The Garbo network

Juan Pujol has not written about the details of his activity as one of the very few double agents that came to have Britain during World War II – at no time were more than nineteen – but we know them, at least in part, for the story of Tommy Harris, with whom he worked, and by other authors who investigated the subject.

At the beginning the key name of Juan Pujol was Bovril, for a popular meat concentrate, but he was soon renamed Garbo for considering him the best actor in the world.

Juan Pujol had begun to create his own network of imaginary secret agents in Lisbon. He started with a KLM pilot, followed by another who replaced the first one when necessary and added three others operating throughout England based in Glasgow, Liverpool and the western region.

With the help of Tommy Harris and MI5, the British intelligence service for which he worked, the network grew, acquiring more coverage and providing more information.

The Garbo network
The 27 imaginary agents of Garbo.

Different jobs y nationalities

The first creation of this collaboration was the agent J (3) who occupied an important position in the Ministry of Information and on which he informed the Germans for the first time on May 16, 1942.

He was followed by Chamillus, a Gibraltarian waiter who worked in a secret military unit and was manifestly anti-British because, like the rest of the civilian population, he had been evacuated from the Rock.

The network of Garbo came to have twenty-seven agents totally imaginary but completely credible for the Germans.

They had different nationalities (English, Welsh, Americans, Indians) and with different occupations in Britain, Canada and Asia.

Life and death

To be credible their creators often reported on their life, character, ideology and personality, while at other times they hardly offered information.

They came to kill some of their agents and to publish the announcement of his funeral in a newspaper, including the detail of asking that flowers not be sent. The story worked so well that the Germans sent money for their widow, who was eventually also incorporated into the imaginary network.

So thanks to this completely false and non-existent network Garbo gained the absolute confidence of the Germans.