th Nov 2018 14:35)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

The Gatekeepers

This is an award-winning documentary were the former chiefs of Shin Bet (Israeli counter-inteligence) discuss their work and Israel. They are in many ways more thoughtful and objective than politicians discussing this problem. Very intersting!

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ga … ORM=VRDGAR


Last edited by Number24 (12th Jan 2019 10:43)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Thunderpussy wrote:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl … cians.html
Plot by 200 neo-nazi German SAS soldiers to kill politicians  and
Immigrants  exposed !

Here is the Focus article on the matter: Not quite 200 ksk troopers involved if my rusty "deutsch" serves me properly....  https://www.focus.de/politik/deutschlan … 77882.html

"I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
-Mr Arlington Beech


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

This is Google Translate's version of the article. I have made a couple of minor changes in spite of the fact that Translate is (as we all know) perfect and never makes mistakes  ajb007/shifty

Planten stop case Franco A .: BKA has evidence of network within the Bundeswehr (The German military)

In the investigation in the case of Franco A. the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has apparently evidence of a larger conspiratorial network of radical preppers, ie people preparing for a possible end of the world, within the Bundeswehr. This reports FOCUS and refers to investigation files of the BKA.
Thereafter, there should be numerous connections to an association for elite soldiers and members of the special forces command (KSK). According to eyewitnesses, in chat groups and at real meetings of preppers there were concrete plans for a so-called "Day X", "to spend unpopular politicians to a place of killing".
In addition, secret weapons depots and fuel storage have been created, writes FOCUS on. On a death list not found until today, the leader of the Left Party in the Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, should have been at the top. As part of the investigation last year, the house of a Rostock local politician and lawyer was searched.

Lieutenant colonel obstructed investigation
As FOCUS continues to write, the investigation of the BKA were apparently massively obstructed by a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel of the Military Counter-intelligence Service (MAD), against which the public prosecutor's office in Cologne under the file number 539 Ds 297/18 at the District Court of Cologne has indicted. The man is said to have warned members of the KSK, who served as leaders of the survival scene, among other things, from searches.
Furthermore, there are apparently close links between the survival fans and members of an association for elite soldiers named "Uniter e.V.", which gather mainly members of the special forces of the military and police. Thus, the chat groups were headed by several of the then main sergeants of the KSK. One of them is the current chairman of the association. At the same time, the man acted as interrogators as an "informant" of the MAD to the Uniter e.V. and represented "the only credible source of information on internal processes of the KSK" for military intelligence.
The specialized committees of the Bundestag had not been informed, said Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, defense spokeswoman for the FDP, the FOCUS. "This matter must be fully informed in Parliament," the politician de

Last edited by Number24 (12th Nov 2018 12:44)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

I was uncertain if I should post this in the military thread or here. Read on to find out what my conclusion was  ajb007/shifty
I'm reading a biography about SOE agent and historian Ragnar Ulstein. I found an interesting detail. The Norwegian SOE units (Company Linge & the naval "Shetland gang") were dismantled after the war. The surviving members kept meeting every year in the Linge Club. The members never turned in their weapons and Ragnar Ulstein still has his pistol, a Stengun and a M1 Carbine locked up in his home. Until a few years ago the Linge Club held shooting competitions. Imagine the former agents in their 80's and 90's blasting away with their guns  ajb007/bond

When the Soviet union grabbed power in Czechoslovakia in 1948 the Linge agents asked for a refresher course. 70 agents met in a military base and trained for a week. Are there any other examples of a SOE unit trainng or operating in any way years after the war?

Last edited by Number24 (12th Jan 2019 10:46)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

The GPS signal in the northernmost region of Norway has been jammed three times this year. Today the police confirmed the jamming signals came from Russian military bases. Are they testing their capabilities in case of a future conflict? Or perhaps it's a warning? Don't test us or you know what we can do …..


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Luckily, this technology  doesn't  matter if you use a map  ajb007/tongue

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

It does matter if you're flying a passenger airplane. Most Things can be done With a map and Compass, but it takes more time.


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Indy could do it  ajb007/biggrin

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

A podcast about Maxwell Knight. Spy, spymaster and likely model for James Bond's M  ajb007/bond

https://www.spymuseum.org/multimedia/sp … y-hemming/


Last edited by Number24 (17th Nov 2018 15:36)