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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > World War I

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World War I The war to end all wars.

 
 
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Old 24 Sep 17, 11:06
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Originally Posted by MikeMeech View Post
Hi

For the British, both MI6 and GHQ France ran sources behind the German lines, this resulted in some 'rivalry' (chapter 5 in Beach, and Chapter 3 in Jeffery covers this and other espionage activities on the Western Front, Chapter 6 in Occleshaw also has information).
One should see Drakes history. Drake was head of MI5 and was asked in 1919 to document the history of the Secret Service MI6. I enclose his opening paragraphs

Quote:
THE SECRET SERVICE

GENERAL ORGANISATION
1. At the opening of the above period the Secret Service was organised into two offices under GHQ, the one situated at FOLKESTONE under Major A.C. CAMERON, the other in LONDON under Major B.A. WALLINGER. At the same time there was a branch office, attached to Major Cameron's FOLKESTONE office, working in PARIS under Captain Hon. G.J.G. BRUCE whose chief function was the recruitment of agents amongst Belgians and French in unoccupied France.

SYSTEM OF OBTAINING INFORMATION
2. Both these organisations operated through Holland and maintained their own system of head-men, couriers, passeurs and agents as well as separate offices. They were, in fact, not only in actual if unconscious competition with each other, but also with parallel systems controlled by the War Office and our French and Belgian Allies.

3. French and Belgian organisations were also established at FOLKESTONE and worked in liaison with our FOLKESTONE office. In the case of the Belgians this liaison was slight.

4. In addition, a nebulous Russian organisation was at work, with the secrecy which one might expect, in PARIS, and it is believed in Holland. Beyond the fact that the officers in charge themselves later became suspected, and so attracted the attention of the Contre-Espionage section of the 1 (b) organisation, no relations were at my time established.

5. Whether the suspicions against them had any foundation or not, the possibility of their entering the field in Belgium and Holland as bidders for our own and other Allied services is not excluded. Nor is it possible to say in whose interests these services, if purchased, were bought; or how much such purchase, if it occurred, contributed to the dislocation of our Secret Service organisations.

UNHEALTHY COMPETITION BETWEEN SERVICES
6. The competition between services referred to in para 2 was unhealthy and is apt to lead to the downfall of one or other of the many systems working under the head organisations. It is unfair to the agents and other personnel, and in some cases, led to their destruction, owing to the jealousies of the higher subordinates, who, naturally, worked in the keenest competition one with the other, but often without regard to the interests of the agents concerned. Such conduct on the part of unscrupulous persons is bound to lead to disastrous results, as far as the agents themselves are concerned, and the service as a whole suffers. It is only necessary to instance PUTTMAN, ARCHAIN and the courier GEORGE, amongst others in the G.H.Q. services alone.

RESULTS OF ABOVE
6A. In spite of the excellent results produced, there is little doubt that denunciations, buying up of other services' agents, duplication of reports, and collaborations between agents of the various Allied systems were not uncommon, so that the information arrived at the various Headquarters in a manner which was not only confusing but sometimes unreliable and apt to be dangerous. This was due to the fact that there was an apparent confirmation of news, really originating from the same source, owing to its being received at Allied Headquarters from what appeared to be different and independent places of origin.
He covers the tortuous attempts to resolve the issues and goes on to say how further things got messed up later in 1917 when the USA started to operate an intelligence system in the same area with almost no experience, no rules, no idea of inter allied co-operation but seemingly unlimited finance. He does not use the exact words but 'loose cannon' shouts from the page
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