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After 1914, Hampshire played a very important role in both World Wars owing to the large Royal Navy base situated at Portsmouth, the army camp at Aldershot, and the military Netley Hospital on Southampton Water, as well as its proximity to the army training ranges on Salisbury Plain and the Isle of Purbeck.
The designers Supermarine, who were responsible for the Spitfire and other military aircraft, were based in Southampton, which led to severe bombing of the city during World War 2. Aldershot is still one of the main permanent camps of the British Army. Farnborough was and remains a major centre for the aviation industry.
During the Second World War, the Beaulieu, Hampshire Estate of Lord Montagu in the New Forest was the site of several group B finishing schools for agents operated by the Special Operations Executive between 1941 and 1945. One of the trainers here was the infamous Kim Philby who was later found to be part of a spy ring passing information to the Soviet Union. In 2005, a special exhibition was established at the Estate, with a video showing photographs from that era as well as voice recordings of former Special Operations Executive trainers and agents.
As stated previously, The Special Operations Executive in Hampshire had links to a trainer called Kim Philby. He was a British intelligence officer and a double agent for the Soviet Union. In 1963 he was revealed to be a member of the Cambridge Five, a spy ring which passed information to the Soviet Union during World War II and in the early stages of the Cold War. Of the five, Philby is believed to have been most successful in providing secret information to the Soviets.
The former Hampshire based training officer was also responsible for tipping off two other spies under suspicion of espionage, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, both of whom subsequently fled to Moscow in May 1951. The defections of Maclean and Burgess cast suspicion over Philby, resulting in his resignation from MI6, correctly named the Secret Intelligence Service or SIS in July 1951. He was publicly exonerated in 1955, after which he resumed his career as both a journalist and a spy for SIS in Beirut. In January 1963, having finally been unmasked as a Soviet agent, Philby defected to Moscow, where he lived out his life until his death in 1988.
Although the Isle of Wight has at times been part of Hampshire, it has been administratively independent for over a century, obtaining a county council of its own in 1890. The Isle of Wight became a full ceremonial county in 1974. About the only thing that directly links the Isle of Wight to Hampshire is a shared police force, being Hampshire County Constabulary, no formal administrative links now exist between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, though many organisations still combine Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
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