IS9 Historical Report

Intelligence School 9 was established in January 1942 as the executive branch of MI9. It's job was to assist British and Commonwealth service personnel to evade capture when behind enemy lines and to assist Prisoners of War to escape. Arguably IS9's most important work was to gather intelligence from and boast the morale of Allied POWs. The Historical Report of IS9, compiled by the section at the end of World War II, is reproduced below.

Enclosure No.1 to Attachment A to D.D.M.I's Memo

HISTORICAL RECORD OF I.S.9

I. ORGANISATION

  1. Organisation
  2. I.S.9(W)
  3. I.S.9(X)
  4. I.S.9(Y)
  5. I.S.9(Z)
  6. I.S.9(D)/P.15
  7. I.S.9(A.B.)

II. SECTION W

  1. Formation
  2. Location
  3. Interrogations
  4. Personnel
  5. Reports
  6. Welfare
  7. Administration
  8. Training of Interrogators
  9. Suggestions

III. SECTION X

  1. Formation
  2. Staff
  3. Work
  4. Collection of Material
  5. Combined Operations
  6. New Developments
  7. Changes in Policy
  8. Lancashire Penny Fund
  9. Hogmanay Scheme
  10. Further changes
  11. Mass Escape from Stalag Luft III
  12. Escape Routes
  13. The Last Phase
  14. The Final Liberation
  15. Analysis of Escape Routes
  16. Conclusions
  17. Italy
  18. Recommendations

IV. SECTION Y

  1. Formation
  2. Situation when France Collapsed
  3. First Contact
  4. Getting in Touch
  5. A New Establishment
  6. Progress
  7. New Codes
  8. The Writing of Code Letters
  9. News Letters
  10. W/T Communication
  11. Types of Information Sent and Received through Code Organisations
  12. Italy
  13. Statistics
  14. Conclusions

V. SECTION Z

  1. Formation
  2. The Early Days
  3. Parcels to P/W Camps
  4. Phoney Funds
  5. Aids Sent to P/W Camps
    1. Money
    2. Escape Aids
    3. W/T Material
    4. Miscellaneous
  6. Evasion Material
  7. I.S.9(D)/P.15
  8. Awards Bureaux
  9. Conclusion and Suggestions

VI. SECTION D/P.15

  1. Formation
  2. The Build-up
  3. Agents
  4. Operations
  5. Air Ministry
  6. Conclusions
  7. Recommendations

APPENDICES

  1. Organisation of I.S.9
  2. Organisation of Section W
  3. Organisation of Section X
  4. Organisation of Section Y
  5. Organisation of Section Z
  6. Organisation of Section D/P15
  7. Officers who have served with I.S.9 (Including Awards Bureaux)
  8.  
    1. Questionnaire for Service Personnel. M.I.9/S/P.G
    2. Questionnaire for Service Personnel. M.I.9/S/P.G App D.
    3. Questionnaire for Service Personnel. R.N. and Army
    4. Questionnaire for Service Personnel. R.A.F.
  9.  
    1. General Questionnaire for British-American ex P/W. M.I.9/GEN
    2. Form "Q" War Crimes. M.I.9/INT/Q. MIS-X
    3. Special Questionnaire for British-American P/W. M.I.9/Int/S.P. MIS-X
    4. Certificate of Completion of Form No. 9/JAP/
    5. Details of Escapes or Attempted Escapes. (M.I.9/JAP/No.........A)
    6. P/W Deaths and other casualties. (M.I.9/JAP/No.........B)
    7. British or American personnel who helped the enemy. (M.I.9/JAP/No.........C)
    8. War Crimes. (M.I.9/JAP/No.........D)
  10. Selected M.I.9/S/P.G. Reports - outstanding Escapes or Evasions.
  11. Samples of forged identity cards, travel permits etc.
  12. Code Nos. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, F.E.I., F.E.II., F.E.III.
  13.  
    1. Lecture Notes on Camp conditions. (Special Instruction)
    2. Notes of Special lecture for R.N. Submarine Officers
  14. Application for Agents Training Course
  15. Outline of Secret Organisations and Escape Routes
  16. Messages from H.M. the King and the Prime Minister

 

VOLUME I.

Maps, Escape Routes and Plans

VOLUME II.

Complete Set of Maps Issued

 


ENCLOSURE NUMBER I

TOP SECRET

NO. 9 INTELLIGENCE SCHOOL

I. ORGANISATION

1. ORGANISATION

No. 9 Intelligence School, which was formed in January 1942, was added to as the work expanded and progressed. Below are set out the duties performed by each Section and the attached plan at Appendix "A" shows how the School finally became organised. Further details are given in Appendices "B", "C", "D", "E", "F" and "G".

2. I.S.9(W)

Interrogation of escapers, evaders and repatriated service personnel; Preparation of all Reports and Appendices; internal distribution of Reports and correspondence. (See Appendix "B").

3. I.S.9(X)

Escape and evasion planning; location of P/W Camps; collection of material for M.I.9 Bulletin; Selection, recording and coordination of despatch of escape material to P/W Camps; Preparations of escape and evasion maps. (See Appendix "C").

4. I.S.9(Y)

Preparation of code messages to P/W Camps; liaison with outside secret departments with regard to special cases; correspondence with P/W Camps; liaison with selected relatives of Ps/W; decoding, editing and passing to M.I.9 of information received from all Camps; maintenance of Camp Records, names of attempted escapers, helpers, code users, etc; dealing with Censorship slips; dealing with Special Questionnaires from Reception Camps; interviewing "Special" Repatriated Ps/W; preparation of Historical Record of each P/W Camp. (See Appendix "D").

5. I.S.9(Z)

Experimental work; production of escape and evasion equipment; preparation of P/W parcels. Distribution of gadgets and special clothing for I.S.9(D)/P.15 agents, etc; weekly and monthly stock sheets. Despatch of supplies to all theatres on M.I.9 indents; records, indents, despatch notes, packing etc. (See Appendix "E").

6. I.S.9(D)-(P.15)

Employment and training (under auspices of S.I.S.) of agents sent to enemy occupied countries of Western Europe to assist escapers and evaders to return to U.K; preparation of plans for evacuation of escapers and evaders from France, Belgium and Holland; communication with I.S.9 agents in these countries. (See Appendix "F").

7. I.S.9(AB)

Interviewing helpers of British and American escapers and evaders in FRANCE, BELGIUM, HOLLAND, DENMARK; investigating and settling financial claims; making recommendations for awards to helpers. (This work was carried out in close conjunction with the Americans and the Intelligence Services of the countries concerned.)

 

 

 

II. SECTION "W"

1. FORMATION

Like other Sections of I.S.9, I.S.9(W) originated in M.I.9(b), but whilst the other Sections were separated from the War Office branch on the formation of I.S.9 in January 1942, the work of this Section continued in M.I.9(b) until March 1943 when, under a new War Establishment, it was brought into the School. The first interrogations of escapers and evaders were carried out, therefore, by M.I.9(b) and, on the change over to I.S.9(W), no material change in the system of interrogation and of reports was involved.

2. LOCATION

Although it was essential for the reports to be recorded and distributed from H.Q., it was found to be necessary for actual interrogations to take place in London. We were extremely fortunate in obtaining the sympathy and interest of the London District Assembly Centre, who put rooms at our disposal for interrogation purposes. This purely unofficial arrangement continued to the winter of 1944. Personnel of all three Services were interrogated at the L.D.A.C. and accommodated there for as long as it was convenient, or necessary, to retain them. During the latter months of the war, with Army and Navy personnel being interrogated at Reception Camps, outside London and the R.A.F. at a Camp in London, it became an exceedingly difficult task for I.S.9(W) to cope with the work, but the necessary arrangements were made for all returning escapers and evaders to be interviewed, wherever they happened to be sent; this entailed the employment of additional personnel.

3. INTERROGATIONS

    1. Objects

The aims of the interrogations carried out by I.S.9(W) were:-

      1. To obtain information for M.I.9 lectures and the M.I.9 Bulletin.
      2. To obtain information which might be of use to I.S.9(X) in their planning of escapes.
      3. To supply M.I.9 with information whereby they could make recommendations for awards to escapers and helpers, settle claims for expenses incurred, and pay compensation etc.
      4. To help M.I.9(D)/P.15 to keep in touch with the progress of our organisations on the Continent.
      5. To obtain and make available to the three services and other Government departments information on conditions in enemy and enemy-occupied countries and on military and specialist subjects.
      6. To keep M.I.5 informed of matters of security interest affecting prisoners of war and evaders and to enable them to interrogate personnel whose cases were regarded as doubtful from the security point of view.

