Delving into the tale of the war-time MI5 double agent

By Jake Chown  
Monday 4th December 2017 2:18 pm
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Dick Tudhope pictured proudly holding his father’s story ()

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A THRILLING book has been published chronicling the story of a ‘double agent’ spy who helped save countless lives in the Second World War.

Dick Tudhope, currently resident in Llangrove north of Monmouth, is a surviving son of an extremely brave but infamous spy Walter Dicketts.

The book, containing the true story of the MI5 double agent, has been superbly researched and written by Dicketts’ granddaughter, Carolinda Witt.

With Britain braced for a German invasion, MI5 recruited the former First World War Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) Officer, as a double agent, codenamed Celery.

Dicketts was sent to neutral Lisbon with the seemingly impossible mission of persuading the Germans he was a traitor and to extract crucial secrets. Spirited to Germany by the Nazis and with his life on the line, Dicketts managed to outwit his interrogators before returning to Britain as, in the Nazi’s eyes, a German spy. He was one of the early agents employed by the British Double Cross team at MI5 that succeeded in duping the Nazis that the Allied D-Day Landings would take place in Calais, not Normandy. This remains one of history’s greatest military deceptions and countless more lives would have been lost during those operations without the effort of these spies.

A mixture of hero and crook, Dicketts was worldly and intelligent, charming and charismatic. Sometimes rich and sometimes poor, his private life was a web of complexity and deception with four wives, two mistresses and six children. Using family, and official records from The National Archives, police records, newspaper articles and memories, the author unravels the tangled story of Double Agent Celery.

Mr Tudhope, who changed his name to that of his step-father, says his father would have been envious and spellbound to see his civilian and wartime exploits so vividly and accurately portrayed by his granddaughter. Her biography, ‘Double Agent Celery’ says it all – no holds barred – a unique and intriguing picture of a profound and perilous risk taker, who had the uncanny knack of getting himself out of sticky situations.

In 2008, almost immediately after the death of her mother, Carolinda uncovered the truth of a family mystery, which named Walter Dicketts as her previously unknown grandfather. It has taken her seven years to research and write this book, which was launched on 4th November at the very same pub (The Marlborough in Richmond), where Dicketts met Britain’s first double agent Snow. MI5 didn’t trust Snow, a Welshman called Arthur Owens, and recruited Dicketts to spy on him and to infiltrate the Abwehr, the German secret service. Dicketts involvement led to Snow being imprisoned until the end of the war.

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