A Suspicion of Spies

A Suspicion of Spies

Risk, Secrets and Shadows – the Biography of Wilfred ‘Biffy’ Dunderdale


1916, Russia. A 17-year-old Wilfred ‘Biffy’ Dunderdale is working for his father, taking submarines from Vladivostok to St Petersburg for the Russian Imperial Navy. He takes a submarine out for sea trials along with a naval dockyard crew he’d never met before. Spotting a group of German ships, he gives the order to attack and sinks four of them. On returning to Kronstadt, breaking free from an anti-submarine net with just 30 minutes of oxygen left, he opens the hatch to find every gun in the port facing him and his crew. Fluent in Russian, he quickly defuses the situation. For this action he is awarded by Tsar Nicholas II the Order of St. Stanislav and the Order of St. Anne, imperial Russia’s highest knighthood for military valour and ‘bravery in battle’.

Biffy, born and raised in Odessa, soon learnt to operate at all levels of Odessan society. Clearly highly intelligent, by 16 he was studying Naval Architecture and Naval Engineering in St Petersburg - broadening his education further in the waterfront bars of both Odessa and St. Petersburg.

Aged 18 he was engaged by Naval Intelligence as an interpreter on account of his language skills, English, Russian, French, Polish and German. He would soon grow into a buccaneering member of the British Secret Intelligence Service in a career spanning forty years which Biffy described as ‘40 years of licensed thuggery.’

Biffy appears in over 60 books and websites and yet no one has ever written the story of his life. ‘He was rather like a ghost one knew was there but the apparition never stood still long enough for a clear view.’ A Suspicion of Spies is the first ever biography of Biffy and tells the intriguing story of an extraordinary man – suave, sophisticated, genial and rich but also a ruthless and effective spymaster. Following his career, that spanned the Russian Revolution to the Cold War and beyond, A Suspicion of Spies is awash with stories of adventure, bravery, glamour and exoticism.

Biffy was a lifelong friend of Ian Fleming and many have considered him to be the blueprint for Bond. There is likely some truth in this. The tales of action and intrigue found in this comprehensive biography could be taken straight from the pages of From Russia with Love, which Biffy acted as ‘consultant’ for.

This biography is the story of the complicated intrigues of the world of intelligence. It is what the British are good at and Biffy was one of the best.


  • An exhaustively researched, detailed and gripping account of the life and dramatic times of one of Britain's foremost secret agents - the inimitable Wilfred 'Biffy' Dunderdale. A fabulous hero to quicken any schoolboy adventurer's blood, Dunderdale remains an iconic figure in the world of British and allied secret services. Read this book to understand why.
    Damien Lewis

About the author

Tim Spicer

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer OBE has led a life filled with action and adventure. During his twenty years in the British Army he saw active service in Northern Ireland, the Falklands campaign, the Gulf War and the Balkans, as well as serving in the Far East, Cyprus and Germany. Key appointments have included Chief of Staff of an Armoured Brigade, Staff Officer at the Directorate of Special Forces and Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, among many others. Over the course of his illustrious military career, Spicer has developed extensive knowledge of intelligence, counter-terrorism, complex relations and protective security. In 2001 he founded the private security company Aegis, which has counted the UK, US and Italian governments among its clients. He is the author of An Unorthodox Soldier: Peace and War and the Sandline Affair (2000), a fast-moving account of his military life, including the events surrounding his time in Papua New Guinea when he was captured and held at gunpoint, as well as the notorious 'Sandline Affair' of 1996, and A Dangerous Enterprise (2021) that charts the history of the little-known, yet remarkable 15th Motor Gunboat Flotilla, commanded directly by the Secret Intelligence Service.
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