Author Topic: PART 4:- ONCE UPON A VERY, VERY LONG TIME.............................!!!  (Read 1991 times)

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As I promised in my last Post (3) I am going to tell you a little about a real life British spy who really DID come to dinner – on more than one occasion!

I had invited my good friend Jack Hewitt  ( whom I introduced to you last time) to dinner one Sunday and he had asked to bring along a friend.    I had never met him before but any friend of Jack’s was always welcome in my home.
He was a small, rather insignificant man with short grey hair and an RAF style moustache.    He was very quietly spoken and at first seemed rather shy.
Jack introduced him to me as Greville.   He had brought me a bunch of roses which I thought was quite sweet of him.
He started to relax once he realised how close Jack and I were and it soon became apparent that he was much more than just a retired businessman.   We had a really enjoyable evening which ended in all of us agreeing that “we must do this again very soon”!     As he was leaving Greville gave me his card and said that the next time I was down in Palma I should call him and we could meet up.  I looked down at the name on the card – and the penny dropped!!   His name was Greville Wynne!!

For those of you who haven’t done your homework here’s a little background on Greville………………. Greville became an electrical engineer  after leaving university and during the 2nd World war he was recruited into MI5.    After the war ended he spent a lot of time in Eastern Europe selling hi tech industrial electrical equipment and was asked to move over to MI6.   After playing an important role helping a high ranking Russian intelligence officer to defect to the West he was chosen to work as the British contact for a Russian by the name of Oleg Penkovsky who had offered to sell Russian secrets to MI6.
Greville and Penkovsky became a great team and they formed a strong bond. Penkovsky was acclaimed by many as “the greatest spy in history”.   
For many months Penkovsky passed thousands of secret papers to Greville who in turn passed them to MI6 and the CIA.  However, in the early 60’s Penkovskys’ cover was blown and he was arrested and tortured by the Russians until he was forced to give them Grevilles’ name.    Greville was arrested at a Trade Fair in Budapest and transported to the Soviet Union for trial.   He was convicted of spying and sentenced to 8 years in Lubyanka prison.  Penkovsky was not so fortunate!  He was sentenced to death and was executed in 1963.

However, luck (if you can call it that) was on Greville’s side.  After  18 months in that ‘ Lubyanka hell hole’ (Greville’s own words) he was released and exchanged for the head of a  Russian spy ring which had been operating in the UK, and was serving 15 years in prison.   This man’s name was Gordon Lonsdale.

In true ‘spy story’ tradition these two spies were exchanged in early 1964, at dawn, at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Berlin!!  Eventually after his debriefing Greville was taken home to the UK.

So what is there to do for a Spy who’s cover has been blown????

I got to know Greville pretty well over the next few years after that night when he first came to dinner.  He explained to me that at the time of his capture and again his release, no-one would admit that he was in fact a Spy and had been for the last 10 years or more.   The Government stuck to the story that Greville was just a businessman who had been unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!   Under the Official Secrets Act he was sworn to secrecy and forbidden to tell the truth.  However, because his ‘cover’ had been blown to the Russians he was of no further use as a Spy!  He was totally disowned by MI6 and more or less left on his own!  Totally disillusioned with it all he decided to leave the UK and set up home on Majorca.   He wrote a book about his experiences and his imprisonment but of course was forbidden to tell the true story or to mention names and places.  However, he vowed that one day he would tell the whole truth and he did!   

In 1981 his  2nd book “The Man from Odessa” was published and dedicated in part to Oleg Penkosky!   I am proud to own a signed copy!

When I opened my Hostal Luz del Mar and later added Gina’s Music Bar to it, Greville became a regular visitor, driving up from Palma at least twice a month.  On each occasion he brought with him several friends and usually he had a pretty woman on his arm (though rarely the same one twice) but for all that he always struck me as being a very lonely man.  It was as if he needed (rather than wanted) to be surrounded by people.

He told me some fabulous stories – some funny ones and some horrendous ones but the strange thing was that each time I met him I could not for the life of me picture him as a spy!!    But then ……I suppose that’s what made him such a good one!

Sadly he passed away in 1990 at the age of 71 from throat cancer.

If I am truly honest I never considered Greville to be a ‘close’ friend.   In fact there was a great deal about his character that I didn’t actually like.  However, one thing is certain – he was a very brave and patriotic man who endured hell for the sake of his country  - later to be abandoned and disowned by that same country!

Next time…………………….Oh dear!  Who?  What?  Where?...You’ll just have to wait and see!

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Gina, the memoirs just keep getting better. Thank you again for taking the time to "put pen to paper" as it were.


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Fabulous! A history lesson thrown in too! I can feel a literary afternoon coming on, as well as the music afternoon! Puerto Pollensa  Culture Club" ::)
After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done!

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Gina this is truly a wonderful piece of writing and thank you so much for sharing your experiences and memories with us. You have made me feel quite cold! How sad that this man was to give his life to his country but not supported when the support was needed.

I wonder why he chose to make his life in Mallorca - did he ever explain his reasons to you?

Thanks again Gina  - gosh what an interesting life you have had! :o

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.


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 As always fascinating stuff. He was instrumental in nearly bringing us all to war in the Cuban Crisis of October 1962 when he fed a lot of soviet intelligence to us and the " Cousins " ( USA ) on the build up of missiles there.

 Remember how scared we all were at the time when JFK made his stand.

 Thank you for sharing these interesting stories with us.

 BL  :)

HEY. YOU. Get off of my cloud ( of wonderful ) !!