[KS] The Korean War and The Three Cambridge Spies

Jim Hoare jim at jhoare10.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Jul 4 16:40:39 EDT 2010

But Lin Biao was never in Korea - he refused the command and Peng Dehuai
went instead. Lin went to the Soviet Union for medical treatment in
September 1950.

As for the quote from Mr Newton, it does not sound as though Stalin was
relying on information from Mclean etc in coming to his decision.

I also wonder just how much military information, as distinct from
political material, would have reached either Maclean or Burgess - I
suspect that it would have been very broad brush stuff, not the detail that
is being implied here.

Jim Hoare



From: koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws [mailto:koreanstudies-
bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of Kwang On Yoo
Sent: 03 July 2010 04:50
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] The Korean War and The Three Cambridge Spies


Dear Mr. SzalontaI,

Thank you for the mail.

*Ex U.S. State Dept. official Mr. Verne Newton, mainly quoting Khrushvhev's
memoirs states how, when and why Stalin decided to support Kim Il Sung's
invasion plan;
' Kim Il Sung and his delegate arrived in Moscow in late December 1949,
just six months after the last U.S. troops were pulled out of South Korea.
Kim informed his host that he wanted "to prod the South Koreans with the
point of a bayonet," and later returned to Moscow with a concrete plan,
including an assurance that a popular uprising would greet the North Korean
Army. Still, Khrushchev reports, "Stalin had his doubts. He was worried
that the Americans would jump in. " He decided to consult with Mao, who had
been in Moscow during the time Kim Il Sung's plans were being reviewed. The
Chinese leader was all for the action and Stalin then gave his final

*p300-301, The Cambridge Spies;
The Untold Story of Maclean, Philby, and Burgess in America
Verne W. Newton

Then Stalin reportedly asked Kim, " Don't blame me when you have bloody

**In his Reminiscences MacArthur observes that after the war an official
leaflet by Lin Piao published in China reads; " I would never have made the
attack and risked my men and military reputation if I had not been assured
that Washington would restrain General MacArthur from taking adequate
retaliatory measures against my line of supply and communication"

** Reminiscences
Douglas MacArthur

It was definitely Lin Piao = Lin Biao =
<http://www.mdbg.net/chindict/chindict.php?cdqchi=%E6%9E%97%E5%BD%AA> 林彪
= 임표 not Peng Dehuai =
7> 彭德懷 

= 팽덕회 who made the above statement. (Sorry, I misspelled Piao as Pioa.)

Thank you.

Kwang-On Yoo

유 광언


On Fri, Jul 2, 2010 at 7:41 AM, Balazs Szalontai <aoverl at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

Dear All,


I wonder what is the latest opinion about the extent to which the
information supplied by the Cambridge spies might have influenced Stalin's
decision to give his consent to Kim Il Sung's invasion plan, first in late
January and then in March-April. Of the authors who covered this subject,
several scholars (e.g., Kathryn Weathersby) expressed the opinion that the
confidential information thus obtained probably encouraged Stalin who
concluded that U.S. military retaliation was unlikely. In contrast, some
other historians (e.g., Bruce Cumings) concluded that if Stalin, thanks to
the British spies, was indeed privy to the confidential plans of the Truman
administration, he might have easily concluded that the U.S. would not let
the ROK be attacked by the North without retaliation (and thus he may have
actually wanted to provoke U.S. involvement in this local conflict of
secondary strategic importance). Since one of my ongoing research projects
is focused on Stalin's role in the Korean War, I am greatly interested in
your views on this issue.


