Lunch With A Stranger

Title:                      Lunch With A Stranger

Author:                  David E. Walker

Walker, David E. (1957). Lunch With A Stranger. New York: Norton

LCCN:    57012335

D810.S8 W3 1957a


Date Updated:  October 14, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

In 1938, Walker, then a British journalist and foreign correspondent, was recruited to work for British intelligence. Despite the fact that he was “blown” in 1939 and had to leave Switzerland, he continued his intelligence work under the cover of newspaper correspondent in Rumania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Greece until 1941. He then joined SOE and was assigned to Lisbon as head of its oral deception unit until the summer of 1944. His job, as he put it, was to be “in charge of subversion and deceit from Portugal.” The main weapon he employed was that of “sibs” or rumors, for which he recruited a network. How successful this deception device was is uncertain. The exact impact of organized planting of rumors on the enemy during the war has yet to be determined satisfactorily. Walker claims it was valuable and cites a number of British memoirs and captured enemy intelligence records as support. Dennis Wheatley, a member of LCS, the deception group in London, wrote in 1976 that deception means such as misleading table talk by British ambassadors really counted, while spectacular operations such as MINCEMEAT were only a minor part of the entire deception effort. Other personal memoirs and books of the war have mentioned and described the use of rumors as a deception weapon, but Walker’s, short as it is on details, is unique in that it is by someone with prime responsibility for such at a particular intelligence station. There are some very general observations and remarks on the D-Day deception operations (Fortitude is mentioned), but otherwise there is not much to be learned about this subject from this personal memoir. Interesting to note is Walker’s belief that he was not a successful agent (“no successful agent writes a book”) and his commentary on his SIS training in 1938 as being “on a most prosaic plane.”

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[2]

An excellent memoir by a British journalist who spent seven years in the British secret services under his “cover” as a foreign correspondent for the London Daily Mirror, beginning in 1938. An authentic picture of British agent management and the handling of contacts with informants., For additional reports of British agents, see chapter 17, section B.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 472-473

[2] 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. 158


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One Response to Lunch With A Stranger

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

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