MI9 Historical Report

Two days before Christmas 1939 a new branch of Military Intelligence, MI9, was established. Its charter was to advise combat personnel on how to evade capture, how to behave when a prisoner of war, how to plan escapes and how to secretly communicate with home. MI9 developed letter-writing codes to assist clandestine communication and designed and smuggled ingenious escape aids into Prisoner of War inside enemy territory. The following report details the history of MI9 and its later executive branch known as Intelligence School 9 (IS9).

 

Attachment A

M.I.9.
HISTORICAL RECORD

 

  1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
  2. OBJECTIVES OF M.I.9
  3. METHODS
    1. Methods of facilitating escapes and evasion
    2. Methods of obtaining and distributing information
    3. Methods of maintaining morale
  4. ORGANISATION
  5. M.I.9(b)
  6. M.I.9(d)
  7. TRAINING
    1. Lectures
      1. General lectures
      2. Special instruction
    2. Early difficulties
    3. R.A.F. Intelligence Course "B"
    4. Development and Expansion of Training
      1. Royal Navy
      2. Army
      3. Royal Air Force
    5. Statistics
  8. EVASION AND ESCAPE EQUIPMENT
    1. Control and specification
    2. Issue
      1. Royal Navy
      2. Army
      3. Royal Air Force
      4. Overseas
      5. Summary of Evasion and Escape Equipment issued
    3. Blood Chits
  9. PUBLICATIONS
    1. M.I.9 Bulletin
    2. M.I.9 Bulletin Far East
    3. Specimen lectures
    4. Pamphlets
  10. SECURITY
  11. DIFFICULTIES
  12. PERSONNEL
  13. STATISTICS


APPENDICES

  1. Original Charter of M.I.9 - December 1939
  2. SS Report on Questions of Internal Security - August 1943
  3. Draft specimen lecture for European Theatre
  4. Draft specimen lecture for Far East Theatre
  5. M.I.9 Bulletin
  6. "Mercury" Series
  7. M.I.9 Bulletin - Far East
  8. Personnel on M.I.9 Staff - December 1939-August 1945
  9. "Blood Chits" for Russia and the Far East
  10. Phrase Books
  11. Statistics and numbers of Escapers and Evaders

 

ENCLOSURES

  1. Historical Record of I.S.9
  2. Historical Record of R.A.F. Intelligence Course "B"
  3. Historical Record of Awards Bureaux and Screening Commissions

 

 

Attachment A

M.I.9.
HISTORICAL RECORD

1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

  1. Before the outbreak of war conferences of ex-prisoners of war escapers of the 1914 - 1918 war were held under the auspices of M.I.1, the Air Ministry also being involved. In November - December 1939 G.H.Q. British Expeditionary Force recommended to the Director of Military Intelligence that an organisation should be set up in the War Office to facilitate escapes of British prisoners of war from enemy prison camps. The matter was considered by Military Intelligence Research who advised agreement. The D.M.I. then took up the question with the Director of Naval Intelligence at the Admiralty and the Director of Naval Intelligence at the Admiralty and the Director of Intelligence at the Air Ministry, and as a result M.I.9 was established as an inter-service section consisting in the first instance of a G.S.O.1, a G.S.O.2, a G.S.O.3 and officers attached from the Admiralty and the Air Ministry. A copy of the original charter of 23 December 1939 is attached at Appendix A.
  2. Resulting from further consultation with selected escapers of the 1914 - 1918 war, it was decided to carry out immediately a programme of lectures by the latter in order to teach service personnel how to behave in the event of capture, emphasis being laid on the duty not to be taken prisoner and to escape if captured. It was decided that the best way to get escape material into prison camps in the early stages of the war was on the man, and these lectures were also designed to give instruction on the use of escape gadgets. In addition a code was taught to selected personnel.
  3. At the same time a secret M.I.9 fund was authorised and a technical officer brought in to experiment and advise upon escape material.
  4. In April 1940 M.I.9 took over that part of M.I.1(a) which was responsible for Intelligence work connected with enemy prisoners of war and internees. (This element of M.I.1(a) had been working on these problems since June 1939 and on the outbreak of war, had established in the Tower of London a small Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre.) The side which dealt with enemy prisoners of war and internees in the U.K. was incorporated in M.I.9 as M.I.9(a), the side which dealt with British prisoners of war and internees in enemy and neutral countries being thenceforward known as M.I.9(b), which as a further commitment was responsible for intelligence aspects of persons arriving in the U.K. on repatriation from enemy countries.
  5. During 1940 and 1941 work on both the enemy and British sides expanded to an extent which resulted in the establishment, at the end of 1941, of a Deputy Directorate of Military Intelligence (Prisoners of War), M.I.9(b) becoming M.I.9 (British Prisoners of War Intelligence) and M.I.9(a) becoming M.I.19 (Enemy Prisoners of War Intelligence); and a new unit, Intelligence School 9, being created to take over the executive work of M.I.9. (The history of I.S.9 is to be found as Enclosure No. 1 to this Attachment A and that of M.I.19 as Attachment B to the Memorandum on P/W Intelligence). The Intelligence aspects of aliens, repatriated persons and internees came under M.I.19.

