The spy who loved me: Charlotte Philby returns to Moscow in search of her grandfather Kim Philby
The shiny black 4x4 rumbles slowly through the graveyard. Heavy blankets of snow have settled across the plains of Moscow, and either side of our track, the ground is a brilliant white. The two men in the front seat – my guards of honour – peer out in silence, squinting their eyes against the sunlight as it pours in through the canopy of trees above.
Finally the car grinds to a halt, and the driver, catching my eye in his rear-view mirror, gives a nod. Without a word, he steps out in his long dark trench coat and buffed-leather shoes, opening the back door for me to follow. As the icy breeze hits our cheeks, he points towards a raised tomb set forward slightly from the rest: "Yeltsin's mama," he explains. We walk on in silence; the others hold back, bowing their heads, as I take my place in front of another plot a few feet away.
This is the first time I've ever stood at the foot of my grandfather's grave, but I know it instantly. Many times I've pored over images of the tall, polished tombstone with the Cyrillic script, and the image of his face etched on its surface, in newspaper cuttings and family photos. So, too, have I seen images of his cold body – decorated with medals – in an open coffin, armed guards at either side, as the lavish funeral procession made its way through Kuntsevo Cemetery to this very spot.
It was seeing those photos as a six-year-old child which helped first alert me to the fact that there was something a bit different about grandpa Kimsky. Today, standing at last at his final resting place, surrounded by ex-prime ministers and national heroes in an isolated cemetery on the outskirts of Moscow, with two perfect strangers looming behind me, I'm once again reminded of quite how different he was.
As well as being my grandfather – whom I remember from childhood trips to Russia as a funny old man with a beaming smile, who dressed almost exclusively in white vests and braces – Kim Philby, to this day, remains one of the most significant double agents in modern history. In 1963, having been exposed in Britain as the notorious "Third Man" in the Cambridge Spy Ring, Kim fled to Moscow, never again to set foot from behind the Iron Curtain.
In the intervening years, there have been endless attempts to understand how this gregarious, public-school educated English chap and his fellow Cambridge spies – Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross – could have been persuaded to betray their country, and dupe their family and their friends. And at every turn, the story is slightly different, the answer ever less clear: the more his character has come under scrutiny, the more elusive he has become.
Now, in an attempt to impose some order on my own understanding of my grandfather, to clarify the kaleidoscopic image of him which has formed in my mind, I have returned for the first time as an adult to the country where, in political exile, he lived out the last 25 years of his life.
it's my third day in Russia. Mid-morning, wrapped against the cold in Kim's old bear hat and a matching coat (it's too cold here for animal rights), I set off from my hotel with a map and enough money for the metro and taxi I'll need to take me from the station to the cemetery off the Mozhaisk highway.
Two hours later, wind-battered and almost frozen solid, I finally arrive at the gates of the busy cemetery, where, hoping the guard might be able to point me in the right direction, I scrawl down my grandfather's name and the word "Communist" on an old tissue, and flash my driving licence.
When it's finally made clear that I've come from England to visit the grave of my grandfather, Kim Philby, a Soviet agent who was given a hero's burial somewhere on this land in the late 1980s, the old security man at the gate starts shouting, and shoos me through a private door, into the office where he regales the story to a tall man in a dark trench coat – referred to as "boss" – who in turn ushers me outside towards a brand new Range Rover with blackened windows.
Seconds later, we're hurtling at break-neck speed out of the cemetery, along the motorway, the driver making various calls en route, each consisting of just a few short sentences, before turning into a different burial ground up the road, manned with armed guards. At the sight of our car, the men leap from their posts, saluting and buzzing the electric gates; one jumps into the front seat and calls out instructions as we roll off again.
