Donald Maclean (spy) bigraphy, stories - Spies

Donald Maclean (spy) : biography

25 May 1913 - 6 March 1983

Donald Duart Maclean ( 25 May 1913 Marylebone, London GRO Register of Births:SEP 1913 1a 899 MARYLEBONE - Donald D. Maclean, mmn = Devitt – 6 March 1983 Moscow) was an English diplomat and member of the Cambridge Five who were members of MI5, MI6 or the diplomatic service who acted as spies for the Soviet Union in the Second World War and beyond. He was recruited as a "straight penetration agent" (not a double agent) while an undergraduate at Cambridge by the Soviet intelligence service. As a reward for his espionage activities, Maclean was brevetted as a colonel in the Soviet KGB.

Educated at Gresham's School, Holt, and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he was the son of the Liberal politician Sir Donald Maclean, who was Leader of the parliamentary opposition for two years immediately following the First World War.

Kitty Harris returns

Kitty Harris spent the rest of the war in Mexico; in 1946 she returned to Russia, which she found fell far short of her dreams. "The only thing I know is that I am terribly lonely," she wrote in her diary during her last years. "My life is in pieces." She died in Gorky—a provincial city— in 1966. Maclean defected to Moscow in 1951 but there is no record of their meeting. But around her neck when she died was the locket, engraved "K from D 24.05.37".


The plan was for Burgess to give Maclean a note in the Foreign Office identifying a meeting place. Maclean, now under suspicion and denied sensitive documents, was likely to be bugged at home and in the office. They met at the Reform Club to discuss Maclean's imminent exposure and the need to flee to Russia.

MI5 insisted that Maclean be questioned. He would be confronted with the FBI and MI5 evidence on Monday, 28 May 1951. But there was a major difficulty regarding prosecution since Venona could not be revealed. It looks possible that the British Government preferred that he defect.Daily Telegraph newspaper, London; 29 January 2007

The day eventually earmarked for Maclean to make his escape happened to be his thirty-eighth birthday: May 25, 1951. He came home by train from the Foreign Office to their house in Kent as usual that evening, and soon after Guy Burgess, who had just been persuaded to get out, too, turned up. After eating the birthday supper that Melinda had prepared, Maclean said goodbye to his wife and children, got into Burgess's car and left. They drove to Southampton, took a ferry to France, then disappeared from view, sparking a media and intelligence furore. It was all of five years before Krushchev finally admitted that they were in the Soviet Union.

Three days before his interrogation, Maclean fled. Yuri Modin, the controller at the time, had made arrangements for Maclean's arrival in Moscow and presumably given him a false passport. Maclean was extremely nervous and reluctant to leave alone. Modin was willing to travel with him, but KGB Central demanded that Burgess escort Maclean across the Iron Curtain. Maclean and Burgess left his home in Kent by car, abandoning it at Southampton where they took the St Malo ferry and then trains to Paris and on to Moscow. This was very awkward for Philby who would now be implicated as the Third Man.

The following Monday, Melinda Maclean telephoned the Foreign Office to ask coolly if her husband was around. Her pose of total ignorance convinced them; MI5 put off interviewing her for nearly a week, and the Maclean house was never searched. No doubt their readiness to see her merely as the ignorant wife was enhanced by the fact that she was heavily pregnant at the time three weeks after Donald left, she gave birth to a daughter, their third child. Francis Marling, Melinda's father, flew from New York to help. Friends in the State Department, gave him Foreign Office contacts who proved unhelpful. He returned to New York with a low opinion of Foreign Office officials. He felt then, as others felt later, that no serious effort was being made.Groffrey Hoare: The Missing Macleans: New York: The Viking Press. 1955

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