PS: I wonder if the statement cited in the article below ("I would never
have made the attack and risked my men and military reputation if I had not
been assured that Washington would restrain General MacArthur from taking
adequate retaliatory measures against my lines of supply and
communication.") was indeed made by Lin Biao (or Lin Piao, but definitely
not Lin Pioa:)), or mistakenly attributed to him, rather than to Peng
Dehuai (whose actual military role in the PLA offensive in question was


With best regards,

Dr. Balazs Szalontai

Mongolia International University     

--- On Thu, 1/7/10, Kwang On Yoo <lovehankook at gmail.com> wrote:


Hello Everyone,

As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War
(1950-2010), it is good opportunity to examine the role that three out of
the five Cambridge Spies played in the war. It is not widely known that
these three particular individuals (Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess and Kim
Philby) were deeply involved in Korean War. Their involvement inflicted
colossal damage upon the Korean and U.N. forces during the first 10 months
(June 1950-April 1951) of the war. 
General MacArthur asserted that "Philby, as well as Burgess and Maclean had
betrayed the plans and the order of battle of the U.S. 8th Army in Korea to
the communist intelligence services, and that thirty thousand men had been
killed, wounded or captured through that betrayal." If we consider that the
total U.S. casualties during 3 years of the Korean war was 33,870 dead and
142,000 wounded, the casualties attributed to these three Cambridge spies
was almost 6% in less than 10 months out of all 37 months of the war (June
25, 1950-July 27, 1953). It should be noted that in the week preceding
Maclean's appointment on September 1, 1950, as the Head of the American
Department of the British Foreign Office, the U.N. had suffered its fewest
casualties in seven weeks.  
At the time, all three spies were in prime positions where their treasonous
activities would have maximum impact and as the saying goes, truly, they
were cats at the fish stall.

Name                    Post(06/50-04/51)
In U.S.             Bolted to USSR                     
Donald Maclean   Head, American Dept, British Foreign Office 04/44-09/48
Guy Burgess         2nd Secretary, British Embassy, D.C.           08/50-
04/51      May,1951
                              transferred to U.S. from Far Eastern Dept.,
Foreign Office
Kim Philby             SIS(M16) liaison to  U.S. CIA & FBI
10/49-06/51       Jan., 1963


While the three were in London and Washington, D.C. they did everything in
their power to see that the Soviet Union prevailed by providing highly
secret policy and military information originating from the British mission
in Peking, the British cabinet, the White House, CIA, State Department, the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, General MacArthur and General Walker, the U.S. 8th
Army Commander in Korea. 
The presence of the Commonwealth Brigade ( Britain , Canada , Australia and
New Zealand ) in Korea helped to preserve the idea that the U.S. was not
acting unilaterally in Korea , but as an agent of the U.N. Thus, from the
first day of the war, the Pentagon leaders went out of their way to provide
British military and diplomatic representatives with special treatment and
access. MacArthur did same to Britain 's ranking political adviser in Japan
who was able to provide London with information on proposed operations,
bombing targets, and tactical decisions. Those reports originating in Tokyo
and in Peking went directly to the Far Eastern Department, which were then
copied to Maclean at the American Department. Because of this routing,
Maclean was able to get all reports from Washington , Tokyo as well as from
Peking .  
Yuri Modin, the Cambridge Spies’ KGB London Controller noted, "On Sunday
25 June, the day the North invaded the South, Burgess and his friend
Maclean (on medical leave until Sept. 1st.) were more active than ever.
Burgess gave me what he could: usually he annotated the documents in his
own hand with comments about the attitude of the British Government and the
possibility of an escalation of the war. Maclean, too supplied his own
comments." For these Soviet spies, there were no Sundays, nor medical
leave, only Stalin. Modin also noted that the information provided by the
London agents (Maclean and Burgess) was so valuable and important that
these were forwarded to "three addresses" only, Joseph Stalin, Foreign
Commissar Molotov and KGB chief Beria. 
Not only was top secret, day-to-day military information, including the
daily order of battle, compromised, but Washington’s war policy decisions
and the following directives to MacArthur were also compromised: 
1. MacArthur was specially ordered to prevent any Nationalist (Formosa)
attacks on mainland Communist China. Thus, the Red Chinese moved two of
their best field armies from their coastal defenses opposite Formosa to the
staging areas north of the Yalu. When the Red Chinese decided to intervene
in Korea , these two armies under Lin Pioa (Lin Biao) spearheaded the
2. The restriction upon air reconnaissance of Manchuria ordered by
Washington . It’s scope was confined entirely to Korea itself and nothing
3. Washington's order "not to interfere with the operations of  the Supung
(수풍) Hydroelectric Power Plant near Sinuiju (신의주) in North Korea".
This installation on the south bank of the Yalu supplied power not only to
North Korea but also to industrial and munitions plants in Manchuria and
Siberia . Later, Washington also ordered MacArthur make no moves against
Chinese units which were entering North Korea to take up position around
the power plant. They knew that MacArthur was forbidden to bomb the power
4. The Joint Chiefs of Staff's refusal to bomb the Najin (나진) depot on
the east coast, to which the Soviet Union forwarded supplies from
Vladivostok for the North Korean Army. 
5. The Defense Secretary Marshall's order to MacArthur "to postpone all
bombing of targets within five miles of the Manchurian border." Later
MacArthur commented on this order, "It seemed to me incredible that
protection should be extended to the enemy, not only of the bridges (over
the Yalu, between North Korea and China) which were the only means the
Chinese had for moving their men and supplies across that wide natural
river barrier into North Korea, but also for a 5 mile deep area on this
side of the Yalu in which to establish a bridgehead." 
6. Washington 's prohibition of hot pursuit of Soviet MIG-15s that had
attacked U.S. planes, conducting hit-and-run sorties back to their
Manchurian sanctuary. The doctrine of hot pursuit was not applicable in
Korea because it carried with it the "great danger of provoking the
Soviets". Later Dean Rusk(Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern
Affairs during the Korean War) commented, "in retrospect, we made one
mistake that I came to regret. I feel now that we should have allowed hot
pursuit across the Yalu. Not permitting this was asking too much of our men.
7. The British proposal to appease the Chinese Communists by giving them a
strip of Northern Korea as a "buffer area", which was an ingenious solution
to the problem of combating Red Chinese intervention. 

