Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

The Umbrella Assassination

The Bulgarian dissident was attacked with a poisoned umbrella in London

Told by eye witnesses to the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p00p093l



Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

The story of the Soviet surveilance space station that actually had a machine cannon! Moonraker gets a mention  ajb007/bond

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXRAsxH … 1&t=0s



Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

The Germans also thought about mirrors in Space. At first it was envisioned to light up dark areas of of Earth, but during the war it was suggested using the mirror to burn ships at sea or entire cities. Does it sound familiar?




Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Unit 29155 - a modern day SMERSH?


According to an article in The New York Times, Russia's military inteligence service GRU has a unit that specializes in subversion, sabotage, assassinations and generally destabilising Europe. The unit employs combat veterans from Russias more or less secret wars and  is called Unit 29155. (it's behind a paywall: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/08/worl … -gru.html) If you, like me, aren't a regular reader of NYT you can read the article on the unit in The Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl … 48536.html

Here is the begining of the article:

First came a destabilisation campaign in Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and then a thwarted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain using a nerve agent. Though the operations bore the fingerprints of Russia’s intelligence services, authorities initially saw them as isolated, unconnected attacks.
Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, are part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilise Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.

The group, known as Unit 29155, has operated for at least a decade, yet Western officials only recently discovered it. Intelligence officials in four Western countries say it is unclear how often the unit is mobilised and warn that it is impossible to know when and where its operatives will strike.

The GRU emblem


Last edited by Number24 (21st Oct 2019 19:52)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Gangster, secret agent, murderer and the king's friend.


Norwegian Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents were usually young men from good family backgrounds. Johannes Andersen was different. He was born in 1898 in Oslo in a poor family. His father was often away at work. His mother suffered from physical and mental illness and took refuge in religion. When she discovered Johannes was swearing, playing poker and perhaps stealing offerings in the church she sent him to a youth correction center to «drive the devil out of him».
Johannes spent most of his childhood and youth in orphanages and youth correction centers, a very unhappy experience. He called it "pre-school for prison". Conditions were harsh. He was sent to Bastøy island in the Oslo fjord. People who have seen Michael Moore's «Where to invade next» know the place as perhaps the most humane prison in the world, but back then it was one of the most brutal youth correctional facilities in the country. They called it Devil's Island.


When one of the boys broke the rules he was punished by having to stand naked in the hallway all night.  The hallway was unheated and the temperature outside was -25 celsius, -13 Fahrenheit. The boy cought tuberculosis and died within a few days. One of the few things Johannes had to look forward to was the packages his mother sent him. The packages  contained white cheese, a favourite of his. In eastern Norway they call white cheese "Gulost" ("Yellow cheese") so his friends called him "Gulosten". The name stuck and he was known as Gulosten the rest of his life. It was while he was at Bastøy he was called to the director's office who bluntly told the boy: «Your mother died a week ago and was buried two days ago.» Johannes reacted by trashing the office. He was placed in the dark cellar and told he wouldn't get any food until he said sorry. Johannes was burning with sorrow and rage, and after a week the director  had to give in and give Gulosten food and a bed.

A typical smuggler's boat from the time of the prohibition


"Gulosten" still on the run!"


Johannes Andersen was twenty uears old in 1918 when the sale of strong alcohol was outlawed. He became a smuggler and ran fast boats from Germany to Norway filled with booze and sometimes cocaine. The price of alcohol in Norway could be twenty times the cost of buying it in Germany, so they made a lot of money. Johannes got caught several times, but his reputation grew among criminals and in the press. When prohibition ended in 1923 he became a burglar. Gulosten took many chances, made money, got caught and broke out again. He became a celebrity criminal and the headline "Gulosten escapes again!" was often used. One he escaped from the courtroom because everyone focused on the judge reading his sentence!
In 1936 he met Ruth Johanne Nilsen and married her. Ruth was the great love of his life.

In 1940 Germany invaded Norway. The resistance contacted Johannes early on because of his experience in smuggling and hiding from the police. He said yes, and again he was willing to take risks. Once he stole classified papers by turning up at the police station and claiming he was the messenger. The police chief put the documents in his hands with the words "Take care, those are important papers!" In spite of this work people started gossiping that Johannes Andersen was a nazi. This rumour really got to him, so much that he put an advert in a nazi newspaper saying that he was «a sinner, but not a nazi!"

In 1941 the Gestapo found illegal newspapers and a pistol in his carpenter's shop. Raymond Colberg, a fellow smuggler from the prohibition had turned informant and betrayed Andersen. Gulosten got several of his teeth knocked out during the «interrogation» before spending year in prison in Germany.
When he was released from prison Gulosten had the Gestapo after him, so it was decided he had to be evacuated to Sweden. But the resistance had decided Colberg was too dangerous to live, and Andersen was the obvious person to assassinate Colberg.
Gulosten asked his attorney,of all people, to get him a gun. The attorney had a Colt 45 that had belonged to the famous polar explorer, scientist, diplomat, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fridtjof_Nansen). The gun was handed in over to the career criminal by the  wife of one of Oslo's best known attorneys in a dark street.

Ruth lured the informant into a trap and Gulosten shot him. The resistance leadership criticised him for not pulling the teeth and gutting the corpse to avoid identification and make sure it sank in the fjord, as if they spoke from experience. But this was actually the first ever assassination the resistance ordered, sources don't list any other assassinations until the next year. Now Johannes Andersen had to flee the country. He escaped to Sweden and was allowed to jump the queue to get a seat on the very sought-after Stockholm-London flights. In the UK he joined Company Linge, the main Norwegian SOE unit. While most Linge-men were in their twenties or even younger, Andersen was 44 years old. He was noticed for his age as well as his reputation as a notorious criminal, some of his fellow agents didn't even know his name and just called him Gulosten for the rest of the war.

