Gordon Lonsdale was a Soviet spy based in Great Britain in the 1950s. With his help, the Soviet Union gained access to the British Royal Navy’s secrets.
Gordon Arnold Lonsdale was born in Moscow on January 17, 1922. His real name was Konon Trofimovich Molody.
Molody moved to California when he was 10, where he lived with an aunt. He learned English and returned to Moscow five years later. World War II broke out in 1939. Molody was 15.
Despite his youth, Molody took part in many war operations, initially dispatching orders behind enemy lines, and later taking on increasingly demanding assignments. The Soviet secret police took note, and after the war he was recruited as a spy.
In 1950, when Molody was 28, he was sent to the US. Over the following years he stole documents on the war the US was fighting against Korea. The documents Molody procured indicated that the US intended to use nuclear weapons.
In 1954 Molody was transferred to London. There he took on the identity of Canadian citizen Gordon Arnold Lonsdale. In England, Lonsdale would conduct his most important work.
He was ordered to gather information on the Royal Navy. Lonsdale set up and headed a network of spies in the Portland naval base that would become known as the Portland Spy Ring.
For six years the Portland Spy Ring stole the Royal Navy’s most important secrets, including nautical maps, lists of counterespionage agents, even the plans for Britain’s first nuclear submarine.
At the end of the 1950s, the British secret service caught on. They unmasked the Portland Spy Ring and identified all Lonsdale’s collaborators.
But Lonsdale managed to hide his true identity for several more years, earning him the nickname the spy with no name.
Lonsdale was finally discovered and arrested in 1961.
He rejected all accusations during his trial, never revealing his true identity.
Lonsdale was sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage conspiracy, but was released three years later in exchange for the release of British spy Greville Wynne by the Soviets.
Gordon Lonsdale died on October 9, 1970 during a countryside outing. The official cause of death was heart failure, but the circumstances remain mysterious.