Tomás Harris

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Tomás Harris
MI5 Case Officer Tomas (Tommy) Harris 1942.jpg
Birth nameTomás Joseph Harris
Born(1908-04-10)10 April 1908
Hampstead, United Kingdom
Died27 January 1964(1964-01-27) (aged 55)
Llucmajor, Mallorca, Spain
AllegianceFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch Security Service
Operations Fortitude

Tomás "Tommy" Joseph Harris (10 April 1908 – 27 January 1964) was a Spanish-speaking MI6 officer who worked with Juan Pujol García, an important double agent for the British during World War II, in what became known as the Garbo deception.


Born of a Spanish mother, Enriqueta Rodriguez, and an English father, Lionel Harris, an art dealer specialising in Spanish paintings, he grew up in a Jewish household in Hampstead, his mother having converted to Judaism at the time of the marriage [1] , Harris continued his father's successful art dealing business, and was an essentially amateur artist himself. Harris had an important collection of Spanish prints, especially those of Goya, which was mostly acquired by the British Museum after his death. In fact, Harris, while still alive, had placed his collection on indefinite loan in the British Museum. [2] The British Museum has 708 objects formerly in his collection, including 22 prints he made himself, [3] and in 1981 published Juliet Wilson Bareau's, Goya's Prints, The Tomás Harris Collection in the British Museum. [4]

He had five siblings: William, Morris, Violeta, Conchita, and Enriqueta Harris (1910—2006), an art historian specializing in Spanish art.

Possible double agent

In 1962, Flora Solomon – a friend of Kim Philby – told Victor Rothschild, who had worked with MI6 during World War II, that she thought that Philby and Tomás Harris had been Soviet spies, [5] [ incomplete short citation ] since the 1930s. "Those two were so close as to give me an intuitive feeling that Harris was more than a friend." [6]

As a result of this information, MI5 sought to interview Harris. However, Harris was killed in a motor accident at Llucmajor, Mallorca, before an interview could occur.[ citation needed ] It has been suggested that Harris was murdered. [7] [ incomplete short citation ] For example, Chapman Pincher suggested that Harris was killed by Soviet agents to prevent him speaking to MI5:

The police could find nothing wrong with the car, which hit a tree, but Harris's wife, who survived the crash, could not explain why the vehicle had gone into a sudden slide. It is considered possible, albeit remotely, that the KGB might have wanted to silence Harris before he could talk to the British security authorities, as he was an expansive personality, when in the mood, and was outside British jurisdiction. The information, about which MI5 wanted to question him and would be approaching him in Majorca [a.k.a. Mallorca], could have leaked to the KGB from its source inside MI5. [8]

Pincher pointed out that the most likely source of any leak was Roger Hollis, then director-general of MI5 who Pincher controversially claimed was a Soviet agent.[ citation needed ]

According to Bill Bristow, Tomas Harris's godson, his father, Desmond Bristow, was a very close friend of Tomas Harris and interviewed Juan Pujol (Garbo) before Tommy became Garbo's case officer. He reveals reveals the fact that Tomas Harris funded Philly's book which he never wrote. Bill Bristow believes Tommy would have known Philby was a KGB operative, but was never involved himself, although possible [9] .

Harris and Pujol

Together they made up a fictional team of 27 fake sub-agents, who were created in order to convince German intelligence that Garbo was a reliable spy. This resulted in what became known as the Garbo deception.

Pujol's and Tomás' Network of Fictitious Agents

               |Agent ONE -------------------------|J(2) KLM pilot and courier                |KLM steward                        |                |-resigned in 1943                  |J(3) Head of   Section                |                                   |                |                                   |J(4) Censor in MOI                |                                   |                |                                   |J(5) Secretary in Cabinet Office                |                |Agent TWO -------------------------|2(I) WIDOW                |William Gerbers                    |     Mrs. Gerbers                |-died in ,  in 1942                |                |Agent THREE -----------------------|3(I) Pilot Officer                |BENEDICT                           |                |-"Carlos", a n student    |3(2) Officer in                 | in Glasgow, Scotland              |                |                                   |3(3) Greek seaman and deserter                | GARBO/ARABEL --|Agent FOUR ------------------------|4(I) ALMURA (Juan Pujol)   |CHAMILLUS                          |     radio operator                |-ian  waiter based   |                | in Chislehurst (London), England  |4(2) Guard based in Chislehurst                |                                   |                |                                   |4(3) US NCO based in London                |                |Agent FIVE ------------------------|5(I) Agent FIVE's cousin in Buffalo, USA                |MOONBEAM                |-a Venezuelan based in ,                | Canada                |-brother of "BENEDICT"                |                |Agent SIX                |Field Security NCO                |-died in 1943                |                |Agent SEVEN -----------------------|7(I) Soldier in British 9th Armoured Division                |DAGOBERT                           |                |-Ex-seaman in ,        |7(2) DONNY                                                    |     Leader of World Aryan Order                                                    |                                                    |7(3) Wren in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka)                                                    |                                                    |7(4) DICK                                                    |     Indian fanatic                                                    |                                                    |7(5) DRAKE in Exeter, England                                                    |                                                    |7(6) Welsh fascist in South Wales                                                    |                                                    |7(7) DORICK in Harwich, England

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  1. Kauffmann, Michael (15 May 2006). "Obituary: Enriqueta Harris". the Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  2. British Museum,The graphic work of Goya : an exhibition of etchings and lithographs held in the Department of Prints and Drawings of the British Museum, 12th December 1963 to 29th February 1964 (1963), p. 1
  3. British Museum Collection database
  4. British Museum Publications, ISBN ISBN   0714107891
  5. Biography of Flora Solomon
  6. Solomon, F. Baku to Baker Street (1984) p. 226
  7. Biography of Tomás Harris
  8. Pincher, C. Their Trade is Treachery (1981) pp. 169–170
  9. Bristow, Bill (2012). My Father the Spy, Deceptions of an MI6 Office. WBML ePublishing & Media Ltd. ISBN   978-0957285538.