The Story of “ST 25”

Title:                      The Story of “ST 25”

Author:                  Paul Dukes, Sir

Dukes, Sir Paul (1938). The Story of “St25”: Adventure And Romance In The Secret Intelligence Service In Red Russia. London: Cassell

LCCN:    38015122

DK265 .D645 1938


Date Updated:  November 2, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

Dukes was the British SIS representative in the Soviet Union in 1918-1919 who operated under various disguises with the British code name ST-25. He was assigned there as the replacement for Captain Cromie, who had been killed, after relations with the Bolshevik government had been broken. This is a more complete personal narrative than the 1922 version, which was called Red Dusk in the Morrow. It is the exciting and hair-raising story of Dukes’ life of hide and seek in the USSR, of disguises and false documentation, of Soviet counterintelligence methods and close escapes, of illegal border crossings and internal controls by the Bolsheviks. According to Ronald Seth, Dukes was the only British intelligence officer to be knighted as a reward for the spying he had done. It is interesting to note that while Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart is still read and his name remembered, Dukes is almost forgotten, though both men were associated with British efforts in the USSR at that period. For another perspective on Dukes’ work and as a complement to this book, one must read Agar’s Footprints in the Sea[2] since Agar was responsible for running couriers into the USSR for Dukes. Bernard Newman called Dukes’ book “one of the most fascinating of the whole range of the literature of espionage.” Dukes scrupulously had it read and approved by the chief of SIS, which may account for its vagueness about his prewar and wartime activities in the USSR. In pointing out this fact, Seth speculated that Dukes may well have been connected with SIS before 1918. Certainly, Dukes was a natural for the assignment to the Soviet Union in 1918; he was quick-witted, security conscious, and brave, with an instinct for danger. However, it is hard to accept his version that two weeks after his last meeting with the chief of SIS, he was ordered to leave for the USSR. His performance later was that of an experienced operative.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[3]

The memoir of one of the most talented British agents operative in Russia in the early days of the Bolshevik seizure of power and the Allied intervention.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 167-168

[2] Agar, Augustus (1959). Footprints in the Sea. London: Evans Bros.

[3] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 165



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2 Responses to The Story of “ST 25”

  1. Pingback: Baltic Episode | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

  2. Pingback: Espionage and Counterespionage, Chapter 14 | Intelligence Analysis and Reporting

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