Five minutes later, I'm watching the shadow of a tall, leafless tree falling against the snow on the path in front of my grandfather's tombstone, wondering who it was who'd been here in the past few hours and placed a bunch of brightly coloured flowers at the foot of his grave.
there are things I know for certain about my grandfather. The basic facts, after all, are well-documented. Kim was won over by the Communist cause while a student at Cambridge University, and upon graduation in 1933, travelled to Vienna to serve the international Communist organisation Comintern – which was illegal in Austria – with £100 in his pocket given to him by his father, St John, who was also a Cambridge graduate.
St John, who had joined the British Foreign Service in 1917, when his only son was five years old, was also a non-conformist. An Indian Civil Service officer turned Arabist and explorer, he spent 20 years travelling across the desert on camelback charting Saudi's unexplored Empty Quarter, crossing paths with Lawrence of Arabia, and eventually marrying a slave-girl given to him by his friend King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia, to whom he spent many years as personal advisor. Feeling a strong dissatisfaction with British policy in the Middle East, Kim's father resigned from the Foreign Service in 1930, converting to Islam and taking the name Hajj Abdullah.
It was a few years after this, in 1933, that Kim went to Vienna. There, he volunteered for the refugee committee, fundraising, secretly writing and disseminating propaganda, raising funds and distributing clothes and money to those who'd escaped Fascist Germany. He married Litzi Friedman, a fellow activist and an Austrian Jew, to help her escape persecution. The pair returned to England in May and, by this point already an appointed Soviet agent, Kim found work as a foreign correspondent. He travelled extensively, while also making his way up the ranks of the British intelligence services – by 1944, Kim was appointed head of a newly formed anti-Soviet section, and was later sent to Washington where, as the top Secret Intelligence Service representative, he worked for several years in liaison with the CIA and FBI. And all along he was handing information straight back into the hands of the Russians.
Kim went to great efforts upon his return to England to cover the traces of his Communist background – joining the Anglo-German fellowship in 1934, and editing its pro-Hitler magazine; making repeated visits to Berlin for talks with the German propaganda ministry; even being personally presented with the Red Cross of Military Merit award by Franco in 1938. Slowly but surely, he was turning himself into one of the most cunning and treacherous double agents of all time.
Agent "Stanley", as he was known, was ruthless without doubt. According to a recent piece in the Daily Telegraph: "For years Philby had sabotaged Allied missions behind the Iron Curtain and had calculatedly sent dozens of agents to their deaths." Most famously, he was almost certainly responsible for the tip-off which led to the deaths of the first British-sponsored Albanians who parachuted in to remove Enver Hoxha's Communist regime. Understandably, as a consequence, he is loathed by many. Next to articles about him online, readers routinely describe him as "evil" and "a cancer on society". Just five years ago, my mum and I were refused service in a shop in Arizona on account of the name on our credit cards.
But as the author Graham Greene – my grandfather's close friend and a fellow British intelligence officer, who worked under him at MI6 – wrote in the introduction to Kim's autobiography, My Silent War: "The end, of course, in his eyes is held to justify the means, but this is a view taken, perhaps less openly, by most men involved in politics, if we are to judge them by their actions, whether the politician be a Disraeli or a Wilson.
"'He betrayed his country' – yes, perhaps he did," Greene continues, "but who among us has not committed treason to something or someone more important than a country? In Philby's own eyes he was working for the shape of things to come from which his country would benefit."
In his lifetime, Kim married four times, and had five children by his second wife Aileen Furse. His eldest son was my father, John – who was himself a 19-year-old art student in 1963 when he first learnt of Kim's espionage; stepping off a ferry on the Isle of Wight, he was met by a billboard stating that Kim was a wanted man. It had been a long time coming. In 1951, Kim tipped off his fellow Cambridge spy Donald Maclean that Britain had caught wind of Maclean's spying activities and a warrant had been issued for his arrest. When Burgess and Maclean fled to Moscow, avoiding capture, Kim was the chief suspect for having given them the heads-up. But at the famous "Secret Trial" in 1952, he convinced his MI5 interrogator Buster Milmo that he was not a Soviet agent. He achieved the deception by employing his occasional stutter, so as to buy himself time to think before telling another bare-faced lie. In 1955, Harold Macmillan, then Foreign Secretary, issued a statement confirming that there was no evidence that Kim Philby was a Soviet agent. Macmillan was, of course, Prime Minister by 1962, when the Soviet double agent George Blake was caught, and Kim could no longer hide the truth.
