World War II

The British Services


A - D

The designator "ISOS" (Intelligence Series Oliver Strachey) was used for "all decrypts of Abwehr signals, however enciphered, to disguise the breaking of Abwehr Enigma." Erskine, I&NS 12.3/124, fn. 16.

Agar, Augustus. Footprints in the Sea. London: Evans Bros., 1959.

Alford, Vivienne. "Naval Section VI." In Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park, eds. F. Harry Hinsley and Alan Stripp, 68-70. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Barnett, Correlli. Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War. New York: Norton, 1991.

Bath, Alan Harris. Tracking the Axis Enemy: The Triumph of Anglo-American Naval Intelligence. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Seamon, Proceedings 125.3 (Mar. 1999), views this work as a "remarkably detailed history of Anglo-American cooperation in the arcane art of intelligence gathering and analysis." In telling the story, there is a "consistent undercurrent of conflict," in that "[n]either nation fully trusted the other's methods ... [nor] credited the other's conclusions." Yet, "they did learn to work together." To Maiolo, I&NS 16.3, the author's "prose style is very clear and his research thorough.... While the general tale of Anglo-American naval intelligence ... will be familiar to many, the value of this study is in the details."

For Bates, NIPQ 15.2 (1999), the author "does a good job explaining why intelligence cooperation in the Pacific was so poor in comparison with that developed in the Atlantic and Mediterranean." The reviewer concludes that "[t]his is a book you should read and it would make an excellent classroom text." Kruh, Cryptologia 23.2 (1999), applauds the author's effort "to put in perspective the total contribution of Allied Naval intelligence to victory in WW II." This is "an essential guide to the Anglo-American intelligence labyrinth ... and the role of codebreaking" in World War II.

Beesly, Patrick.

1. "Operational Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic: The Role of the Royal Navy's Submarine Tracking Room." In The Royal Canadian Navy in Retrospect, 1910-1968, ed. James A. Boutilier, 175-186. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1982.

2. "Special Intelligence and the Battle of the Atlantic: The British View." In Changing Interpretations and New Sources in Naval History: Papers from the Third United States Naval Academy History Symposium, ed. Robert V. Love, 175-186. New York: Garland, 1980.

Beesly, Patrick. Very Special Admiral: The Life of Admiral J.H. Godfrey, C.B. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1980.

Beesly, Patrick. Very Special Intelligence: The Story of the Admiralty's Operational Intelligence Centre 1939-1945. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1977. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978. New York: Ballantine Espionage/Intelligence Library, 1981. [pb] London: Greenhill, 2000. [reprint] Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2000. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2006.

For Pforzheimer, this book is "important" and "one of the most accurate of its kind." The author served as Deputy Chief of the submarine tracking room in the Operational Intelligence Centre throughout the war. Constantinides calls the work a "first-rate product" by "a serious and honest writer." However, Beesly does not deal with the Pacific or the Mediterranean.

According to Kruh, Cryptologia 24.4, the 2000 reprint "includes a new introduction by W.J.R. Gardner, an excellent 22-page Afterword, 'Codebreaking in the Battle of the Atlantic[,]' by the ubiquitous Ralph Erskine, and a revised bibliography compiled by Gardner and Erskine." Writing on the 2000 edition, Hamilton, I&NS 16.3, finds that "[d]espite basing itself on much personal memory, sometimes unsupported by documents, Very Special Intelligence remains a reasoned and remarkably objective work."

Also, with regard to the 2000 edition, Rohwer, JIH 1.1, comments that "[w]e must be very grateful to ... Greenhill Books for re-publishing this most important book about the naval war 1939-1945 as seen from the 'back rooms' of the British Admiralty, and for asking two great experts to write a new introduction and an afterword. 'Jock' Gardner from the Naval Historical Branch in London ... gives a broad and instructive overview about the historiography of the naval war and the Battle of the Atlantic.... And Ralph Erskine ... delineates in his afterword the results of the 25-years of research into the role of signal intelligence in the Battle of the Atlantic."

Commenting on the 2006 edition, Bruns, DIJ 15.2 (2006), calls Beesly's "a thoughful story for serious intelligence professionals about the evolution of the bureaucracies created to fight other nations."

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