2. OBJECTIVES OF M.I.9

The objectives of M.I.9 were:-

  1. To facilitate escapes of British prisoners of war, thereby getting back service personnel and containing additional enemy manpower on guard duties.
  2. To facilitate the return to the United Kingdom of those who succeeded in evading capture in enemy occupied territory.
  3. To collect and distribute information.
  4. To assist in the denial of information to the enemy.
  5. To maintain morale of British prisoners of war in enemy prison camps.

3. METHODS

    1. Methods of facilitating escapes and evasion
      1. Preliminary training (pre-captive) by lectures and instruction in code. (See para 7).
      2. Preparation and issue of the M.I.9 Bulletin. (See para 9a).
      3. Technical research and production of Escape Aids (including special maps). (See para 8).
      4. The issue of Escape Aids, either in conjunction with pre-capture training or by post to Prisoner of War Camps. (See para 8b).
      5. The issue of "Blood Chits" in conjunction with pre-capture training. (See para 8c).
      6. The preparation of plans for escape and evasion. (See Enclosure No. 1 Sec. X).

(It should be noted that rescue work in connection with aircraft flying over friendly territory or sea is the responsibility of the Air Sea Rescue Service. M.I.9 is responsible for escapes from or evasion in enemy territory.)

    1. Methods of obtaining and distributing information
      Information was obtained by the following methods:-
      1. Through code correspondence with Prisoner of War Camps (See Enclosure No. 1 Historical Records of I.S.9 Sec Y).
      2. Through the interrogation of escapers and evaders (British Service Personnel), infiltration (Allied) and of civilian (British). (See Enclosure No. 1 Historical Record of I.S.9 Sec W).

Information so obtained was embodied in reports and transmitted to all three services and other government departments. (It must be noted that as P/W were forbidden by A.C.I. to make public broadcasts after capture this method of transmitting code messages was rejected).

  1. Methods of maintaining morale
    The high morale of British prisoners was sustained by the receipt of news letters and by the realisation that the War Office, evidenced through its correspondence and wireless contacts with P/W Camps, was concerned with the prisoner's welfare. Obviously M.I.9 cannot claim entire credit for what is a native British characteristic, but the morale value of these contacts was admitted by the P/W themselves to have been considerable. That British prisoners' morale was incredibly high is proved by the translation of an SS Report on Questions of Internal Security (12 August 1943) which is included for interest at Appendix B. It was possible through this method of communication to ginger up those few Senior Officers who were known to be weak in relation to the Germans by sending strongly worded messages from the British Government.

Comment. Although classified as Military Intelligence, M.I.9 work is in fact a mixture of M.O., M.I., M.T. and Q. Escape planning is Military Operations (sometimes on quite a large scale - e.g. in Italy after the Italian armistice); the collection of information by code communication with P/W Camps and by interrogation of escapers and evaders is Military Intelligence; preventive training is Military Training and the supply of escape and evasion material can be regarded as Q[uartermasters].

