Sharing The Secret

Title:                      Sharing The Secret

Author:                  Nick van der Bijl

Van der Bijl, Nicholas (2013). Sharing The Secret: The History of The Intelligence Corps, 1940—2010. Barnsley, South Yorkshire : Pen & Sword Military

LCCN:    2014397812

B251.G7 V34 2013


Date Posted:      September 30, 2016

Caveat. Perpendat itaque lector cavendum (civilis).[1]

Reviewed by Joseph C. Goulden[2]

The British Army Intelligence Corps (IC) was created on 18 July, 1940, nearly a year after the start of WWII. Previously, although there was a director of military intelligence on the general staff; intelligence units, staffs, and schools had been formed and deployed as needed during a conflict. Sharing the Secret explains what provoked the change. As background, it provides a chronological history covering the pre-World War II days, and the Corps’ wartime and peacetime missions, concluding with the post-9/11 era.

Although author and former Intelligence Corps member Nick Van Der Bijl writes that the book is not a regimental history, it often reads like one. The book is a profusion of names, unit designations, and assignment details, and it is sometimes hard to understand command-subordination relationships. Thus, the US reader may find the discussions of operational details more valuable. Besides the usual tactical duties, IC units performed a variety of functions that mirrored their civilian counterparts. These included military security, technical intelligence, counterespionage, photo interpretation, wireless interception, support to the Special Operations Executive during WWII, and support to counterterrorist operations in Ireland during what he calls the coalition years in the Middle East.

IC elements have served worldwide and Van Der Bijl describes many in detail. For example, intelligence officers served in Palestine during the British Mandate period and were involved in the provocation that resulted in the Irgun attack on the King David Hotel in Tel Aviv [sic]—actually Jerusalem. (p. 199) A more positive story concerned the British Military Mission (BRIXMIS) that conducted air, land, and photographic operations against the Soviets in East Berlin and East Germany. The efforts of the East German military intelligence service (called Narks) to inhibit collection—sometimes resorting to crashing their cars—proved futile in the long run.

Sharing the Secret has an impressive story to tell and tells it well.

[1] On occasion, personal loyalties and opinions can be carved in stone and defended with a vengeance — at times with some venom thrown in. In these situations, the actual importance of the subject matter is dwarfed by the amount of aggression expressed. Retain a sense of proportion in all online and in-person discussions. [From The Intelligencer: Journal of U. S. Intelligence Studies.]

[2] Goulden, Joseph C. in The Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies (22, 2, Spring 2016, p. 134 ). Joseph C. Goulden’s 1982 book, Korea: The Untold Story of the War, was published in a Chinese-language edition in 2014 by Beijing Xiron Books. He is author of 18 nonfiction books. Goulden is a long-time reviewer of espionage and spy books for The Washington Times, for AFIO’s Intelligencer, for law journals, and other publications. Some of the reviews appeared in prior editons of The Washington Times or The Washington Lawyer (DC Bar Association) and are reprinted by permission of the author. Goulden’s most recent book [as of 2016] is Goulden, Joseph C. (2012). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spyspeak into English. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.

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