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Lucifer Rising: British Intelligence and the Occult in the Second World War

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Lucifer Rising unravels for the first time the myths surrounding the most surreal yet, ultimately, seriously-intended secret operations of the Second World War when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Featuring an eccentric cast of characters, including the creator of James Bond, the self-proclaimed 'wickedest man in the world', a cross-drewssing astrologer and the Depu Lucifer Rising unravels for the first time the myths surrounding the most surreal yet, ultimately, seriously-intended secret operations of the Second World War when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Featuring an eccentric cast of characters, including the creator of James Bond, the self-proclaimed 'wickedest man in the world', a cross-drewssing astrologer and the Deputy Führer, bestselling author Nicholas Booth weaves together an incredible narrative about spying, sabotage, weird inventions, black propaganda and even the attempted harnessing of the occult as the British secret service sought desperately to gain the upper hand over the Nazis by whatever means possible. Using hitherto secret files - many only released in 2014 - and reading like a fictional thriller, Lucifer Rising shows how nothing was considered too outrageous in the desperate fight against the Nazi regime, including the attempted manipulation of the occult and astrology with often unintentionally hilarious results. After all, it was widely suggested that the Nazis had the devil on their side...


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Lucifer Rising unravels for the first time the myths surrounding the most surreal yet, ultimately, seriously-intended secret operations of the Second World War when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Featuring an eccentric cast of characters, including the creator of James Bond, the self-proclaimed 'wickedest man in the world', a cross-drewssing astrologer and the Depu Lucifer Rising unravels for the first time the myths surrounding the most surreal yet, ultimately, seriously-intended secret operations of the Second World War when Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Featuring an eccentric cast of characters, including the creator of James Bond, the self-proclaimed 'wickedest man in the world', a cross-drewssing astrologer and the Deputy Führer, bestselling author Nicholas Booth weaves together an incredible narrative about spying, sabotage, weird inventions, black propaganda and even the attempted harnessing of the occult as the British secret service sought desperately to gain the upper hand over the Nazis by whatever means possible. Using hitherto secret files - many only released in 2014 - and reading like a fictional thriller, Lucifer Rising shows how nothing was considered too outrageous in the desperate fight against the Nazi regime, including the attempted manipulation of the occult and astrology with often unintentionally hilarious results. After all, it was widely suggested that the Nazis had the devil on their side...

35 review for Lucifer Rising: British Intelligence and the Occult in the Second World War