4. ORGANISATION

  1. On 1 January 1942 M.I.9 was re-organised into two sub-sections, M.I.9(b) and M.I.9(d), the former dealing with general questions, coordination, distribution of information and liaison with other services and government departments and overseas commands, the latter, M.I.9(d), being responsible for organising preventive training (instruction in evasion and escape) to combatant personnel of the three services in the United Kingdom and for the issue of evasion and escape equipment and information to units at home and M.I.9 organisations overseas.
  2. In order to centralise the collection and distribution of "Intelligence" available from M.I.9 sources a sub-section - exclusively responsible for this task - M.I.9(f) was formed in April 1944.
  3. Details of the work of the two most important sub-sections follows in paras 5 and 6.

5. M.I.9(b)

    1. Staff
      The sub-section consisted in January 1942 of the following:-

One G.S.O.2.
Two G.S.O.3s.
One 2/O W.R.N.S.

  1. Duties
    The work of M.I.9(b) in January 1942 consisted of the following:-
    1. General correspondence, coordination and Secretariat.
    2. Official cover and correspondence for I.S.9.
    3. Distribution of information externally and internally. (See para 4b above).
    4. Liaison with the Directorate of Prisoners of War on Policy, Geneva Convention, intelligence and security questions affecting British prisoners.
    5. Liaison with Security Service on special cases arising camps.
    6. Press and Publicity questions affecting escapers and evaders.
    7. Intelligence and Security questions affecting prisoners. Correspondence in collaboration with M.I.12 (P/W).
    8. Liaison with Military Attachés abroad.
    9. Liaison with M.I.9 organisations abroad, A.F.H.Q., M.E., INDIA.
    10. Liaison with Casualty Branches of all three Services, Dominion, Colonial and India Offices.
    11. Liaison with Finance Sections on questions of expenses and allowances of escapers and evaders.
    12. Liaison with Admiralty, Air Ministry, M.I.5, and other departments in regard to arrival in U.K. of escapers and evaders.
    13. Organising and carrying out interviews with, and preparation of reports of, escapers and evaders of all three Services and distribution of the ensuing reports. (Up to February 1943 when I.S.9(W) was formed - see Enclosure No. 1 History of I.S.9 Sec W).
    14. Grading of recommendations for awards and keeping records. (Until a separate sub-section directly under D.D.M.I.(P/W) was formed - see D.D.M.I.(P/W)'s Memorandum Chapter XV).
    15. Collection and collation of information for M.I.9 Bulletin for use of all three Services. (Taken over by M.I.9(d) in November 1942).
    16. Posting of personnel to I.S.9 and exchanges of personnel between M.I.9 organisations abroad.
    17. Annotations and distribution of information obtained from M.I.9 sources regarding camp locations in GERMANY.
    18. Distribution of maps and overlay of German P/W camps.

6. M.I.9(d)

    1. Staff

The sub-section was inter-Service in composition and in January 1942 the organising staff consisted of:-

   R.A.F. One S/Ldr. (attached) O i/c.

   R.N. One Lt. Cdr. (attached) and later One 2/O W.R.N.S. (attached)

   ARMY    One G.S.O.3 (upgraded to G.S.O.2) and later One Captain I.C.

With an instructional staff of:-

    Two S/Ldrs (attached) (Both escapers in the war of 1914 - 1918)
    One F/Lt. (attached) (Escaper in the war of 1914 - 1918)
    Four civilian part-time lecturers (ex-officers) (All escapers in the war of 1914 - 1918)

And additional Naval and Army instructional staff at later dates.

    1. Duties

During the period 1940 - 1941, instruction in Escape had been organised by M.I.9(b) in addition to the other duties performed by that sub-section, and was given chiefly by travelling lecturers who visited operational units of the three Services in the United Kingdom and certain Army formations of the B.E.F. Owing to the large number of personnel (principally R.A.F.) who found themselves cut off behind the enemy lines, it was decided to expand the teaching to include evasion of capture as well as escape. On the formation of the Deputy Directorate of Military Intelligence (Prisoner of War) in January 1942 and the consequent re-organisation of M.I.9, M.I.9(d) was formed with the specific duties of organising and coordinating the training in Evasion and Escape of combatant personnel of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, and for the issue of Evasion and Escape Equipment to units at home and M.I.9 organisations overseas. These two aspects of training and equipment are considered in Paras 7 and 8 following.

