Frank Clifton Bossard
Allegiance 22x20px Soviet Union
Service Template:Air force
Rank Flight Lieutenant

Born 13 December 1912
Died 19 June 2001
Nationality 22x20px United Kingdom
Occupation Telecommunications officer

Frank Clifton Bossard (1912 – 2001) was a British Secret Intelligence Service agent who provided classified documents to the Soviet Union in the 1960s. MI6 recruited Bossard in 1945, stationing him in Bonn, Germany, with a large entertainment budget. When Bossard returned to London in 1961, he found his lifestyle unsustainable without the budget, and fell heavily into debt. After profiling him, the Soviet Union sent an agent to him, offering money in exchange for pictures of interest to the KGB and the Kremlin. A Soviet double agent known as "Top Hat," in actuality Dmitri Polyakov, revealed Bossard's actions to MI5, who arrested Bossard on 12 March 1965. Bossard was convicted and sentenced to 21 years imprisonment. He was freed from prison in 1975 and returned to Yorkshire.

Shortly after his release he changed his name by Deed from Frank Clifton Bossard to Frank Russell Clifton. He worked as the Practice Manager for a firm of soliciors in Hull.

Life[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Bossard was born in 1912 to a poor single mother, Ethel Bossard (née Clifton); his father Frank Bossard (Journeyman Joiner) died before he was born.[1] His mother worked as a housekeeper and general store manager in Gedney, Lincolnshire until 1923, when she married a farmer and moved to the country.[2] Bossard dropped out of school when his stepfather could no longer afford it, instead becoming a store clerk.[2] Despite his lack of education, Bossard became interested in radios, building his first one at sixteen. In the 1930s, Bossard joined the British Union of Fascists, but found himself out of place among many of the organizations socialites.[3] Eventually, Bossard saved enough money to attend radio technology courses at Norwich Technical College. When Bossard ran out of the money necessary to attend he was arrested for attempting to cash a forged cheque in 1934.[2] Bossard served six months hard labour, a fact which did not turn up throughout most of his career.[4] Bossard married his first wife Ethel Isobel Brash on 26 February 1941 at St. Simon's Parish Church, Southsea.[5]

RAF and Ministry of Civil Aviation[edit | edit source]

When Britain entered World War II, Bossard joined in the Royal Air Force and fought in the Middle East Theatre. He gained an officer's commission with a false résumé.[3] Eventually, Bossard was transferred to a radar unit, where he had become a Flight Lieutenant by 1946.[6] Bossard taught briefly at the Air Service College[7] before the Ministry of Aviation offered him a post as an assistant signals officer. He was eventually promoted to the position of staff telecommunications officer.

MI6[edit | edit source]

In 1951 Bossard accepted a position as senior officer with the Ministry's Scientific and Technical Intelligence Branch in Germany. Five years later, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) recruited Bossard, stationing him at the embassy in Bonn, West Germany.[8] In Bonn, Bossard had the duty of interviewing scientists, engineers, and technicians who had fled the Soviet Union.[8] MI6 provided Bossard with a large entertainment allowance, which he used to take his interviewees to strip clubs and prostitutes. At this time, he also took up heavy drinking.[8]

Espionage[edit | edit source]

In 1961 Bossard returned to London to again work with the Ministry of Aviation. Though he no longer possessed his entertainment allowance, Bossard maintained his habits. The Soviet Union began to profile Bossard at this time, finding he had favorable traits to be recruited for Soviet espionage activities. Agents concluded that he maintained access to secret documents on guided missiles, had financial issues, and possessed multiple weaknesses of character.[8]

Soon after returning to London, Bossard was approached by a man who called himself Gordon. After a few nights in a local bar, Gordon revealed that he was a Soviet agent working at the embassy,[9] and offered Bossard a £250 advance for his agreement to deliver documents to Soviet agents. Bossard was given nine dead drops around the city. He was instructed to listen to Radio Moscow at 7:45 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of each month. One of five popular Russian songs would play, and Bossard was to proceed differently according to which one was broadcast—The Volga Boat Song indicated abortion of the operation.[3][10] Bossard would routinely take classified documents, mostly involving missile systems and radars, from his office, photograph them in his hotel room during his lunch break using equipment he left in a briefcase in the left luggage office at London Waterloo station,[11] and return them the next day. For every packet of photographs delivered, he received £2,000.[10] Bossard later told authorities that he had received £5,000 in total.[9]

When Bossard went on spending binges, he caught the attention of MI5. Suspicions were confirmed when the Soviet double agent Dmitri Polyakov (known as TOPHAT) provided information regarding Bossard's activities.[11][12] Another agent known as NICNAC also provided the Central Intelligence Agency with information regarding Bossard.[7][13] After weeks of surveillance and an investigation into his finances, Bossard was arrested on 12 March 1965 in the Ivanhoe Hotel in Bloomsbury, where he had been photographing documents.[9] Though suppressed at the time, Bossard was the first spy caught with the use of an electronic transmitter.[3] These transmitters were placed on the clips of classified documents, which were then followed to Bossard's desk, and eventually to the hotel he was using.[3] Bossard was charged with violating the Official Secrets Act[14] and received a quick trial at the Old Bailey on 10 May 1965, where he confessed[15] and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. Lord Chief Justice Hubert Parker informed Bossard: "It would be longer and I emphasize this but for the fact that you are now 52 years of age, and that you have shown a degree of remorse by making a full confession extending far beyond the matters in respect of which you are charged".[16] At the time, Bossard's sentence was the third longest resulting from a postwar spy trial.[15] Following Bossard's case, officials began reforming the qualifications of those who handled classified documents and how espionage cases were handled if they occurred.[15][17] While in prison, Bossard was divorced by his wife, Ethel.[18]

Later life[edit | edit source]

Released in 1975, Bossard changed his name to Frank Russell Clifton in the same year. He found employment with the Hull solicitors Bird and Clarke, led by Leonard Bird, a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He soon met and married Marianne Johanna Konrad (née Fried) a widow of Jewish ancestry who was also a Quaker. They were married on 6 November 1976 at The Friends Meeting House, Percy Street, Hull.[19]

Frank Clifton died on 19 June 2001 in Hull of natural causes.[20]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Certified Copy of an Entry of Birth Number 197 in the Registration District of Driffield in the County of York dated 10 January 1976.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hearn (2006), 100.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Waugh (2003).
  4. Andrew and Mitrokhin (2000), 414.
  5. Certificate making Decree Nisi Absolute (Divorce) 1965 (D) no. 544 Portsmouth District Registry dated 23 May 1966.
  6. Hearn (2006), 101.
  7. 7.0 7.1 West (2009), 33.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Hearn (2006), 102.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Australian Associated Press (1965), 1.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hearn (2006), 103.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Trahair (2004), 33.
  12. West (2006), 113.
  13. Kessler (1994), 75.
  14. New York Times (1965), 3.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Australian Associated Press and Reuters (1965), 4.
  16. United Press International (1956), 1.
  17. Time (1965).
  18. Certificate of making Decree Nisi Absolute (Divorce) 23 May 1966.
  19. Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage Scarborough Registration District No.3.
  20. Certified Copy of Entry No. 152 Beverley Registration District, The County of The East Riding of Yorkshire

References[edit | edit source]

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