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William John Christopher Vassall

© National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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Vassall was an RAF photographer during the Second World War, who in 1946, worked as a clerk in the Admiralty. In 1954 he was appointed assistant to the British naval attaché in Moscow, where he was blackmailed by the KGB for his homosexuality. On return to London in 1956 he was assigned to the Admiralty's Naval Intelligence Division. He provided the Soviets with thousands of classified documents. Promoted in 1959, he conveyed Admiralty secrets concerning radar, torpedoes, and anti-submarine devices.

National Portrait Gallery, London


  • Date


  • Medium

    oil on canvas

  • Measurements

    55.7 x 35.2 cm

  • Accession number


  • Acquisition method

    Given by executors of the Estate of Eileen Hose, 1991


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National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

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