 

    1. How information was obtained

Information for outside sections was obtained partly at the I.S.9(W) interrogations, interrogators being briefed on subjects for which a watch had to be kept, and partly by arranging for the outside branch concerned to make its own interrogation. This latter system worked satisfactorily once escapers and evaders had become less of a rarity and there was less temptation for outside branches to pass them on to other departments, more in order to hear their stories than to obtain information from them. Such interviews were later held at the L.D.A.C., so as to lessen the strain on the man being interrogated. Close liaison was kept with M.I.5 during the whole of the war so that the security of escapers and evaders could be considered.

    1. Methods

At first interrogation was done largely by giving the escaper or evader - other than those of obvious importance - a copy of a questionnaire, a sheet of paper and a pencil and asking him to write his answers. This system worked tolerably well in the case of those who had escaped from the column of march or evaded capture in BELGIUM and FRANCE immediately after Dunkirk; indeed, considering that the original interrogation officer had no regular trained help, it was probably the only possible system. But as soon as the need was felt for reports which would give a picture of an escape or evasion from which lessons for teaching could be drawn, the limitations of this method were evident. Near illiteracy was found to be by no means confined to Other Ranks and even the officer or man who could express himself with reasonable fluency and accuracy would not necessarily record those things he had done which others might with profit imitate or avoid. It was found from experience that to get a man to write his own "story" produced results of limited usefulness and, that to obtain satisfactory results there was no substitute for real interrogation. This method, which had the added advantage of making every officer and man feel that the value of his performance in evasion or escape was fully appreciated, was therefore adopted and strictly adhered to. Where the numbers to be interrogated were large and time was short, it was sometimes found expedient to issue personnel with questionnaires and ask them to fill in their personal details and answer as many of the other questions that they could. This helped the interrogator to the extent of cutting out routine questions and of having the man already thinking along the lines of the subsequent interrogation; but it was never regarded as a substitute for interrogation. Copies of the questionnaire used as a guide for the interrogation of escapers and evaders and of repatriated personnel are attached at Appendices "H" and "I".

4. PERSONNEL

    1. Officers

Interrogation began in M.I.9(b) under one male officer. This continued till January 1943, when a second male officer was employed. An A.T.S. officer had been taken on for secretarial work in 1942, but was not tried out as an interrogator until the Spring of 1943. This A.T.S. officer proved, however, that the right type of woman is as good an interrogator as a man. In 1944, a W.A.A.F. officer was attached to the Section, who besides being responsible for the whole of the office routine, carried out occasional interrogations very efficiently. In the same year an R.A.F. officer - an escaper from Germany - was added to the Section and from September 1944, when the full results of the invasion of France and Belgium became apparent, additional assistance was provide from other I.S.9 Sections and from M.I.9. Canada was represented by the permanent attachment of one Canadian Army officer and the part time employment of two R.C.A.F. officers, whilst from time to time various R.A.F. and Dominion officers were with the Section temporarily. At earlier stages, American officers and officers of I.S.9(W.E.A.) attended I.S.9(W) interrogations, and their own reports subsequently became adaptations of the I.S.9(W) style.

    1. Other Ranks

Other Ranks were not used as interrogators. Shortage of clerical staff was a great handicap when the work was under M.I.9(b), but the postion improved greatly under I.S.9. In I.S.9 Clerks were pooled and a number were trained to take escape and evasion reports to dictation.

5. REPORTS

    1. Form

Reports of interrogations of escapers and evaders were produced as M.I.9/S./P.G. (Secret, Prisoners, Germany), reports. Although, as time went on, interrogation of escapers and evaders from other countries besides Germany were carried out, the S/P.G. designation, which meant nothing to anyone outside the organisation, was kept for all reports of this nature. Later, when repatriated Ps/W returned and were interrogated, other designation were given.

These were as follows:-

I.S.9/W.E.A.

For ex P/W liberated by the Allies.

U.D.F./P.W/INT/U.K.

For South African escapers.

I.S.9/REP.

For escapers from Germany via Middle East and Balkans.

P.W/EX/SWITZ

For Italy-Switzerland escapers.

S/P.G./LIB.

For liberated Ps/W from Germany.

C.S.D.I.C/C.M.F/SKP &

 

C.S.D.I.C/M.E./SKP

For escapers from Italy to the Allied lines.

S/PG/MIS/INT.

Miscellaneous intelligence information obtained from liberated Ps/W from Germany.

 

These designations have little significance and are primarily a matter of internal convenience in keeping separate the various types of reports prepared. The reports, where applicable, were divided into:-

      1. The main report (originally MOST and TOP SECRET and later SECRET). This contained information on an escape or evasion up to the point where the escaper or evader came into the hands of an organisation. No names of persons were mentioned, or any descriptions given which might have identified helpers. The main report had a fairly wide distribution.
      2. Appendix A (TOP SECRET). This contained names and addresses of helpers, nature of help given, and relevant dates. This information was intended to help I.S.9(D)-(P/15) and, eventually, the Sections charged with the tracing and rewarding of helpers (now I.S.9(AB)). "Black List" foreigners were also included in this appendix. It had a very limited circulation.
      3. Appendix B. (TOP SECRET, later SECRET). Military Information. Distributed to Service Departments and others interested.
      4. Appendix C. (TOP SECRET). This continued the narrative from the point where the escaper or evader came under an organisation. Names and addresses of helpers and their descriptions (where necessary) were included. This to a certain extent overlapped with Appendix A. The distinction between the two appendices was so slight that they might have merged into one.
      5. Appendix D. (TOP SECRET, later SECRET). Details as to the use or otherwise of the aids box, purse and other escape aids.

 

    1. Questionnaires

At Appendix "H" will be found Questionnaires for interrogators. At Appendix "I" will be found the Questionnaires which repatriated Ps/W were asked to fill up.

    1. Distribution

This was carried out by M.I.9.

  1. Sample M.I.9 S/P.G. Reports showing outstanding escapes are found at Appendix "J".

6. WELFARE

If interrogation is to be carried out efficiently, a certain amount of welfare work is necessary, especially for those officers and men who have been out of touch with their homes for a long time. In the early days it was seldom necessary to retain an escaper or evader at L.D.A.C. for more than one night, and no special provision was made for accommodation or welfare. Later, as the number of subsequent interviews became greater, it was necessary to retain them for several days, often for a week or even longer. The accommodation and welfare of officers presented no problem, but after a time an effort was made, prompted by the higher R.A.F. standard of accommodation, to improve the accommodation of other ranks. The Air Ministry furnished a dormitory and provide an R.A.F. orderly, who also kept the interrogating rooms and conducted men to outside interviews. Dormitories were also provided for Army other ranks. Wherever possible, officers and other ranks were allowed to live with relations and friends in London.

7. ADMINISTRATION

This presented no special problem till the autumn of 1944. Royal Naval personnel and R.A.F. personnel were sent for documentation to the Admiralty and Air Ministry respectively. Army personnel were documented and sent on leave by the Commandant, L.D.A.C., who in 1944, provided an officer specially for this work. In the autumn of 1944, with the arrival of large numbers of escapers and evaders from France, the problem of administering R.A.F. personnel became acute. The Air Ministry finally provided an officer and two orderlies for administration at L.D.A.C.

8. TRAINING OF INTERROGATORS

It was found that a satisfactory method of training interrogators was to have them work for a period on office routine before beginning interrogation. Reserve interrogators for use in rush periods were trained amongst officers of M.I.9 and I.S.9. It is essential to have such reserves.

9. SUGGESTIONS

The following suggestions, based on the working of interrogation in M.I.9(b) and I.S.9(W) are put forward for consideration should a similar Section ever be required:-

  1. Interrogators should be selected and trained before they are actually required. Part of their training should be their employment on other "M.I.9" work in order to get the background of what is required from interrogation.
  2. The selected interrogators should study the questionnaires and the scope of their interrogations in advance.
  3. Additional officers should be trained, so as to form a reserve for emergencies. A few trained interrogators are always better than a large number of untrained.
  4. It is preferable that the officer in charge of the Interrogation Section should himself be an experienced interrogator, to whom difficult cases can be referred. Once interrogation work becomes heavy, the officer in charge of the Section should concentrate on the organising of the work, i.e., the allocation of interrogators, the arranging of outside interviews, and the editing of reports.
  5. To obtain maximum results, interrogation of all Services should be centralised and carried out under one roof. Arrangements for accommodation and welfare should be made as complete as possible from the start, in consultation with all the branches concerned in all three Services.
  6. Suitable office accommodation is a pre-requisite to interrogation. A large and comfortable waiting room is essential.
  7. Escapers sometimes think they are under examination to elicit reasons for their capture; in fact M.I.9 is interested only in their escape and a friendly non-inquisitional approach must be insisted upon. It should be noted that for this reason M.I.9 cannot help OIC Records as this type of pre-capture investigation might necessitate a different approach.

