Claude Dansey

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Person.png Claude Dansey   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Born10 September 1876
Kensington, England
Died11 June 1947 (Age 70)
Bath, England
Alma materWellington College
Began his career in intelligence in 1900, and remained active until his death in 1947.

Employment.png Assistant Chief of Secret Service

In office
November 1939 - 1945
The start and end dates are approximate.

Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Claude Edward Marjoribanks Dansey,[1] also known as Colonel Z, Haywood, Uncle Claude, and codenamed Z, was the assistant chief of the Secret Intelligence Service known as ACSS, of the British intelligence agency commonly known as MI6, and a member of the London Controlling Section. He began his career in intelligence in 1900, and remained active until his death.

Family background

Dansey was born in 1876 into a dysfunctional family of nine children, Dansey and his siblings were subjected to military discipline at the hands of their soldier father (Edward Mashiter Dansey), with punishments that included beatings even for minor misbehavior, their mother being an alcoholic.

He attended Wellington College until 1891, and then a private school in Bruges.[2] At the age of 17 he became sexually involved with Robert Baldwin Ross, and Lord Alfred Douglas, narrowly avoiding exposure and imprisonment.[3]


Dansey joined the British Army at the age of 20, serving in South Africa during the Boer War, because his father would not have allowed him any other vocation.

He was recruited by MI5 and put in charge of "port intelligence" and the surveillance of civilian passengers during World War I. He spent three years in New York State spying on wealthy Irish-Americans. He was "inadvertently" responsible for allowing Leon Trotsky to return to Russia in 1917.[4] He helped set up the first American military intelligence service in 1917.

He became deputy to Stewart Menzies, chief of MI6 (SIS)[5] [6] to 1942[7] and a member of the London Controlling Section.

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  1. Pronounced Marchbanks, see Clan Marjoribanks
  3. Sturgis, Matthew (2018). Oscar: A Life (First ed.). London: Head of Zeus. p. 491. ISBN 9781788545976.
  4. {,3604,516859,00.html
  6. Keith Jeffery, MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949, Bloomsbury, 2010, p.343.
  7. Philip H.J. Davies, MI6 and the Machinery of Spying, Frank Cass, 2004, p.180