World War II



Mackenzie, S.P.

1. "Citizens in Arms: The Home Guard and the Internal Security of the United Kingdom, 1940-41." Intelligence and National Security 6, no. 3 (Jul. 1991): 548-572.

"By mid-1941,... security-related problems involving the [Home Guard] force had largely faded away. The extension of central control [by the War Office] over all aspects of Home Guard work, and the concurrent regularization of standards and expectations, meant that both over-zealousness in security duties and the related spectre of the force turning into a home-grown Red Guard were no longer matters of real concern."

2. The Home Guard: A Military and Political History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Crang, I&NS 12.2, finds this to be "an excellent account" of the history of the Home Guard. Mackenzie concludes that the Home Guard "played an important role ... in fostering morale by giving people a means of direct participation in the war effort."

Mains, A. A. [Lt.-Col.] Field Security: Very Ordinary Intelligence. Chippenham, UK: Picton Publishing, 1992.

According to Surveillant 3.1, this book is the story "of the development of Field Security by the author who was in India and Iraq during WWII. The underlying theme is the field burden placed on junior officers and the training they receive. Mains shows how intelligence and security operate in the confusion of war." Watt, I&NS 9.2, comments that the author's "experience ... was essentially at the level of senior management, rather than that of field experience." His job entailed "a good deal of civilian security work." The book is "rather heavy going." Although it "fills in the political background competently," the "narrative ... never really comes alive."

Masterman, John Cecil. The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939-1945. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1972. New York: Avon Books, 1972. [pb] New York: Ballantine, 1982. [pb]

Clark comment: Masterman was head of BI(a), the counterespionage arm of MI5, during World War II, and chaired the Twenty (XX) Committee that managed the German agents captured and turned beginning in 1940. Pforzheimer notes that the author "wrote this text as an official classified history"; as released, there has been sanitization. The book remains a "veritable classic treatise" on counterintelligence and deception. The lack of direct references to the Ultra material, which was used to check on the success of these operations, is a major void in the Masterman's presentation.

According to Constantinides, The Double-Cross System is "one of the great works of intelligence literature, an outstanding one in the area of deception, and perhaps the greatest work yet written on double agents." Sexton notes that this "slender volume ought to be essential reading for those seriously interested in intelligence and deception."

In a excellent article that is more than a book review, A.V. Knobelspiesse, "Masterman Revisited," Studies in Intelligence 18, no. 1 (Spring 1974): 25-40, proclaims that "Masterman's book ... merits the appellation 'seminal.'" The work presents "lean, impersonal, underplayed facts," and "combines brevity and conciseness with donnish elegance and challenge.... The codification of [counterintelligence] operational principles which accompanies Masterman's double agent case facts makes this the only book of its kind in public print.... The underlying thrust of the methodological theory and wisdom set out in this book ... apply to any time and to any adversary."

For the debates surrounding Masterman's release of his work and some of the follow-on controversies, see John C. Campbell, "A Retrospective on John Masterman's The Double-Cross System," International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 320-353. See also, E.D.R. Harrison, "J.C. Masterman and the Security Service, 1940-72," Intelligence and National Security 24, no. 6 (Dec. 2009): 769-804.

McKay, C.G.

1. "Anglo-Finnish SIGINT Cooperation, 1940-1941." Journal of Intelligence History 3, no. 1 (Summer 2003): 69-81. [http://www.intelligence-history.org/jih/previous.html]

Abstract: "The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact gave a new actuality to the necessity of expanding British coverage of Soviet signals traffic. The author introduces and comments upon a number of British documents dealing with British cooperation with the Finnish Radio Intelligence Service in the months leading up to Barbarossa."

2. "Iron Ore and Section D: The Oxelbsund Operation." Historical Journal 29 (1986): 975-978.

Meehan, Patricia. The Unnecessary War: Whitehall and the German Resistance to Hitler. London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1992.

For Powers, NYRB, 9 Jan. 1997, this work is a "thoroughly researched and well-written account of British dealings with the German resistance." Elkes, I&NS 12.2, sees Meehan as providing an "overview of the problems those in the [German] Resistance had in their efforts to make contacts abroad." Meehan makes "an extremely strong case decrying the conduct of those in Whitehall and particularly the Foreign Office."

Mierzejewski, Alfred C. "Intelligence and the Strategic Bombing of Germany: The Combined Strategic Targets Committee." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 3, no. 1 (Spring 1989): 83-104.

Millar, George, The Bruneval Raid: Flashpoint of the Radar War. London: Bodley Head, 1974. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.

Constantinides notes that the focus here is the 1942 British raid to capture a German radar. However, "Millar, who served as an agent in France,... is surprisingly good on the outlines of the radar war."

Murphy, Seán. Letting the Side Down: British Traitors of the Second World War. Stroud: Sutton, 2004.

From publisher: "[A]bout two hundred British citizens were under investigation for assisting the Axis powers. Using the case studies of the individuals concerned, Sean Murphy uncovers the reasons for their treacherous activities, describes how they collaborated with the enemy, and come the end of the war he explores their respective fates."

Return to UK WWII Overviews Table of Contents