Paul Dukes

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Sir Paul Dukes
Paul Henry Dukes

10 February 1889
Died27 August 1967 (aged 78)
Cape Town, South Africa
Other namesThe Man with a Hundred Faces
  • (m. 1922; div. 1929)
  • Diana Fitzgerald
    (m. 1959)
Espionage activity
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
White Movement
Service branchSecret Intelligence Service.
OperationsOperation Kronstadt

Sir Paul Henry Dukes KBE (10 February 1889 – 27 August 1967) was a British MI6 officer and author.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

Paul Henry Dukes was born the third of five children on 10 February 1889 in Bridgwater, Somerset, England. He was the son of the Congregationalist clergyman, Rev. Edwin Joshua Dukes (1847-1930), of Kingsland, London, and his wife, the former Edith Mary Pope (1863-1898), of Sandford, Devon. Edith was an academically gifted woman, the daughter of a schoolteacher, who obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree by correspondence course at the age of 20. In 1884, she married Edwin, who had returned from missionary work in China. She died from a disease of the thyroid gland, and in 1907, Edwin remarried to a 40-year-old widow named Harriet Rouse.[2]

Paul's siblings included the playwright Ashley Dukes (1885-1959) and the renowned physician Cuthbert Dukes (1890-1977). He had an elder sister, Irene Catherine Dukes (1887-1950), who led a life plagued by illness, and yet another, younger brother, Marcus Braden Dukes (1893-1936), who died in Kuala Lumpur while working as a government official. His sister-in-law was the renowned ballet dancer Marie Rambert. Paul Dukes was also the great-uncle of poet Aidan Andrew Dun, who is the grandson of his brother Ashley.[2]

Paul was educated at Caterham School before going on to pursue a career in music at the Petrograd Conservatoire in Russia.[2]


As a young man he took a position as a language teacher in Riga, Latvia. He later moved to St. Petersburg, having been recruited personally by Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first "C" of MI6 (SIS), to act as a secret agent in Imperial Russia, relying on his fluency in the Russian language. At the time, he was employed at the Petrograd Conservatoire as a concert pianist and deputy conductor to Albert Coates. In his new capacity as sole British agent in Russia, he set up elaborate plans to help prominent White Russians escape from the Gulag and smuggled hundreds of them into Finland.[3]

Known as the "Man of a Hundred Faces," Dukes continued his use of disguises, which aided him in assuming a number of identities and gained him access to numerous Bolshevik organizations. He successfully infiltrated the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Comintern, and even the political police, or CHEKA. Dukes also learned of the inner workings of the Politburo, and passed the information to British intelligence.[4]

He returned to Britain a distinguished hero, and in 1920 was knighted by King George V, who called Dukes the "greatest of all soldiers." To this day, Dukes is the only person knighted based entirely on his exploits in espionage.

He briefly returned to active service in 1939, helping to locate a prominent Czech businessman who had disappeared after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. He referred to the businessman as Alfred Obry in his later book about the search, entitled An Epic of the Gestapo. According to A History of the British Secret Service (1969), "Paul Dukes was always a meticulous agent in paying attention to detail. He combed all the Czech papers and in one found this paragraph: 'A thirteen-year-old boy found on the railway line to Tuschkau the completely unrecognizable corpse of a man. The body was mutilated beyond recognition and the right hand was missing. The police pronounced a verdict of suicide. From papers found on the body it appeared the person was Friedrich Sweiger, a tailor of Prague.' Dukes immediately suspected Sweiger was in fact Obry, especially since this was the route Obry was to have taken on his escape. He built up a strong case against the Gestapo of murdering Obry and not only demanded exhumation of the body but succeeded in persuading the Germans to do this. The corpse was undoubtedly that of Obry."[5]

Dukes was also a leading figure in introducing yoga to the Western World.


His book Red Dusk and the Morrow chronicles the rise and fall of Bolshevism and he toured the world extensively giving lectures pertaining to this subject.[6] Dukes' other books are listed below.

Personal life[edit]

In 1922,[2] Dukes was first married to Margaret Stuyvesant Rutherfurd (1891–1976), former wife of Ogden Livingston Mills, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.[7][2] Margaret was the daughter of Anne Harriman, the second wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt, and her second husband, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, Jr., son of the astronomer Lewis Morris Rutherfurd.[8] They divorced in 1929,[9] and Dukes later married Diana Fitzgerald in 1959.[1]

He died on 27 August 1967 in Cape Town, South Africa, aged 78.[1]



  1. ^ a b c "SIR PAUL DUKES, A SECRET AGENT; Briton Who Spied in Russia in World War I Dies at 78". The New York Times. 28 August 1967. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "MRS. OGDEN L. MILLS WEDS SIR PAUL DUKES; Daughter of Mrs. W.K. Vanderbilt Is Secret Bride of Ex-British War Spy in Russia. COUPLE SAILED LAST FRIDAY Both Had Been Members of Omnipotent Oom's Mystic Colony in Nyack". The New York Times. 18 October 1922. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  3. ^ "DUKES SEES WANE OF BOLSHEVIST SWAY; Former British Agent Says Rus- sian Rulers Are in Morass". The New York Times. 1 April 1923. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  4. ^ Dukes, Sir Paul (17 July 1921). "SOVIETISM'S EFFECT ON RUSSIA'S YOUNG; What the Demoralization of Education Under the New Regime Has Done. 'SOCIAL CALAMITY' IN CITIES Immorality and Crime Fostered by a System Which Abolishes Authority--Effort to Save Refugees". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  5. ^ Deacon, Richard (1969). A history of the British secret service. London: Muller. p. 264. ISBN 0-584-10127-9. OCLC 83441.
  6. ^ "SAYS SOVIET LOST 500,000; Briton Estimates Dead Alone at 200,000 in Finnish Campaign". The New York Times. 29 February 1940. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  7. ^ Aitken, William Benford (1912). Distinguished Families in America, Descended from Wilhelmus Beekman and Jan Thomasse Van Dyke. Knickerbocker Press. p. 48. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  8. ^ "Mrs. M. S. Rutherfurd Wed To F. L. Sprague" (PDF), The New York Times, New York City, 27 November 1939. Margaret was the daughter of Anne Harriman, the second wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt, and her second husband, Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, son of the astronomer Lewis Morris Rutherfurd. After divorcing Dukes, Margaret Rutherfurd successively married Charles Michel Joachim Napoléon, Prince Murat, and Frederick Leybourne Sprague
  9. ^ "LADY DUKES WINS DIVORCE.; Desertion Charge Is Not Amplified in Paris Court's Announcement". The New York Times. 20 January 1929. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  • Operation Kronstadt by Harry Ferguson, Hutchinson, 2008
  • Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot by Giles Milton, Sceptre, 2013. ISBN 978 1 444 73702 8

Further reading[edit]

  • Andrew, Christopher (1986). Her Majesty's Secret Service. The Making of the British Intelligence Community. New York: Viking.
  • Smith, Michael (2010). Six: A History of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service. Murder and Mayhem 1909–1939, London: Dialogue, ISBN 978-1-906447-00-7

External links[edit]