 

III. SECTION "X"

1. FORMATION

I.S.9(X) was established in January 1942 as the Planning Section of I.S.9, which had just been formed.

2. STAFF

  1. It was under an Army officer who had been working in M.I.9 almost since it began, with four officers (Naval, Army, R.A.F. and A.T.S.) under him.
  2. Owing to the smallness of the M.I.9 staff during the first two years of its existence, there had been little or no time or thought devoted to the planning of escapes from P/W Camps or of collecting information likely to be useful to allied personnel trying to evade capture in enemy occupied territory. I.S.9(X), therefore, started practically from scratch.

3. WORK

The Section began by collecting information of value to escapers and passing it on to I.S.9(Y) (Codes and Communications) or I.S.9(Z) (Technical), for transmission to Camps, and by selecting escape material for I.S.9(Z) to send out. As regards evasion, the work consisted in collecting information and passing it on to M.I.9(d) for inclusion in the M.I.9 Bulleting for issue to operational units. The first part of 1942 was mainly spent in preparatory work.

4. COLLECTION OF MATERIAL

Information of possible value to escapers soon started to come in. The most reliable source was from successful escapers themselves who were carefully interrogated in details on their arrival in this country by M.I.9(b) and later by I.S.9(W). Valuable information about the Swiss frontier was obtained in this way early in 1942. Maps of the frontier crossed were made on a scale of 1:100,000. They included many landmarks which subsequently proved useful to other escapers. These maps and further detailed information in code were sent out to the Camps. In June 1942, information was received from a successful escaper of a route to Sweden, via Danzig. Maps were again made and detailed information put into code. These were forwarded to our contacts in the Camps by I.S.9(Y) and (Z).

Maps, escape routes and plans prepared by this Section will be found in Volume 1 which accompanies this Summary.

5. COMBINED OPERATIONS

  1. During the summer and autumn of 1942 one of the duties of I.S.9(X) was special briefing for Combined Operations. These operations concerned France and Norway. With regard to the latter country, it was soon evident that S.O.E., having a number of Norwegians and British officers who knew Norway well to draw upon, were in the best position to advise on evasion. It was, therefore, decided that it was much simpler for C.O. H.Q., to consult S.O.E. direct on all questions of topography and conditions in Norway, while I.S.9(X) gave advice about wearing civilian clothes and the position of evaders arriving in a neutral country. The Section also supplied cover stories.
  2. The Section had a notable success at the end of the year. Plans were required for the evasion of a party detailed for an operation near Bordeaux. I.S.9(X) briefed the party before their departure with the result that some of them made contact with one of our organisations in the area and were immediately convoyed by them over the Pyrenees to Spain and thence to Gibraltar.

6. NEW DEVELOPMENTS

    1. In the autumn of 1942 the Section started on new developments. It had become evident that, in two important respects, improvements could be made. The maps being issued in purses to aircrew for evasion purposes were on too small a scale and the periodical M.I.9 Bulletins were becoming unwieldy with numerous references back to previous issues.
    2. Unfortunately a very large sum of money had been expended on maps during the course of the year and there was need for retrenchment at this time, but the need for new and better maps was persisted in and gradually a series, which gained the approval of all those who used them, was produced.

(See Volume II accompanying this Summary for the complete set of maps issued.)

  1. The Section was responsible for the supply of a great deal of the data for the M.I.9 Bulletin. Practically all the country chapters with the exception of the Far East, were supplied by I.S.9(X). These chapters were brought up to date by amendments issued by M.I.9 about once a month.
  2. With the assistance of S.O.E. a great variety of papers, such as identify cards and travel permits, were forged and sent out to P/W Camps through I.S.9(Z) channels. These were despatched in the Autumn of 1942. Experience proved that papers of a temporary nature were of more use than the permanent type of pass with which all enemy officials would be familiar and which were apt to get out of date. (Samples are attached at Appendix "K").
  3. During the course of 1942 the very large development in secret communications with Camps through I.S.9(Y) enabled escape messages to be distributed more widely and escape equipment to be sent to an increasingly large number of Camps.
  4. At Christmas 1942, the first bulk parcel containing nothing but unconcealed escape material was successfully received in a P/W Camp (OFLAG IVC). We had been notified by a successful escaper from the camp that, if we sent a parcel with a specially marked label, described in advance in a code letter, our contacts would be able to break into the storeroom and abstract it. Everything worked according to plan and we immediately suggested to other Camps that they should adopt a similar method. Eventually 70% of the Camps were receiving escape material by this means.

7. CHANGES IN POLICY

In August 1943, it was decided that there should be a big speed up, especially in the amount of material despatched to Camps. By the end of the year very large quantities began to arrive, including a few cameras, typewriters, wireless sets, civilian clothes, and German uniforms.

8. LANCASHIRE PENNY FUND

An impudent scheme, by which money and maps, hidden in Christmas crackers and sent by an imaginary "Lancashire Penny Fund" direct to the German Camp Commandants, was successful in a large number of camps. A letter with the crackers requested the Camp Commandant in each case to pass them to the S.B.O. or Camp Leader to help brighten their Christmas Party. 50% of these got through.

9. HOGMANAY SCHEME

In the month of October 1943 sticks of shaving soap were sent in toilet parcels to eight P/W Camps, mostly working camps, with which we had previously no contact. The soap contained maps, a compass, money and a message giving an address to which to write for further aids. This Scheme achieved success in four of the eight camps.

10. FURTHER CHANGES

  1. At the beginning of 1944, owing to the formation of I.S.9(W.E.A.) under S.H.A.E.F. there was a re-shuffle of personnel.
  2. The policy of sending large quantities of escape aids was now beginning to bear fruit; also, through the development by I.S.9(Y) of W/T communications with Camps, it was possible to supply them with up to date information about escape routes etc.

11. MASS ESCAPE FROM STALAG LUFT III

A mass escape from STALAG LUFT III in March, 1944, was a tragic climax to the history of escaping in Germany. There had been mass escapes before, but since the Spring of 1943, when the Germans adopted special measures for dealing with such outbreaks, most of the escapers concerned had been recaptured. The Escape Committee at STALAG LUFT III knew, therefore, that a mass break had less chance of success, but, on the other hand, the tunnel had taken a year to build, which seemed a disproportionate effort if only seven or eight were to profit by it. The result of this mass escape is well known. Of the 74 who actually got out of the tunnel, only three reached England. The rest were caught by the Gestapo and S.S. Troops and 50 of them murdered. The rest were sent back to STALAG LUFT III and reported to the Escape Committee exactly what had occurred. They stated that everyone had strictly complied with the Geneva Convention and had given themselves up immediately they had been challenged, thereby carrying out the instruction laid down for all escapers.

After this example of German ruthlessness P/W were discouraged from escaping in view of their ultimate certain liberation in the near future.

12 ESCAPE ROUTES

    1. But in spite of this tragedy there were several successful escapes during the Summer of 1944, mostly via Baltic ports and with the help of French workers.
    2. The main escape route during 1944 was via one of the Baltic ports. Stettin was the best, owing to the existence of a brothel frequented by Swedish seamen, and of two or three camps of French dockers. On the whole the Swedes helped in spite of German threats, although there was one case in which a Swedish captain turned his ship round in order to hand over two R.A.F. stowaways to the Germans.

In the autumn of 1944, it was decided by J.I.C. that, in view of the approaching end of the war and the adoption of severe measures by the enemy, such as at STALAG LUFT III, escaping should cease. Instructions to this effect were, therefore, sent to all Camps by code letters and wireless.

13. THE LAST PHASE

During the last few months of the war in Europe our main attention wa[s] turned to the safeguarding of our prisoners of war when the collapse came. We kept in the closest touch with D.P.W. and S.H.A.E.F. with the result that the protection and rescue of our prisoners of war were given a high priority in the operations. On the orders of D.P.W. all Camps were instructed by us to "Stay put", organise themselves and await orders. When the allied armies began their final sweep, the Germans began to move some of our prisoners of war away from the advancing armies, but in many cases they had managed to take their wireless sets with them and were able, therefore, to know where the Allies were. In one case our prisoners of war actually transmitted a message giving their exact location.

