MI6 Officer Who as Head of Counter-Intelligence Helped to Unmask the KGB Double Agent George Blake
John Quine, MI6 intelligence officer, was born on September 13, 1920. He died on April 29, 2013, aged 92.
John Quine’s future career in the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) was set in stone when he decided to learn Japanese during the Second World War, following an appeal by the government for volunteers.
He was a man who enjoyed challenges, not all of them confronted successfully, as his retirement years would demonstrate. But his willingness to seize the wartime opportunity to study Japanese to debrief prisoners of war marked him out as an obvious candidate for a life in the intelligence world.
At the end of the war he slipped seamlessly into the open arms of MI6 and flourished as an intelligence officer. He never spoke about his secret career to his family, but his name emerged into the public domain when it was revealed that he was one of the four people who confronted their MI6 colleague George Blake when SIS had evidence that he was working as a double agent for the Soviet KGB.
John Quine was born in 1920 in the parish of Gretna, son of Albert and Amy Quine. His father was a doctor. He grew up in Seasalter on the North Kent coast, and was educated at Faversham grammar school. He went on to Kings College London, but was there only a short time before war broke out.
He was a keen sailor, so he joined the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces, serving on MTBs (motor torpedo boats), and was eventually promoted to captain.
His wife, Heather Martin, whom he married in 1946, used to say that whenever he returned on leave without his cap it meant his boat had been sunk. He came home capless on two occasions.
After the government appeal for volunteers to learn Japanese, Quine went to the United States in 1944 for language training at the University of Colorado. He was then sent to Japan to start the long process of debriefing senior Japanese figures as part of a team of interrogators.
After joining MI6 at the end of the war, he was posted to Tokyo where he served for seven years. Two of his children were born there. On his return to Britain in 1954, he was sent as an intelligence officer to Warsaw where he was responsible for recruiting a network of agents whose covers would be blown by George Blake.
Blake had been posted to Lebanon but was summoned back to London in March 1961, and reported to his employers at one of MI6’s residences, a smart mansion house in Carlton Gardens, SW1. It was April 1961. Blake, a long-standing MI6 officer, faced four accusers: Quine, then head of counter intelligence, Terence Lecky and Harold Shergold who had both served with MI6 in Germany, and a former police officer.
Quine and the others interrogated him all day, questioning his loyalty and accusing him of selling his country for money. Although Blake held out for a few hours, he finally broke, admitting he was a KGB double agent. But he insisted to Quine and the others that he had worked for the Russians for ideological reasons, not for money. At his trial he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 42 years in prison. Quine was one of several MI6 officers who visited him in Wormwood Scrubs to question him further about the British agents he had exposed to the Russians. Many of them had been killed as a result of his betrayal.
Quine became convinced that Blake was potting to escape and warned his superiors. But in October 1966 Blake duly succeeded in escaping from Wormwood Scrubs, with the help of three men he had befriended, and he remains a hero in Russia, living in a flat in Moscow and now in his nineties.
Quine travelled extensively in Africa for MI6, and in the late 1960s he was posted to South Africa. His final posting was Mauritius before he retired from MI6 in 1975.
Mysteriously, he is supposed to have written a postcard from Dallas on the day that President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 although his family did not find it.
He was an avid reader of James Bond books, and in the late 1960s he bought an 18th-century house called The Old Palace in Bekesbourne, near Canterbury. A previous owner of the property, for two years, had been Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.
After leaving MI6, Quine applied his hand to a series of business ventures but without much success. His family has admitted that his latter years were not his finest.
His wife, Heather, died in 2005, having separated from Quine since the end of the 1980s. He remarried and is survived by his second wife, Pat, and by three sons.
May 2, 2013
[Ed Note: Stories on Mr. Quine, OLS 1945, appeared in Issues #44, #69a, #70, #93a, and #94a of The Interpreter. notably from Thomas Kerr, H. Morris Cox and Gerald Stonehill.]
[Cont’d from #205]
Dear Dr. Keene,
I was so pleased to hear from you and read your answers to all my questions. That was most good of you to take the trouble.
I am sure you are right concerning John [Ashmead] not doing decoding. He spoke about interrogating prisoners. He was quite amusing saying that to gain respect he would assume the rank of an officer, somewhat above that of the prisoner.
He had amusing accounts of translating ordinance instructions, in order to defuse them--one misread word would have proved disastrous.