In addition to the above, the following agreements were made between Truman
and British Prime Minister Atlee in December, 1950. Within hours of their
meetings, a highly classified transcript of their talks was sent directly
to Maclean at the Foreign Office to include: 
1. No naval blockade off the coast of China , in view of the extent of
British trade with China through Hong Kong . 
2. The U.S. would not use an Atomic Bomb without prior consultation with
the British. 
Regarding these agreements, Cecil Robert, Maclean's deputy at the time,
likened the Korean War to a game of high stakes poker. He commented "He
(Maclean) enabled Stalin and Mao to know not only which cards Truman and
Atlee held, but how many chips Peking and Moscow would have to push into
the center of the table to get London to insist that the West should fold
it hands." 
The first commander who raised the question of a possible intelligence
leakage was General Walker, though later, other high ranking military
commanders followed.        On several occasions Walker complained bitterly
to MacArthur that his operational plans, which were always telegraphed to
Washington under the highest secrecy classification, were being leaked to
the enemy, thereby giving the latter constant awareness regarding his
battlefield strategy. General Van Fleet, The 8th Army Commander after
Walker was killed in automobile accident, later testified before the Senate
that "the enemy would not have entered Korea if he did not feel safe from
attack in North China and Manchuria . My own conviction is there must have
been information to the enemy that we would not attack his home bases."
General Edward Almond, the X Corps Commander, also testified before the
same Senate committee, that "the things as they happened looked very
strange insofar as the assurance upon which the enemy appeared to operate.
I think it would have been a very hazardous thing for the Chinese to enter
North Korea in the abundant numbers in which they did, if they had thought
their bases of rice or ammunition or any other base would be subject to
attack." Admiral Turner Joy, the U.N. Naval Commander in Korea expressed
the same sentiments. 
Most formidably, General James Gavin, a hero at the Normandy landing and
later Kennedy's ambassador to France , recalls that during his service in
the last critical months of 1950, the enemy repeatedly displayed an uncanny
knowledge of U.N. troop deployment. He said " I have no doubt whatsoever
that the Chinese moved confidently and skillfully in to North Korea, and,
in fact, I believe that they were able to do this because they were well-
informed not only of the moves Walker would make but of the limitations on
what he might not do. At the time, it was difficult to account for this but
I am quite sure now that all of MacArthur's plans flowed into the hands of
the Communists through the British Foreign Office." 

