Colonel Dallam vs the ÁVH: How They Bugged the Home of the U.S. Air Attaché

62 years ago to this day, the AVH reported that they had successfully bugged the house of Colonel Welwyn Dallam, the U.S. Air Attaché in Budapest.

“Following the approved operational plan, yesterday we performed the successful installation of the “IX/8 measure” in the apartment of U.S. Air Attache [Colonel] Welwyn Dallam on September 2, 1955. According to plan, the "measure" has been installed in the three most important rooms of the house. The devices have been tested, they are operating reliably" - proudly reported Lieutenant Mezei of I/1 subdivision of the Ministry of the Interior.

As it later turned out, his self-complacency was premature.

The AVH took the opportunity to plant the device while Colonel Dallam was attending a meeting of U.S. Military and Air Attachés in West Germany. Dallam returned on September 9, and the AVH duly activated the system, which in turn shut down the electric circuit in the whole neighbourhood. According to a later AVH report, the electrical problems of the erratic system caused problems with the electricity supply in the whole district for about a week.

Welwyn Dallam andd Christopher Cope
U.S. Air Attache Colonel Welwyn Dallam (L2) in civilian with the top UK dipomat in Budapest, Head of Chancery Christopher Cope (R), Sarah Rogers (C) an unidentified Legation wife (L1). Photo from our personal collection. (©Cold War Private Tours Budapest)

What's more, on September 20 two mysterious Americans arrived to the house with Legation security officer Robert Clark and performed a sweep of the Air Attache's home. After 5 hours of search, they found all three listening devices planted by the AVH. It was standard procedure for the Americans to perform routine bug sweeps after every occasion any of their diplomats had to travel abroad for longer than a week, so actually the AVH was doomed to fail.

Colonel Dallam was finally expelled from Hungary under charges of espionage after the 1956 revolution, and at least one of his Hungarian contacts was trapped and executed by the Hungarian authorities.

The unlikely secret meeting place of Dallam and this Hungarian person is a standard stop on our "Spies and Masters" walking tour.

Gather your friends, book your private tour, and come to know the secret story of Cold War in Budapest.

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