MI5 “Agent Jack” Thwarted Plot to Kill Eisenhower & Montgomery

Two female Nazi sympathizers created a plan to kill Allied generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery. Marita Perigoe and Eileen Gleave had discovered where the two generals were meeting to finalize plans for Operation Overlord, the code name given to the D-Day invasions in Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

Eisenhower was the overall commander of the invasion, and Montgomery was the British Field Marshall who proposed the plan to land on five beaches in Normandy which ended up being very close to the final plan backed by Eisenhower.

Luckily, the British intelligence agency (MI5), was monitoring the actions of Perigoe and Gleave. Unknown to the two women, the Nazi agent they were working for, Jack King, was actually an MI5 agent named Eric Robers working undercover.

Eric Arthur Roberts as Jack King. Photo: Fair use
Eric Arthur Roberts as Jack King. Photo: Fair use

Roberts was a former bank clerk. He pretended to be the Nazis’ top British agent while he worked to recruit over 500 British fascists to join a bogus espionage ring.

Perigoe and Gleave were two of the first to be recruited. Perigoe worked as a picture restorer and was a failed artist like Adolf Hitler. Gleave hated Winston Churchill since her cousin had been killed at Gallipoli. In 1942, the two would-be agents had learned the whereabouts of the Wembley Home Guard arms depot.

In 1944, they discovered that Montgomery would be planning the D-Day invasions in his former school, St. Paul’s in Hammersmith, west London. They also knew that Eisenhower would attend the meetings about the invasion.

Meeting of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), 1 February 1944. Front row: Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder; General Dwight D. Eisenhower; General Bernard Montgomery. Back row: Lieutenant General Omar Bradley; Admiral Bertram Ramsay; Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory; Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith.
Meeting of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), 1 February 1944. Front row: Air Chief Marshal Arthur Tedder; General Dwight D. Eisenhower; General Bernard Montgomery. Back row: Lieutenant General Omar Bradley; Admiral Bertram Ramsay; Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory; Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith.

Roberts’ initial idea was simply to rule out their plan from the beginning. However, Perigoe and Gleave were beginning to become suspicious of “Agent Jack” and wondered if his credentials with the Gestapo had been faked.

Since the erstwhile agents were starting to question his legitimacy, Roberts realized that his best chance of protecting the Allied generals was to allow the women to continue working on their plan.

If he stopped them, he risked blowing his cover, and Perigoe and Gleave were fully capable of continuing with the plan on their own.

George VI (left) with Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery (right), Holland, October 1944
George VI (left) with Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery (right), Holland, October 1944

Roberts did warn Eisenhower, but the commander just laughed off the danger. The generals completed their planning in peace and showed the fruits of their labor to Churchill and King George in the lecture theater of the school.

In the end, the fascist plans came to nothing. Churchill was never even informed of the plot. The whole thing remained a secret until a historian noticed a reference to it in a letter that was written after the end of the war.

Planning of Market Garden. Field Marshal Montgomery studies a map with Lt-Gen Horrocks, GOC XXX Corps, and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
Planning of Market Garden. Field Marshal Montgomery studies a map with Lt-Gen Horrocks, GOC XXX Corps, and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

Agent Jack’s efforts meant that 500 potential spies and traitors spent the war thinking Hitler was receiving their work and using it against the Allies when all the time their information was going to the British.

In fact, Roberts did so well in recruiting the Nazi sympathizers and keeping them from causing trouble during the war that MI5 considered starting a fascist party in order to attract Nazis in England after the war was over.

Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery.
Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Bernard Montgomery.

The 500 fascists were not prosecuted for being traitors. When the war ended, it was decided to leave them alone. England was ready to move on.

Perigoe was also one of two fascists to receive the last medals ever awarded to people working for the Nazis in WWII. But the medals were another trick by MI5.

The Supreme Commanders on 5 June 1945 in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA
The Supreme Commanders on 5 June 1945 in Berlin: Bernard Montgomery, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Georgy Zhukov and Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA

In an effort to keep the fascist agents working for the fake spy ring after Germany surrendered, fake medals were made and awarded to Perigoe and Hans Kohout. It is believed these are the last medals awarded to Nazis in World War II.

Ve Day Celebrations in London, England, UK, 8 May 1945
Ve Day Celebrations in London, England, UK, 8 May 1945

Read another story from us: Daring Female Secret Agents of WWII

Ironically, the medals were the brainchild of Victor Rothschild, one of the most prominent Jews in Britain. The medals themselves were created at Britain’s largest Jewish-owned bank, the Royal Mint.

The two spies were noted to have been gratified to receive the medals.