Who Were the Cambridge Five?

By Brian Kasyoka Musili on August 1 2017 in Politics

Cambridge, UK, where the Cambridge Five were recruited from.

The Cambridge Five was a group of five University of Cambridge students who were recruited as spies. They were recruited during World War II so they could give information to the Soviet Union. Anthony Blunt, one of the members, claimed that the Soviet Intelligence did not recruit the students as agents until they had graduated. The five communists were committed to their voluntary work and services. The Soviet Union recruited them from the most prestigious university because they knew that the recruits would one day become British rulers and would betray the nation's secrets.


The Soviet Union was able to penetrate the United Kingdom’s highest level of intelligence network through the Cambridge Five. For instance, one of the members named Guy Burgess handed over 389 top secret documents to KGB who was the Soviet Union's main security agent.

Damages Caused by the Cambridge Five

The Cambridge Five released a large amount of classified information that was private to both the UK and the US. Their actions also had devastating blows on the political and intelligence communities of these countries. Due to the positions that the members held, passing along information was easy. For instance, Kim Philby worked for M16 and had assignments in Albania and Istanbul which provided access to sensitive information. He later became the secretary to the British Embassy in Washington, DC which allowed sharing and passing on secret information to the Soviet Union easy. The United States began to get worried about sharing information with Britain.

The Cambridge Five's Miserable Lives

In 1949, Kim Philby gained access to the Venoma intercepts and an agent code-named 'Homer' from New York slipped a document concerning the British Embassy in Washington. The members became suspicious of the whole ordeal and panicked thinking they would be caught. They fled from Washington to London and then to the Soviet Union one at a time. In the Soviet Union, none of the members were spoiled for their efforts.

Kim Philby lived out the rest of his life in Russia, where he spent most of his time drinking alcohol. Guy Burgess also spent most of his time in pubs until his death at the age of 52. The business of Anthony Blunt was uncovered by the Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in 1979. His knighthood was revoked which lead to his resignation from academic positions. He eventually died in recluse. John Cairncross lost his civil service position and was declared bankrupt after he was exposed. Donald Maclean was the only member who found some happiness after the ordeal because of his passion for communism. Most of the members led miserable lives because even the Soviet Intelligence did not trust them.

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