7. TRAINING

    1. Lectures

Lectures given to all three Services were divided into two categories.

      1. General lectures

These were given to all officers, warrant officers and Sergeants. The object of the lectures was:-

        1. to emphasize the undesirability of being captured.
        2. to give instruction in evasion of capture.
        3. to give instruction on conduct in the event of capture.
        4. to demonstrate certain "aids to escape" with which units were equipped by M.I.9 prior to going overseas.

Officers and N.C.Os were expected to pass on the subject matter of these lectures to the troops (while making no mention of the "aids to escape", as they were available for issue only to limited numbers) but stressing the necessity for secrecy.

As it was desirable that a uniform lecture should be given to units, a general outline of the lecture and a draft specimen lecture for the guidance of officers concerned was circulated amongst units. (Draft specimen lectures for European and Far East theatres are attached at Appendices C and D).

The lecture took the form of an informal secret talk, and it was recommended that the audience at each lecture should not exceed 200 persons.

As conditions were constantly changing, modifications to the lecture needed continually to be made. These modifications were published in the form of the "M.I.9 Bulletin", which gave up to date information on the subject and was distributed to H.Qs of all commands and armies. (See Para 9a).

A supply of aids for demonstration purposes was given to G.S.(I) commands and armies.

      1. Special Instruction

This was a lecture of a Top Secret character and dealt with a system of code communication which could be used in normal correspondence. For reasons of security it was sometimes given the title of "Camp Conditions" and was always restricted to a very limited number of officers and W.Os. A small number of staff officers and all Intelligence officers on H.Qs of formations received this instruction.

It was recommended that no attempt should be made to instruct more than ten persons at a time and only those capable of grasping details readily. (A copy of this lecture is to be found at Appendix M to Enclosure No. 1 Sec Y).

Lecturers were instructed to satisfy themselves by checking practice letters that personnel who attended the lecture understood the system, and their capabilities were further checked by M.I.9 before their registration with M.I.9 as potential "users". (See Enclosure No. 1 History of M.I.9 Sec Y)

    1. Early difficulties

During the early months of 1942 preventive training was carried out under a considerable handicap.

Lecturers at this time were not available to cover the vast number of operational units then in GREAT BRITAIN, and members of the instructional staff were worked to the limit. Units visited were scattered all over the country from ORKNEYS to the South of ENGLAND, including NORTHERN IRELAND. These purely instructional lectures were augmented whenever possible by talks given by returned evaders and escapers.

Endeavours were made to obtain the full-time services of officers who had recently escaped from enemy hands to supplement the instructional staff, but this proved difficult owing to the shortage of man-power, and it was not until October 1942 that an Army officer who had made an outstanding escape from German hands was made available. Subsequently the services of one Naval officer who had escaped in the war of 1914 - 1918 and two Naval officers who had made brilliant escapes from a German Prisoner of War Camp in the present war were obtained, to be followed by one Army officer who had escaped from Japanese hands after the fall of HONG KONG and an R.A.F. officer who had made his escape from SINGAPORE after its capitulation.

    1. R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B'

This initial difficulty in obtaining a sufficient quantity of trained lecturers was appreciated at an early stage in January 1942, on the suggestion of the Air Ministry, a special intelligence course was opened at R.A.F. Station "X", HARROW, which was administered by the Air Ministry, the training policy being controlled by M.I.9. This course dealt exclusively with matters relating to Evasion and Escape, and was originally formed for the purpose of training R.A.F. Station Intelligence officers who, in turn, would brief operational personnel on these subjects. Not long after its inception it became R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B', by which name it was known throughout its further existence. Later it was expanded to include Intelligence officers of the Royal Navy and the Army and eventually Intelligence officers of the American forces, and moved to more suitable premises at HIGHGATE.

