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Sunday 16 September 2012

Danger Man John Drake

Height…. 6feet ½ inches
Weight…. 185lbs {approx}
Hair…….. Light Brown
Eyes……. Light Blue
Age…….. 39
Date of Birth…. 19th March 1928
Nationality…… Irish – American {though lived his life here in Britain from a very early age}
Occupation…... Civil Servant
Salary………... £200 per month {approx}
Works for NATO Security before being transferred to the department known as M9, or should that be MI9 {Military Intelligence} MI 9 perhaps having been reformed, but having dropped the ‘I’, not wanting to show any Intelligence!Uses from time to time the cover of ‘World Travel,’ as indeed does Monkton- a freelance agent who works for the side which pays the highest and goes under the cover of a ‘travel agent’ reporting on hotels and resorts for tourist destinations. But even before this in the mid 1960’s, it was not unknown for agents to go on assignment in the guise of travel agents.
    In the 1950 film Highly Dangerous starring Margaret Lockwood pictured here with Bill Casey-Actor Dane Clark, who plays Frances Gray as an entomologist, is sent to a tightly controlled Eastern European country. The name on her passport is Miss Frances Conway, and travelling as a representative of an American travel agency, who will be planning tours which will give her reason for moving about the country. The reason for her mission is to get samples of flies which are being used in dangerous scientific experiments for the use in bacteriological warfare.
     But to continue with John Drake who is licensed to kill, but rarely does, and only as a last resort.
He speaks perfect French.
Stays at the Hotel Miramar whenever possible, the Hotel Miramar being a hotel group throughout the word, including behind the Iron Curtain!
    Wears a variety of clothing, much to suit the environment he finds himself in, yet he has been seen to wear the suit of clothes as worn by the prisoner, charcoal grey suit, black polo shirt and black elastic sided boots.
    He has the ability to make take on various characters, one being that he plays the drunk rather too well! And the simply wearing of a pair of spectacles, clear glass of course, seems to have the ability to change his appearance!
    “What are you supposed to be, what are the glasses for?” Gordon asks.
    “I thought they might help to tone down my natural masculine aggression” Drake tells him “a kind if intellectual school teacher’s the character I’ve been trying to sell.”
    “Oh, the introvert, the thinker, do you think you can get away with that Drake?”
    John Drake is single, he doesn’t appear to have a girl friend, but then he goes all over the world at the drop of a hat, and that includes being sent behind the Iron Curtain, even into communist China. Not the kind of work conducive to marriage. But Drake has often wondered what it would be like to be married, wife, children, roots and all that. He said that to Mumford, a Special Branch man during their surveillance work together on Rawson, a suspected double agent during ‘Don’t Nail Him Yet.’
    Drake is loyalty to his department is without question, and is completely trustworthy, yet he does not carry out orders without question, it depends you see, Drake likes to have reasons for the things he is asked to do.
He is a man to be trusted with the most guarded secrets.
And he doesn’t like being used by others to clean up other people’s mess, as in the ‘Black Book’ for example, when General Carteret used Drake for his own ends. His brother in law Sir Noel Blanchard who holds a high ministerial post in Paris, and who is being blackmailed, Drake is to remove the black mailers claws and the crook rendered harmless, but use absolute discretion.
However in this instance Drake sees the problem as being of great concern to his department, the ‘Black Book’ and the Russian defector Serge.
However much Drake doesn’t like cleaning up someone else’s mess, someone has to do it, someone’s got to do it……. I suppose.
    Despite his toughness, Drake enjoys the finer things in life, he is cultured and a widely educated man.
He has a soft spot for Smirnoff vodka, enjoys a fine cigar and an evening at the theatre.
    Although any recreational involvement with woman is off limits, he can turn on the charm when necessary.
He is also a skilful dancer.
    Drake lives and survives by his wits, he uses a gun only as a last resort, but has a wide range of gadgets at his disposal, a micro tape recorder in his electric shaver, cigarette case, a camera in his cigarette lighter, skeleton keys, micro telescope in the fountain pen to name but a few.
    There is one oddity regarding Drake, and it happens in ‘Name Date and Place’;
