St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and its role as a recruitment centre for GCHQ

It seems likely that St Catharine’s College, Cambridge became a centre of recruitment for GCHQ as a result of the fact that Gervase Cowell (one of the most renowned intelligence officers in history who apparently penetrated senior Soviet government circles and defused the Cuban missile crisis ) and Sir Arthur Bonsall, a former head of GCHQ, were both graduates of the college.

The apparent success of Gervase Cowell in stopping worldwide nuclear annihilation (not forgetting the actions of individuals such as Francis Cammaerts DSO of the Special Operation Executive in France and the codebreakers at Bletchley park in WWII who also graduated from the college) would have led to a situation where the college was highly regarded. Given the crisis of the Cold War and the college’s apparent success in producing individuals who were particularly suitable for the intelligence services, it is reasonable to suggest that the authorities in the UK and indeed the West would have looked to that college first and foremost for recruits.

Moreover, colleges are shall we say, as many people suspect, a club for a certain group of people and I would imagine it is not implausible to state that Sir Aruthur Bonsall would look to his college for recruits foremost. This is commonly known in the UK as “Jobs for the boys” and the old school tie. Furthermore, the University of Cambridge is commonly known as the place where individuals are recruited to work for various British intelligence agencies

Curiously there was only one mention of an individual who worked for the intelligence services on wikipedia and the college website until I corrected the information on the wikipedia website. The information in relation to Gervase Cowell was then removed until I again corrected it as I was writing this article. One might imagine this lack of information, the attempt to conceal information and the utterly implausible claim by the former head of admissions at the college, Dr Oliver that there are no members of GCHQ is a very poor attempt to conceal the fact that one is invited to the college in the hope of expectation that one might work for GCHQ, a statement which was made by a former member of the CIA and NSA Kang Tchou in a meeting which I had with him in January 2015:

The reputation of the college in terms of providing individuals suitable for intelligence related work is however one which has long since past as proven by events since the 1970s which have been recounted amongst others by Jock Kane as well as Gareth Williams (who dropped out) and which will recounted by myself. They are certainly not an asset for world peace.

The following is a list of individuals who are or have been employed by British intelligence agencies and who are or who have been members of St Catharine’s College. It is by no means complete. It does not however include people who work within the FCO such as diplomats who might have been employed by MI6 under diplomatic cover. It also includes a chief scientific advisor to the British MoD who whilst he is not directly employed within either GCHQ, MI5 or MI6 will nonetheless have a high level of security clearance as part of his work in defence.

  1. Sir Arthur Bonsall, head of GCHQ, under whose tenure Jock Kane, an employee attempted to raise complaints about corruption within the organisation which is famously discussed in a) the newspaper article which was written by Duncan Campbell the journalist who uncovered the existence of GCHQ, and b) The British intelligence edition of the discussion program, After Dark.
  2. Gareth Williams. Ex employee who was murdered on the orders of British Intelligence if one examines the evidence properly as I shall outline later
  3. Sir Mark Welland, Current Master of St Catharine’s College. From April 2008 until May 2012, Sir Mark was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government Ministry of Defence. In April 2011 he was presented with the US Secretary of Defense’s Award for Exceptional Public Service. The award is one of the highest awards the Department of Defense can present to a representative of another Government. Also in April 2011 he received the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Gold Medal for Distinguished Service; the highest medal awarded by the NNSA.
  4. Dr Paul Hartle. Current (Or perhaps now former) senior person with responsibility for GCHQ within the college
  5. Dr Philip Oliver. Was the tutor of Gareth Williams and myself and who like me left without completing the degree. Dr Oliver attempted to recruit me to MI6 in August 2015.
  6. Gervais Cowell MBE. “The Spy who saved the world. After gaining a first in Russian with distinction and a college prize, he worked for GCHQ, the government agency which intercepts military and commercial communications for intelligence purposes. Cowell’s task was listening to Soviet traffic and he was recruited by MI6 in 1951 Gervase Cowell, who has died aged 73, has a place in espionage history as a member of the husband-and-wife team from MI6 which ran Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, probably the most productive spy ever recruited by the west during the cold war. Cowell and his wife Pamela, a former MI6 secretary whom he married in 1954, were sent to Moscow to “service” Penkovsky – to pass on MI6 and CIA requests, to provide him with film for his spy camera, and to collect both his photographs of top-secret Soviet documents and his written assessments of what was going on in the Kremlin.
    Since this was in 1962, at a time when the Soviet Union and the west hovered on the brink of nuclear war over the Cuban missile crisis, their assignment carried heavy responsibilities. The American authors, Jerrold L Schecter and Peter S Deriabin, who have examined both western and Soviet archives of the period, regard Penkovsky as “the spy who saved the world”. If this is true, the Cowells deserve credit for the part they played as frontline members of the joint MI6/CIA team that ran the superspy.
  7. Sir Derek Malcolm Day was born at Finchley, north London, on November 29 1927 and educated at Hurstpierpoint College, then, after two years’ National Service in the Royal Artillery, at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He joined the Foreign Service from university in 1951, the year that Burgess and Maclean defected: “I often think that that left two vacancies, otherwise I might not have got in,” he told an interviewer later. At the time there was little formal training for recruits to the service. “I was told the difference between white paper on which you wrote minutes and blue paper on which you wrote drafts but that was about all,” Day recalled. “One literally learned the trade as one went along.” After postings in Tel Aviv and Rome, Day spent a couple of years in a small Foreign Office unit which liaised with MI6, followed by a four-year posting as information officer at the British Embassy in Washington.
  8. Elmer Rees Elmer Gethin Rees, CBE, FRSE (born 1941) is a Welsh mathematician with publications in areas ranging from topology, differential geometry, algebraic geometry, linear algebra and Morse theory to robotics. He held the post of Director of the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, a partnership between Bristol University and the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ, from its creation in 2005 until 2009.
  9. Derrick James Langford, read Modern and Medieval Languages at St Catharine’s after serving in the Intelligence Corps during the Second World War at Bletchley Park and later in Austria. Following graduation, he joined the Foreign Office, working at GCHQ, Cheltenham, and travelling to the Middle East and America. He retired to Salcombe in Devon.
  10. Owen Reginald Stinchcombe. won an Exhibition to St Catharine’s from Cheltenham Grammar School and read Modern Languages and English. After graduating, he served with the code- breakers at Bletchley Park during WWII and later continued in this field with GCHQ at Eastcote, Middlesex, moving with the department to Cheltenham .
  11. Francis Charles Albert Cammaerts, DSO (16 June 1916 – 3 July 2006) was an outstanding Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent who organised French Resistance groups to sabotage German communications in occupied France.
  12. Kang Tchou, former employee of the NSA and the CIA, who was tasked by Dr Paul Hartle to “look after me” (but in actual fact to harass me) and can thus be said to have worked for GCHQ in that he was aware of its function.

One might of course conclude that the reason why the Enigma machine which was stolen from Bletchley park in the year 2000 was returned to Jeremy Paxman rather than the police was not all as mysterious as suggested. It is not improbable to suggest that the thief had some awareness of the true purpose of the college.

Perhaps the recruitment of Sir Ian Mackellen as No2 in the recent remake of the 1967 series of the prisoner is a nod to the function of the college. Furthermore, although it is probably coincidental, it is rather ironic that the symbol which is used to represent the original series is not unlike the symbol of the college.


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