Recently a classical scholar I knew, Eve Harrison died. She, to my surprise, spoke Japanese and was a translator during the war. You may have known her. I mention this because a number of classicists, whom I knew in Athens, and here at the Univ. of Penn and at Bryn Mawr College, were spies during WWll--- and they, like the Japanese translators, kept mum about their war work, were smart and many were extremely mild and innocuous looking. Susan H. Allen has recently written a book on these Classical Spies. She spoke--just this week-- at Bryn Mawr,
I would much like to hear from you again if you recall anything further about John. My children too would be very pleased.
With best wishes,
Ann Harnwell Ashmead
Dear Mrs. Ashmead,
Thank you for your letter. After reading it I recalled that when I was doing research on a book of mine with the absurdly long title So Lovely a Country will not Perish, I had read in the diary of a Japanese novelist about his meetings with John just after the end of the war. I did not quote these passages, but you might be interested in them for their glimpses of your husband. Perhaps, though, he wrote his impressions in letters.
The passages in question are from the diaries of TAKAMI Jun (1907-1965). His writings have not been translated except for the extracts in my book. I don't know if you read Japanese or if you have access to Japanese books, but here are the references: Takami Jun Nikki, Vol. 6, pp. 280, 291 and 304. The dates of these diary entries are January 11, 1946; January 16, 1946 and January 20, 1946. The last of the three describes a farewell party for John who was about to return to America. Takami regretted that he hadn't seen more of John. They had disagreed on the question of whether Japanese should be written in the traditional manner or should be written in roman letters. He also mentioned that Beata Sirota was at the party. It says, "During the war she was in America, but she came to Japan to perform 'Government Service.'"
One of the other passages relates something I didn't know about John: he told Takami that his grandfather had been a personal physician to the Emperor Meiji. He added that, in the way that his grandfather had cured the physical illness of the Japanese, he intended to cure their mental illness, by which he meant the ideals of the Japanese military.
I don't know where you live, but if you are near a university with a collection of Japanese books, it is likely that this book is available.
Dear Dr. Keene:
My daughter Teddy Ashmead scanned two letters John Ashmead wrote outlining his studies in Japanese and his Grandfather-Albert Sydney Ashmead's linkage with Japan*.
I hope you can open these and that they will prove of interest.
[Ed. Note: *Partially reproduced in Issues #206 and #207]
Dear Mr. Hays:
You certainly have my permission to use the letters I sent to Mrs. Ashmead. In the second letter I mentioned the mentions of John Ashmead, found in the diary of Takami Jun, a well-known novelist who met John shortly after the Occupation began. These excerpts are not long--perhaps a paragraph each--but they might be worth including. I have never seen in a Japanese diary mentions of meeting a graduate of the Navy Language School, but there might be some in the diary of Prince Takamatsu, who definitely met Otis Cary. The novelist Toyama Jō, who was one of the first Japanese prisoners, captured during the Pearl Harbor attack, mentions an interrogation in the Marine brig where he was confined before there was a prisoner-of-war camp.
The interrogator was Cary, but there was another interpreter present, seemingly too shy to say anything--me. This might make an interesting series for The Interpreter.
Best Wishes, Donald Keene
1922 - 2013 | Obituary
Lt. John A. Cedervall USNR (09/13/1922 - 05/24/2013). John Arthur Cedervall, 90, died May 24 in Aurora, Colorado. He was born September 13, 1922 in Rockford Illinois to Joseph and Margaret Cedervall. Enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and was attending Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois, where he met Helen Marie Thiese. They were married in 1945, and moved to Boulder Colorado where he attended the Naval Oriental Language School. Mr. Cedervall lived in Deerfield Illinois for 55 years. He worked for Underwriters Laboratories. Cedervall retired from the Naval Reserve 1982, and from UL 1987. John was preceded in death by his wife Helen.
He will be deeply missed by his daughters Lynn (Larry) Kettwich and Janet Cedervall, grandchildren Daniel and Christopher Kettwich and Nicole Cedervall, great-grandchildren Alexander, Noah, Gregory, Brandon, Hadley, Jacob and Cameron, and by his dear sister Elizabeth Cedervall.
June 7, 2013
One of the few things he looked forward to was The Interpreter.
Thanks, Janet Cedervall
[Ed. Note: Mr. Cedervall was one of the many who I surprised with cold calls about the USN JLS/OLS Archival Project. He was delighted to read the stories of his fellow JLS/OLSers.]