those are the facts – but there are plenty of question marks too. And it is to these that my mind turns as I make my way from my hotel, across Red Square, the following day towards Kim's flat, following the route marked out in pencil on a rather vague map drawn up from the combined memories of various family members, none of whom has been here in more than 20 years.
Despite the number of times we visited Kim in Moscow, no one in the family was ever allowed to have his address. In those days, correspondence had to be sent to a PO Box; and in his reply, Kim would sign off under a special code name, "Panina" (a combination of Pa and Nina, the alias used for Kim's wife). And whenever we went to stay, we'd be picked up from the airport and driven to his flat via a purposefully circuitous route in a KGB car so that no one could quite remember how we got there.
It was, in fact, those journeys to Kim's flat which form some of my strongest early memories: flying down the third lane of the motorway in an unmarked car. Occasionally, the driver would draw a curtain around the inside of the windows, and attach a flashing blue light to the roof before setting off. If we were really lucky, sometimes – and this was still the 1980s – there'd be a distant ringing, and from a compartment near the gear stick, our escort would pull out a telephone attached to a spiral cord, which he'd talk into in a low voice, repeating the same two words, "horosho" and "da", again and again before hanging up.
In any case, even if an address had been known for grandpa, it may not have been much use in 2010. Many of the street names have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But no matter; allowing myself plenty of time to get lost, I'm soon heading towards the apartment where my grandfather lived out the final 25 years of his life under the watchful eye of Moscow – and where his widow Rufa is currently preparing an enormous spread for our afternoon tea.
En route, I pass some of Kim's old haunts, and heeding his advice to visitors – "If you can no longer feel your nose, go inside" – stop off briefly for coffee at that famous Soviet hangout the Hotel Metropole. Entering through the front doors and under a rickety, freestanding metal detector, it's like walking through a time-warp.
In a secluded area next to the domed restaurant (one of Kim's favourites), the dimly lit bar is serviced by grey-skinned waiters; faux-marble columns run between clusters of heavy red and gold chairs, frequented by groups of men in out-dated suits, briefcases and thick-rimmed glasses, knocking back glasses of vodka, under a thick circle of cigarette smoke. Everything has seen better days.
Today, Moscow's main strip, Tverskaya Ryad – which I remember from childhood holidays as a drab grey stretch clotted with queues of people who looked like they didn't know what they were waiting for (though it was usually oranges or ice cream) – is barely recognisable: a knot of designer stores and mobile-phone shops, interspersed with garish billboards hanging between the buildings above the busy main road.
The central post office, where Kim would come every morning to pick up his mail and a stack of British and American newspapers, stands halfway up on the left. Inside, the atrium leading to the main sorting office and collection point is now dotted with stalls selling electronic goods, pricey mobile-phone accessories and flowers at £3 a stem. There are two more mobile-phone shops inside the post-office building, and on the steps, a babushka swathed in heavy furs and surrounded by plastic bags counts out a handful of pennies.
I'm reminded of a brief phone conversation I had earlier this morning with one of Kim's old KGB comrades, whom I'd been in contact with during the course of my research for this article, who told me that a gang of five or six of Kim's former colleagues still meet up every month and raise a toast in his honour. "No doubt your grandfather would have disapproved of the sharp contrasts in present-day Russia," he said.