  1. 5 out of 5

    Will Cross

    As Evan Morgan’s only published biographer and the author / co-author of several books on the Welsh peer, occultist and eccentric also known as Viscount Tredegar, I feel obliged to draw attention to some inaccuracies in the book. Tredegar- as Evan Morgan- is indexed at pages 92-4,171-2 and 337 of the hardback copy issued on 6 June 2016. My comments arise from research over many years at the National Archives, Kew. Clearly Mr Booth has not consulted the primary documents there as his claims about As Evan Morgan’s only published biographer and the author / co-author of several books on the Welsh peer, occultist and eccentric also known as Viscount Tredegar, I feel obliged to draw attention to some inaccuracies in the book. Tredegar- as Evan Morgan- is indexed at pages 92-4,171-2 and 337 of the hardback copy issued on 6 June 2016. My comments arise from research over many years at the National Archives, Kew. Clearly Mr Booth has not consulted the primary documents there as his claims about Viscount Tredegar’s war service do not match the official papers. The back up of evidence to Viscount Tredegar’a war in a book entitled “ Hush Hush, The Peculiar Career of Lord Tredegar” is also unsound - that book has never appeared anywhere. Compounding these flaws the result of allying his existing text with genuine official sources makes a mockery of the important service readers, authors, students, researchers and bibliographers depend for veracity’s sake in identifying the contents of relevant files in National Archives and other archives to validate claims made and so merit citation elsewhere. Mr Booth highlights at page 373 various National Archives files in his research. WO 71/1078 - does mention Viscount Tredegar - but I will cover the factual part of its contents below. He also refers to three KV ( Secret Service) files KV4/229 KV 4/230 and KV 4/231. I am well acquainted with the KV files series that liberally appear in the text and sources pages. Having checked the original files and my extracts again including one downloadable file from NA’s website, none of these above files mention Viscount Tredegar. This is not surprising as the papers relate (for the period 1945-1953) to proceedings on the “Control and Maintenance of Pigeons” by the Security Services years after Viscount Tredegar had left the army and indeed long after he was dead. A colleague and I transcribed file WO 71/1078 for ‘Aspects of Evan : The Last Viscount Tredegar’ … a book we wrote about Viscount Tredegar. The book details Tredegar’s Court Martial verbatim, and was published in 2012. At the time of release a copy of the book was given both to the Tredegar House library in Newport ( the seat of the Tredegars now managed by the National Trust) and personally to Mr Booth’s joint collaborator in compiling Viscount Tredegar’s war service. The WO file 71/1078 relates to the Court Martial of Evan, Viscount Tredegar in 1943 for three offences under the Official Secrets Act. It makes clear that he was held on open arrest at Chelsea Barracks, tried there and found guilty on two of the three charges and “severely reprimanded”. The great advocate Sir Walter Monckton defended Tredegar’s corner making a plea of mitigation saying the Viscount was a product of a dysfunctional family. Before WO 71/1078 was released for public access in the 1990s no one was certain about Viscount Tredegar’s wartime service. In 1981 Nigel West, the celebrated spy author, wrote the book “MI5: The British Security Services Operations 1909-1945.” Mr West cautioned that in writing his 1981 book he did not have access to the actual Security files but relied on the testimony of former Secret Service Officers.. Competent historians pride themselves on keeping their findings updated with new emerging information. The same applies for a new book such as this – it sources need to be new or current if the work is to be taken seriously. Below I offer the facts for the record that quashes most of the erroneous, antiquated references to Viscount Tredegar’s war history in Booth’s book. The Morgans of Tredegar House, Newport were always a family of characters in search of an author. In the years when Tredegar House was in the ownership of Newport Council, guides relied on snippits from books, gossip and their own invention to tell the story of the House and the family – but things have changed and primary research discredits some of these albeit amusing yet wild, inaccurate tales. The National Trust who now manage Tredegar House, say they are concerned about misrepresentations and have a plan to stamp them out with a “myth- busting” initiative. I welcome and applaud this. Because of space and continuity I will confine matters in the remainder of this review to addressing the primary material about Viscount Tredegar’s war using NA file WO 71/1078 and others. First, it should be noted that Tredegar only spent a few months as the “Officer Commanding Special Section (Carrier Pigeon) Service” based at Wing House, Piccadilly where he had risen to “substantive Captain, Acting Major” in a part of the Intelligence Service known as MI 14. According to the Court Martial record of April 1943 Viscount Tredegar was appointed to MI 14 in November 1942 and he left the army in May 1943. Mr Booth’s