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Kenneth Benton (the second Appledore spy)

Kenneth Benton

4 March, 1909 – 14 October 1999 (90 years)
Born Wolverhampton, died Chichester
Education – London University (dates unknown) – studied French, German, Italian

SIS/MI6 career – 1937-1968

WW2 – Spain
Previously posted to Vienna and Latvia, later posted to Rome, Madrid, Lima, Rio de Janeiro (1966-68). From 1964-66 he was based in London as Director, Latin America. 
Immediate superior – Kim Philby
Retired 1968
Novelist – from 1968 


Probably from 1968 (sources say on retirement). Moved to Chichester at some point. 

See Benton’s full obituary here

Two lives in parallel

MI6 careers

It is likely that de Salis (visit the de Salis page) and Benton knew each other from 1941. Both were in the ‘Iberian Section’, headed by Kim Philby. Both were doing essentially the same job in Portugal and Spain. At the end of their careers, both were in Rio de Janeiro. de Salis was in Rio from 1960-66, and for the last two years would seem to have been reporting to Benton in London. When de Salis retired in 1966, Benton went to Rio. 

Other similarities

They were close contemporaries, born within two years of each other. Both were linguists with an interest in literature. Benton was a schoolmaster before joining MI6, de Salis became a schoolmaster on leaving MI6. 

The Appledore Connection

Charles de Salis was local, born in Maidstone, so it is no surprise that he retired to Appledore. He was definitely at Church House by 1966, but may have owned it before that date. Benton appears to have retired to Vine House in 1968. It is easy to imagine Benton visiting de Salis in 1966-68 and deciding to buy the house next door. We don’t know when Benton moved to Chichester, or why. Benton’s eleven spy novels were published between 1969 and 1985, and it is tempting to think that they were written in Appledore before some life event prompted a move to Chichester – but this is purely speculative. Brian remembers Benton being in Appledore in the 1980s. Charles de Salis left Appledore in 1980, so it is safe to conclude that Appledore’s retired spies were neighbours from 1968 to 1980. 

Read about the third Appledore Spy