14. THE FINAL LIBERATION

Owing to the rapidity of the advance of the Allied armies and the complete disorganisation of the German military machine, our prisoners of war were rescued far more easily than had been anticipated. We were greatly relieved that the revenge which we feared might be taken on them did not materialise.

15. ANALYSIS OF ESCAPE ROUTES

The following analysis shows the routes followed by successful escapers:-

ROUTE

PERCENTAGE OF
TOTAL SUCCESSFUL
ESCAPERS

SWEDEN

29.79

WESTERN EUROPE

24.49

SWITZERLAND

18.50

RUSSIA

14.29

BALKANS

12.93

 

16. CONCLUSIONS

  1. Although I.S.9(X) was not altogether unsuccessful, it took a long time to find its feet. This was mainly due to the lack of staff in the early days of M.I.9. As a consequence, contacts with other secret departments, such as S.O.E., which latterly proved so useful, were not made early enough.
  2. Owing to the time lag in the transmission of messages by P/W mail it was clear that plans for escapes had to be made in the Camps themselves and the only useful contribution from I.S.9(X) was confined to the provision of maps, escape equipment and information concerning conditions in Germany, frontiers and ports. The information sent out was obtained from returning escapers and evaders and, in a lesser degree, from other secret departments.
  3. With the developments of W/T communications with Camps it might have been possible to plan rescues by aircraft. Several schemes were, in fact, prepared by Escape Committees in Camps and referred by us to the Air Ministry, but they were all turned down on the grounds of undue risk to aircraft.
  4. It was unfortunate that lack of staff prevented the Section from interviewing more Allied evaders and escapers who passed through the Royal Victoria Patriotic School. Only about 50 were seen between the inauguration of I.S.9 in January 1942 and V.E. Day. Reports of possible interest were sent to us, but this was not the same as seeing the individuals personally. Under similar future circumstances it would be beneficial to have an M.I.9 interrogator permanently on the spot.
  5. The policy adopted in the summer of 1943, of sending out escape material in large quantities paid handsome dividends. Although some was discovered and confiscated by the Germans a great amount got through undetected. It must, however, be stressed that such a policy should not be attempted until there is a 99% chance of success.
  6. It was never possible to obtain from S.I.S. contacts or addresses in Germany for the use of escapers. We obtained one or two useful addresses from other sources but, in general did not favour sending out the actual names of possible helpers as it might endanger the safety of escapers. We did, however, send out the address of the brothel at Stettin, which was particularly useful. This, incidentally, came from one of the few Allied escapers interviewed by us at the Royal Victoria Patriotic School. It was used by quite a large number of escapers before it was literally blown up by the R.A.F. in the summer of 1944. It was a particularly favourable rendezvous because it was reserved for foreigners, Germans not being permitted to use it.

17. ITALY

This memorandum has been primarily confined to Germany because there was very little escaping in Italy. All possible was done to get in touch with Camps, and some success was obtained, but never to the same extent as in the case of Germany. This was due to three main causes:-

  1. The inefficiency of the Italian administration handicapped our communications to such as extent that code messages and escape equipment often took more than a year to reach the P/W Camps. In addition, much of the mail was lost or destroyed by the Italian censors, probably through laziness on their part.
  2. Prisoners of war were guarded with much greater care than those in Germany.
  3. The Italian collapse came just as I.S.9 was getting into full stride.

The best escape was made by British Senior Officers from their Camp at FLORENCE. They dug a tunnel under the direction of the S.B.O., Lt.-Gen. NEAME, and six officers, Lt.-Gen. O'CONNER, Air Vice-Marshall BOYD, Maj-Gen. CARTON DE WIART, Brig. COMBE, Brig. HARGEST and Brig. MILES, made their escape. The two last named reached Switzerland safely, and we were subsequently informed that the escape material, particularly the maps we had sent out to them, had been of great use.

18. RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. That an adequate staff for planning escapes and obtaining information likely to help evaders and escapers is allowed at the outset.
  2. That immediate and close contact and cooperation be sought with other secret departments, so that information from such sources can be applied to the best advantage of evaders and escapers.
  3. That it does not pay to be too timid. So long as lives of prisoners of war or evaders are not jeopardised, a bold policy in conception and execution should be encouraged and adopted. It is essential, however, that, before adopting such a policy a 99% chance of success should exist and that those at the other end (the P/W) should know what to expect and play their part.
  4. That the control of all planning should be centralised.
  5. That escapers should not be considered as the only sound authority on plans for evasion and escape. Experience proved that their ideas on the subject were mostly based on their own methods.

 

IV. SECTION "Y"

1. FORMATION

  1. I.S.9(Y) was established in January 1942 as the Codes and Communications Section of I.S.9 which had just been formed. It was previously part of M.I.9(b) and had been responsible for the collection and dissemination of military and economic information received by secret means from our prisoners of war and for supplying them with information likely to be of help in making escape plans. It had been firmly established as part of M.I.9(b) before being transferred to the School as I.S.9(Y).
  2. The collection of information from P/W Camps through secret communications was the main "raison d'etre" of the original M.I.9(b). If this could not be accomplished nothing could be achieved. With the agreement of the Admiralty and Air Ministry it was decided that the scheme should be run on Inter-service lines under the direction and control of the War Office.
  3. The services of escapers and prisoners of war of the last war were enlisted and, from them general ideas were obtained as to how to set about the job.
  4. Foreign Office code experts were consulted and gave M.I.9(b) a plain language code to teach to selected personnel in operational units. During the early stages of the war the bulk of those taken prisoner were members of the R.A.F. and, to a lesser extent the R.N. The first code given us was, therefore, taught to them. It was an excellent code in every respect, but could only be operated by means of a dictionary. Later, we were given a second less complicated code, which was called No.II. At Appendix "M" is found Lecture Notes for Code Teaching. See also History of M.I.9 para 7a(ii).

2. SITUATION WHEN FRANCE COLLAPSED

An officer had been sent out to the British Expeditionary Force in France to contact I.Os and explain what M.I.9 was trying to do, but the "phoney war" ended before very much could be done in this direction and, when France collapsed in June 1940, there were no Army official code users in the B.E.F. registered with us. Actually at this time, there were only three official code users who were prisoners of war, - two R.A.F. and one R.N. - and no communication had been received from them. The British Army prisoners, taken by the Germans after France succumbed, numbered more than 50,000 and we were in the unenviable position of having no secret means of communication arranged with any of them. Added to this was the fact that no prisoner of war mail started to come through, except in very small quantities, for nearly six months.

3. FIRST CONTACT

In December 1940 we received our first official code letter from an R.A.F. prisoner of war which established secret means of communication with STALAG LUFT III.

4. GETTING IN TOUCH

After the collapse of France about 95% of our prisoners of war in German hands were Army personnel. It was essential, therefore, for us to get in touch with them somehow. The means adopted to make contact were as follows:-

  1. Censorship were asked to send us for examination any letters received from prisoners of war suspected of secondary meaning or of containing a private means of communication. They were asked also to send us other types of letters, - those giving information about conditions in camps, about morale, treatment, location etc. so that we could obtain a general picture. We examined these letters carefully and got in touch with the addresses in likely cases. By this method we discovered a few workable private codes, arranged by the prisoners of war before capture. We, therefore, wrote to the prisoners concerned, using the means they had employed and sending the letters from fictitious people and addresses. Whenever a prisoners of war's mail was utilised in this way we instructed Censorship to place his name on our Watch List, which was supplied to their sorters, whose duty it was to pick out all letters coming from those on the List and to send them to us for examination. We kept these letters for 24 hours only and then returned them to Censorship for forwarding to the addressees. In the case of our letters to prisoners of war, by arrangement with the G.P.O. we had the correct place and date stamp franked on each envelope. The letters were then sent to Censorship who slit the envelopes in the same way as they slit all letters going to prisoners of war, stuck on the "passed by censor" labels and mixed them with the thousands of other letters being despatched. It was essential that these details should be strictly carried out, so that the letters, when reaching the German censors, were no different from the thousands of genuine ones. In this way we managed to obtain contact with three Oflags in the early months of 1941.
  2. In February 1941 we were notified, through one of the private codes, that an officer had arrived in the Camp with one of our official codes. Although we had no registration of the officer, we obtained his back letters from his wife and extracted the messages. Under Gen. FORTUNE's orders this officer had taught other officers the code, the names of whom we obtained from his back letters. They covered all the Oflags and, when we had been through the back letters of the officers taught, we discovered that they in their turn had taught others as well. The snowball was now assuming large proportions, and we sat about getting our contacts to organise Code and Escape Committees in the Camps, which they did with alacrity and enthusiasm.
  3. The case of the Stalags was different. We had failed to discover a single private code amongst the hundreds of letters from O.R. prisoners of war passed to us by Censorship to examine. We suggested, therefore, to the Oflags that they should approach suitable padres and doctors and teach them an official code with the idea that they should volunteer for service in the Stalags. This suggestion was carried out and both padres and doctors did excellent work in picking out the most reliable O.Rs in the Stalags, teaching them an official code, notifying us their names, etc. and getting Code and Escape Committees organised.

