26 October 1915 – Irvin Guy Ries

A clutch of spies were found and executed during World War I. And it was Irving Guy Ries’s turn to die today in 1915.

American-born Ries had been found guilty of spying for German and of treason following a spate of unusual activities and dealings with known secret agent contacts.

His cover was blown open by the infant organisation MO5, which was later to morph into MI5 in 1916. The then recently formed organisation busted the covert operation to feed Germany secrets, according to the National Archives.

Ries (his alias) was court martialled and found guilty of espionage and automatically banged up in the Tower of London, where his execution was to take place. The 55-year-old sat tied to a chair facing his firing squad, which was made up of the Scots Guards before being peppered full of bullets.

Other spies before and after him received the same fate over a period of 14 months. Only two bucked the trend by being hanged at London’s Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons.

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