– Given the codename Johnny O’Brien by his Nazi paymasters, to MI5 he was known as Agent Snow
– Helped crack Germany’s Enigma military codes
– Seen by Nazis as a master spy, he enabled MI5 to capture numerous agents sent by Berlin to Britain
– Daughter became Hollywood actress Patricia Owens who starred in sci-fi classic The Fly
December 29, 2011
When MI5 first set eyes upon him, Arthur Owens was breezily described as ‘an underfed Cardiff type’.
But the Welsh electrical engineer was a complex man who led an extraordinary life during World War II becoming Britain’s first double agent and helping to crack Germany’s Enigma military codes, a new book reveals.
Given the codename Johnny O’Brien by his paymasters in Berlin, he helped MI5 capture numerous Nazi spies, including all those dropped by parachute or boat in England in 1940.Â
Snow – The Double Life Of A World War II Spy by Nigel West and Madoc Roberts – tells how his journey into the world of spying began when he walked into the Germany embassy in Belgium in 1935.