Matt Stanley / Staff
The Art of a Lifetime
Arthur Shenefelt, 92, walks through the hallway of his Levittown home, which is covered in pictures and letters remembering both his personal and professional life. "I'm living in heaven because of the gift of those pictures and those letters," said Shenefelt, a former speech writer to U.S. Senators, supporter of the labor movement, employee of railroad companies, and someone who turned down a job offer from President Dwight Eisenhower.
To the left of the front door at Art Shenefelt’s Middletown house, there’s a sign proclaiming: “This home supports President Barack Obama.”
Inside, there are more signs to let you know you are in the presence of a loyal Democrat. Walls, tables and mantels are filled with family photos and mementos, alongside photographs from the political realm: the President, First Lady and their daughters; Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton. Even Senator Al Franken gets face time on a Shenefelt wall.
Personal letters from President Harry Truman are among the museum-like treasures.
Shenefelt, 92, has lived a lifetime of politics. From his days as an employee of railroad companies, where he dealt in government relations, Shenefelt rubbed shoulders with the nation’s most powerful people, one time turning down a job offer from President Dwight
Eisenhower. Bucks County’s top politicos of both parties refer to him as a “treasure” and “visionary.” His clients included the Japanese National Railway for the purpose of **** Bullet Train, then Super Mag, to US and global economy
Though, physically, his best days are behind him, his opinions are still sought out. And if they weren’t, he’d make them known anyway.
Shenefelt got his start as a copy boy for The New York Times, and with a phone call from the legendary James Reston, got a job to write for The Associated Press. He’s also a former director of public and government relations for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in Cleveland. Through that powerful post — and during the time Truman seized the nation’s railroads in 1950 — he parlayed the attention of politicians to become speech writer for Senators Hubert Humphrey, D-Minn., and Vance Hartke, D-Ind.
“The railroads were going to Congress for money. ... My byline was all over Washington,” he said. “When I walked into Senate, the guys would gather around me.”
Shenefelt is a living encyclopedia who thrives on telling a story. Nothing is sugar-coated.
He has enjoyed a career like “Forrest Gump,” finding himself in the middle of significant national events, including marching with Martin Luther King, Jr. And he’s been able to pick up the phone or knock on a door for access to the high and mighty of Washington.
He spent 45 minutes in a meeting with Truman in the top suite of Terminal Tower in Cleveland, just after Truman had left the presidency and was raising money for his library.
“He was marvelous,” Shenefelt said. “I can’t tell you enough about how impressive he was. I was overwhelmed by his graciousness and good looks.”
Neil Samuels, executive director of the Bucks County Democratic Committee, calls Shenefelt “a treasure and a treasure trove of information. He doesn’t hesitate to let you know what he thinks about what’s going on in Washington and what we’re doing here as a party in Bucks County. I’ve been the beneficiary of hearing his perspective over the years.”
When he worked in Manhattan as director of press relations for the New York Central Railroad, and planned for a future commuting between between New York and Washington, Shenefelt called Bill Levitt, the man who built Levittown on Long Island.
Shenefelt was living in a small Levitt home on Long Island and wanted a larger one — the Country Clubber.
Levitt said he was building a community in Bucks County; he could get one for $30,000. Levitt had a driver take Shenefelt to the home he has lived in since January 1956.
It’s the home where Shenefelt and the former Gloria Willis raised their only child, Michael Baird Shenefelt, a Neshaminy High School grad and professor of philosophy and ancient history at New York University.
“I love him dearly,” Shenefelt’s son said of his dad. “He’s a larger than life person. I look up to him in a lot of ways.”
Gloria, who passed away seven years ago, was “the cat’s meow,” Shenefelt says affectionately, “very great mind and humble.” She was described as “the next Helen Hayes of the American theater” in a New York Times story that sits on the living room mantel with pictures of the young actress. It’s the place Shenefelt finds the most comfort, surrounded by loving memories.
When he turns his chair to look into his backyard, he can see his neighbor to the right, both geographically and politically, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick.
On the floor under his mantel is an American flag Fitzpatrick gave to him. Shenefelt speaks fondly of both Fitzpatrick and state Representative Frank Farry, two Republicans.
“I’ve had occasion to deal with each on different issues, and they had it for me one, two, three,” he said. “When somebody does that across the aisle, I’ll never forget it. I don’t give a damn if the guy disagrees with me on the whole party platform. I’d never vote against them.”
Farry calls Shenefelt “one of the lively characters of our community. Art certainly brings a smile to our face with his way about him.” Fitzpatrick described him as a “Levittown pioneer” and “visionary.”