Again his criminal background became an asset. After the training was over Andersen parachuted back into Norway with three other agents. Operation Bittern was meant to help train and equip a resistance group, but mainly it was an assassination squad. Gulosten was meant to be the main hit man because of his background and ruthlessness. Andersen was given a list of 62 targets. The Bittern team was also given some unusual equipment including morphine syringes, fifteen bottles of poison, three boxes filled with rags soaked in ether, eight poisonous pills, a burglary kit and handcuffs. There is some controversy about the Bettern operastion. The 62 names on the hit list were cleared by SOE, but not by the resistance in occupied Norway. The list included informers and torturers, but also famous nazis such as members of Quisling's "cabinet". The resistance felt killing some of those people would lead to brutal reprisals against the civilian population. There is some controversy on how many on that list, if any at all, were actually killed.  A few years ago I was at a birthday party and I made conversation with the woman sitting next to me. I don't remember how the topic came up, but she told me Gulosten assassinated her grandfather, dismembered him and threw the body parts in the river. Strange table talk, I know.

Missions were hightly prized among Company Linge members.  Most of the time they trained and presented plans for possible missions to the SOE leadership only to be rejected, so many were envious of the old celebrity criminal who got a job in Norway right after basic training. There was also a conflict of interest between SOE and the Norwegian resistance.  The SOE was created to, in Churchill's words, "set Europe ablaze". The resistance wanted to gather intelligence and build an underground army to be ready for when the Germans surrendered or they had to be thrown out by the allies. The resistance really didn't like assassinations and sabotage bombings that lead to a backlash against them or  even executions of civilian hostages. As a result of this Operation Bittern was canceled and Andersen had to return to Britain.

In the article in this link you can see the first page of the report written about Operation Bittern. "Finally, they were to likvidate several prominent Quislings and retire to Sweden":

There he made a new and unlkely friend, the  exiled Norwegian King Håkon VII. The king liked to meet people who were different, and Gulosten was about as different you could get from the king's normal circle. Johannes Andersen had been a die hard monarchist since when he was just seven years old and his father took him to see the the royal family arrive for the first time to the recently independent Norway. This was one of the few happy childhood memories he had of  his father.

Gulosten didn't settle in company Linge and was moved to the exiled Norwegian Navy's motor torpedo boat (MTB) unit on Shetland. MTBs were small, fast boats armed to the teeth with torpedoes.
Their job was to cross the North Sea at night, hide under a camouflage net next to an island and scout for enemy ships from land. Torpedoes were used to sink the enemy ship and sometimes survivors were killed with a machine gun, something Andersen disliked. Then the MTB had to find somewhere else along the coast to hide or return to Britain. Mine fields were sometimes crossed by going full speed  Ahead right through them and hoping the boat was past them by the time the mine exploded or the MTB simply jumped over the mines. This was a fast-packed  and rough service that fitted Andersen well.  During his service on the MTB Gulosten got word that his wife Ruth had been arrested for her part in the assassination of the informant back in 1942. Ruth had been tortured to death by the Germans.


MTB crewmen on the  lookout for German ships to sink.


Andersen behind a gun on the MTB.


Two MTBs hiding under camouflage nets somewhere on the Norwegian coast.


After the war ended the Norwegian forces in Britain were tasked with demobilizing the German forces in Norway. The crew of his MTB were ordered to a small village on the west coast to guard the German POWs there. One evening Gulosten got drunk and barged into a room where German officers were held. He started yelling at them, clearly agitated after five years of war and particularly the brutal murder of his wife. Gulosten ended up killing two officers with his submachine gun. Naturally he was arrested for killing prisoners, but in spite of strong evidence he wasn't charged. Why was he released? Gulosten was a man with many dark secrets, including assassinations ordered by Norwegian authorities. He also got backing from the royal family. They couldn't interfere officially, but Queen Maud's lady-in-waiting sent a letter to Gulosten's lawyer.

After his release he lived a quiet life as a carpenter. Gulosten was invited to the castle many times, he was on King Haalon's Christmas gift list and he was asked to make several pieces of furniture for his majesty. Johannes Andersen died in 1970.

The aging Johannes Andersen reading his biography in front of a portrait of King Haakon.


Last edited by Number24 (1st Nov 2019 21:15)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Great read, thank you. It is the unusual men that thrive in the unusual times.

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


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

That 's true.
I've wondered if the woman I spoke to was the grandaughter of Raymond Colberg? I don't remember her name and I didn't know the story in any detail at the time, but she was roughtly the right age. The resistance's comment's about cutting the body up could have merged into family legend and the fjord could have merged into a river in the same way.


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

That was very engrossing, N24. Thanks!


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Thanks. I didn't even know there were gangsters in Norway at that time before I started reading about him.

Last edited by Number24 (2nd Nov 2019 12:51)


Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

A very good documentary about the Special Operations Executive in France during WWII:




Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

"Blind man's bluff" - a documentary about submarines and espionage during the cold war.

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



Re: The real stories from the world of espionage thread

Ben Macintyre's documentaries  (and the books they are based on) are always brilliant. This time it's about MI5's double-cross system and their involvement in D-Day.

Video: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=re … ORM=VDRVRV