Second Bureau

Title:                      Second Bureau

Author:                 Philip John Stead

Stead, Philip John (1959). Second Bureau. London: Evans Brothers

LCCN:    60002637

D810.S7 S83


Date Updated:  February 23, 2016

Reviewed by George C. Constantinides[1]

This effort to clarify the role of the French Secret Service of the Armies of the Armistice and of North Africa during World War II was written by a British writer who specialized in French subjects. Stead relied on French-language accounts and French sources, especially those of Colonel Paul Paillole, who made his files available. There is a strong bias in favor of the regular French intelligence of the armed forces, which continued to work against the Germans throughout the war, even under Vichy. Some experts felt the author’s reliance on sources whose reputations were professionally at stake inevitably affected his conclusions and caused him to favor the military intelligence professionals against the “amateurs” under Jacques Soustelle. There is much of interest; comparatively little on French intelligence has been written in or translated into English. References to intelligence being sent by the French service to London by radio as early as September 1940 must refer principally to the communications intelligence being supplied by Bertrand’s section; this and other references must be about this valuable source, although French work against German ciphers and Bertrand are not mentioned. See Bertrand’s Enigma[2]. Much will interest the counterintelligence specialist, especially because Stead regards the CI accomplishments of the French services as their primary success after France fell. The organizational buff will find much on the French services’ structure to keep him happy if at times confused. Stead provides some interesting though brief looks into French positive and counterintelligence operations against the Germans and Italians before the war as well. For those studying the security of World War II Allied invasion plans, the claim of French counterespionage in Vichy that it knew for some days before the invasion of North Africa at what points and on what dates the Allied would land is worth investigating; another item to be researched is the contention that from 1936 on the German network for secret agents in France had virtually been eradicated. For OSS’s relations with the French service dating back to Vichy days and for the U.S. high regard for it, see the U.S. War Department’s War Report of the OSS.[3]

This is a review by the Defense Intelligence School.[4]

A history of the regular French military intelligence service during World War II, comprising the Deuxieme Bureau and its supporting organizations for clandestine collection and counterespionage. Based on French-language accounts and on conversations with many officers of the service, it shows the difficulty experienced in financing and maintaining programs after 1940 in double clandestine operations, secret from both the Germans and the Vichy Government.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[5]

First comprehensive book in English on the subject of the history of the regular French military intelligence service. Stead is a British author of several books on French subject matter, one being a history of the police of Paris.

Reviewed by Paul W. Blackstock and Frank L. Schaf[6]

This was the first wartime history of the regular French military intelligence service, the Deuxieme Bureau of the General Staff, to be written in English by a British author who has specialized in this field. The author exposes the difficulties of conducting military intelligence and especially counterintelligence in occupied and unoccupied France after the armistice, and relates the problems in transferring personnel and files to North Africa after the landings there.

[1] Constantinides, George C. (1983). Intelligence and Espionage: An Analytical Bibliography. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, pp. 425-426

[2] Bertrand, Gustave (1975). Enigma; ou, La plus grande énigme de la guerre 1939-1945. Paris: Libaririe Plon

[3] United States. War Department Strategic Services Unit. History Project. (1976). War Report of the OSS. New York: Walker and Co.

[4] Defense Intelligence School (1981). Bibliography of Intelligence Literature: A Critical And Annotated Bibliography of Open-Source Literature (7th ed, rev.). Washington, DC: Defense Intelligence School, p. 59

[5] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 27

[6] Blackstock, Paul W. (1978) and Frank L. Schaf, Jr. Intelligence, Espionage, Counterespionage, And Covert Operations: A Guide to Information Sources. Detroit: Gale Research Co., p. 67


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