“To his handlers in the Security Service, MI5, he was code-named Snow, while to his masters in German intelligence he was Johnny. Arthur Owens, Welsh nationalist, frustrated inventor, father of a future Hollywood starlet, was an unlikely spy, yet became one of the most important double agents of the Second World War.
The first German agent to be “turned” by British intelligence during the conflict, he was used to entrap other Nazi spies as part of the Double Cross system, possibly the most successful counter-espionage operation ever undertaken.
Run by the Twenty Committee – the Roman numeral XX a play on Double Cross – it resulted in the detection of every German agent in Britain and the feeding of false information, including the bogus location of the D-Day landings, to their masters in Berlin.
Yet, despite Owens’s prominent role in the secret war, he is to this day an enigma, his motives as unclear on the day of his death as they were when he decided to offer his services as a spy. Now, a new book seeks to illuminate corners of that shadowy life and fill in some the gaps in the strange career of Agent Snow.”
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