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Dušan Popov

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Dušan Popov

Dušan "Duško" Popov
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service MI5
Operation(s) World War II
Award(s) Order of the British Empire
Codename(s) Ivan

Birth name Dušan Popov
Born (1912-07-10)10 July 1912
Titel, Austro-Hungary (present-day Serbia)
Died 10 August 1981(1981-08-10) (aged 68)
Opio, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Nationality Serbian[1]

Dušan "Duško" Popov OBE (Serbian Cyrillic: Душан "Душко" Попов; 10 July 1912 – 10 August 1981) was a Serbian double agent working for MI5 during World War II under the code name "Tricycle" and the Abwehr under the code name "Ivan".[2]

Early years and education

Popov was born 10 July 1912 in Titel, Austro-Hungary (now Serbia), to a wealthy Serbian family. He had an older brother, Ivo – also a double agent, professionally trained as a physician, during World War II – and a younger brother, Vladan. The Popov family moved to Dubrovnik when Duško was very young.

He spoke fluent German and had many highly placed German friends, but secretly despised the Nazis after earlier unpleasant brushes with them during his university years in Freiburg.[3] Popov had earned a Ph.D. in Law there, and then returned to Dubrovnik to practice briefly as an attorney [4].

Origins and operations of 'Tricycle'

When a university friend, Johann "Johnny" Jebsen, approached him to work for the Abwehr, he informed Clement Hope, passport control officer at the British legation in Yugoslavia. Hope enrolled Popov as a double agent with the codename Scoot (he was later known to his handler as Tricycle), and advised him to co-operate with Jebsen.[5]

Once accepted as a double agent, Popov moved to London. His international business activities in an import-export business provided cover for visits to neutral Portugal; its capital, Lisbon, was linked to the UK by a weekly civilian air service for most of the war. Popov used his cover position to report periodically to his Abwehr handlers in Portugal. Popov fed enough MI6-approved information to the Germans to keep them happy and unaware of his actions,[6] and was well-paid for his services. The assignments given to him were of great value to the British in assessing enemy plans and thinking.[6]

Popov is famous for his playboy lifestyle, while carrying out perilous wartime missions for the British.[7]

Allegations regarding Pearl Harbor

In 1941, Popov was dispatched to the United States by the Abwehr to establish a new German network.[8] He was given ample funds and an intelligence questionnaire (a list of intelligence targets, later published as an appendix to J.C. Masterman's book The Double Cross System). Of the three typewritten pages of the questionnaire, one entire page was devoted to highly detailed questions about US defences at Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. He made contact with the FBI and explained what he had been asked to do. During a televised interview, Duško Popov related having informed the FBI on 12 August 1941, of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor. For whatever reason, either the FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover did not report this fact to his superiors,[9] or they, for reasons of their own, took no action in regard to this apparent German interest in Pearl Harbor. Hoover had a distrust for Popov considering the fact that he was indeed a double agent. MI6 had given the FBI in New York a notice that he would have been showing up. Popov himself has said Hoover was quite suspicious and distrustful of him and, according to author William "Mole" Wood, when Hoover discovered Popov had taken a woman from New York to Florida, he threatened to have him arrested under the Mann Act if he did not leave the US immediately.

Operation Fortitude

In 1944, Popov became a key part of the Operation Fortitude deception campaign. However, when his German intelligence handler, Johann Jebsen – who was also a double agent (code-named "Artist") and a close friend of Popov's from before the war – was arrested, the British feared Popov had been betrayed and ceased giving him critical information to pass along. Some time later, however, with no indication that Popov was now distrusted, he was brought back into use.

Personal life

Popov was noted as a ladies' man – while in the US, he lived an extravagant lifestyle and had an affair with the well-known French actress Simone Simon.[10][10] He published his memoirs Spy, Counterspy in 1974. He has been cited as among Ian Fleming's models for James Bond.[11]

Popov died in 1981, aged 68. He was survived by his wife and three sons.

See also


  1. ^ Doerries, pp. 141.
  2. ^ Miller, Russell 2004, pp. 1.
  3. ^ St. Louis, Regis; Landon, Robert (2007). Portugal, p.144. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74059-918-7.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Nigel West, 'Popov, Dusan (1912–1981)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008
  6. ^ a b Howard, Michael Eliot (1995).Strategic Deception in the Second World War, p.16. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-31293-3.
  7. ^ The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI6.
  8. ^ – Dusko Popov – Record Summary
  9. ^ Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri (2007). The FBI: A History, p.110. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-11914-3.
  10. ^ a b BBC 9 May 2002.
  11. ^ Kalle Jokinen, 007:n esikuva kaatoi naisia ja jymäytti Bond-kirjailijaa, Iltalehti, 6 June 2014 (Finnish)




  • "The name's Tricycle, Agent Tricycle". BBC. 9 May 2002. 
  • "UK exposes secret agent's sex life". CNN. 8 May 2002. 

External links

  • – Dusko Popov – Record Summary
  • IMDb Plot summary for True Bond
  • Dusko Popov, Real Life James Bond, Ran Afoul of the FBI
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