Interwar Period


A - L

Aldrich, Richard J. The Key to the South: Britain, the United States, and Thailand During the Approach of the Pacific War, 1929-1942. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1993.

According to Surveillant 3.2/3, Aldrich "examines the accelerating Western struggle with Japan for control over 'independent' Thailand.... Many clandestine aspects of this struggle are explored for the first time." Kruh, Cryptologia 18.1, notes that "[a]lthough this excellent, meticulously researched study ... does not focus on espionage or other types of intelligence, it contains numerous references to clandestine activities."

Alexander, Martin S., and William J. Philpott. "The Entente Cordiale and the Next War: Anglo-French Views on Future Military Co-operation, 1928-1939." Intelligence and National Security 13, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 53-84. Also: In Knowing Your Friends: Intelligence Inside Alliances from 1914 to the Cold War, ed. Martin S. Alexander, 53-84. London: Frank Cass, 1998.

From Abstract: "Improved Franco-German relations made intelligence co-operation appear unnecessary [during the 1920s].... Only after 1935 did a resurgent Germany spark a revival of Franco-British staff talks. A renewed intelligence effort by Britain endeavored to estimate French armed strength, while France examined Britain's ability to send an expeditionary force to Europe."

Benton, Peggie. Baltic Countdown. London: Centaur, 1984.

Peggie Benton went with her SIS officer husband, Kenneth Benton, from Vienna to Riga in 1938. After the outbreak of war, she worked alongside her husband and Leslie Nicholson until the Soviet takeover of Latvia in September 1940.

Best, Antony.

1. Britain, Japan and Pearl Harbor: Avoiding War in East Asia, 1936-41. London: Routledge, 1995.

The reviewer in American Historical Review 102.3 (Jun. 1997) calls this work "essential rrading for anyone concerned with power and diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region during the tewntieth century."

2. "Constructing an Image: British Intelligence and Whitehall's Perception of Japan, 1931-1939." Intelligence and National Security 11, no. 3 (Jul. 1996): 403-423.

"[B]y the summer of 1939,... a consensus began to emerge among some policymakers that Japan was considerably overrated as a military power and that its bluff was waiting to be called, a judgement that was to have disastrous effects in 1941."

3. "'This Probably Over-Valued Military Power': British Intelligence and Whitehall's Perception of Japan 1939-1941." Intelligence and National Security 12, no. 3 (Jul. 1997): 67-94.

Best finds a tendency in prewar Whitehall to "undervalue Japanese capabilities and intentions." He concludes that this tendency "was dangerous because it argued against the need to increase Britain's intelligence resources, warped the interpretation of the intelligence available and encouraged those in power, in the absence of good intelligence, to fill in the gaps in its knowledge with suppositions based on ideas about Japan's relative inadequacy."

Cerdá, Néstor. "The Road to Dunkirk : British Intelligence and the Spanish Civil War." War in History 13, no. 1 (2006): 42-64.

Cohen, Paul. "The Police, the Home Office and Surveillance of the British Union of Fascists." Intelligence and National Security 1, no. 3 (Sep. 1986): 416-434.

The author surveys some of the insights about the activities of Special Branch and MI5 contained in the Home Office materials released to the Public Record Office about the activities of Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in the 1930s.

Day, Peter. Franco's Friends: How British Intelligence Helped Bring Franco To Power In Spain. London: Biteback Publishing, 2011.

According to Peake, Studies 56.3 (Sep. 2012), the author shows that "British support for the Spanish monarchy involved more than political and military considerations -- it also surreptitiously furnished planes and other materials to Franco's government.... When the Second World War began, the British worked hard to keep Franco from siding with Hitler. Day explains the complex machinations -- from persuasion to bribery -- undertaken to achieve that end.... Day has drawn on primary source documents and interviews to tell this heretofore unknown story, and he tells it well."

Doerr, Paul W. "The Changkufeng/Lake Khasan Incident of 1938: British Intelligence on Soviet and Japanese Performance." Intelligence and National Security 5, no. 3 (Jul. 1990): 184-199.

This incident involved division-level conflict and took place between Soviet and Japanese forces from 31 July to 11 August 1938. The focus is on what the British government knew at the time and immediately thereafter about the incident.

Elphick, Peter. The Far Eastern File: The Intelligence War in the Far East, 1930-1945. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1997.

