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Virtual Museum - The Heroes of Phantom

These are the stories of the men that served in GHQ Liaison Regiment 'Phantom'. It is our aim to share the experience they had, if you have any further/new information about these heroes please get in contact with us. Thank you to all those who have contributed to these amazing stories. 


Cpl. William Jowitt

Jowitt joined in 1941 after completing basic training with the Royal Corps of Signals. He served in Normandy, Belgium, Netherlands and through to Germany. He was demmobed in 1947 and went on to become a physics teacher. Click here to find out more.


Mjr. Alan Laurie

Laurie joined in 1941 after finishing his training with the Royal Artillery. He served in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, Belgium, and Holland to finally Germany. After the war he went on to become a teacher. Click here to find out more. 


Cpt. John Gray

Gray served in European theatre.





Click here to find out more. 

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Cpt. Peter Astbury

As a Cambridge graduate, he used his inventive genius to develop new equipment for Phantom. As a member of the communist party, he was constantly monitored by the secret service through the war and into the late 1950s. Click here to find out more.


Sgl.M, Stand Hayward

After the Normandy Landings Hayward was attached to the 3rd US Army for the advance through France to Paris. During Operation Makret Garden he was involved with the bitter fighting at Nijmegan Bridge. Click Here to find out more.

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Hon. Brain Simon

After graduating from Cambridge Brian served with the Dorsershire Regiment and gained his commission with the Royal Corps of Signals. He served with B Squadron in Phantom from 1940 to 1945.

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Pvt. Harry Binge

From Essex he was employed by Greaves & Thomas (upholsterers) 1930-40 called up 24.6.1940 to the
Royal Norfolk Regiment 3.10.1940
G Squadron GHQLR 1941  B Squadron GHQLR, R.A.C. 1944-45


Ian Mackrill

TEXT TEXT TEXT. Click here to find out more.


Cpt. John Watney



Cpt. Charles McDevitt

Text Text Text. Read more here


Sgt. Arthur Harvey

Harvey joined the Queen Regiment TA in 1938 and after returning from Dunkirk he joined Phantom. He served in 'F' section across the European theatre. He was demmomed in 1947 after 8 years of service a year later he married. Click here to find out more.

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Pvt. William 'Ticker' Tone

Tone joined Phantom in the early stages of the war, he served in the European theatre. After the war he emigrated to the United States. For many years Jowitt would try and get into contact with Tone but sadly never did.


Col. Julian Fane

Fane joined Phantom in 1940 after serving with the B.E.F. He served with them at Dieppe, North Africa, Tunisia, and Sicily. A parachuting accident in 1943 put him out of action and ended his service.. Click here to find out more.

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George Reginald Star

After living in Europe George joined the BEF and served with Phantom in charge of the pigeon lofts. He joined the SOE F Section in 1942 and was awarded the D.S.O, M.C, He died in October 1980 in Chantilly, France.

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Sgt. Len Owen

Len Owens was a radio operator with the wartime “Phantom” GHQ Liaison Regiment and won the Military Medal for providing communications for the SAS in Occupied France. Click here to find out more.

Deryck Pain Howel

Mjr. Deryck Pain Howell


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Cpt. Maurice Macmillan

Son of the future Prime Minister Harold Macmillian, Maurice commissioned with the Sussex Yeomanry in 1939 as an intelligence officer. He joined Phantom in 1944. Click here to find out more.

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Cpt. Peter Pike

In mid-1943  Captain Peter Pike was assigned to the Phantoms as Captain of H Squadron, based in Lebanon. He served in the Italian Campaign and Normandy, involved in the J service. For more information click here


Sgt Mjr. Albert Harrison

Albert Edward Harrison. Squadron Serjeant Major, S.A.S. more here


D. Heathcoat-Amory

Text Text Text.

The Security Service first began to take an interest in him in 1936 (KV 2/2884, 1936-1950) when his name began to appear in intercepted correspondence of other suspects. He did, however, manage to join the army gain a commission in the Royal Corps of Signals in 24.05.1941 and join Phantom before the Service could intervene, and so Captain Astbury served out the war in the GHQ Liaison regiment.

Based at Richmond Park, he used his inventive genius to develop new equipment to maximise the efficiency of wireless communication. This included the Astbury Amplifier and the MORSEX machine. He served with Phantom in Normandy when he was seconded to B Squadron and he later parachuted in to Holland as part of Operation Market Garden; he was captured at Arnhem on 17 September 1944.


After his release he seems to have courted publicity and given press interviews detailing his claims to have been involved with Phantom's communication systems on D-Day and thereafter. The file reveals that he was in regular contact with prominent Communists such as Douglas Springhall. It was said that the only secrets that he was party to were about the machines he had invented himself.