With the increased instructional staff and the number of officers available as a result of this course within Army and R.A.F. commands and Naval establishments and ships, it was possible in October 1944 to dispense with the services of the civilian lecturers.

(The Historical Record of R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B' will be found at Enclosure II).

    1. Development and Expansion of Training
      1. Royal Navy

Before the formation of M.I.9(d) a very limited number of lectures on evasion and escape had been given to Naval personnel, but no definite system had been established to deal with this form of training.

The officer responsible for the Naval side of M.I.9(d) immediately made the following contacts:-

D.N.I. (for backing only).
A.G.R.M. (for Royal Marines personnel).
N.A.D. (later D.A.W.T.) (for American Carriers).
D.D.C.C.(C) (for Coastal Forces).
D.T.S.D. (Officers training).
D.D.O.D.(M) (for Minelayers).
F.O.N.A.S. (for Naval Air Stations).
F.O.S. (for submarine personnel).
A.C.O. (later C.C.O.) (for Naval personnel engaged in Combined operations).

In every case the response was favourable except that F.O.S. directed that preventive training be confined to special operations only, as he thought that the morale of ordinary S/M crews might be adversely affected if stress were laid on the possibility of capture. D.T.S.D. also ruled that no M.I.9 lectures could be given to ratings under training owing to their very full syllabus.

Until the middle of 1942 no directive on M.I.9 training had been issued by the Admiralty, but on 12 March 1942 Admiralty letter A.0016/42, drafted by M.I.9(d) was issued. This letter legalised the whole position and after its publication the organisation of lecture tours was much simplified.

Preventive training at Coastal Forces, Submarine and Combined Operations Bases and in the Fleet Air Arm was supplemented by instruction given by local officers who had qualified at R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B'. In the last named, as no Intelligence Staff existed up till 1945, Meteorological officers and C.B.A.L. officers dealt with M.I.9 matters. Subsequently (in 1945) Naval Air Intelligence officers were appointed, and these officers passed through R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B' before taking up their duties.

It should be mentioned here that during the period 1943 - 1944 considerable assistance was given by N.I.D. Lecture Section giving talks on the will to escape and prisoner of war security to all ranks at Naval establishments which M.I.9, with the limited number of lecturers available, could not cover.

On the whole, since the early months of 1942 the Naval side was adequately catered for, but the chief handicap was the insufficient warning given to M.I.9 of impending operations. In fact it was largely due to the personal contacts of the officer responsible for the Naval side in M.I.9(d) that prior notice of the smaller operations at any rate was obtained.

      1. Army

As has already been stated, preventive training had been given, previous to 1942, to certain Army formations at home and in the B.E.F., but this had been necessarily of an improvised and sketchy nature and although arrangements had been made with Army Commands at home for instruction to be given by visiting lecturers from M.I.9, the matter had not been legalised with G.H.Q., Home Forces.

This state of affairs made it possible for commanders of formations to refuse to have M.I.9 instruction given to units under their command. Generally speaking few objections were raised, but one or two senior officers were very much opposed to the ideas, as they considered that the possibility of capture should not be discussed on the grounds that it was bad for morale. ("The British soldier fights to the death"). These doubters were eventually persuaded that circumstances arise when soldiers do get cut off and cannot fight to the death, and it was emphasised that all lectures began by stressing that the soldier's duty was not to be captured.

Early in 1942 the question was taken up with G.H.Q., Home Forces, with the result that a directive was issued by G.H.Q. to Army Commands in the UNITED KINGDOM. Similar arrangements were made with Canadian Military Headquarters, NORTHERN IRELAND District and Combined Operations Headquarters.

It was agreed that M.I.9 should deal direct with formations down to Divisions on all matters of routine, but that questions of policy should be referred to higher authorities concerned.

