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Madeline and Geoffrey Greathead #5063 - The story of the Russian spy

Sonia the housewife who spied for Russia

Sonia the housewife who spied for Russia Madeline #6999 and Geoffrey Greathead #5063 spent their first year of married life with a Russian spy.  Years later Madeline wrote up her story and I have been privileged to receive a copy and have been given permission to publish it here.

The picture is of Sonia when Madeline knew her

In the early days of our marriage in June 1949 houses were hard to get so we answered an advert in the Oxford Mail for a flat to let. Having got it we moved in with Mr. & Mrs. Beurton as we new them by that name then. It was at The Firs a farmhouse in Great Rollright a small village a few miles from Chipping Norton. Mrs. Beurton told us that she was a German Jew her family were early refugees who left Germany to get away from Hitler. Her father was welcomed as a distinguished Economist. Len her husband was English born at Welling City Garden London
When we had settled in Ruth asked if I would like to help her with some housework as she was busy typing, she said she was doing some translating for the government. (But never said which government?). Ruth typed most days but you never found any scraps of paper, everyday it was burnt in the yard and was never left until it was all gone. We were never allowed into the cellar where later we learned that the radio was kept.  
After a time we began to feel suspicious as there was quite a few callers, she would ask me if I minded looking after her children Peter and Nina while she went to London (which she did quite often) and she would leave a list of names saying “if any of these men called to let them in and leave them to make themselves at home”
One day Ruth asked me if I would help her with some pressing as she was returning to Germany the next day to claim her father’s estate, she took Nina and Peter with her Len could not go as he had a broken leg, he followed later. We did not stay too many weeks longer as we managed to rent a house in Chipping Norton.
That was in 1950 and we had lived there for just over a year.
We would talk about our suspicions but folk would look at you as though it was all made up, but we used to joke with our girls that we used to live with a spy.

Some years later a friend sent us a cutting out of The Sunday Times it said The Housewife Who Spied For Russia and we were amazed to see Ruth and Lens picture also her Father and brother all spies. and although it said she lived in the Cotswold it didn’t say where. I wrote to the paper asking if she had lived at the Firs in Great Rollright and did she have sons Michael Peter and a daughter Nina. They replied that it must be the same as you wouldn’t get two backgrounds so alike but at that time could offer no proof. So that was that for a time, until one Sunday afternoon we had a visit from a man who said he was Chapman Pinchers the writers son and that he was doing some research for his father for a book he was writing Too Secret Too Long. He explained that after so many years the government release information, at last we were to know that our suspicions were right. Ruth as we knew her was a top spymaster codename Sonia or Sonja as sometimes spelt. She received the Order of the Red Banner twice and rose to be a Colonel.

Before coming to England she worked as a spy in Poland then China and in 1938 Switzerland where she tried to recruit British veterans of the Spanish civil war. She was successful in two Alexander Foote and Len Beurton. It was suggested by Moscow that she marry one of them to obtain a British passport and she chose Len, she had a son Peter with him. When they came to England Len went into the R.A.F. where he was able to get plans of different plane parts which was copied and then transmitted to Moscow.

Ruth played the part of a harassed mother and housewife while her husband was in the forces, while in fact she radioed a lot of top secret information of Military, Technical and Political nature to Moscow. She penetrated the British War Cabinet The R.A.F. and American Office of Strategic Services. She transmitted the Secrets of the Atomic bomb to Moscow it was passed to her by Klaus Fuchs who worked at Harwell he was later imprisoned for 9 years
Ruth’s main agent in Britain was her brother other agents included her husband her father who reported his conversations with Sir Stafford Cripps who was in the war cabinet, war correspondents in London who gave her valuable military information
Ruth’s cover was perfect she smuggled radio parts in her baby’s teddy bear and once convinced police that her transmitter was her son’s toy.
Ruth’s career ended when Alexander Foote an agent she had recruited for the KGB re-defected to the West.
When MI5 agents finally questioned her she convinced them that she was a loyal British subject

Her main role was to service and transmit messages from a mole inside MI5 the man experts believe to have been Sir Roger Hollis. Her visit from MI5 agents resulted in no action being taken The house was never searched and Roger Hollis is believed to have told agents to leave it alone?

I have been interviewed for some news programs and also newspapers and even by a German TV crew.

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We learnt many things from the Chapman’s also from Jeff Meade who filmed and interviewed me. 
Ruth died in July 2000 aged 93 She did show me how to make ice cream and sponge cakes.  
Sonia died on 7 July 2000 in Berlin, she was 93.  She was survived by her three children, five grandchildren and three sisters as was recorded in the New York Times of 23 July 2000