“He wakes up thinking, ‘What problem can I solve today,?’” Fitzpatrick said. “One of his many strengths is in bringing people together around a common solution.”
Fitzpatrick said the Newtown Bypass, which Shenefelt helped push through Congress, is one such example.
Shenefelt said in the early 1980s he “ran with” Senate staffers and top aides to lobbyists. He’d always be talking about Bucks County as a “hub and global centralization of power,” with U.S. Steel and the Delaware River. “We’ve got ships, railroads and trucks,” he’d tell them.
They challenged him to “give us a piece of concrete and we’ll get it for you.’”
That “concrete” became a $23 million appropriation to build the bypass.
“He’s always advocating for the Bucks County region as a transportation center where road, rail and shipping come together,” Fitzpatrick said.
Shenefelt was born in Boston to Arthur Merle Shenefelt and Marion Baird. He was a Methodist minister and she was a musician.
“He was a Socialist pacifist big enough to hit you with either hand but never would,” Shenefelt said of his father.
Mahatma Gandhi was his dad’s idol, and like so many of the other things he loves, Shenefelt has a photo of Gandhi in his family room.
“That picture is as familiar to me as my father’s face. It was Gandhi this, Gandhi that,” he said, recalling his father’s words.
In high school and college Shenefelt was on the debating team, always taking the side of nonviolence.
He graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a degree in philosophy. He also studied for two years at Garrett Theological Institute on the campus of Northwestern University.
He then served in World War II in both the Army and Navy. After the military, he attended Columbia for two years, but needed a paycheck.
A picture of Arthur Shenefelt from his time at Pearl Harbor in 1944. Shenefelt, 92, lives in Levittown in a home covered in pictures and letters commemorating both his personal and professional life.
“I needed a job and my dad told me I was pretty good in the pulpit but needed to learn to write.”
He became a copy boy at the Times, making $26 a week and he was on his way.
Shenefelt turned down a job as assistant secretary of labor for Eisenhower.
“I’m a Democrat,” he said. “What the hell am I going to do working for a Republican? Looking back on it, I wish I’d done it. ... Eisenhower knew how to smooth troubled waters. He was the best at that.”
Though a Democrat “since they took me out of the womb,” Shenefelt has no problems criticizing those in his party. Former Maine Senator Ed Muskie, who ran for president in 1972, among them.
An organization that wanted a dam built in Maine hired Shenefelt as its agent in Washington.
“Muskie was holding it up,” Shenefelt said. “I thought he was a great man. I went up there believing in him and everywhere I went I got kicked. ... Muskie was beneath contempt.”
Former South Dakota Senator
George McGovern, is another Democrat Shenefelt derides. He recalls standing with him in an elevator the day after the 1972 presidential election in which McGovern was trounced by President Richard Nixon.
“I didn’t say anything to him,” Shenefelt said. “He was full of himself. He would talk about how he flew all these brave missions. ‘Why did God not get me elected?’ He was a mean guy. He held it against the American people because he lost.”
Shenefelt wrote a speech for Humphrey in 1967 that the late senator told him was the greatest address he ever got. It linked “America the Beautiful” with King’s “I Have a Dream” and “gave you America the way Lincoln saw it ... from sea to shining sea,” Shenefelt said.
One Sunday in 1965, Shenefelt was seated in Germantown Methodist Church when the associate minister spoke about marching with King and representing the congregation in doing so. His words upset Shenefelt.
“He wasn’t representing me.”
Shenefelt flew to Atlanta and joined the march from Selma to Montgomery, meeting singer Tony Bennett on the flight in yet another brush with a notable American.
At the march, he met the Kings. He was unimpressed by Martin Luther’s handshake — “it was like shaking a stick” — but said meeting Coretta Scott King was “overwhelming.”
“She walked up to me with that tiny little face,” Shenefelt recalled. “I’m so happy you’re here with us,” she told him. “I told her, ‘You have no idea what it means to be with you.’”
“I always thought she was the inspiration for everything (her husband) did.”
Shenefelt said he was “three feet behind King” when he heard someone complaining about people getting off the plane and right to the front of the line with the Kings, while others who have been marching are pushed to the back.
Shenefelt said he told the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, one of King’s closest associates, “You’re right, sir,” and walked several rows back.
It’s probably why he never saw himself in any pictures of the marches.
Had one surfaced, it surely would have found its way onto one of the walls in his home, or perhaps atop that cherished mantel, his piece of heaven.