For Best, I&NS 13.2, this book is "interesting [but] contains some deep flaws." The author "has uncovered previously obscure episodes which shed light on the infighting and inefficiency which hampered the [British] intelligence effort in East Asia." Additionally, his "knowledge of the personalities and the degree of detail here is laudable." Nevertheless, Elphick "has only really skimmed the surface of the documentation held at the PRO"; and "there are whole areas of intelligence activity which are largely ignored."

Unsinger, IJI&C 11.2, points out several themes in this work. The first theme concerns "the issue of Japan versus the future Allies in Asia in the pre-World War II years." The second theme focuses on the kind of intelligence, primarily signals intelligence, used by the British and Americans in running the war against Japan. And the third, lesser theme involves the struggle between the Comintern and all the intelligence services in Asia, both Japanese and Allied. For the reviewer, Far Eastern File is not a total success, providing "only a superficial look at the intelligence services' work in the region." Nevertheless, it gives the reader "a quick overview and some interpretation of events as they unfolded. It accomplished that well."

Evans, Michael. "MI5 Papers: Ustinov's Father Warned of Czech Invasion." Times (London), 27 Jan. 1999.

MI5 files released on 26 January 1999 show that "[a] spy at the German Embassy in London provided crucial intelligence of Hitler's plans to invade Czechoslovakia seven months before its occupation by German forces in March 1939.... Christopher Andrew, an authority on wartime intelligence, [has] disclosed that the spy was Jona Ustinov, known as Klop, father of the actor and writer Peter Ustinov. Klop Ustinov was the press attache at the German Embassy in London before the war."

Ferris, John. "From Broadway House to Bletchley Park: The Diary of Captain Malcolm D. Kennedy, 1934-1946." Intelligence and National Security 4, no. 3 (Jul. 1989): 421-450.

Kennedy worked as a Japanese translator, including in the Japanese Diplomatic Section, in the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) from 1934 to 1946. His diary from that period is "unusually discreet," but still offers a number of insights into the work at Broadway House, Bletchley Park, and Berkeley Street. The pages from 430 to 444 consist of selections from Kennedy's diaries. Sexton calls this a "very valuable source."

Gil-Har, Yitzhak. "Political Developments and Intelligence in Palestine, 1930-40." Middle Eastern Studies 44, no. 3 (2008): 419-434.

Harris, J.P. "British Military Intelligence and the Rise of German Mechanized Forces, 1929-40." Intelligence and National Security 6, no. 2 (Apr. 1991): 395-417.

"Considering the very limited means of collecting information at its disposal, the British general staff had formed, as early as November 1934, an extraordinarily good picture of the way in which military doctrine in Germany was likely to develop and the way in which the German armed forces were likely to operate in the opening stages of a future war."

Hyde, Earl M., Jr. "Churchill's Personal Spies." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 18, no. 2 (Summer 2005): 305-319.

"[D]uring the 1930s while exiled from government office," Churchill "elicited secret information from ranking officers in the Foreign Office, the Air Ministry, and from a variety of other military sources." His relationships with Sir Robert Vansittart, RAF Squadron Leader Torr Anderson, Ralph Wigram of the Foreign Office, Senior Air Staff Officer Lachlan MacLean, and Sir Desmond Morton allowed Churchill "to have his own intelligence network within the British government."

Imlay, Talbot. "Allied Economic Intelligence and Strategy during the 'Phoney War.'" Intelligence and National Security 13, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 107-132.

Imlay's article "examines the efforts of French and British intelligence services to assess the German economy before and during the opening stage of World War II." The author attributes the shift to a long war strategy to the difficulties in finding certainty in the Allied knowledge of the German economy.

Kennedy, Gregory C. "The Royal Navy, Intelligence and the Spanish Civil War: Lessons in Air Power, 1936-39." Intelligence and National Security 20, no. 2 (Jun. 2005): 238-263.

"[N]either the RAF nor the RN were clear on what data was a priority or why.... Departmental stovepipes prevented the horizontal flow of information and intelligence, reflecting an uncoordinated and inefficient system of organization as well as a distinctly antiqated view of modern warfare with its need for accurate technical information to facilitate war planning."

Lammers, D. N. "The Engineers' Trial (Moscow, 1933) and Anglo-Soviet Relations." South Atlantic Quarterly 62 (1963): 256-267.

Lyall, Scott. "'The Man Is a Menace': MacDiarmid and Military Intelligence." Scottish Studies Review 8, no. 1 (2007): 37-52.

Hugh MacDiarmid was the pen name of Scottish poet Christopher Murray Grieve. According to the Royal Historical Society Database, this article concerns "[s]urveillance of [Grieve's] political activities by the British Security Services due to his Scottish nationalism and communism."

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