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Pseudonym: Middlecott, John

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Unknown identity. John F. Middlecott was an instructor at SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua).
Middlecott and Andrew F. Merton (probably Jack Stewart) activated the first SCRANTON site at Tamarindo on 29 January 1954.

Moreover, Middlecott suffered from appendicitis and required an operation in May of 1954. Middlecott was based at SHERWOOD (CIA radio broadcasting program based in Nicaragua begun on May 1, 1954) for the duration of PBSUCCESS, working on a voluntary basis, assisting the training net to SCRANTON.

Also, a cable on January 24, 1954, described Middlecott as "five feet seven inches, 170 pounds, red hair."


01/24/54: Cable from LINCOLN to Director: Slugline PBSUCCESS RYBAT: FOR SEEKFORD: "1. SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua) instructors Merton (probably Jack Stewart) and Middlecott arriving Managua 25 Jan. Staying Lido Palace or Grand Hotel under cover tourists using aliases (IDEN A) (IDEN B). 2. Will reside hotel until contacted by Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) man. 3. Calligeris man is to 'recruit' and escort destination. 4. Merton will recognize proper contact when contact reports 'Chico sent me' by replying 'it has been a long time.' 5. Merton's description: Five feet seven inches, 160 pounds, dark brown hair, mustache, wearing long sleeve green sport shirt. Middlecott: Five feet seven inches, 170 pounds, red hair. Wearing short sleeve blue sport shirt. 6. Confirm receipt this cable priority, providing date of contact."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 90. 1/30/54-Telegram From the Central Intelligence Agency to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida

01/30/54: Telegram to Operation PBSUCCESS Headquarters in Florida: "36511. 1. Persons with ultimate KUBARK (CIA) authority have agreed that decision re future of PBSUCCESS will be made on Monday 1 February 1954. Between now and Monday forward all available information in detail re status of operation regardless of how unimportant it may seem. Include with information the following: A. Exact location SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua) and SARAMAC (paramilitary training site in Nicaragua). B. Details of current cover situation Seekford, Lugton, Merton (probably Jack Stewart), and Middlecott. C. Estimate of extent of compromise and disclosure of KUBARK interest from Delgado’s intercepts while acting as courier. D. Any other information of value not covered in A, B, and C. 2. Urge that Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) write up an appreciation of the situation to include the extent and details that may be in hands of the Arbenz forces. 3. Recall Iden A to LINC immediately. Imperative he not travel through WSBURNT (Guatemala) or even chance flying over country. He should proceed direct from KMFLUSH (Nicaragua) to Iden B and thence directly to LINCOLN (CIA's Guatemalan covert operations headquarters, a forward base in Florida). No exception may be taken to that pattern of travel. 4. Consider seriously the advisability of withdrawing Iden C from WSBURNT if his position appears to be in any danger of compromise. 5. Telecon 30 January 1954 will serve no purpose. Decisions cannot be made. Will advise you 1 February 1954 as to future actions. (2).."


01/31/54: Cable from Director to LINCOLN: Slugline PBSUCCESS RYBAT: "1. Because we cannot discount possibility of penetration within project at this time Merton (probably Jack Stewart) should leave KMFLUSH (Nicaragua) soonest in order to preclude possibility his identification by WSBURNTS (Guatemalans). Such identification would probably connect project with KUBARK (CIA) because of Merton's (REDACTION). 2. Pivall (probably David Morales) and Middlecott may remain as recommended Ref (B) para 7."


01/31/54: Cable from Withheld to Director: PBSUCCESS RYBAT: FROM MERTON: "1. Merton (probably Jack Stewart) and Middlecott arrived (REDACTION) office at 5 p.m. and were told that (REDACTION) assistant had left and that local papers 30 Jan had carried expose. 2. Novedades 30 Jan confirmed above. 3. In view this and fact (REDACTION) assistant had not returned as of 6:30 p.m., M and M moved to small hotel to disassociate selves from office and will continue to maintain covers pending further instructions. 4. For contact will continue plan arranged with Magoffin. 5. Have secure contact plan with (REDACTION) assistant. 6. Situation SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua, a subproject under PBSUCCESS): All but sensitive material unpacked and scattered in various rooms at site of building. Building locked 1545 hours 30 Jan and KMFLUSH (Nicaragua) sergeant permanently detailed to site with instructions not to let anyone enter. All sensitive materials turned over to (REDACTION). 7. From (REDACTION): Emergency contact with Pivall (probably David Morales) and Merton functioning. Contents LINC 307 (IN 14037) and 309 (IN 14041) will be passed later today. List of materials received follows."


02/05/54: Memorandum for the SCRANTON file: Subject: Report on SCRANTON Operation - 25 January to 3 February 1954: Frequent mentions of Middlecott and Merton in this report. - - - Page 14 (15 of PDF): ..."and that (REDACTION) had inquired as to the disposition of the three instructors, meaning Merton (probably Jack Stewart), Middlecott and Pivall (probably David Morales), and had indicated his approval of the actions taken by them..." - - - Page 15 (Page 16 of PDF): ..."13. The following is a synopsis of important unfavorable and favorable factors presently affecting SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua) operation as result of flaps...(3) Number of contacts by Middlecott and Merton (as of Merton's departure): (REDACTION): Merton 8: Middlecott 6. Seekford: Merton 4: Middlecott 3. Seekford's landlord: Merton 1: Middlecott 1. Pivall: Merton 1: Middlecott 1. Sierra: Merton 9: Middlecott 7..." - - - Page 18: Attachment I: Communications Diagram: There was a line between "LINCOLN Hqtrs" and "Taptap." Then one line went to "Raul Sierra and (REDACTION), Pivall." Another went to "Middlecott and Merton." The last two both went to "Magoffin (ps)." "Note: Field cryptos have been assigned to Middlecott, Merton, Pivall and Seekford for use in 'company' business. These are recorded in Memo for the Scranton File, 9 February 1954."