5. A NEW ESTABLISHMENT

During the Summer of 1941 our code work grew to such an extent that it was obvious a special Section had to be formed to deal with the volume of work. I.S.9 was, therefore, formed in January 1942, with I.S.9(Y) (Codes and Communications) as one of its Sections. An adequate staff was provided with a Major I.O., in command. Most of the personnel were female officers.

6. PROGRESS

  1. The work during 1942 steadily increased. We got in touch with all the main Oflags and Stalags and, in some cases, with working detachments separated from their base camps. Many camps were splendidly organised with Code and Escape Committees operating smoothly and efficiently. We were greatly encouraged by messages of appreciation of our efforts which we received from many of the camps, also by what successful escapers told us of the value of our work to those interned. Morale was kept on a very high level as a result.
  2. In the spring of 1942 we suffered a shock. Code messages were being received from two of the Camps stating that they were receiving messages and parcels from Sweden which were so blatant that the whole of our Secret means of communication was being compromised. The previous year we had had a visit from M.A. STOCKHOLM and had discussed with him the possibility of getting escape material sent out from Sweden, since parcels seemed to arrive much more quickly from that country than from England. The M.A. in his enthusiasm, had, unknown to us, endeavoured to get in touch with certain of his friends who were prisoners of war and had tried to conceal, in fruit sent out in parcels, the method by which he proposed to communicate with them. Most unfortunately he had adopted a code system similar to one of our official codes in use in the camps. The messages were discovered by the Germans and, in consequence, the Official Code concerned was in grave danger of being compromised. We were compelled to discontinue this particular code for a period of five months until we and our contacts were satisfied that the Germans had not discovered it.

7. NEW CODES

    1. Our experience in code work enabled us to invent new ones ourselves. When we considered that sufficient personnel had been taught Nos. I and II, M.I.9(d) issued No. III to I.Os of operational units in this country for teaching. Subsequently, No. VI took the place of No. III and, eventually, the following official codes were in general use in British Camps in Germany:-

No. I
No. II (with four variations)
No. III
No. VI

All codes with a number, as above, were submitted to the Foreign Office Code experts for approval before being passed as official.

  1. A few months after the entry of the U.S.A. into the War, American Liaison Officers arrived in order to learn our ways and means of secret communication with prisoners of war. The few American personnel captured in 1942 were sent to British Camps, and we instructed our contacts, therefore, to put them wise about code communication, escape organisation, etc. in anticipation of the time when they would be segregated in an all American Camp. We gave these American Liaison Officers our No. IV code for their exclusive use. In January 1943 the OIC I.S.9(Y) went to Washington and helped the War Department to institute code communication with their prisoners of war on exactly the same lines as was being done here. Shortly after all arrangements had been made, the American prisoners of war were placed all together in an all-American camp, so that, benefitting from our experience, they were able to get going immediately.
  2. The Section scored a triumph in the middle of 1942. We had been anxious to improve the code communication with Oflag IVC, a camp where persistent escapers were sent. They only had our Code No.II in the Camp. We set out, therefore, to teach them a new code (No.V) by a series of messages in Code II. In due course these messages were acknowledged with an intimation that the new code was understood. We received the first message in the No.V Code in October 1942. It had been encoded correctly in every detail and, from that time, both codes were in use right up to the liberation of the Camp.
  3. No.VII Code was sent to the Middle East for teaching agents going on special operations behind the enemy lines.
  4. No.VIII was given to S.O.E. for their exclusive use.
  5. We also had five codes in reserve, including one for a communication limited to a total of 25 words for the use of British prisoners of war in Japanese hands. Happily the war came to an end before it was necessary to use them. At Appendix "L" is found a set of codes from I - XI and F.E. I - III.

8. THE WRITING OF CODE LETTERS

  1. Our first code letters bore the names of fictitious people. The names and addresses were somewhat unusual so as to draw the attention of the prisoners of war to them. These were limited by the numbers of people available to write them. Furthermore, a change in personnel meant the loss of a code writer. The letters written in long hand were mixed with those typed. It was easy for anyone to copy a fictitious signature at the bottom of a typed letter, but again, we were somewhat limited by the number of typewriters available. Notepaper of various sizes and shapes, with all sorts of addresses embossed or printed on it, was obtained and utilised. Later when the G.P.O. produced a special letter card for the Prisoner of War mail, our notepaper became less important, but it served its purpose, particularly in the early days.
  2. With the increase of our code correspondents we took certain carefully selected relatives of prisoners of war into our confidence and asked them to help us. The response was magnificent and, although it meant a great deal of trouble for them, we never received a complaint of any description. Our method was to receive from the selected relative the letter he (or she) intended to send. We would then paraphrase it, so as to include our code message, using the same wording as far as possible, and return the amended letter for copying. The amended letter was then returned to us for checking and despatch. This system and our own methods of sending code letters from fictitious people enabled us to cover all our correspondence satisfactorily.
  3. We assumed that the German Censors had adopted the case system for censoring, as was done by our own Censors in England, and we were very careful, therefore, to have continuity in the text of our fictitious letters, so that the German Censor responsible for examining the mail of an individual prisoner of war would see that the style and contents were constant and unvaried. Everything possible was done by us to avoid suspicion being cast on the genuineness of one of our letters. This made every code letter a most exacting and painstaking job, but it was essential for the sake of security. We do not know of a single case where any fictitious code letter emanating from I.S.9(Y) was ever suspected by the Germans and our ex-prisoners of war correspondents, whom we have interviewed on their return, are unanimous in their opinion that the enemy had never suspected code messages in any of our letters. They suspected that information was being received from England, but they did not know by what means.

9. NEWS LETTERS

  1. We started writing news letters to prisoners of war at the end of 1940, before we were in touch with Camps by secret means. These letters were written in an endeavour to counteract German propaganda which had, at that time, reduced morale to a very low level. They were written sometimes in secondary meaning, sometimes in clear, from fictitious people, in the hope that some would slip through the German Censors and be read in the Camps. We mentioned such things as the result of the Battle of Britain, the wonderful morale at home and our belief in ultimate victory. We felt that no letter was wasted: even those condemned had first to be read by a German. Many of these letters got through successfully and, in consequence, we continued them for a very long time.
  2. Our news letters were also made use of by other secret departments (e.g. Political Intelligence Department of Foreign Office) who gave us rumours and stories to include in them in order to deceive the enemy. We were able to get these letters to the authorities in Berlin when required by instructing our censors here to delete a few words or sentences before despatching them. We had been informed by code that any letters showing a deletion by our censors were not dealt with at the camp, but were immediately forwarded to the authorities in Berlin.
  3. In 1941 we discovered that the morale of Indian prisoners of war was extremely low, mainly because the mails from India were not reaching Germany and the prisoners of war felt that they were forgotten by the Mother Country. We contacted a lady keenly interested in the welfare of Indian prisoners of war who undertook to get a number of people to write regularly to these prisoners, provided we organised the work and made ourselves responsible for the letters written. We consulted the India Office and from time to time received from them directives as to the line to be taken by these correspondents when writing about political matters concerning India. These directives were circulated by us to the 150 correspondents who had undertaken this work. Most of the letters, (about 1,000 a month) seemed to have been received safely. We have no means of knowing how much these letters affected morale, but we do know that it improved enormously soon after these letters were started as a regular service and the Germans themselves remarked upon the change that had taken place. Many replies were received by our outside correspondents which showed only too clearly how greatly these letters were appreciated. Every Indian prisoner of war was adopted in this way and the service continued until the latter months of 1944.

10. W/T COMMUNICATION

The most important means of secret communication and the one which had the greatest effect on the morale of prisoners of war was radio. The section had foreseen the possibilities of this method very early on, but, like many other innovations, it took a long time to develop and perfect.

