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The British Secret Service and the escape of Sir Sidney Smith from Paris in 1798

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Blackwell Publishing
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Abstract

This article seeks to modify the common perception that the activities of the British secret service during the French revolutionary wars were amateurish and unsuccessful by focusing on one effective operation masterminded by British agents, the escape of Sir Sidney Smith and John Wesley Wright from the Temple prison in Paris in 1798. It explores Smith's early espionage career in detail and examines the means used by the British secret service to aid his escape and to keep its activities hidden from public view. It also brings to light a new spy network organized by Smith while he was in the Temple, which was to remain in place for several years.

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