narrative gives the impression that Viscount Tredegar’s war heroics lasted much longer. However, true to form Viscount Tredegar’s war service in the Second World War was eclipsed – as it was in the Great War - with illness and incompetence .In the World War 2 Evan’s service for King and Country ended in humiliation. Before November, 1942 Evan is officially recorded in an MI5 surveillance file note in file KV 2/2869 – from 7 October 1942. This gives details of his perverted life style and the dubious personal contacts surrounding him and his Russian wife, Princess Olga. Tredegar is said to be involved “….in connection with carrier pigeons” at Wing House but the informant adds “ He is at present on sick leave” . Tredegar took up duties in MI14 at Wing House a month later. Booth’s claim is that Tredegar was “ training pigeons to carry secret messages. As a result, he [ the Viscount] was the most exotic employee for MI8....” This is wildly drawn. WO 71/1078 reveals that Tredegar had a lowly job in MI 14. Based on a scrutiny of the Unit’s War Diary file WO 165/38, for MI8, Tredegar was not serving there, although for the sake of being thorough in investigating Tredegar’s dates and postings I discovered the true position when examining file KV 4/10. A few pages there relate to the so called ‘ Falcon (Interception) Unit ’ - that Nigel West first mentioned and claimed a link to Tredegar as being a ‘ keen falconer’. Booth repeats this at page 171. Tredegar loved birds, he sought to secure legislation in Parliament against killing animals, there is no evidence of falcons at Tredegar House, I conclude he indulged in no such sport as falconry. His name does not appear in file KV4/10, one man only who stands out is the famous Flight Lieutenant Richard Melville Walker – ( incorrectly cited here at page 171 as a “Wing Commander” whose story is very well told in Ben MacIntyre’s book “ Double Cross” an infinitely better researched work about the use of pigeons, and falcons in war as well as coverage of the goodies and baddies involved in the run up to D- Day. It is also clear from file WO 71/1078 in Sir Walter Monckton’s interrogation of Sir Russell Wilkinson ( Tredegar’s doctor ) that Tredegar was a patient under Sir Edmund Spiggs at Ruthin Clinic in North Wales in the summer of 1942. This corroborates MI5’s account of Tredegar’s ill health and confirms he was only ever involved in anything within Intelligence circles from November 1942 onwards. The next silly claim by Booth is that “ Viscount Tredegar actually spent time in the Tower [of London] for an indiscretion that he always claimed came about thanks to Lady Baden-Powell. [and] ..he was arrested after talking about his work to Lady Baden-Powell over lunch and was overheard.” Tredegar was never held as a prisoner in the Tower of London, such cases of detainment are well documented and his name is absent. Indeed in a published memoir he was to be seen socialising the night before his trial with Richard Buckle (later a notable dance critic), also stationed – as was Viscount Tredegar- at Chelsea Barracks, where according to Sir Russell Wilkinson Tredegar was medically examined on his fitness to plead. Nor did Viscount Tredegar inform Lady Baden- Powell of anything secret nor is it true to say she ‘ sought to see him brought to account’. All this is tittle- tattle copied from Nigel’s West book on MI5, written some 35 years ago in 1981 before the Freedom of Information Act and the liberated release of personal and Security files. These fossilised offerings in the book are therefore more than three decades old, they have been embellished too but more to the point the material has been superceded. West’s text was also overtaken in the 1990’s by the release of the true events in Viscount Tredegar’s Court Martial evidence and our books on Lord Tredegar from 2012 onwards that have sold hundreds of copies, and are available for researchers in the legal deposit libraries. The Court Martial file shows Viscount Tredegar’s main wartime responsibility was to ensure that pigeons were bred and available for use by MI 14 including in operations abroad, the actual direction of the home and foreign operations being the responsibility not of Viscount Tredegar but of others in MI 14. Tredegar was also involved in the development of the so called ‘questionnaire’ that was put inside the message containers that were attached to the carrier pigeons. It was all otherwise work that although essential and secret was not operational. In the case of the reference in the book to “..an indiscretion….a couple of years later [ to] a Group [of Girl] Guides on a tour of his office when he showed them various items from his safe which he shouldn’t have done..” This is out of time and at variance with WO 71/1078. On the charge sheet – and Court transcript there is only a mention of Lady Baden -Powell watching a pigeon display from the rooftop of Wing House, Piccadilly on 15 March 1943 and the file records “then she went away”. The reference in the book to Tredegar revealing “far too much about his war work during a talk he gave at a hotel in London “ is also spurious. The basis of the charge for careless talk were remarks made by Tredegar to a group of pigeon breeders in Ipswich. There were two Girl Guide ‘Leaders’ Viscount