04/05/54: Dispatch from Withheld to Chief, LINCOLN: Subject: General - Operational: Specific: Developments in Assigned Tasks: "1. Due to his position with regard to the current trial of seven alleged Communists, ERGASTRION states that his acceptance by the Communists has been greatly improved. He has not been arrested, and at present it does not appear likely that he will be; however, it may be necessary to pay a small fine for him. There have been no other developments with regard to the FT Tasks since the last report. However, it should be pointed out that the problem of making contact with SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua) and SARANAC (paramilitary training site in Nicaragua) personnel as of a given time is difficult, as they are not in Managua so the signal for a meeting with the cut-out cannot be observed. It is sometimes several days between their tripe to Managua, and all that can be done is to keep the signal hoisted until they make contact. It is suggested that (REDACTION) be authorized to use radio communication with SCRANTON through Headquarters to make contact appointments with Middlecott or Pivall (probably David Morales) when necessary. The reverse procedure has been used once very effectively by SCRANTON. 2. PT task. This was progressing well until the principal agent was proved unusable due to his lack of security consciousness. Since receipt of this information, EREPSIN and ERGOTININE have been assigned to secure background information on WSBURNT (Guatemala) citizens in exile living in Managua, but this is a slow process...Francis D. Magoffin."


04/07/54: Memorandum from Withheld to Chief of Project: Subject: Phase Four Site Survey: (REDACTION): Page 7: "TAB B: Commo Annex to Phase IV Tactical Air-Support Plan: ...2. STAFF: A. Communicator staff will consist of two communicators, James Middlecott and John F. Shepstone, KUCLUB (CIA Office of Communications) instructors presently at SCRANTON (training base for radio operators near Nicaragua). Above two personnel will be detailed to air support radio station upon breakup of the SCRANTON training camp, date for which is indefinite but which should be about D-27..."


06/4/54: CIA document: SCRANTON Final Report: Page 4 (Page 7 of PDF): Mention of Seekford, Merton and John F. Middlecott as pseudonyms. - - - Pages 18-19 (Pages 21-22 of PDF): "VI. Staff Personnel: A. Staff instructors included John F. Middlecott, (REDACTION) and Andrew F. Merton (probably Jack Stewart). The bulk of the instruction was carried by the former two and too much credit cannot be given them. Middlecott spoke no Spanish although training was not delayed on this account. (REDACTION) Spanish was more than adequate for the job, while Merton's Spanish may be classified as adequate. Difficulty was experienced in getting (REDACTION) into KMFLUSH (Nicaragua), which may have contributed to overall problems in meeting deadlines. B. Merton and Middlecott activated the first SCRANTON site at Tamarindo on 29 January 1954. Following the expose of this site, Merton returned to LINCOLN since his service in WSBURNT (Guatemala) would have exposed PBPRIME (U.S.) interests, should he have been blown. Middlecott carried on with the aid of Vincent Pivall (ps), Spanish speaking SARANAC instructor, and began training on 6 March. (REDACTION) arrived on 3 April to share the instruction load. Middlecott was recalled to LINCOLN over 23 April - 3 May for consultation and briefing. After Middlecott's return to SCRANTON, he was stricken by appendicitis on 21 May, and, following a successful operation, remained thereafter at SHERWOOD where he assisted the training net to SCRANTON. It should be remarked that Middlecott's service following his operation was on a volunteer basis, a tribute to his professionalism. He was unable to serve further at SCRANTON since road communications were too rough for his safe convalescence. Following 21 May, (REDACTION) was aided by Merton who returned from LINCOLN to SCRANTON for the short time remaining. (REDACTION) departed for Headquarters on 5 June, leaving Merton to finish training alone and close SCRANTON on 9 June..."

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952-1954: Guatemala: Current Section: 274. 7/8/54-Memorandum From William Robertson of Operation PBSUCCESS to the Chief of the Project

07/08/54: Memorandum from William Robertson of Operation PBSUCCESS to the Chief of the Project: Subject: PM Operation..."II. Staging and Pre-Operation Preparations: A. The Background of the Situation Prior to the Staging: 1. Approximately 85 Calligeris (Carlos Castillo Armas) personnel had received training in Nicaragua, 75 of these under the guidance of Pivall (probably David Morales). Pivall graduated 30 sabotage leaders, 6 shock troop leaders, 16 organizers, 4 staff personnel and 19 incompetents. Exactly 13 radio operators graduated under the guidance of Dunavant and Middlecott. 2. Eighty-nine tons of equipment were prepared in three forms at FJHOPEFUL (Fort Clayton, Panama). Forty-three tons were waterproofed for burial. Fifteen tons were packed for drop. Thirty-one tons were prepared for shock troop use. Prior to the staging period the entire burial and shock troop equipment had been moved to Honduras..."

Gavin McDonald

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