    I was between flights at London airport when hardy called, his precise bureaucratic voice demanded that I call on him immediately, I’d nothing to lose.
    “Ever heard of a Mrs Stuart?” Hardy asked Drake.
    “Have you ever been to a place called Bexjavlin?” Hardy asks.
    “I might have” retorts Drake.
    “Drake, do you ever answer a question with a simple yes or no?”
    “Simple, their the most complicated words in the language Mr Hardy” Drake replies.
    “This is a photo of     Vanessa Stuart.”
    “Is it er recent?”
    “Yes last summer at Ascot racing” Hardy informs his subordinate.
    “Mmm, looks like Whyndom with her” Drake observes.
    “Lord Whyndom it is, my only interest is in Vanessa Stuart. She got out of this country three days ago a jump ahead of my men.”
    “”Ha, ha, you must teach your men to jump more quickly Mr Hardy, where did she jump to, Bexjavlin?”
    Now Mrs Stuart has to be brought back, extradition has been tried, fraud and bad cheques charges quietly. But she must have a powerful protector out there, the warrants have been shelved.
But the fact of the matter is that Mrs Stuart is wanted for espionage, possibly high treason. Mrs Stuart has friends and influence everywhere, a short time ago she made a trip to Athens, she returned on her British passport, whilst she was there her actions were of considerable embarrassment to my government. Now if it can be proved that her activities while she was out of the country were made out of protection of her British passport, that is high treason. Drake must get that passport!
    “I’m sorry Mr Hardy, but you’ll have to get someone else to unsmile, some other way, I’ve just got back from Ancara……..”
    “Drake, lets make this personal, you will earn my undying gratitude” Hardy tells Drake.
    “How much is it worth, 5,000?” Drake asks.
    “$5,000!” exclaims Hardy in surprise.
    “Oh no pounds, sterling, and another 5,000 for the passport.”
    “It’s a lot of money” Hardy tells him.
    “Yes it is.”
    “You want me to refuse don’t you, you don’t want to do the job. Alright, I accept your offer” Hardy tells Drake.
    “Mr Hardy, I am never going to forgive you for this” drake tells him.
    So perhaps if one is to define John Drake accurately we can say that he was a one time NATO Security later M9 agent who at times acts for himself and thinks nothing of travelling the globe, sometimes at the drop of a hat, in order to come to the assistance of old friends and colleagues. And at others acting as a ‘freelance’ being paid for his services, well certainly on this side of the Atlantic!
But then Drake does not collect the extra £5,000 because at the end Drake burns Mrs Stuarts British passport, showing that he is also a compassionate man.
    Travelling the world as he does, drake has many contacts and friends, one such friend being senior Gomez in ‘The Man With The Foot.’
He steers clear of close relationships with the female sex, yet he can spot and appreciate an attractive woman when he sees one.
He is chivalrous to any damsel in distress.
Has a quick wit and keen sense of humour
A catchphrase “I’m Obliged.”
He has a strong sense of what is right and wrong, and is quick to correct the injustices to others.
Has the most wonderful light blue eyes, they look straight through one. There’s something very cruel in them, something very beautiful.
Handy with his fists, Drake is more than capable of taking care of himself in a fight
    As well as being able to take on different persona, drake also impersonates people, and goes forth in their stead, as in the case of Robert Fuller who had been recruited to ‘Colony Three’, as Peter Simpson in ‘A very dangerous game’, and Edwin Bowden in ‘Such men Are Dangerous as just three examples.
    But Drake can turn his hand to all kinds of work, and proves to be an adept Disc Jockey, as a D.J. Johnny Drake for example, as in ‘Not So Jolly Roger’, not shanghaied from the third programme, he couldn’t resist the brochure, all those balmy nights, dancing on the main deck, Tom Bola in the lounge!
     “Hello friends, this is Johnny Drake, fresh in on the noon day tide with a new batch of discs for you, which will be coming to through radio Jolly Roger the friendly pirate, I’ll be manning the guns about six bells and firing some new discs and some old favourites, right now we have for you ah… Strauss Blue Danube Waltz, well we’ll change that for a start wont we, lets go exploring, see what we’ve got now, ah what better to change it with than ‘don’t try to change me’ by Rick Mintz………… what’s the matter Rick, forgotten the words?”