In 1947, Astbury joined the Blackett Manchester University to work as part of the "cosmic ray team".but remained a suspected Soviet agent. Astbury made his communist views public knowledge in November 1950, and he had growing disagreements with the leader of the Manchester team. Astbury's name became closely linked to the Cambridge spy ring when a letter from him to Guy Burgess was found among the latter's possessions in New Bond Street on 7 June 1951, shortly after Burgess defected (copy at serial 141a).

Despite a close watch being kept on his activities and contacts, no evidence seemed to have emerged of Astbury passing information about his research to the Soviets. At this time, Astbury frequently travelled to Switzerland for research purposes and the Service continued to gather information on his work and contacts through to 1958.


He died on 5/12/87 in Islington.

Peter Astbury b14.07.1916 Sleaford, Lincolnshire

Son of the Rev. Frank Llewellyn Davies Astbury (1871-1925), and Albinia Esther Donne (1892-1984).

​​Astbury was a highly intelligent and capable Cambridge graduate. He became a Communist Party member during his time as a student at Christ's College Cambridge (1935-1938), becoming a member of the Apostles and he maintained that membership throughout his military service and beyond, eventually admitting his allegiance.

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Peter Arthur David Baker - captured in Holland and escaped twice

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Derick Heathcoat-Amory

born 26.12.1899 St George's,Hanover Square,London son of Sir Ian Murray,2 Bt and Alexandra Georgina (nee Seymour)
(died 1942) Heathcoat-Amory educated Eton College/Christ Church College,Oxford, employed in textile manufacturing and banking Devon County Councillor 1932
Royal Artillery (T.A.) GHQLR,RAC (Lt Colonel 7978)WIA and POW September 1944 Arnhem
Conservative Member of Parliament 1945-60 Chancellor of the Exchequer 1958-60
created 1st Viscount Amory of Tiverton,in the County of Devon 1.9.1960 Chancellor of the University of Exeter 1972-81
succeeded his brother as Baronet 1972
awards KG,GCMG,TD,Bt,PC,DL
died 20.1.1981 Devon the Viscountcy became extinct after his death

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Deryck Pain Howell

Deryck Howell was born in Cardiff in 1914 and was educated at Clifton College, Bristol. After qualifying as a Pharmacist he joined the family firm of chemists, EG Howell. At the outbreak of World War II he volunteered as a trooper in the Royal Armoured Corps. After commissioning at Sandhurst he was made Tank Troop leader in North Africa and subsequently Southern Italy. At the time of Cassino, he joined J service.2 GHQ Liaison Regiment (B Detachment) (Lt) When Phantom was disbanded he became Chief Superintendant or Lt Colonel of District of Wolfsberg, Austria. (8.8.1945) (Capt) On his discharge he returned to Cardiff when he expanded the family business and also expanded his family. He married and had two sons. died 25.6.2011

Ian Mackrill

Ian Rollo Mackrill died 3.3.2013 aged 94 in the house in which he was born. Exhibitioner. ClareCollege, Cambridge 1937, 2 Classics1939, 1 Military Subjects 1940, MA 1944.Commissioned originally into York andLancaster Regiment 1940 beforetransferring to Green Howards. Servedwith GHQ Liaison Regiment (Phantom)– a secret and specialised unit responsiblefor liaison between lower formations andthe high command. North Africa 1942-43.He was active in this role on D-Dayand thereafter in Normandy 1944.Deployed with Tactical HQ 12 US ArmyGroup NW Europe 1944-46. For his workwith the Americans he was awarded theAmerican Bronze Star Medal, the citationfor which reads: ‘His reputation for absolute accuracy played a material part in the successful cooperation of the twoallied forces’. At the end of the war hecommanded No. 3 GHQ LiaisonRegiment. Demobbed Major 1946. Served in the TA with 3rd County ofLondon Yeomanry 1950–1965. TD 1962.

Barrister Inner Temple and Lincoln’s Inn. Retired 1978. Later having taken a degree in behavioural science he practised as a Gestalt therapist, he was also a member of the West London Chaplaincy. He never married, but was godfather to 14 children.

Captain John Basil Watney

Watney was born on 13th January 1915 on the London-Southampton Train – his mother, Margit Vibege Dietrichson was Danish and his father Basil Gold Watney was a Lieutenant Commander. He had two brothers Walter Watney MC and Hugh Norman Watney.  His father died in Budapest of influenza in 1919 and his mother just 8 years later. He held a commission with Royal Sussexes and was attached to Phantom from April 43. After a wartime romance, he had married Maria Raquel Senoret on 8th June 1940.  He saw active service in Normandy with A Squadron's J 4, but was seriously injured whilst monitoring the push over the River Orne on July 18th. He divorced Maria and married  Antoinette Rosemary Pratt-Barlow 6th November 1948 in London. He became an author, including writing his memoirs of his time in Normandy (see below). He wrote history books,Pitman guides, pathfinder guides and a book about Mervyn Peake, the Painter. He divorced Antoinette in 1970 and married Peake’s widow, painter Maeve Gilmore. He died on 15th May 1995 in London and was buried on 22nd May 1995 in Woodstock, Oxford.   

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