Military History Circle: Desmond Morton - The Myth Behind the Man

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Speaker: Gill Bennett, Associate Fellow, RUSI and formerly Chief Historian, The Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Desmond Morton, SIS officer, Director of the Industrial Intelligence Centre and Churchill's wartime Intelligence adviser, is a mysterious figure surrounded by myths. Research into his life and career has revealed not only that many previous assumptions about him are unfounded, but that other commonly held beliefs about British Intelligence in the interwar and Second World War period owe more to myth than to fact. While Morton himself remains in many ways a mystery, a study of his career throws new light on many areas of Intelligence history, including the development of SIS, the early history of the Special Operations Executive, British Security Coordination and the Anglo-American intelligence relationship.

Gill Bennett MA OBE is an Associate Fellow, RUSI and formerly Chief Historian of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Senior Editor of the FCO’s official history of postwar foreign policy, Documents on British Policy Overseas, 1995-2005. She was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 2002-03 and formerly Assistant Editor of Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939. Publications include ‘Declassification and release policies of the UK’s Intelligence Agencies’, in Intelligence and National Security, Spring 2002; A most extraordinary and mysterious business: the Zinoviev Letter of 1924 (FCO, 1999); Nazi Gold I and II (FCO, 1996 and 1997); and The End of the War in Europe 1945 (ed), 1998. Her biography of Desmond Morton, Churchill's Man of Mystery: Desmond Morton and the World of Intelligence (Routledge, 2006) will be published in October.

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