Avery ordinary-looking metal canister will appear on BBC primetime series The Repair Shop next month. The size of a holdall, it looks like something found in a suburban garage. But it holds an incredible past. The simple container once held guns, ammunition and hand grenades dropped to the man who was perhaps Britain’s most important agent in occupied France: Major Francis Suttill, codenamed Prosper.
“He created this enormous network in just a few months – more than anyone expected him to,” says his son, also named Francis, who brought the canister to the show. “It was amazing in the circumstances. But then it fell apart due to bad luck and bad security by one of his lieutenants.”
There’s an optimal growth rate for a secret network. Fast enough to be able to do stuff, but not so fast that it accepts people who are security risks. The only perfectly secure one being the one person who never communicates and that’s of no use at all.