Tredegar met on the same day as Lady Baden -Powell was visiting Wing House. The disclosures to these two young ladies are the subject of another charge allied with two female subalterns ( who were witnesses) but were not named in Tredegar’s charge sheet. The Guides are named in the statement by Tredegar to the Court : “I told the Girl Guide leaders [ named Nora McIntyre and Helen Margaret Isherwood ] on 15 March 1943 that the green message containers were used in connection in the pigeons bringing back information from occupied territory. Incidentally these containers were not in a safe but a drawer in Viscount Tredegar’s Office he shared with another officer who had operational duties. The Guides, their leaders and other influential ladies in the Guide movement were being given a special treat in part to encourage their fathers to consider breeding pigeons for the war effort and as a ‘thank you’. Guides were amongst those trained nationwide to rescue injured or stray pigeons ( especially those found with small canisters/containers attached to their legs– carrying messages) and to ferry these to Police Stations. The Police then contacted MI 14 for retrieval of the bird and its precious container. Turning to the references about the map in Tredegar’s office. The actual map referred to in the book can be examined in National Archives file WO71/1078 as it was an exhibit in the Court Martial. The description in the book is absurd of “ a gigantic map of Europe ( Bomber Command –style) with pins which indicated where pigeons was being dropped, which also in another account, revealed where the Dieppe landing was being planned.” The last point first. The famous raid on Dieppe of August 1942 took place several months before Tredegar joined MI14 He did meet Signalman Taylor, the famed Canadian hero of Dieppe who released two carrier pigeons with news of the ill- fated raid in which over 900 of his countrymen lost their lives and many more wounded or captured. In February 1943 Taylor was invited to join an MI14 Public Relations exercise at Wembley Stadium ( during an England v Wales soccer match) when the RAF “ released six containers [ of pigeons ] in parachutes. Once the containers had fallen to the ground, Taylor released the birds, which carried messages supporting the Wings for Victory campaign.” Otherwise for truth and history’s sake WO71/1078 records the fact in Tredegar’s own statement to the Court when he declares : “I have in my office a map showing England and part of the continent. This map has a number of coloured pins affixed to it. Those in England indicate the pigeon lofts in this country and those on the continent were affixed by a Dutchman a Mr Ray who had recently escaped Holland.” Although there are numerous other points I could make towards correcting inaccurate, contrived and far fetched statements on Tredegar and his family’s personalities and his relationship with the Great Beast, Aleister Crowley, this review is already long enough. The history of Viscount Tredegar’s war may or may not be essential to the general reader. It will I hope have some value to good researchers who follow this subject and those who expect accuracy, truth and integrity in historical works. As for Mr Booth and his publisher if they are concerned enough to present the precise history of Evan Tredegar’s war then should they have any further edition of “ Lucifer Rising…” planned including a paperback they may gain some respect by expunging the devil’s work in the current hardback edition. William Cross, FSA Scot

  2. 5 out of 5

    Oliver Garbett

    Brilliant! Loved this book, such an interesting aspect of espionage, and so well written!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Costache

  4. 4 out of 5

    James Liam Cook

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark Vent

  6. 5 out of 5

    Derek Johnston

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andy

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tommy

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Wiseman

  10. 5 out of 5

    Max

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sam

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez

  13. 4 out of 5

    Richard Carey

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tehila

  15. 4 out of 5

    Apex157x

  16. 5 out of 5

    Phil Roger

  17. 4 out of 5

    Neverdust

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Murtha

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura Brose

  21. 5 out of 5

    Baobab

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lee

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vasilis

  24. 5 out of 5

    The Celtic Rebel (Richard)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nabeel Aejaz

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura McKay

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

  28. 5 out of 5

    Colin Sinclair

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Herron

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ethereal Etiquette

  31. 5 out of 5

    William DuFour

  32. 4 out of 5

    Rūdolfs Vītoliņš

  33. 4 out of 5

    Carleen Tansey

  34. 5 out of 5

    KR

  35. 4 out of 5

    John Steiner

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