The extent of these contrasts can be seen by comparing two articles appearing on consecutive days in the Moscow Times. The first reports that Russia ranks 143rd in a list of the world's freest economies, "just one spot higher than countries with 'repressed' economies like Vietnam, Ecuador, Belarus and Ukraine", while the next tells how oligarch Roman Abramovich, whose wealth is valued at £7 billion, has just snapped up 35 notable artworks to decorate his 560ft private yacht.
Just beyond the crossroads which dominates Pushkin Square – the spot where it's said dissidents would meet, acknowledging each other by removing their hats – is the former site of the Hotel Minsk (like much of the city, now under a lengthy reconstruction process), where Kim first met the journalist Murray Sayle in 1967. Having secured Kim's first meeting with the Western press since his arrival in Moscow, Sayle says he finds him "a courteous man [who] smiles a great deal, and his well-cut grey hair and ruddy complexion suggests vitality and enjoyment of life".
The reporter adds that Kim demonstrated an "iron head" for drink during the course of their subsequent meetings, which took place over a series of long, boozy meals: "I could detect no change in his alertness or joviality as the waiter arrived with relays of 300 grams of vodka or 600 grams of Armenian brandy." Like my father, Kim had amazing stamina for drink; the pair of them would knock it back over games of chess at the flat in Moscow (while I ran around wreaking havoc in the living room) and on the long trips to Siberia and Bulgaria they took together. But neither was entirely impervious. On one occasion, when dropping us off at the airport, Kim and my dad were so sloshed they were shoved into a cupboard under the stairs with a bottle of vodka by staff to keep them quiet, while the British ambassador ambled around the main terminal building waiting for the same flight to London.
When I asked my dad, shortly before he died late last year, how he'd felt about his own father's betrayal, he told me exactly what Kim had told Sayle during that interview in 1963: "To betray, you must first belong." And as Kim said himself: "I never belonged." My dad always had great respect for my grandfather; he told me that even when he was a child, he always knew he was up to something – he just didn't know what. The pair got on well in those later years – they were very similar in many ways – and my father said he never felt any resentment, not even when he unfairly came under fire by virtue of his name.
At one stage, in the programme for his play Single Spies, the writer Alan Bennett printed a claim that my dad – John – had turned up late to his own father's funeral, straight from the airport, and stood swaying behind a gravestone clutching bags of booze. In fact, he had arrived in Moscow days earlier, and can be seen on film standing just back from his father's coffin. When Bennett was pulled up on the matter, he wrote my father a note explaining that he stood by what he'd said as the information had come from a reliable source – a BBC journalist. After reading it briefly, my dad had simply shrugged and tossed the note in the bin. He wasn't one to care what others thought: "Never be boring, and don't be afraid of offending people" was one of the last things he told me before he died.
While I was researching this article, Bennett – also the author of An Englishman Abroad, in which he imagines Guy Burgess's final years in Moscow: lonely, pathetic and wholly unfulfilled – responded to a shorter opinion piece I wrote for this paper last July in which I defended my grandfather's decision not to apologise publicly for his actions. In his diary for the London Review of Books, Bennett wrote: "Philby does seem to have been responsible for the betrayal and presumed torture and death of a network of agents in a way that's never been proved of Blunt. What counted though against Blunt, and Burgess too, was that they weren't journo-friendly. Journalists look after their own and Philby masqueraded as a devil-may-care drunken newspaperman and so was treated more indulgently by those in his profession."
Bennett concludes: "Charlotte Philby thinks her grandfather was more honest, but it's a saloon-bar honesty. Philby was a chap. 'Let's have another drink on it, old man.' Good old Kim." I would like to have drawn Bennett further on his comments, but unfortunately, when I contacted his agent to request a meeting, my invitation was declined.
i turn left, according to my map, away from Kim's local grocery, where – a creature of habit – he'd collect his daily supply of bread and whatever fruit and vegetables were available. He liked the fact that you could only buy seasonal goods in Moscow, but asked family members to bring out the non-perishables he loved and couldn't get there – marmalade, Marmite and Worcestershire sauce.