Briefly, the directive laid down that M.I.9 would be responsible for the necessary instruction being given to:-

          1. Armoured, Airborne and Infantry Division.
          2. Formations and units of the Canadian Army in ENGLAND.
          3. A.A. units likely to go overseas.
          4. Units of the Special Service Brigade.
          5. Units of the Royal Marines operating under Army Command.
          6. Units on special operational role operating under C.C.O.
          7. Training Establishments and Schools.

Commands and Armies were to be responsible for instruction being given to:-

          1. Army and Corps Troops.
          2. Independent Brigades and Independent Units.

Only troops liable to go overseas or to be in close contact with the enemy were to be given M.I.9 instruction.

Formations and units at (a) above were covered by M.I.9 as a matter of routine with the exception of vi. which were instructed at the request of C.C.O. prior to an operation taking place. Training establishments and Schools were covered at three-monthly intervals, the programme being arranged by M.T.(L) with whom a close liaison was kept.

Formations and units at (b) above were normally covered by Army Commands when requested by M.I.9 who, on receipt of Mobilisation Preparatory Orders from the S.D. Section concerned, reminded the appropriate Command. The instruction was then given by an officer who had qualified at R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B'.

When a sufficient number of officers within Army Command had passed through R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B' vacancies were allotted to Armoured and Infantry Divisions and certain lower formations likely to take part in the expected operations in Western Europe. By May 1944 all Armoured and Infantry Divisions had from three to four such officers on their strength. This enabled M.I.9 instruction to be given to personnel who had been unable to attend the lectures arranged by M.I.9 which had by this time been given to all formations of 21 Army Group.

The organisation of training described above may be said to have worked extremely well, although, owing to commitments of various kinds on the part of units, it was impossible to cover 100% [of] personnel.

      1. Royal Air Force

Here also preventive training had been carried out prior to 1942 almost entirely by visiting lecturers from M.I.9(d). This method was continued but, owing to the limited number of lecturers available, it soon became obvious that only a limited number of aircrew could be covered. It was at this stage that R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B' (See para 7c above) was formed, and in due course every operational R.A.F. station and O.T.U. in the UNITED KINGDOM possessed at least one Intelligence Officer qualified to instruct in M.I.9 subjects.

This instruction was supplemented by lectures from officers on the staff of M.I.9(d), who visited Groups, etc. as required, and by visits from recent evaders and escapers.

By these means all aircrew were thoroughly briefed on evasion and escape before taking part in operations.

    1. Statistics

A summary of preventive training lectures given by officers on the staff of M.I.9(d) during the period 1 January 1942 to 25 August 1945 is shown below:-

Service

No. of lectures

Estimated number of personnel who attended

Royal Navy

608

90,000

Royal Marines

102

20,000

Army

1090

346,000

Royal Air Force

1450

290,000

 

The above figures are conservative and are exclusive of lectures given under local arrangements by officers who qualified at R.A.F. Intelligence Course 'B'.

8. EVASION AND ESCAPE EQUIPMENT

    1. Control and Specification

Except in the case of P/W Camps, the control of issue of Evasion and Escape Equipment, which was devised and produced by I.S.9(Z), was vested in M.I.9(d) and issued by I.S.9(Z) on indent. (See also Enclosure No. 1 Historical Record of I.S.9 Sec Z).

This equipment consisted of:-

      1. Purses. Containing normally about £12 in notes of the currency of the country or countries in which the recipient might find himself cut off, appropriate silk maps, a small compass and hacksaw.
      2. Aids Boxes. Containing compressed food, Chewing Gum, Halazone, Benzadrine, Matches, Safety Razor and Soap, Needle and Thread, Surgical Tape, Fishing Line and Hook, Water Bottle and small compass. These Aids Boxes were designed to give the evader sufficient nourishment for 48 hours and so enable him to lie up or move from his original location without the necessity of obtaining food.
      3. Supplementary Aids Boxes. These were designed to meet the needs of flying personnel forced down in GERMANY where no help could be expected from the inhabitants and were carried in addition to the Aids Box and provided sufficient nourishment for seven days.
      4. Far East Aids Boxes. These were specially designed for tropical climates.
      5. Special Aids Boxes - Far East.
      6. Silk Maps. For enclosure in Purses or Wallets or for issue separately; these maps were specially prepared for evasion and escape purposes and covered territories in European and Far East Theatres.
      7. Compasses. - Of various small types suitable for concealment.
    1. Issue
      1. Royal Navy

Evasion and Escape Equipment was issued to the authorities and establishments concerned for distribution, as necessary, to operational personnel of:-

Fleet Air Arm (including Aircraft Carriers).
Coastal Forces.
Submarines (special operations).
Midget Submarines.
Combined Operations (Naval Parties).

