Tricycle was the codename of both Dušan "Duško" Popov (Serbian Cyrillic: Душан Попов) (1912 Titel, Serbia - 1981 Opio, Alpes-Maritimes, France) and the spy network with which he was involved.
Origins of Tricycle
Popov was a young, wealthy Serbian businessman, who managed to continue a playboy existence while carrying out perilous wartime missions for the United Kingdom. He spoke fluent German and had many highly placed German friends, but he secretly despised the Nazis for invading his country.
Signed up as a spy by anti-Hitler Abwehr agents early in the war, Popov, according to their plan, immediately offered his services to the United Kingdom. He was accepted as a double agent (codenamed Tricycle) and came to live in London. His international business activities provided cover for visits to neutral Portugal, which was linked to the United Kingdom by a weekly civil air service for most of the war. There Popov fed enough MI5-approved information to the Germans to keep them happy, and was well paid for his services. The assignments they gave him were of great value to the British in assessing enemy plans and thinking.
Allegations regarding Pearl Harbor
In 1942 Popov was dispatched to the United States
by the Abwehr
, to establish a new German network in the US . He was given ample funds and an intelligence questionnaire
, a list of intelligence targets. This questionnaire was 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 U.S. defenses at Pearl Harbor
on the Hawaiian
island of Oahu
. He made contact with the FBI
and explained what he had been asked to do. For whatever reason, either the FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover
did not report this fact to his superiors; or his superiors, for reasons of their own, took no action in regard to this apparent German interest in Pearl Harbor. Popov himself has said that Hoover was quite suspicious and distrustful of him, and according to author William "Mole" Wood, when Hoover discovered that Popov had taken a woman from New York
he threatened to have him arrested under the Mann Act
if he did not leave the U.S. immediately.
In 1944 Popov became a key part of the Operation Fortitude
deception campaign. However his usefulness was compromised when his German intelligence handler (who was also a double agent and knew of Popov's control by the British) was arrested. Fearing that Popov was betrayed, the British no longer gave critical information to him to pass along. However after time passed and no indication of any distrust of Popov was discernible he was brought back into use.
Popov was a noted lady's man
- while in the US he lived an extravagant lifestyle and dated a well-known actress, Simone Simon
Popov died in 1981 aged 69, leaving behind a widow and three sons.
Duško Popov published his memoirs "Spy, Counterspy" in 1974.
- Nigel West, Seven Spies Who Changed the World. London: Secker & Warburg, 1991 (hard cover). London: Mandarin, 1992 (paperback).
- Russell Miller, Codename Tricycle: The Playboy Double-Agent, Pimlico, 2005
- William Stevenson, A Man Called Intrepid - the Secret War, Ballantine, 1976
- Dusko Popov, "Spy/counterspy: The autobiography of Dusko Popov" Grosset & Dunlap; (1974) ISBN-10: 0448116065