World War 2 intelligence

I have just posted on my ‘beejaytellingstories’ blog a completely fictitious story that stemmed from the following very factual outline of World War 2 work during that war.

‘Intelligence is never wasted’ is one of the oldest maxims of warfare. Certainly British intelligence in World War 2 made a substantial contribution to the Allied victory. Yet, until recently, thanks mainly to security; its vital role has been underestimated. It was only in the late 20th century, with the release of many classified documents and the willingness of some of them involved speaking for the first time, that a more accurate account emerged. Some aspects of this work will, however, never be revealed, or only in part.

Various Auxiliary Units were specially trained and highly secret units created were created with the aim of resisting the expected invasion of the British Isles by Nazi Germany during WW2. Britain, it would appear, was the only country during the war to create such a resistance movement in advance of an invasion.

The units [occasionally known as the British Resistance Organisation] were initiated by Winston Churchill, who appointed Major Colin Gubbins [an expert in guerrilla warfare who would later head up the Special Operations Executive], to oversee them and attach them to GCHQ Homes Forces [Government Communications Headquarters] . They were concealed within the Home Guard.

Some 5,000 units were formed, consisting of Special Duty Sections, Signals and Operational Patrols. Auxiliary Unit members were vetted by a senior local police chief who, according to sealed orders given to the Operational Patrols to be opened only in case of invasion, were allegedly to be assassinated to prevent the membership of the Auxiliary Unit being revealed!

It is generally accepted that the most famous example of the success of this intelligence was the breaking of the German Enigma machine code by Station X at Bletchley Park. It is easy to understand Churchill called the staff there, “the geese who laid the golden eggs but never cackled”.

It was not until the 1970s that the existence of Enigma system was made public.  Up to then the Americans were credited in some films with the cracking the code.  However, when the first confirmations of the Enigma story was released it became clear that it was the Polish, and then the British, aided by some of the earliest computers, that did the trick.

A combination of British, Australian and American intelligence also enabled Bletchley Park to crack the Japanese codes. The Allies also won the battle of the radio intercepts and regular intelligence communication with units in the field was organised by the General Headquarters Liaison Regiment under the code name PHANTOM].

Most of those involved in intelligence were unsung heroes and heroines but we all owe them a great deal.



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