Stocks were held by CHATHAM, PORTSMOUTH and PLYMOUTH Divisions of the Royal Marines for distribution to ships' detachments before embarkation.

      1. Army

After instruction had been given to formations and units proceeding overseas, or on special operations from the UNITED KINGDOM, the necessary "Aids" were issued by M.I.9(d) for distribution on the following scale:-

Airborne units & Commandos.

All ranks.

Armoured units.

Officers and senior N.C.Os and crews of A.F.Vs.

All others.

Officers and senior N.C.Os.

Special parties operating under Combined Headquarters were equipped as desired by C.O.H.Q.

Troops taking part in the landings in N. AFRICA, ITALY and FRANCE were equipped on the scales shown above, special maps and additional "Aids" having produced for this purpose.

      1. Royal Air Force

Evasion and Escape Equipment was issued to all operational Groups etc. in the UNITED KINGDOM, for distribution to flying personnel on 100% scale.

      1. Overseas

A continuous supply of M.I.9 equipment was maintained to "E" Group, S.E.A. and I Commands, and consignments were forwarded as required to I.S.9(M.E.), I.S.9(C.M.F.), I.S.9(W.E.A.) and the M.I.9 organisation in AUSTRALIA. Supplies were also sent to War Dept., WASHINGTON, prior to their own technical section getting into production.

      1. Summary of Evasion and Escape Equipment issued

During the period 1 January 1942 to 25 August 1945 the following principal items of equipment were issued on M.I.9(d) indent:-

 

European Theatres,
N. Africa and M.E.

Far Eastern
Theatre

Items

R.N., Army, R.A.F. and M.I.9 organisation overseas

'E' Group S.E.A. & I Commands

M.I.S. X Sec. S.W.P.A.

Aids Boxes

423,075

145,770*

-

Purses

275,407

-

-

Silk Maps

760,757

454,768

3,424

Compasses and Devices

1,700,241

635,823

116,798

Miscellaneous

434,104

329,123

126,482

* These included European type Aids Boxes.

    1. Blood Chits
MI9 recognition aid, known as a Blood Chit, issued to Royal Air Force air crew who may come down in Soviet held territory
MI9 recognition aid, known as a Blood Chit, issued to
Royal Air Force air crew who may come down in Soviet held territory
(Courtesy of Lee Richards)

i. To serve the dual purposes of (a) overcoming the language difficulty so that a flyer forced down in enemy occupied territory could explain himself to the natives and (b) to act as a pledge (or promise to pay) redeemable when the enemy was ejected from the country, "Blood Chits" were prepared in a number of languages by M.I.9(d) and issued in conjunction with escape and evasion equipment. Specimen Blood Chits for Russia and the Far East are shown at Appendix "I".

ii. Blood Chits were not issued for Europe because of the ease with which they could be forged but phrase books in many European and Asiatic languages were compiled and issued. (Specimens at Appendix "J").

9. PUBLICATIONS

Various publications were issued by M.I.9(d), the principal being:-

    1. "The M.I.9 Bulletin"

This document was the 'Bible' of Evasion and Escape and contained everything that could be of assistance to service personnel who might find themselves cut off in enemy occupied territory, or captured by the enemy. It was devised as a text book and guide to Intelligence officers who were called upon to give instruction in evasion and escape.

Information on conditions in EUROPE, escape routes, etc. was mainly collected and supplied by I.S.9, who also provided maps and other material.

It will be appreciated that for efficient and up-to-date preventive training intimate relations with the executive body, I.S.9. were vital as teaching was frequently changed radically as the underground organisations changed.

