Charles Howard Ellis (1895–1975), better known as Dick Ellis, was an intelligence officer accused by Chapman Pincher of being a traitor. According to Nigel West, the SIS became aware in 1966 that Ellis had been a Nazi spy.[1] It became public that Margaret Thatcher's refusal to confirm or deny Pincher's allegation caused distress to the Ellis family. [2][3]

Dick Ellis was born in Sydney to Devonshire-born parents spending his early life in Melbourne and Tasmania before moving to England in 1914 intending to study at Oxford. With the outbreak of war he enlisted as a private in the Territorial Force 100th Provisional Battalion. He saw action on the Western Front and was wounded three times before being commissioned in September 1917.[4] He was sent to Transcaspia as part of the Malleson mission and later took part in the Afghan War of 1919 being awarded the OBE (mil) that year.[5]

He resumed his studies learning Russian at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and the Sorbonne before joining the Secret Intelligence Service in Paris in 1923.[1] He held diplomatic and consular posts in Turkey and the Balkans. In December 1923, Ellis became British vice-consul in Berlin [4] and later worked in Vienna and Geneva as foreign correspondent for the Morning Post. In 1938 he was brought back to supervise the German embassy’s telephone lines. Ribbentrop’s staff soon developed an uncharacteristic discretion during telephone conversations. Ellis was subsequently sent to Liverpool to establish a mail censorship centre.[1]

In summer 1940 he became deputy-head of British Security Co-ordination in New York. Here, in the period before Pearl Harbor, Ellis briefed J Edgar Hoover in counter-espionage techniques. He provided the blueprint from which William J. Donovan was able to set up the Office of Strategic Services and consequently was awarded the American Legion of Merit [6]

At the end of the War he was awarded the CBE for his work.[5] He was subsequently sent to Singapore on the staff of the United Kingdom Commissioner-General for South-East Asia.[6] As 'controller Western Hemisphere' and 'controller Far East'[1] in the 1950s, he helped set up the Australian Secret (Intelligence) Service.[4] He retired in 1953 and was awarded the CMG.[5]

In 1945, the SIS learned from captured Nazi controller Walter Schellenberg that a man named Ellis had betrayed the organization. However, it failed to act [1] and Pincher believes that Ellis was subsequently backmailed into spying for the Soviets.[7] The lengthy investigation of Dick Ellis was code-named "Emerton".[1] Former in-house CIA historian, Thomas F.Troy, stated that James Angleton warned him in 1963 that Ellis was under investigation as a suspected Soviet agent.[8] Pincher alleged that in 1965 Ellis was challenged and admitted to spying for Germany.[7] The Independent's James Dalrymple's analysis was that Ellis 'sold "vast quantities of information" about the British secret service to the Germans' aiding the production of the Gestapo handbook for the Invasion of Britain.[9]

The Transcaspian Episode[edit | edit source]

File:The Execution of the Twenty Six Baku Commissars.jpg

Isaak Brodsky's The Execution of the Twenty Six Baku Commissars

In retirement C. H. Ellis wrote The Transcaspian Episode about the Malleson mission. One incident addressed within the book involved the September 1918 execution of Stepan Shahumyan[10] and 25 other Baku commissars of the Soviet client Centrocaspian Dictatorship. Ellis fundamentally disagreed with the Socialist Revolutionary journalist Vadim Chaikin's claim that British officers were responsible. At the time it had been a triumph for Soviet propaganda.[6] Ellis' perspective was illustrated in a letter to the Times in 1961. He placed the blame with the "Menshevik-Socialist Revolutionary" Transcaspian Government under whose jurisdiction the prisoners were detained. The commissars had earlier fled the Mussavatist Azerbaijan advanced guard in the September Days of 1918 just before the Turks occupied Baku. They planned to sail to Astrakhan, the only Caspian port still in Bolshevik hands but were instead dumped at the port of Krasnovodsk where they were summarily executed by the local Menshevik garrison. According to Ellis the claim of British involvement arose only after the Socialist Revolutionaries found the need to ingratiate themselves with the stronger Bolsheviks.[11]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Nigel West, ELLIS, DICK, Dictionary of British Intelligence
  2. H. Montgomery Hyde, Letters:Security risks The Times, 27 April 1981
  3. Stewart Tendler, Mrs Thatcher refuses to comment on man named as spy, The Times, 22 April 1981
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Cain, Frank, 'Ellis, Charles Howard (Dick) (1895–1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, , accessed 4 April 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Mr C. H. Ellis (Obituaries) The Times 16 July 1975
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Mr C. H. Ellis, H. M. H., The Times, 21 July 1975
  7. 7.0 7.1 Chapman Pincher, Letters:Security risks, The Times, 6 May 1981
  8. Lycett, Andrew. Untold tales;Books, The Times 6 June 1996
  9. Dalrymple, James. Fatherland UK... The Independent 3 March 2000
  10. Macintyre, Ben. Massacre that was a triumph for the Soviet propaganda machine, The Times, 11 February 2012
  11. C. H. ELLIS, Letters:Baku Commissars, The Times, 10 October 1961
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