The Head Of Britain's Anti-Soviet Unit Turned Out To Be A Soviet Spy All Along
In 1944, Britain and the USSR were working together to win the Second World War, so MI6 figured this was a good time to reopen their secret anti-Soviet unit, Section IX. Phrased like that, it sounds like a silly decision, but we know it was a good choice in hindsight. Not a good choice in retrospect, however, was their pick to run Section IX, Kim Philby. A counterintelligence officer and former war correspondent, Philby presided over a unit that experienced a series of mysterious screw-ups. Like the time he went to Istanbul to collect a defecting KGB spy, who then suddenly got yanked back to Moscow and was never seen again.
This is his grave.
Just kidding, they gave his corpse no grave. This one's Philby's.
By the end of the decade, Britain sent Philby as their top rep to Washington, D.C., where he roomed with fellow intelligence officer Guy Burgess. Burgess was a constant source of laughs, whether he was drinking so hard that he fell down and split his head open or was repeatedly stopped by traffic cops when he was trying to hook up with guys (the tickets meant nothing to him; he had diplomatic immunity). But then Burgess and another diplomat named Donald Maclean suddenly slipped away to Moscow. It turned out they'd been spies for the Soviets. Which didn't reflect well on Philby, especially since Burgess had been the one to recommend he lead Section IX.
MI6 interrogated Philby, who resigned. The question of whether he was connected to the other spies ("The Cambridge Five," as they'd be called once they were all known), remained open until 1955 when the British prime minister announced that investigations had concluded and they totally exonerated Philby.
Good for you, Philby! Except, info from defectors trickled in over the next years, and suspicions rose against Philby again. In 1963, he was stationed in Beirut as a journalist, and one night in January, he and his wife were expected at an embassy dinner party. He never showed. Instead, he boarded a Soviet cargo freighter to escape before he could be arrested.
He went on to a long retirement of hoping to one day be played by Gary Oldman.