Dean Rusk, who knew Maclean from Washington and was the Assistant Secretary
of State for Far Eastern Affairs during the Korean War, later told William
Manchester, "It can be assumed, first, anything we in our government knew
about Korea would have been known at the British Embassy and second, that
officers in the Embassy of the rank of these three would have known what
the British Embassy knew." 
But the mother of all acknowledgments came from none other than General Lin
Pioa (Lin Biao). The Chinese Commander in Korea himself tacitly admitted
that he had known all of the limitations placed on the U.N. forces. He
obviously knew everything, from no Nationalist Chinese attacks on Red
China, no hot pursuit, no bridges to connecting Manchuria to North Korea,
no strikes against dams or power plants, all targets in Manchuria and China
off-limits, the date and order of battle for the end of the war offensive,
no economic blockade and finally no risk of the atomic bomb. He
specifically said "I would never have made the attack and risked my men and
military reputation if I had not been assured that Washington would
restrain General MacArthur from taking adequate retaliatory measures
against my lines of supply and communication." Because of the information
provided by the three spies, Peking and Moscow knew that they were fighting
almost a risk free war. 
Later in 1968, from the safety of Moscow, Philby had the audacity to say
about his friend Maclean, "After his departure, it was said blandly that he
was 'only' the head of the American Department of the Foreign Office, and
that had little access to high-grade information. But it is nonsense to
suppose that a resolute and experienced operator occupying a senior post in
the Foreign Office can have access only to papers that are placed on his
desk in the ordinary course of duty." Regarding his own involvement in
Korean War, he wrote to Manchester in 1978, “Was there a leak or wasn't
there? I do not know, and, if I did I probably could not tell you. The
question is left hanging." 
Some smoking guns, to further implicate the three include:     

1. In Philby's own words, "In my garage-cum-potting-shed, I slipped a
trowel into my briefcase and then went down to the basement. I wrapped a
camera, tripod and accessories into waterproof containers, and bundled them
in after the trowel. I had often rehearsed the necessary action in my
mind's eye, and had lain the basis for it. It had became my frequent habit
to drive out to Great Falls to spend a peaceful half-hour between bouts of
CIA-FBI liaison, and on the way I had marked down a spot suitable for the
action that had now became necessary, where the undergrowth was high and
dense enough for concealment and got to work with trowel. As far as
inanimate objects were concerned, I was clean as a whistle." 
2. Cecil Robert, one of Maclean's two deputies in the Department,
acknowledged that Donald had access to most of the important telegrams
passing between the Foreign Office and posts abroad, as well as large
selection of Cabinet papers, some of which Cecil found locked in Maclean's
cabinet after he fled to Russia. 
3. Inside Burgess' abandoned car, the FBI found graphs and charts on the
strength of American armed forces, defense expenditures for the U.S. from
1943 to1950, and maps of various defense installations. 
Fortunately(?) for South Korea, their espionage activities abruptly ended
in April of 1951when Maclean and Burgess escaped to Russia in May.
Otherwise Korea 's geopolitical situation would have been much different
than it is now, though one cannot help but wonder how the course or
duration of the Korean War may have differed, had it not been for the
involvement of the Cambridge Spies. 


1) U.S. News & World Reports, September 30, 1955 - "How Two Spies Cost The
U.S. A War" 
2) The Cambridge Spies: The Untold Story of Maclean, Philby, and Burgess in
America , by Verne W. Newton 
3) An American Caesar- Douglas MacArthur: 1880 -1964, by William Manchester 
4) Reminiscences, by Douglas MacArthur 
5) MacArthur: His Rendezvous with History, by Major General Courtney
6) Treason in the Blood, by Anthony Cave Brown 
7) As I Saw It, by Dean Rusk, as told to Richard Rusk 
8) My Silent War, by Kim Philby 
9) My 5 Cambridge Friends, by Yuri Modin


Thank you very much for your time.

Kwang-On Yoo











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