A LANDLADY is hoping to find out more about the part her pub played in the Portland Spy Ring.
Debbie Hughes has been the landlady at The Elm Tree in Langton Herring for two years and she said she has heard a lot of tales about the spies Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee who used to drink there.
Miss Hughes has lived in the village for 25 years and knew the story of the Portland Spy Ring but was amazed by the number of customers who knew or had some involvement with the pair.
Intrigued by their stories she is now organising an evening for those that knew the couple to go along and share their stories.
She said she wants to hear about the part the pub played and the local history.
Miss Hughes said: “It was a huge story. I have collected stuff about the whole thing – there are cuttings on the wall.”
She added: “I just want to find out more about it.”
One of the draws about the story is that much of the village and area is exactly the same, she said.
Miss Hughes said: “You can look at this pub, the inside and the village – all the places involved – and a lot of it hasn’t changed.”
Miss Hughes added: “I feel the story should be told and soon the people won’t be around anymore.”
Although the basic story is well known, Miss Hughes said she felt there was more information to be uncovered.
She said: “There’s a lot more to it than what was reported. People know the basics of what happened.
“The more people I speak to the more I find out.”
Miss Hughes added: “If you worked with or knew the couple or were a neighbour, we’d love you to come along.”
The evening will take place at the pub from 7pm on Friday April 26.
Lovers smuggled information from isle base
The Portland Spy Ring was active from the late 1950s to 1961 and passed secrets to the Russians during the Cold War.
It was led by Konan Molody, who posed as Gordon Lonsdale, a Canadian running a jukebox leasing firm.
A Russian mole called Sniper told the CIA that secrets were being passed to Moscow from Portland. MI5 were told that information was coming from the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment on the Isle.
Suspicion fell on Harry Houghton, a clerk.
He had accepted an offer from Lonsdale, posing as a US naval commander, who promised him thousands of pounds for giving information to US intelligence.
Houghton, who lived in Weymouth, had a lover Ethel Gee, who lived on Portland, and who also worked at the base and sold secrets.
They passed information about classified material.
The couple used to meet in the Elm Tree but their drinking and spending aroused police attention.
Houghton and Gee travelled to London frequently where they met a man – Lonsdale – and handed over parcels.
Lonsdale was followed and tracked to a Ruislip bungalow belonging to Peter and Helen Kroger, a couple who ran a small bookshop.
The Krogers, wanted by the FBI in connection with a nuclear espionage case, were also part of the ring and their home was full of espionage equipment.
Film and photographs of secret documents were smuggled out of the Portland base by Houghton and sent to Moscow as microdots hidden in antique books.
Lonsdale was jailed for 25 years and the Krogers were given 20-year sentences. Houghton and Gee were sent to prison for 15 years.