  1. Our first attempt was made by means of the Radio Padre, who spoke on the Forces Programme of the B.B.C. every Wednesday immediately after the 9 p.m. news. We approached him in October 1942 and, having obtained his cooperation, adapted one of our codes so that a message could be read by those in possession of the key. The instructions for decoding took some time to arrange with our contacts but, in January 1943, the first message, hidden in one of his talks, was delivered over the radio. The decoding of the message depended so much on circumstances beyond our control - atmospherics, wave lengths, reception, the ability of those listening in, etc. - that this method did not prove to be a great success, although one or two messages were heard and interpreted correctly. It was, however, a beginning.
  2. Our next attempts, this time by morse, were much more successful, particularly as the original morse system was initiated by one of the camps. Eventually, with the cooperation of the Admiralty and S.O.E. we were transmitting messages regularly all of which were picked up and decoded correctly.
  3. Although several camps had transmitters as well as receivers, on grounds of security they were not allowed to send us messages until final liberation was in sight. Prisoners of war on their return confirmed that this policy was correct.

11. TYPES OF INFORMATION SENT AND RECEIVED THROUGH CODE ORGANISATIONS

  1. Our channels of secret communication between England and Germany were used not only by the three Services but also by other Government departments, such as the Foreign Office, Ministry of Economic Warfare, etc. as well as by other secret sections. Our code organisations were employed to send us information of military and economic value, factory targets, conditions in Germany, morale of the people, details of how our aircraft were shot down, (supplied by survivors), and to give us answers whenever possible to questionnaires prepared by various departments who desired periodical information on certain matters affecting their long term policy. They were also used to send us details of the requirements of the Escape Committees and we, in our turn, notified them of what was being forwarded.
  2. In replying to Loyal Greetings from British and Dutch officers in OFLAG IVC H.M. the King and H.M. the Queen of Holland used our means of communication. Messages were also sent to camps at various times from the Chiefs of Staff, Air Chief Marshal HARRIS (Bomber Command), and the Prime Minister (The Rt. Hon Winston CHURCHILL). These special messages were tremendously appreciated by the recipients. Examples of these messages are shown at Appendix "P".

12. ITALY

Code communications through the P/W mail operated in Italy on the same lines as in Germany, although on a smaller scale. The inefficiency of the Italian administration, however, made it more difficult and less effective, as the time lag was at times appalling, but we had a fairly regular communication with certain camps, particularly with the General's camp at FLORENCE. Before the first paratroop raid on Italy took place in January 1941, M.I.9(b) had taught certain of the personnel taking part our No.II code. When, therefore, some of them were taken prisoner, we were at once in touch with them by code. They did their work well and taught other P/W. By this means the code spread to other camps. The codes in use in Italy up to the time of the Armistice were Nos. II, III and, to a very limited degree, VI.

13. STATISTICS

The following figures give some idea of the volume of work performed by I.S.9(Y) during the war:-

 

GERMANY & ITALY

YEAR

MESSAGES SENT

MESSAGES RECEIVED BY MAIL

TOTAL

BY MAIL

BY RADIO

1941

581

-

799

1,380

1942

1,115

-

2,228

3,343

1943

944

17

3,527

4,488

1944

546

204

2,630

3,380

1945
(Four months)

41

50

289

380

TOTAL

3,227

271

9,473

12,971

 

It will be noted that the peak year was 1943. The development of radio communications in 1944 reduced the number of messages to be sent by mail very considerably and the defeat of Italy in 1943 reduced the number of messages despatched to us during 1944.

14. CONCLUSIONS

  1. The success of our code work was due to the great care with which every letter was written and to the marvellous security prevailing in all P/W Camps.
  2. Our code work proved that prisoners of war can be utilised with advantage as suppliers of intelligence, even though because of the time lag the information may be of value only on a long term policy.
  3. Communications by W/T was the most important development of all and should be given priority in any future planning of communications by code between Prisoners of War and the War Office. Its use reduces the time-lag by half.

 

 

V. SECTION "Z"

Forged 2-day traveller's ration coupons sent to POW camps to assist escapers
Forged 2-day traveller's ration coupons sent to POW camps to assist escapers

 

1. FORMATION

Like other Sections of I.S.9, I.S.9(Z) came into being in January 1942. It was responsible for the production, distribution and despatch of escape and evasion aids. Prior to the formation of I.S.9 it had been part of M.I.9(b) and had already passed from the experimental to the productive stage when it became a separate Section under a Major, I.O.

2. THE EARLY DAYS

There was very little to go on when the work of providing aids to escapers and evaders was embarked upon. In the case of P/W Camps, the methods of getting escape material to Ps/W during the last war had been disclosed in detail in books written by successful escapers and other Ps/W. These books had been carefully studied by the German High Command and, as we early discovered, formed the basis of the instructions issued to all German Camp Commandants as to how to prevent escapes and how to discover escape material sent in parcels to Ps/W. These published details made our work a hundred times more difficult. The old ways had, in the main to be discarded and new methods of concealing escape gadgets devised. Ways of concealing compasses for personnel going on operations were also invented and, eventually, vast quantities of gadgets were produced, the variety and volume of which will be found enumerated in paras. 5 and 6 of this summary.

3. PARCELS TO P/W CAMPS

    1. It was evident very early on that our Ps/W would have to depend largely on the British Red Cross Society for food. It was decided, therefore, that, so far as our clandestine work was concerned, no attempt should ever be made to get contraband articles into the Camps under the protection of Red Cross labels. Next-of-kin parcels (one every quarter to each P/W) were also banned, since they were sent under the auspices of the Red Cross. We never broke this rule in any way. The means adopted for getting escape material into Camps was mainly through certain fictitious firms, clubs and organisations which we invented. In order to gain the confidence of the Germans we first sent a letter to each Camp Commandant stating that money had been collected to supply our Ps/W with games, books and comforts, in an endeavour to lighten the burden of their captivity and that a consignment of parcels would shortly arrive which we hoped he would allow the S.B.O. or Camp Leader to distribute. The first, and one of the most successful, of our "phoney" organisation[s] was given the name "The Prisoners Leisure Hours Fund". A list of the organisations, firms, etc. used at various times is given in para 4 below. In order to conceal the contraband material as well as possible a few well known and reliable firms were taken into our confidence who entrusted the work of making cavities in the articles to be despatched, and of loading them with escape material to a few of their most trusted workmen. It speaks well for the integrity of these craftsmen that, so far as we know, never once was the game given away in this country. In 1943 through the skill and ingenuity of the Ps/W themselves, it was possible to send out all-contraband parcels to many Camps without any concealment of the articles inside the parcels whatsoever, the Ps/W themselves being able to steal them before they were handled or examined by the German censors.
    2. The method of despatch of parcels entailed detailed arrangements with the Post Office Censorship Department. The parcels were sent in sealed mail bags to their P/W Section at AINTREE. On receipt each parcel was stamped as having been examined, although no examination was actually made by the Censorship officials. The parcels were then mixed with genuine parcels despatched from various stores and other licence holders and sent to their destinations.
    3. The following statistics show the volume of work involved in the despatch of parcels to our prisoners of war:-

PARCELS DESPATCHED

TYPE

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945
(Three months)

TOTAL

Straight

329

4,844

2,556

1,410

144

9,283

Special

618

1,024

929

854

100

3,525

TOTAL

947

5,868

3,485

2,264

244

12,808

 

Straight parcels included several hundred packages of tobacco and cigarettes which were used for bribing the guards and also for exchanging into German currency.

The despatch of parcels to P/W Camps ceased at the end of March 1945, as the end of the war was by then within sight.

4. PHONEY FUNDS

    1. The names of 'phoney' Funds, Firms, Societies and Organisations used for the purpose of sending escape material to Ps/W were as follows:-

AUTHORS' SOCIETY
BRITISH LOCAL LADIES COMFORTS SOCIETY
BROWN'S SPORTS SHOP, ST. ALBANS
C & H SPORTS, EXETER
COUNTIES CLUB
CROWN & ANCHOR MISSION
EAST STREET SPORTS SHOP, BRIGHTON
EDWARDS SPORTS HOUSE, WATFORD
EMPIRE SERVICE LEAGUE
FUSSELL'S SPORTS DEPOT, LUTON
GAMLEY'S, DORKING
HARPER'S, ATHELTIC OUTFITTERS, COLCHESTER
HARRIS'S SPORTS DEPOT, BRISTOL
JIGSAW PUZZLE CLUB, LONDON
LANCASHIRE PENNY FUND
LEAGUE OF HELPERS
LICENSED VICTUALLERS SPORTS ASSOCIATION
LIVERPOOL SERVICE MEN'S CLUB
MAYFLOWER FELLOWSHIP SOCIETY (LONDON CHAPTER)
NU-SPORTS CO., GRANTHAM
PRISONERS LEISURE HOURS FUND
PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS & HOSPITALS ASSOCIATION
SERVICE MEN'S CLUB, CHATHAM
SPORTS CRAFT (MFRS), NEWPORT
THE PEABODY FUND
THE TRAVELLERS' ASSOCIATION
THE WILBERFORCE FOUNDATION
VINCITAS DISINFECTANTS LTD.
WELSH PROVIDENT SOCIETY
WELSH SPORTS LTD., CARDIFF
WEST END SPORTS, GLASGOW
WOMEN'S UNITED SERVICES ASSOCIATION

    1. Labels were also used for 'Phoney' parcels as from:-

P.W. SMITH & CO. LTD.
GEM TOBACCO CO. LTD., LONDON
CHRIS JAMES, HIGH STREET, BROMLEY
RICHMOND SMOKING MIXTURE

5. AIDS SENT TO P/W CAMPS

Below is given lists of the types and quantities of escape aids and articles despatched to P/W Camps in GERMANY and ITALY during the war.

