Mrs Constance Harding – Head of British Secret Service in Russia?

While Captain Brian Horrocks and the other prisoners-of-war captured in Siberia were languishing in Ivanovsky, a British lady was suffering the same fate on the other side of the Bolshevik capital in August 1920.

Mrs Constance Harding travelled officially to Moscow as a correspondent of the New York World with letters of introduction from Maxim Litvinov.  Soon after she arrived, a secret policemen posing as a Russian journalist, named Mogilevsky, deceived her and took her to the headquarters of the V-Tcheka at Lubjanka 2.  In this fearsome jail she was stripped, searched and then placed in a solitary lice-infested cell with a wooden bed.

Mogilevsky had interrogated Francis McCullough on Easter Sunday and now he accused Constance of being the Head of the British Secret Service in Russia.  He told her that Mrs Marguerite Harrison of the Baltimore Sun was responsible for her arrest and tried to coerce her to work for the Soviet Government, but she refused. After a torrid nine weeks in Lubjanka, she was transferred to Butyrka Prison where she joined Miss Maxwell and other “grave offenders” excluded from the Treaty of Copenhagen prisoner exchanges.

Constance was finally released as part of David Lloyd George’s trade negotiations on 26th November 1920.

Further details of Mrs Stan Harding and Mrs Marguerite Harrison are in Churchill’s Abandoned Prisoners and British Parliamentary Report (Russia No 1 1922 HMSO Cmd 1602).

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