To the very end, as I find out when I set foot into his flat, Kim surrounded himself with things pertaining to British culture and life on the other side of the Iron Curtain: from PG Wodehouse novels to the Indian spices he used for his legendary curries.
For some, details like this have fuelled the question of whether – arriving for the first time ever in the country for which he'd sacrificed everything, which was supposed to represent everything he'd fought for, and where he would live out the rest of his days in exile – he became disillusioned and embittered, and longed instead for the land he'd betrayed.
But I don't think my grandfather ever questioned a single decision he made. For one thing, like all the men in the Philby family, he was bloody-minded. But more importantly, every decision he made was done consciously. Kim sacrificed everything he had: he risked his life and the lives of others, he betrayed his colleagues and duped his family and friends (even spying on his own father at one stage, as will be explained shortly) because he genuinely believed – from the point when he joined the movement and set his sights against the seemingly irrepressible rise of Fascism – that Communism was a cause worth holding dear above all else.
Of course, he made bold and hugely controversial decisions, some of which had fatal consequences, but he didn't do so lightly. As Kim told my mother when she asked him if he felt any remorse, he believed he was a soldier, fighting a bloody war in the bloodiest century in history. And if a soldier is fighting for a cause he believes in, which he believes is worth sacrificing single human lives for, but then in the end his side loses the war, does that mean that he was wrong to have stood up and fought in the first place?
Kim even duped his own children, and left them behind when he fled to Moscow. Was that a selfish decision? Perhaps. But again, it was justifiable in his mind. In his own words: "I am really two people. I am a private person and a political person. Of course, if there is a conflict, the political person comes first."
in 1983, a month or so after my parents took me as a baby to meet him for the first time, Kim sent a copy of Lenin's On the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, with a long, beautifully written letter to my maternal grandfather, whom he was unlikely ever to meet. Inside he wrote: "Herewith a few extracts from our bible. Like your own Holy Writ, it is open to many different (and often conflicting) interpretations, according to the tastes and prejudices of the reader."
In the accompanying letter, he adds: "The difficulty is that [Lenin] was always writing at white-heat on burning questions of the day (or even hour); and naturally his strategy and tactics changed to meet changing circumstances ... My Russian edition has 55 large volumes, so there is ample room for selective quotation and even spurious interpolation. Who is going to check 55 volumes for the odd sentence? Doubtless Jeremiah faced similar problems."
Kim was not naïve; he knew that his ideal, like any other, was susceptible to corruption. But that didn't mean the ideal itself was corrupt or not worth pursuing. Perhaps he hadn't always been right. As Kim's former KGB colleague also reiterated on the phone: "Kim was a Communist idealist. He believed in freedom of speech and thought that Stalinism and all that were temporary" – and obviously, the outcome proved otherwise.
So, perhaps, by the time he died, a year before the fall of the Berlin Wall – and knowing what he must have known by then – he did feel disappointed. But even then, having made calculated decisions based on deeply-felt political ideals, I still don't think he would have done things any differently.
kim's flat is several floors up, in an apartment block not far from Pushkin Square, marked out from the rest by a tiny balcony. Today, this pedestrianised street is only accessible by a coded gate, and the façade of the building has been tarted up almost beyond recognition. Inside, however, the lift is as temperamental as it ever was, so I make the journey to his flat by foot, instantly recognising the strange studded-leather front door as I emerge from the stairwell.
The last time I arrived at this flat, aged six, it was just a few days after Kim's death, and my parents and I were met by a sea of swollen eyes. During our stay, more mourners piled in, their cries and moans ricocheting off the walls. Today, as Kim's widow greets me at the door, offering me a pair of woollen slippers, the atmosphere is quiet and calm.
Grandpa's flat is almost exactly as he left it: "After Kim left, I didn't want to change anything," Rufa says. "It is an old-fashioned home, not like the homes of new Russia, where everything is modern and imported." She cannot imagine what Kim would have made of this new world, where a minority have benefited so enormously while many – outside the capital, the vast majority – live in abject poverty with little support from the state.
In the living room, the same furs hang above the sofa, alongside a pair of Afghan guns – a gift from the KGB colleague whom I spoke to earlier. Kim's chair, on which no one else, under any circumstances, was ever allowed to sit while he was alive – and for many years thereafter, Rufa adds – remains just where it was, at the head of a low table.
The gramophone, in front of which Kim would take a seat to listen to the World Service at 7pm every evening with a cup of coffee, makes a tremendous groan as it comes to life, but it's still very much in working nick. The kitchen where he would ritualistically make his daily breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast (another English habit he never broke), and spent hours cooking every evening, is now rich with the smell of the savoury pancakes Rufa is preparing for our five-hour feast.
But the place where Kim's presence looms largest from every corner is in his study. Here, surrounded by an extensive library, he would sit for hours. The only change I can note is a computer on his desk where an old type-writer once stood. The view from one of the windows is notably different, too. Standing on the balcony, you can see the same school playground, where children in heavy ski jackets are involved in a timeless game – launching themselves from the top of a flight of concrete stairs to the ground below, cushioned with thick blankets of snow. But out of a smaller window, in front of the door, the view of Moscow is interrupted by a throbbing neon Samsung advert. Later, I notice the same sign above a statue of Lenin near the former KGB headquarters.
Kim's library, which he had shipped over soon after he emerged in the Soviet Union, is testimony to his complexities and to his contradictions: across four walls of bookshelves, Russian classics and key Communist texts stand side by side with Raymond Chandler and PG Wodehouse novels; there are 19 volumes of Cambridge Modern History and a Sherlock Holmes scrapbook. One can hardly overlook the irony of a man who so resolutely betrayed his country, surrounding himself in his Soviet apartment with British condiments, newspapers and light-hearted English classics.
As previously noted, this has been taken as a sign – along with his heavy drinking – that in the end, Kim was left a broken man, disillusioned and dejected, having arrived in Moscow expecting to be given important assignments and a high-ranking role in the KGB, only to be left with very little to do, and plied with booze to keep him compliant. Indeed, when the leading Russian writer Genrikh Borovik was given access to Kim's unseen KGB file in 1994 – six years after his death – the extent to which the Russians mistrusted him became clear.
Philby was recruited, it reveals, because it was mistakenly believed that his father, St John, was a British intelligence officer. One of the first tasks he was given was to spy on his own father, which he did, without question – digging up very little, because, though the Russians failed to believe it, there was nothing to dig up.
Over the years he did everything that was asked of him: he gave everything he had to the cause, and yet still Moscow was deeply suspicious of a man who has been described as their finest and most loyal servant.
Discussing the reasons for this in the introduction to Borovik's book, The Philby Files, the journalist and biographer Phillip Knightley – who interviewed my grandfather at length during his final years in Moscow – writes: "Could the British intelligence service really be run by such fools that no one had noticed that precious information was leaking to Moscow? ... that Philby, with his Communist views in Vienna and his Austrian Communist wife, had been recruited for SIS and had sailed through its vetting procedures?"
Kim's case was not helped by the fact that several of his Soviet controllers – including "Mar", the man who recruited him – had later been executed as "enemies of the people". But above all, the problem was that Kim's intelligence was too good, and – to their detriment – intelligence services are geared to believe that the better information is, the more it should be questioned.
But so it was. In the end – despite having been what Allen Dulles (de facto head of the CIA from 1953 to 1961) once reluctantly described as "the best spy Russia ever had" – Kim was watched over as much as looked after by his masters, and he was not used to his full potential. And perhaps he felt that – he certainly resented having to be escorted pretty much wherever he went for his first years in Moscow, as Rufa attests. But whether that came with any sense of self-pity is something else entirely.