    “Hello there landlubbers welcome to radio Jolly Roger your friendly pirate Johnny Drake on the bridge, or to use the surf side syllables, JD the DJ of the JR. I’ll be with you till the dog comes on watch, right now here we go with ‘Mio Amore Sta Lontano’… Angelique’……..which appears to be Drakes favourite record, as it appears in several episodes of Danger Man.
    “Winds blowing up a storm out here, but not to worry, request time will be with you fifteen minutes from now, meanwhile let us go with a new one from the Copperfields….. John Hardy.”
    “High there, its Johnny Drake with top of the morning from radio Jolly Roger your friendly pirate, got some fabulous sounds coming your way to speed along those house hold chores. But lets take a rain check housewives, I mean home makers. One kettle on, should be boiling by now, two tea pot and necessary standing by, three feet up cigarettes handy, I’ll er tell you the brand later, four check that hubby has in fact left, you never know he might still be asleep behind that morning newspaper, all ready, lets go with ‘Its alive’ the Storms Ville shakers.”
Amongst other positions taken by Drake are;
Drunken slave trader
Butler and personal Valet
American GI
Lost Tourist
Business man
Insurance Investigator
Member of the IRA
A defector
A writer hard up on his luck
School Teacher
Disc Jockey
Hired Assassin
Con man and blackmailer
Long shore man
Mercenary………………………to name but a few.
    So travelling the world as he does, where does John Drake actually live, most probably London is the answer
Recruited from somewhere within the armed forces, as is the case with the majority of British Intelligence officers
Never has he been tempted to go over to the other side, such is his loyalty and trustworthiness.
He drives a variety of cars, the Austin Mini seems to be a particular favourite, though for a man of  his size, I should have thought a little on the small size.
Can fly a helicopter
He is right handed
Has the mannerism of clicking his fingers when he is agitated or nervous
Is well spoken and well mannered, but has a temper when roused.
He has in the early days, a strong Irish American, but this accent later changes to more of a clipped English accent, having spent so much time over here.
He acts the drunk in many of his persona guises, yet rarely drinks himself
He is clever, able to turn any situation to his advantage
Tough, able to take a beating
Has a strong instinct for survival
He smokes a great deal, cigarettes and cigars, the camera being hidden inside his cigarette lighter may account for much of his smoking. Well in order to take a covert photograph of someone, Drake would have to light a cigarette.
    As for ‘Danger Man’ it is far nearer to the truth than most people realise, take the department of M9 for example, this in conjunction with;
MI9-Escape and Evasion.
    MI9, MI-X and MI-Y, British Military Intelligence section which was a department of the War Office during World War II, it was charged with aiding resistance fighters in Nazi controlled Europe and recovering Allied troops who found themselves behind enemy lines, for example pilots who were shot down. MI9 also communicated with prisoner’s of war and sent them advice and equipment.
MI9’s existence had been signified as early as December 12th 1939 and was first located in room 424 at the Metropole Hotel, Northumberland Avenue in London, but later was moved to Wilton Park, Beaconsfield
MI9, along with MI-X and MI-Y were liquidated by November 30th 1945. It was succeeded by an International unit comprising of Intelligence and Rescue Teams, the International Corps and Special Air Service.
    MI9 also developed and manufactured many aids and gadgets to aid prisoners of war to escape, these were sent to prisoner’s of war in the name of nonexistent charity organizations.
Many of them were based upon ideas of Christopher Hutton. Hutton proved so popular that he built himself a secret underground bunker in the middle of a field where he could work in peace.
Such diverse gadgets were;
Compasses which were hidden inside pens or tunic buttons
Maps were printed ion silk, sometimes disguised as handkerchiefs and hidden inside canned goods
For airmen special boots were designed with special detachable leggings so they could be quickly converted to look like civilian shoes, and their hollow heels contained packets of dried food
An escaper’s knife, containing a strong blade, a screwdriver, three saws, a lock pick, a forcing tool and a wire cutter.
MI9 used the advice of master magician Jasper Maskelyne to design hidden places for escape aids; tools disguised in a cricket bat, a saw blade inside a comb, maps in backs of books and playing cards, and inside gramophone records and board game sets which concealed money.
    So now you can see where the ideas came from for the many and varied gadgets which John Drake used during his work as a secret agent for M9, or perhaps that should be MI9.
Gadgets such as;
Micro tape recorder in his electric shaver and cigarette case
Camera hidden in his cigarette lighter
Screwdriver in secreted inside a pen
Micro telescope in a fountain pen
The components to a rifle hidden amid the engine of his car
Micro film hidden inside the hollow top of a screw
A hollow cigar in which to hide something
An electronic signal transmitter hidden in the stem of a pipe
Tear gas bomb hidden inside a cigar
The components of a radio transmitter are hidden in his leather shaving kit, in a false bar of soap, false tube of tooth paste
The tip of his umbrella being microphone picking up what is being said and transmitted to a receiver inside his transistor radio
An umbrella shoots a metal dart which is really a bug, once shot from the umbrella using compressed air and upon striking a beam the steel dart emits a tiny aerial and now from a safe distance using a receiver set, Drake can listen to what is being said in a room some distance away.
A somewhat variant upon the bug and receiver is to have the bug placed inside your camera leaving it in a strategic location and have the receiver secreted inside a metal retractable tape measure, the steel tape measure itself being the aerial!
These to name but a few……….
    Now we come to two, if not three specific instances where the fiction of Danger Man meets with the reality of fact……. Radio Jolly Roger……. Radio Sutch.
    The Second World War Defence Forts out in the Thames estuary were taken over and used as
radio stations…. Radio Sutch, Radio City, Tower, Invicta, KING, Essex, and BBMS.
Popularly called “pirate” radio, there radio stations were not in fact “pirates” nor were they illegal, they simply broadcast from ships and marine structures like the war time defence forts outside their target countries territorial boarders.
Radio Sutch transmitted on Frequency  197meteres medium wave {am}
Location Shivering Sands Fort, Thames Estuary
On air dates: May 1964 – September 1964
  The war time defence forts or towers were originally World War II military facilities built for coastal protection of the sea lanes. Originally consisting of seven separate towers, each set on four concrete legs supporting a steel structure 100ft above sea level and connected by narrow catwalks.
These forts were built on floatable barges set at the base of the four legs. When the fort was at sea, above a suitable sandbank, the barge was filled with concrete, which set and sank, fixing the structure to the sea bed.
This complex consisted of five gun towers, one searchlight tower and a main control tower.
The forts were outside the three mile limit and had been left derelict by the Royal Navy after the Second World War. The last military maintenance teams were withdrawn from the forts in the winter of 1958/59 and by the sixties the off shore forts were already in a state of considerable neglect and decay, offering only the bare minimum of facilities at best and were to prove impossible to supply for long periods during bad weather.
As you will see in the above picture, Radio Sutch, or Radio City as it was to become, had already lost one of its towers, when a ship ran into it, and one section had collapsed and another was standing all alone where the walkways had collapsed.
    The seven towers of Shivering Sands were placed approximately seven miles off Herne Bay, Kent, over the period September 18thDecember 13th 1943.
    In ‘Not So Jolly Roger’ John drake takes on the persona of Johnny Drake, a DJ and goes undercover aboard the pirate radio station ‘Jolly Roger’, the once military defence fort, Radio Such and later Radio City set on shivering Sands in the Thames Estuary beyond the three mile limit, but not set in solid rock as the Radio Stations manager Marco Janson told Drake.
    The second specific instance concerns the story ‘Under The lake’ where Drake is employed by Colonel Keller to track down a counterfeit gang who have flooded the capitals of Europe with forged American bank notes to the value of $25 million.
His only clue is that of an ex-Nazi General, General Gunther von Klaus, who is Keller’s top suspect, as it is Klaus who is distributing the counterfeit money.
    At a beautiful lakeside hotel in the mountains, the grounds of which, Drake discovers, were used to house a concentration camp during the war, where inmates with the technical ability to forge millions of dollar bills. The hotel is now run by an aristocrat von Golling.
Later as the members of the gang, how have been circulating these counterfeit dollar bills are caught and rounded up by Drake and the police, the lake is then later that day dragged, it reveals millions of counterfeit $ bills, having been commissioned by Himmler himself during the war. 

    Legend had it that towards the end of the Second World War the Nazi’s dumped gold bullion and treasure in Lake Toplitz in the Austrian Alps.
    In 1959, the German magazine Der Stern organized a diving expedition to Lake Toplitz, pictured here, a diver working together with the counterfeit notes recovered.

And the platform used in the operation. Divers discovered £700 million worth of forged English £1, £5, £10, and £20 notes, these to produced in a plan to destabilise the British economy, but instead had been dumped in the lake.
    The short piece of film at the end of the Danger man episode Under The Lake, is actual film footage of the recovery of the gold bullion from the bottom of the Austrian Lake Toplitz. Observe the head of the diver in the water.

     And so to the third, which is more probably about the drawing of parallels, if such parallels can be drawn. Well in this instance I think that they can, a parallel between the episode Don't nail Him Yet and the ‘Portland spies during the late 1950’s, which Dom't Nail Him Yet is based upon and so making it a third instance where Danger Man is based on reality and fact..
So let us first look at Don't Nail Him Yet;
    Rawson, Denis Rawson works as a minor naval bureaucrat. He lives at 7 Linden Mews, London S.W.1.
Mumford suspects Rawson of being a double agent seeing that he is living at a rate of three times his income and has had Rawson has been under the microscope for a month, followed everywhere he goes and kept under close surveillance by Special Branch from the house opposite Rawson’s in Linden Mews for some time as they cannot have this menace running around with the laser trials coming up in a month. So the case is passed onto John Drake whose tasks it is to get close to Rawson, this he does by gaining the man’s confidence, to get him to befriend him, pretending to be an enthusiast of classical music for example and even to the point of supporting the same football team……. Fulham. This Drake achieves by taking on the guise and persona of school teacher John Kieron who is recovering from a nervous breakdown.
Drake discovers that Rawson is indeed a double agent and has in his possession secret information on the laser which he has reduced on a micro dot and is about to pass that information on.
    Rawson was recruited by Dian Eglington, this by gaining his confidence, making him feel important and pretending to like the same things until Rawson finally committed himself, much in the exact same way as Drake.
    Dian and Lucas Eglington owns and runs an antiquarian book shop in one of the back lanes of the older and less trendier part of London and with a flat next door, dealing in Incanabula, books printed before 1600. Dian Eglington has been running her business for the past five years and claims to be a British subject, Canadian.
    Rawson has a micro dot in his possession which he needs to pass onto Dian Eglington, first at a football match at Fulham’s Craven Cottage, then later at a restaurant however still under close surveillance by Special Branch, Rawson finds his footsteps dogged by Drake at every turn and decides to take direct action.
Rawson makes a run for it and having given Drake the slip finds his way round to the Eglington bookshop and Dian’s flat in order to pass on the micro dot which is now secreted in a book of poetry which Dian will post out of the country.
    Drake is however just one step ahead of Rawson, for in the chase for Rawson as Drake is about to run past an antiquarian bookshop and his eye is caught by a Japanese print, Hokusai, the exact same Japanese print which he has seen in Rawson’s home, and the name of the proprietor is Eglington, which he discovers is the name on a card of a flat next door D. Eglington.
    Gaining entry to the Eglington flat just ahead of Rawson he catches Dian and Rawson together and asks her where the micro dots are? Dian Eglington denies any such knowledge of micro dots, in fact she thinks Drake crazy!
Rawson begins to crack, finally releasing all the pressure he has been put under he smashes a mirror on the wall behind which is a powerful radio transmitter of 30 watts, with a high frequency band but no makers name, which Dian used to send out collected information.
    This is not then too far removed from another true story, that of Peter and Helen Kroger and the Portland spy case, the trial being held in 1961.
Peter and Helen Kroger lived in Ruislip in the bungalow of number 45 Cranley Drive, who initially owned and ran an antiquarian bookshop which was situated on The Strand in London, but later the business was run from their home.
 Suspected of being Russian agents the Kroger’s bungalow was kept under close surveillance mostly week days during daylight hours by MI5, which lasted for about two months and was carried out from a house in Courtfield Gardens, the home of Bill and Ruth Search. The Search family were good friends with the Kroger’s and Helen Kroger would often call round unannounced, which meant that the MI5 agents would have to hide in the toilet until such a time as Helen Kroger left. A far cry from the glossy world of James Bone wouldn’t you say?
    Peter and Helen Kroger {really Morris and Lona Cohen} rented the bungalow of 45 Cranley Drive Ruislip in 1954. They said that they were book sellers and made friends with their neighbours locally. They claimed to be from Canada, were really American and their name Kroger, was actually that of a couple from New Zealand who were killed in a car crash, the KGB then fitted the Cohen’s up with the Kroger’s identity.
    On January 7th 1961 the Kroger’s bungalow was pounced on and the damning evidence found, a powerful radio transmitter used to send signals was found in the back of the fridge, hooks around the roofs interior which held the aerial for the radio, codes and chippers and even a KGB expenses sheet. And some sixteen years later after the events, a second powerful radio was dug up in the garden of 45 Cranley Drive.
Also in January 1961 Gordon Lonsdale, Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee were arrested in central London, all members of the same spy ring and charged with carrying out acts of espionage.
    The Russians you see wanted to learn more about Britain’s submarine fleet and associated hardware and so Gordon Lonsdale was recruited to work for them, he in turn found Harry Houghton who had a girl friend who worked at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland, her name was Ethel Gee, middle aged and a filing clerk with a high level of security in the drawing office. Houghton, previously in the Navy also worked there as a minor naval clerk.
This then was the Portland spy case;

                             Ethel Gee
                      {filling clerk stole  the information
                                            passing it onto Houghton}

                                      Harry Houghton
                                {minor naval clerk took the information
                                                passing it on to Lonsdale}

                                                     Gordon Lonsdale
                                    {passed the information on to the Kroger’s}

                                                         Peter and Helen Kroger
                                             {Transmitted the information by radio}

    Such are the parallel’s to be drawn between ‘Don’t Nail Him Yet’ and the Portland spies case, between Lucas and Dian Eglington’s and Peter and Helen Kroger. Yet there is one more such parallel which has yet to be drawn, that between Denis Rawson and Gordon Lonsdale.
    Rawson is a drinker, a bit of a lone wolf spending much of his time in his home drinking and bathing himself in immortal sounds, batches and fudges!
He is a bureaucrat, a minor bureaucrat in the naval department. His home is comfortable, filled with an assortment of antiques, a selection of records – classical music and a fine Radiogram, Rawson likes his comforts, he is not one of your stoics!
Rawson is a man who appreciates the finer things in life and the creators of those fine things, such as music, paintings and buildings. Yet all those so looking antiques which Rawson owns, including the Japanese print –Hokusai, are in fact all reproductions. Yet he is still doing very well for
himself,  living at a rate of three times his income, apparently he has some friends in the antiques trade and has an eye for a bargain! Yet it is this which has drawn attention to himself, much in the same way as……….
     Harry Houghton, a middle aged minor naval clerk at the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment at Portland. He too was an alcoholic, a womaniser and good at both spending money and drawing attention to himself. In fact it was a security officer who wondered how Houghton could afford such luxuries on one of his sprees and knowing his standing at Portland and so alerted the police.
    So once again ‘Danger man’ reflects reality, the Portland spy case;
Lucas and Diane Eglington = Peter and Helen Kroger each with their antiquarian bookshop and powerful radio for transmitting information out of the country.
Denis Rawson = Harry Houghton both minor naval clerks who are alcoholics, good at spending money at a rate far exceeding their incomes and in so doing drawing attention to themselves!

I’m Obliged

    John Drake

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