    1. MONEY

CURRENCY

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945
(Three months)

TOTAL

STERLING

-

-

-

£300

£60

£360

MARKS

27,200

33,040

147,200

460,890

39,400

707,730

LIRE

141,900

117,950

78,700

-

-

338,550

FRENCH FRS

4,850

65,400

22,800

38,300

-

131,350

BELG. FRS

-

2,000

56,500

-

-

58,500

DUTCH GLDRS

-

1,305

5,400

-

1,600

8,305

 

    1. ESCAPE AIDS

DESCRIPTION

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945
(Three months)

TOTAL

MAPS

1,296

860

2,833

3,836

422

9,247

COMPASSES

213

656

760

1,489

20

3,138

HACKSAWS

-

270

668

180

1

1,119

WIRECUTTERS

-

-

36

37

5

78

FILES

-

-

156

95

-

251

SCREWDRIVERS

-

-

58

43

-

101

PASSES

-

6

482

1,444

10

1,942

PASSPORT PHOTOS

-

-

21

40

-

61

IDENTITY CARDS

-

-

7

-

-

7

CHISELS

-

-

-

14

-

14

KNIVES

-

-

-

16

-

16

SPECIAL BLANKETS (for tailoring)

-

204

67

26

-

297

CONVERTIBLE UNIFORMS

-

24

12

6

-

42

SETS OF DYES

-

100

101

215

11

427

CIVILIAN SUITS (with accessories)

-

-

3

23

4

30

GERMAN UNIFORMS (with emblems)

-

-

-

4

-

4

CELLULOID CYLINDERS (for concealing maps)

-

-

150

-

-

150

 

Other items included railway maps of GERMANY, ties, hats, socks, shirts, suitcases, German uniform badges, needles and thread, overalls, jodhpurs, Benzedrine tablets, briefcases, buttons, make-up boxes, composite tools, rain coats, purses, razors and blades, Tommy cookers, special rope and rope shoes.

 

    1. W/T MATERIAL

 

DESCRIPTION

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945
(Three months)

TOTAL

RECEIVING SETS

-

-

14

8

3

25

CRYSTALS

-

-

5

14

-

19

VALVES (SETS)

-

-

5

14

3

22

INSULATING TAPE (Rolls)

-

-

-

12

-

12

COPPER WIRE (Lbs)

-

-

-

14

-

14

CONDENSORS

-

-

-

14

-

14

Other items included silver paper, flex, transformers, earphones, resistance meters and glue crystals.

    1. MISCELLANEOUS

 

DESCRIPTION

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945
(Three months)

TOTAL

SETS OF KEYS

-

-

35

22

-

57

RUBBER STAMPS

-

-

24

89

7

120

SETS OF DRAWING MATERIAL

-

-

13

46

-

59

CAMERAS

-

-

15

12

-

27

INSTRUCTIONS RE GERMAN A/C etc

-

19

39

23

5

86

SPECIAL MESSAGES ON HANDKERCHIEFS

-

-

58

-

-

58

SPECIAL MESSAGES ON SHIRTS

-

-

30

-

-

30

SETS OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MATERIAL

-

-

1

32

2

35

MAGNIFYING GLASS

-

-

-

17

1

18

TYPEWRITERS

-

-

-

5

2

7

TORCH & BATTERY

-

-

-

16

-

16

SETS OF LETTER PAPER

-

-

-

175

-

175

SETS OF G.S.G.S. MAPS

-

-

-

6

-

6

Other items included plastic wood, carbon paper, tracing paper, printer's ink, marking ink and electric soldering irons.

6. EVASION MATERIAL

The typical contents of an aids box supplied by IS9
The typical contents of an aids box supplied by IS9
(Courtesy of Clive Bassett)
    1. As the war developed it became more imperative than ever that aids to avoid capture, particularly in cases where operational units were likely to land in enemy occupied countries, should be produced. I.S.9(Z) worked on the production of an aids box which eventually contained the following articles:-

Water bottle, sweets, peanut bars, compass, razor and soap, Halazone tablets (for purifying water), Benzedrine tablets (for counteracting fatigue), fishing line. It was a standard pattern and was issued to all Fleet Air Arm, R.A.F. and American Air Corps operational units, not only to those based in this country but to those in other theatres of war as well. It was also issued in large quantities to special assault troops, raiding parties, etc.

In the Far East, a special form of packing was devised for this Far East box which preserved the contents under tropical conditions.

Purses contained both money and a silk map covering the area of operations
Purses contained both money and a silk map covering the area of operations
(Courtesy of Clive Bassett)
    1. Purses, containing maps, a compass, a hacksaw and currency of the country over which they were operating to the value of £12 were also issued to units.
    2. Other items issued included special flying boots, (the tops of which could be cut off, converting them into shoes), blood-chits, phrase cards, posters for placing in briefing rooms, etc. etc.
Royal Air Force uniform brass buttons with concealed compasses
Royal Air Force uniform brass buttons with concealed compasses
(Courtesy of Clive Bassett)
    1. The following list will give some idea of the magnitude of the work carried out by I.S.9(Z) who were responsible not only for the issue and despatch of the articles but also for arranging for their manufacture:-

 

DESCRIPTION

1942

1943

1944

1945
(Four months)

TOTAL

COMPASSES:

 

 

 

 

 

Round Brass

231,568

314,522

692,862

62,985

1,301,937

Medium

750

70,369

59,230

10,212

140,561

Midget

-

8,338

6,056

-

14,394

Tunic

2,033

28,301

19,888

14,874

65,096

Pin Point

-

3,212

19,347

200

22,759

Pencil

-

5,470

7,772

-

13,242

Pen

-

600

735

41

1,376

Comb

-

3,741

11,367

3,211

18,319

Pencil Clip

10,165

32,461

45,339

12,389

100,354

Fly Button

40,060

99,447

160,774

58,947

359,228

Pipe

8,525

990

-

4

9,519

Stud

34,483

30,585

26,523

-

91,591

Marching

-

-

1,100

-

1,100

Swinger

47,706

52,746

86,543

10,072

197,067

Cigarette Lighter

-

-

5,766

16,544

22,310

MAPS:

391,945

404,439

692,862

176,676

1,665,922

In Purses

85,819

128,048

211,332

43,325

468,524

In Pouches

4,938

4,879

2,991

1,679

14,487

HACKSAWS

132,706

221,319

241,874

147,651

743,550

AIDS BOXES

135,515

139,408

248,168

37,109

560,200

BLOOD CHITS

15,856

11,624

-

35,230

62,710

POSTERS

1,440

2,036

1,127

-

4,603

FLYING BOOTS

3,314

3,725

-

-

7,039

ESCAPE BOOKS

10,540

20,014

15,700

356

46,610

SPECIAL KNIVES

-

1,362

2,619

2,511

6,492

PHRASE CARDS

-

15,124

270,827

62,151

348,102

FAR EAST AIDS BOXES

-

-

11,334

48,652

59,986

SPECIAL PEANUT PACKS

-

3,500

-

-

3,500

RECOGNITION AIDS

-

-

18,945

38,016

56,961

TELESCOPES

-

100

13,032

7,673

20,805

A/C INSTRUCTIONS

-

-

8,740

340

9,080

M/B INSTRUCTIONS

-

-

1,944

141

2,085

HELIOGRAPHS

-

-

20,007

80

20,087

NEEDLE PACKS

-

-

10,000

-

10,000

WATER BOTTLES

-

-

32,780

15,000

47,780

SPECIAL FOOD BOXES

-

-

50

38,276

38,326

BEXOID BOXES

-

-

1,500

-

1,500

SPECIAL MATCHES (Boxes)

-

-

-

504,000

504,000

IODISED SALT TABLETS

-

-

-

10,000

10,000

POCKET CONTAINERS

-

-

-

4,990

4,990

 

The following were also despatched in small quantities:-

Minox Cameras and films, Jungle boots, waterproof watches, medical boxes, milk and tea tablets, Horlicks, Ovaltine, padlocks, torches and batteries, banding machines, R.A.F. battle dresses, braces, belts, prismatic compasses, wire cutters, fishing lines, shrimp netting, rotators, razors and blades, sleeping bags, typewriters, language records and ski-boots.