For one thing, Kim's life behind the Iron Curtain wasn't bad. He had friends, a wife; he indulged himself in a culture he loved – the concerts, the ballet, the galleries; he travelled to Cuba, East Berlin, around the Soviet Union, and spent weekends at his beloved dacha.
For another, he'd made his bed. He always knew what he was risking – his family, his friends, his reputation – and he made his choices accordingly. He did all he could do for a cause he believed in: what was there to regret? As for the drinking, Kim never needed an excuse to crack open a bottle; he was a drinker in good times and in bad.
Looking around Kim's study now, past the proud photo of him with the local ice-hockey team, below one of his father and another of various key Soviet politicians shaking hands, my eye is drawn to a large black-and-white print of Che Guevara, which looks out from above one of the bookshelves in the far right-hand corner, like an all-seeing eye. I remember Kim's words: "I have followed exactly the same line the whole of my adult life. The fight against Fascism and the fight against imperialism were fundamentally the same fight."
Was he wrong to have continued on the Communist path once so many others had stepped off? To see through to the end what he started? Was he lamentable for still believing that a Communist state could ultimately exist, free from the corruption which plagues all systems, to the benefit of a fair, just society? Whatever you believe, Kim felt history would prove him right: "I'll be remembered as a good man," he told my mum just two years before his death. Perhaps it's too early to judge; after all, Communism, according to its followers, is the final epoch, inevitable only once all other systems have eaten themselves – which, of course, they will.
As I step in from the balcony, my eyes settle on a single point. In the middle of the bookcase behind his desk, above his empty chair, just where Kim's head would have rested, a single book looms out, cover first. As I walk towards it, the title of the Anthony Trollope novel jumps out at me: He Knew He Was Right.
Kim Philby: A timeline
1912 Harold Adrian Russell 'Kim' Philby is born on 1 January in Amballa, India, the son of Dora and St John.
1925 Attends Westminster School in London.
1929 Enters Trinity College, Cambridge. Joins Cambridge University Socialist Society. Meets Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross.
1933 Leaves Cambridge a convinced Communist. Heads to Vienna to serve the movement there.
1934 Marries Communist Jew Litzi Friedman. Back in England, begins to cover up his past, joining the Anglo-German Fellowship, editing its pro-Hitler magazine.
1937 Joins The Times as foreign correspondent. In Spain, reports the Civil War from General Franco's side, and is awarded the Red Cross of Military Merit by Franco.
1940 Recruited by British Secret Services and attached to the Secret Intelligence Services (SIS) under Guy Burgess.
1941 Transferred to SIS Iberian sub-section. Takes charge of British intelligence in Spain and Portugal.
1942 Marries Aileen Furse, with whom he has two daughters and three sons. Area of responsibility extended to include North African and Italian espionage.
1944 Appointed head of Section IX, newly formed to operate against Communism and the Soviet Union.
1946 Moves to Turkey, working as head of SIS there.
1949 Made SIS representative in Washington.
1951 Tips off fellow 'Cambridge Spy' Donald Maclean that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. Maclean and Burgess escape to Russia. Philby is summoned for interrogation and asked to resign from Foreign Service.
1955 Government white paper on Burgess-Maclean affair. Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan states in Parliament that there is no evidence of Philby having betrayed the interests of Britain. Philby still dismissed from Foreign Service for his association with Burgess.
1957 Aileen Furse, Philby's second wife, dies.
1958 Marries Eleanor Brewer, an American.
1962 George Blake is caught. Philby exposed.
1963 Disappears in Beirut on 23 January. Later arrives in Russia. Britain declares that Philby is the 'Third Man'.
1965 Awarded the Order of the Red Banner, one of the Soviet Union's highest military honours.
1971 Marries Ruffina Ivanova in Moscow.
1988 Dies 11 May at the age of 76. Given a hero's burial in Moscow's Kuntsevo Cemetery.
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