Duncan Scott-Ford bigraphy, stories - British spy

Duncan Scott-Ford : biography

4 September 1921 - 3 November 1942

Duncan Alexander Croall Scott-Ford (4 September 1921 – 3 November 1942) was a British merchant seaman who was hanged for treachery after giving information to an enemy agent during World War II.


Soon after his arrival in Lisbon, he was met in a bar by a man who told him that his name was Rithman and that he could get a letter to the girl he had known in Dar-es-Salaam. Rithman offered Scott-Ford 1000 Portuguese escudos if he would confirm the rumour that all British ships had been ordered to be in port on 28 June. Scott-Ford undertook to try to find out and to meet again the following day. Although unable to find confirmation, Scott-Ford met with Rithman and a man who called himself Captain Henley and appeared to be Rithman's superior. Confessing to not having supplied the information wanted, the group nevertheless discussed issues such as the state of morale in Britain, public opinion of Winston Churchill, and the extent of air raid damage. Henley gave him a 1000-escudo note and arranged another meeting a few days later.

At this meeting, Scott-Ford was driven around in a car to disorient him and then taken to a room where he was asked to obtain more information about the location of British minefields, the arrival of American servicemen in Britain, and up-to-date copies of Jane's Fighting Ships and Jane's All the World's Aircraft. Henley asked Scott-Ford to sign a receipt for the 1000 escudos, which Scott-Ford did, using his real name. His ship sailed the next day; all the crew were interrogated on arrival at Liverpool to ask if they had been approached by German agents. Scott-Ford stated that he had been approached but had not cooperated.


The Finland sailed for Lisbon again in July, arriving on 26 July. Scott-Ford again met up with the Germans, receiving another 500 escudos for expenses (again signing a receipt) although he had been unable to get the books which they had requested. The Germans threatened to give the receipts to the British consulate. Scott-Ford did give details of the convoy he had sailed in and its protection, the location of an aircraft factory, and the training of troops for an invasion of Europe. At the end of the meeting, he was told to keep a record of the movement and speed of the convoy and given another 100 escudos. Another meeting was arranged, but Scott-Ford was unable to keep it as the Finland sailed for Manchester.


On arriving at Salford Docks on 18 August, Scott-Ford was again routinely asked about approach attempts from German intelligence, and this time described a man who had asked him about communism in Britain. The authorities had already had word from Lisbon that an agent codenamed 'RUTHERFORD' by the Germans had been talking and therefore arranged to see him again the next day. Scott-Ford admitted that he had received 1600 escudos (about £18 in 1942) for information. He was taken into custody and sent to the 'London Reception Centre', where refugees were routinely screened for German agents. The notes which Scott-Ford had made about the convoy were found in a search of his quarters on the Finland.

Service career

Royal Navy

In June 1939 Scott-Ford was serving on HMS Gloucester which had called at Dar-es-Salaam on a goodwill visit. He met and became infatuated by a German girl; the Security Service later came to believe that he may have told her secret naval codes. Later in 1940 his ship was stationed in Egypt and Scott-Ford became obsessed with a prostitute whom he often visited; he was discovered to have altered the book of his Post Office Savings account and sent to a court martial which convicted him. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment and dismissed from the service with ignominy but, after a successful appeal by his mother, the sentence was remitted to six months' imprisonment and an honourable discharge.

Merchant Navy

Repatriated to Britain to serve his sentence, Scott-Ford was released in July 1941 and stayed briefly with his mother. They quarrelled over his mother's use of the allowance from his Royal Navy pay which he sent home, with Scott-Ford accusing his mother of using it to buy a fur coat. Shortly afterwards he joined the Merchant Navy. He was on board the SS Finland, which arrived in Lisbon on 10 May 1942.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine