THE story of a spy who was based at Latimer House near Chesham during the Second World War has been published for the very first time.
Historian Helen Fry has penned the book, Spymaster: The Secret Life of Kendrick, about the service Captain Thomas Kendrick gave during the First and Second World Wars.
During the 1930s, he was placed in Vienna working for the British Secret Service.
Dr Fry said after Hitler annexed Austria in 1938, Kendrick worked more than 12 hours a day to save the country’s Jews.
He became the ‘Oskar Schindler’ of Vienna - saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust - something for which he has not received due recognition, she said.
Dubbed ‘the elusive Englishman’ by Hitler’s Secret Service, Kendrick’s real identity eluded them until betrayed by a double agent.
After four days of interrogations, Kendrick was thrown out of Austria.
He arrived back in London, disappeared from the public eye, but not from the ranks of the British Secret Service He re-emerged during the Second World War to become MI6’s spymaster-in-chief against Nazi Germany, operating from 1942 from Latimer House.
Several thousand German prisoners-of-war passed through its specially constructed block and had their conversations bugged.
Among Kendrick’s highest-ranking prisoner was Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess - rumours suggest that Hess was held for a while at Latimer House.
Latimer was described by one intelligence officer as ‘a very secret place’. Some of those secrets are revealed in the book, Dr Fry said.
Kendrick's granddaughter Barbara Lloyd who lives in Bucks said: "My brother Ken and I knew very little about grandpa's secret work for the British Secret Service which encompassed all of his working life.
"He never spoke about it and we knew never to ask questions. I remember his tiny spy camera which was stolen from his house after the war. I also remember some shadowy figures at his graveside during his funeral. My mother said they were from MI6."
Dr Fry has written numerous books on the Second World War, including The M Room: Secret Listeners who Bugged the Nazis; Churchill’s Secret Soldiers; From Dachau to D-Day, and Inside Nuremberg Prison.
On June 6, she appeared in the BBC studio live in Normandy with Huw Edwards for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
She has also appeared in several documentaries, including Channel 4’s Spying on Hitler’s Army (2013), Channel 5’s The Hunt for Hitler’s Missing Millions (2014), and ITV’s Britain’s Secret Homes (2013).
There is a book launch for Spymaster: The Secret Life of Kendrick by Helen Fry at Latimer House, HP5 1UG on August 26 from 3 to 6pm. If you would like to attend please email firstname.lastname@example.org.