March 5, 2012 http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/the_intelligencer_news/the-art-of-a-lifetime/article_15eccc68-bcb7-5ebf-ac12-39eedbb276a7.html
[Ed. Note: Arthur Shenefelt, OLS 1945, appeared in Issues 109, and #206, as well. I found this 2012 article, that I had not posted.]
Fall Semester, 1942
In the summer of 1942, the year following the attack on Pearl Harbor, I signed up for two classes at Yale which set the direction of my professional career. The first was a course in elementary Japanese which I took as a way to join the Navy despite my bad eyes. The second was a seminar on the Far East which I took as part of my major in international relations and because it was led by Professor Nicholas Spykman.
Professor Spykman had a formidable international reputation as a geopolitician – a scholar who believes geography is the primary force in international relations; that oceans, rivers and the direction of their flow, the climate and topography all deeply affect the character of a nation’s people and exercise an enormous influence on the foreign policy of the country concerned. Spykmans’ physical appearance was impressive. He immediately dominated the class on entering the room. He was tall, with a deep, resonant voice and a heavy Dutch accent. Most of all he was elegant: a yellow vest, a heavy gold watch chain across his vest, a dark suit and gray suede spats.
His opening remarks (as I remember them almost 70 years later) were also unexpected:
“Gentlemen, you are here to learn about the Far East. I probably know more about the Far East than all of you together; more, perhaps, than most of you will ever know. I am, however, Dutch, and the Dutch have colonies and Americans do not approve of colonies. So you will probably not believe me. Therefore you will have to learn for yourselves.
I propose we do this by writing the peace treaty which will inevitably follow this war. Each of you will represent a country with interests in the Far East. Of course we will have to begin with certain assumptions: assumptions such as who will win the war, what will be left of the individual countries’ economies at the end of the war, and most importantly which countries will have the most troops in the region and their location.”
I no longer remember the discussion that followed that day, but I vividly remember reading in the next issue of the Yale Daily News that Professor Spykman had suffered a heart attack and a younger man would be taking his course. Nor do I remember either the new professor’s name or anything about him, but I know that after the next class we had decided who would represent which country, and had started dealing with the assumptions that Spkyman had called necessary.
Over the following months the representatives of each warring country met in the classroom two or three times a week, and often again in small groups – at Mory’s, George and Harry’s, or someone’s room. China, represented by Doak Barnett and the United Kingdom which I represented were acknowledged to have the most troops in the area (apart from the U.S. Both Doak and I had telephones (unavailable to most students in those days ) because we were heads of student agencies. These gave us some of the influence and tools we needed to develop and press the concessions we wanted from others. For example: The U.K. wanted China to accept the U.K.’s continued special presence in Hong Kong. In exchange, China wanted U.K. pressure on Australia to stop discriminating against Chinese in immigration matters, and I had to find some incentive to make this happen.
Clearly it wasn’t enough to understand only the politics of our own countries. By the end of the term we pretty well understood the politics of every country in the region much as Spykman had hoped for.
Spykman recovered in time for the final class, pale and weak from his heart attack, and in a way it was painful to give him the results of our long-term negotiations. First we told him that we created an international organization like the League of Nations, except stronger, and in which the major powers had extra voting strength. He liked that. Then we gave him the bad news: that we had taken the Dutch East Indies from the Dutch and placed them under the League as a mandate, and done the same for French Indo-China. The students representing those two countries had responded by cutting classes in feigned anger. We then moved on quickly to other provisions of the treaty.
Gradually he relaxed and began questioning specific articles and the reasoning behind them. Finally he sighed, and reluctantly agreed that since America would undoubtedly be in the strongest economic position at war’s end and have the strongest military presence in the region, and since America was full of anti-colonial feelings like ours, our conclusions could easily prove right.
As I wrote at the beginning, the sparks and knowledge that came from Spykman’s seminar set me on my career of international business, and the Japanese language course that same semester provided the key to that career: entry to the Navy Japanese Language School in Boulder, Colorado, followed by further service with the Navy in Washington, the Pacific, and Japan; then success in the highly competitive post-war competition for admission to the Harvard Business School and eventually manager of Jeep sales in the Far East. The fall of 1942 was indeed important to my future.
[Ed Note: This story was sent to Tom Flournoy, Martin Packman, Dick Moss and Jack Brontson, in response to an email in which I had advised him who was still around from his year in the JLS.]