7. I.S.9(D)/P.15

  1. During 1943 and 1944 I.S.9(Z) clothed and equipped many agents selected by I.S.9(D)/P.15 for work in connection with our clandestine organisations in Western Europe. The preparation of containers for dropping supplies of all kinds to our agents on the Continent was also a big part of their work. A special clothing store in Regent Street, LONDON, W.1 was instituted where agents could be fitted out.
  2. During 1944 the Section was also used for the purpose of obtaining special boating equipment for HOLLAND in connection with the evasion activities of I.S.9(W.E.A.).
  3. The following items indicate the variety of articles issued on behalf of I.S.9(D)/P.15, and, through them, I.S.9(W.E.A.):-
  4. Food, special food packs, clothing, aids gadgets, maps, torches, batteries, special knives, suitcases, aids boxes, tyres, binoculars, purses, phrase cards, tooth brushes, wireless equipment, soap, cotton, razor blades, needles, hacksaws, compasses, first aid equipment, special type waders, infra-red equipment, "Q" type dinghies, flasks of rum and whiskey, silent Sten guns.
  5. In addition to the above, special equipment, such as "S" phones, canoes and certain types of explosives were drawn from other departments and included in the items despatched.

8. AWARDS BUREAUX

On the establishment of our Awards Bureaux in FRANCE and BELGIUM during the autumn of 1944 (and after V.E. Day in HOLLAND), I.S.9(Z) despatched thousands of parcels of food for our helpers, also clothes of all descriptions. Many of our helpers were compensated in kind, in preference to money payments, particularly in HOLLAND where goods were practically unobtainable. The parcels contained such items as tins of meat of all kinds, tea, coffee, sugar, salt, biscuits, jam, suits, shirts, ties, shoes, hats, cloth lengths, overcoats, bicycles, etc. Shipping the goods across the Channel was the biggest problem, but by perseverance and persistence we managed to get space allotted by both air and sea.

9. CONCLUSION & SUGGESTIONS

  1. It is generally acknowledged by all three Services and the Americans that the work performed by I.S.9(Z) was an important contribution to the war effort as a whole. Many people owed their lives and liberty to the equipment devised and issued by this Section.
  2. The reports received from returning prisoners of war on wireless activities in P/W Camps were most impressive. It is considered that I.S.9(Z) might have been able to do more than it did in this matter if it had possessed more expert knowledge of the subject. In the event of another war it is reasonable to expect a considerable use of wireless communication with P/W Camps. It is suggested, therefore, that a fully trained wireless expert should be allowed for in a future establishment of this Section.
  3. The section was handicapped by not having its own workshop and mechanics to experiment in devising and making new evasion and escape equipment. It is strongly recommended that in a future I.S.9(Z) a fully equipped workshop and trained instrument mechanics are supplied.
  4. Once the experimental stage has been passed and a more or less standard pattern of escape equipment agreed, the emphasis is then upon production in bulk, and I.S.9(Z) becomes a producer and distributor on a large scale. Whilst time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted, too much effort put into experimenting can jeopardise the output of articles badly needed by the troops.

 

VI. SECTION I.S.9(D)/P.15

1. FORMATION

This Section was formed in the spring of 1941 for the purpose of assisting evaders and escapers in enemy occupied Western Europe to avoid capture by the enemy and to return to this Country. It was controlled in its activities by the over-riding authority of S.I.S., and was, in fact, started as M.I.6(D), with an office in Broadway and a staff of one junior officer and two clerks.

2. THE BUILD UP

  1. Clandestine escape work as a specialist form of Intelligence was an entirely new development. It had no tradition or technique derived from the last war. The oft repeated statement that Nurse Edith CAVELL, who apparently worked for S.I.S. during the last war, had been discovered through assisting a prisoner of war seemed to dictate the whole attitude of S.I.S. towards the Section. They were determined to prevent evaders and escapers from involving them in any way. This attitude may have been correct from their own security aspect, but it was a terrific handicap to those trying to build up an organisation.
  2. It was only after two years that S.I.S. began to realise the need for more than nominal support of I.S.9(D)/P.15. This was due to their realisation that increased numbers of evaders on the Continent were coming within the orbits of their organisations and endangering their agents. This rather negative form of support continued to the last and had the inevitable effect of restricting the scope of I.S.9(D)/P.15's work in every country with which it was concerned. Nevertheless, as the final results prove, certain considerable successes were achieved. At Appendix "O" are given the organisations which operated in Western Europe under the direction and control of I.S.9(D)/P.15.

3. AGENTS

  1. The section had great difficulty in obtaining suitable agents for the work. Most of our contacts with the French, Belgian and Dutch Intelligence Services were originally arranged by S.I.S., whose ignorance of and lack of interest in the rapidly increasing evader problem spread to their opposite numbers in the Allied Services. The French and Belgians were, therefore, inclined to adopt the attitude that the problem was so unimportant that a very low priority should be given to I.S.9(D)/P.15 in recruiting agents. Moreover, it was not until 1943 that they really saw any point in assisting anybody but their own nationals out of enemy-occupied territory. The Dutch, in the same way, were totally disinterested and openly hostile to risking Dutch lives in this manner. They omitted to realise until too late the quite important political consequences that work done on behalf of British and American subjects in this manner might have. They have now realised the extent of the organisations built up in HOLLAND, particularly during the months after ARNHEM, and are more than a little mortified to find that they knew literally nothing about the work done by their compatriots employed by the Section.
  2. This apathy towards the work of I.S.9(D)/P.15, however, was probably the main cause of its considerable success, for, to achieve anything, it had to work on its own. It led to the Section running an organisation which few people in England knew anything about, but which had a marked influence on public opinion on the Continent. The better type of underground worker distrusted his own Intelligence Services and preferred to enrol in an escape movement which had no political bias and a more human aspect than mere espionage. The Section, therefore, was able eventually to obtain a remarkably high standard of agents without the assistance either of S.I.S. or of the Allied Intelligence Services.

4. OPERATIONS

The high quality of agents enrolled led to this small section of three officers being able to achieve considerable success in the operational sphere. This was particularly true of sea operations and air landings. During the months of 1944 when M.T.Bs were crossing to BRITTANY, I.S.9(D)/P.15 was quite outstanding in its successful handling of boat evacuations. The enthusiastic cooperation and support of the Royal Navy were most important contributing factors to these successes.

5. AIR MINISTRY

Unfortunately, the Air Ministry took little interest in the work of I.S.9(D)/P.15. In spite of the enormous numbers of rescued Airman who, made strong representations to the Air Ministry, no support was forthcoming. The particular interest that the Section had in Air Ministry support was in obtaining sufficient priority in aircraft from Bomber Command and special squadrons to carry out air evacuations and parachute droppings, but priority was always low. This attitude was quite comprehensible, in view of the dangers involved of losing aircraft and the fact that the time factor, in so far as evaders were concerned was of relative unimportance.

6. CONCLUSIONS

  1. I.S.9(D)/P.15 was hampered all through by lack of staff.
  2. The subservience of one secret intelligence organisation to another did not pay. The work of S.I.S. and I.S.9(D)/P.15 was quite different, and it was only natural that the young organisation, with no tradition behind it, should be looked upon with suspicion by the parent organisation.
  3. The W/T and training facilities supplied by S.I.S. were much appreciated, but it did not help when operations planned as a result of the facilities given were obstructed on the grounds of policy.

7. RECOMMENDATIONS

    1. In the event of another war it is strongly recommended that if the necessary War Establishments can be obtained a separate M.I.9 organisation should be set up with its own communications and agents. By this means the evasion organisation can be studied as a subject separate from other forms of Intelligence. The training as given by S.I.S. is considered the model on which agents should be instructed. The Application Form at Appendix "N" gives a clear and concise indication of the subjects in which they should become proficient. The matters which would mainly concern our agents would be:-

W/T, CODES, PARACHUTING and PICK UP TRAINING, details of which could be supplied by S.I.S.

 

 

[Source: TNA WO 208/3242, transcribed by www.arcre.com]