Yesterday, I was very privileged to visit the village of Elsfield in Oxfordshire, where the author John Buchan once lived and his ashes are now buried in the local churchyard. Buchan was the author of the famous novel, The Thirty Nine Steps, which has been turned into four films. The novel is about German espionage in Britain just prior to WW1. He later wrote the novel, Greenmantle, about a German plot to foment a jihad, or Holy War, against the British Empire during WW1.
The current and all past heads of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) are and have been known as 'C', for "Chief", but the first head of SIS was known as 'C' for a different reason. Commander Mansfield Cumming used to sign documents in green ink with the letter C. Cumming had been retired from the Royal Navy on medical grounds due to his chronic sea sickness. As a retired officer, he went on to work on the design and operations of boom defences, based on the River
Today (4th February) in 1915, the German government announced that it would impose a submarine blockade of Great Britain with effect 18th February 1915. It meant that any shipping, including that of neutrals, could be sunk without warning. Until this change in policy, German submarines, as with those of the Allies, had surfaced in the vicinity of merchant ships and given the crews time to take to their boats in safety before sinking the ships. The introduction by Britain o
Both of today’s security services, namely MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (known popularly as MI6) derive from the original Secret Service Bureau (SSB), founded in October 1909. The SSB was established in response to the Anglo-German naval arms race and several scare stories that a nest of German spies was operating in Britain. The Daily Mail ran an article suggesting that Swiss waiters might actually be German spies and the same newspaper, in 1906, commissioned Wil
My new book will be launched in just under two weeks' time. It tells the tale of a young man's reluctant entry into Britain's embryonic Secret Service and his subsequent adventures. Charged with cowardice by his father, a naval war hero, he must overcome his fears to regain his father's love and respect. In the deserts and mountains of Persia in a battle for control of the Admiralty's oil fields, he uncovers a plot by the Germans to incite a holy war in the Near East and I
With just five weeks to go before the publication of my pre-WW1 espionage thriller, Now the Darkness Gathers, here is a taster of what to expect. I will add another chapter nearer the time. I hope you enjoy reading this and will feed tempted to buy the book on publication from Amazon as an e-book or paperback. PROLOGUE September 1898 Sir Herbert Kitchener, Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, seemed pleased to receive the two scruffy Dervishes and had even offered them hospitality
In all my writing, I have three aims; to entertain, to inform and to inspire. To achieve the latter two objectives, I carry out meticulous research to convey real events that I believe will be of interest to my readers and, I hope, get them to learn more about the real history after reading my books. The early part of my second novel, Now the Darkness Gathers (due for publication on 17 December 2018), centres on the early formation of the two security services known today as
I have just sent the final proofs back to my publisher for the next novel in my series about the Miller family in WW1. It was odd to read it again in such a short time and so long after I finished the book. However, I am very pleased with it and even I was moved to tears a few times with a couple of emotionally charged scenes. The new plot is set in the early days of the formation of what became to be known as MI5 and MI6 (more accurately, the SIS) and later, the forerunner o