To overcome the delay often caused by the insertion of frequent amendments, "Advice Memos" were instituted. These contained the latest long term information available for ultimate inclusion in the "Bulletin".

Short term or transitory information was sent out under the title of "Mercury" on the day of receipt. The "Mercury" series was issued only to recipients to whom the information would be of immediate value. This series proved of considerable value during the campaign in Western Europe, for which it was originated.

A specimen is enclosed at Appendix F.

    1. "The M.I.9 Bulletin, Far East"

A similar publication to the "M.I.9 Bulletin" but dealing only with the Far East and largely devoted to survival in jungle etc.

Owing to the difficulty of obtaining material for this document it was unfortunately not available for issue until June 1945 when it was most favourably received by the three Services.

    1. Specimen Lectures

These, with stories of actual escapes, were issued for the guidance of Intelligence Officers. (See Appendix D).

    1. Pamphlets

Various pamphlets directly or indirectly associated with evasion in the Far East were published by M.I.9(d), the principal being Far Eastern Survival, Land and Sea, for which there was a large demand, and the Malay language. These pamphlets were printed on silk.

10. SECURITY

Although security instruction was not a part of the M.I.9 charter, P/W security was so closely linked up with the teaching of M.I.9 that the closest liaison had to be maintained with M.I.11 and the equivalent sections in the Admiralty and Air Ministry. For instance, when it became apparent that a continuation of the rule of "Name, Rank and Number only" would probably have repercussions inimical to the interests and safety of British and Dominion prisoners in Japanese hands, it was largely through the efforts of M.I.9 that the rule was modified. After agreement had been reached the War Office pamphlet "Precautions to be taken by British personnel in the event of Capture 1942" was re-written for the Far East by M.I.9(d), as was also the Admiralty equivalent publication.

11. DIFFICULTIES

  1. The chief difficulty encountered in the early days was the lack of interest shown in M.I.9 activities by certain elements of the Royal Navy and Army, and it was only after a considerable number of personal contacts had been made that this state of affairs improved. Even so, there were instances, right up to the spring of 1944, of senior officers refusing to have anything to do with it.
    As far as the Army was eventually concerned, however, practically all Commanding Officers of units mobilising for overseas were keen that their troops should have a knowledge of what to do if cut off or captured and should be escape-minded, and excellent cooperation was given by formation Commanders of 21 Army Group.
  2. Another difficulty experienced was the insufficient warning frequently given of impending operations. This applied particularly to Combined Operations.
  3. Allied Naval Commander Expeditionary Force in February 1944 directed that pre-capture training should NOT be given in general to Naval personnel training for operation "Overlord". His reason was that the time was limited and that, as R.N. and R.M. personnel would be operating off beaches already in our hands or to be occupied by our forces as a result of the operation, the possibility of their capture was a remote one. In actual fact, through the cooperation of G.O.C. Royal Marines, a large number of R.M. crews of minor landing craft were covered by M.I.9(d) before joining their vessels.
  4. Except in Force 'J' which had been in existence for some considerable time, and Coastal Forces, no M.I.9 training was given to R.N. personnel who took part in the invasion of FRANCE.
  5. It is felt that if there had been earlier and closer liaison [with] A.N.C.X.F. better results would have been achieved.
  6. It can be noted that Preventive Training can be overdone; e.g. a case is recorded of certain American crews who would not fly because purses and Aids boxes were not available!

12. PERSONNEL

At Appendix H is shown a list of officers who served on the staff of M.I.9 (or were attached) from December 1939 - August 1945.

13. STATISTICS

At Appendix K a "breakdown" of the total figures for Escapers and Evaders is given by area and nationality. It will be seen that the total of British Commonwealth escapers is 21,533, and of British Commonwealth evaders is 4,657 making a grand total of 26,190. Of these 4,916 were interned in Switzerland, but the rest were available for further service. It can be fairly claimed that of these 90% of evaders and 33% of escapers were brought out as a result of M.I.9 organisation and activities.

 

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