WORLD WAR II

Far East and Pacific Theaters

Allied Intelligence Bureau and the Coastwatchers

The Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur's intelligence and covert action organization from July 1942 to the end of the war. It was a combined U.S.-Australian activity headquartered in Melbourne. The AIB answered to MacArthur's chief intelligence officer, Maj. Gen. Charles A. Willoughby, but was under the immediate direction of Col. G.C. Roberts, Director of Intelligence of the Australian Army.

Among the American, British, Dutch, and Australian units that fell under AIB's jurisdiction was the Royal Australian Navy's Islands Coastwatching Service.

See "Charles Willoughby: The Most Prominent American Intelligence Officer in World War II" at the Huachuca History Program under "Masters of the Intelligence Art": http://huachuca-www.army.mil/files/History_MWILLOU.PDF.

 

Included here:

1. Allied Intelligence Bureau

2. Coastwatchers

 

1. Allied Intelligence Bureau

Ball, Desmond J. "Allied Intelligence Cooperation Involving Australia during World War II." Australian Outlook: Journal of the Australian Institute of International Affairs 32 (Dec. 1978): 299-309.

Sexton calls this a "good survey of the Allied Intelligence Bureau and cryptanalytic organizations established in Australia during World War II."

Breuer, William B. MacArthur's Undercover War: Spies, Saboteurs, Guerrillas, and Secret Missions. New York: Wiley, 1995. Edison, NJ: Castle, 2005.

Clark comment: This work is more a paean to the genius of MacArthur than a complete telling of the covert war in the Southwest Pacufuc Theater. However, there are good (and exciting) stories here of the role of AIB personnel in the war. A number of the guerrilla groups get shortchanged, as in many ways do the U.S. soldiers, sailors, and Marines who carried the bulk of the fighting and sustained the majority of the losses. Of course, telling the whole story of the war in the SWPA was not what Breuer set out to do. This book is an easy read, even though the language at times may be over dramatic.

McGinnis, Cryptolog 16.6, says that this "book is about the individuals who supplied the human intelligence (HUMINT) that made" MacArthur's return to the Philippines easier, "and with less loss of life of Allied service men." MacArthur used his Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) to control, coordinate, and resupply American service men, Philippine nationals, and the nationals of other Allied nations who remained behind or were reinfiltrated into the Philippines after the islands fell to the Japanese. These included both individuals who were in guerrilla units and those who became "coastwatchers." The reviewer notes that the movie "An American Guerrilla in the Philippines" chronicles the adventures of one such Navy ensign.

According to Campbell, WIR 15.1, the "whole tale has popular appeal ... but is based entirely on secondary sources." The book lacks the "original sources and sufficient footnotes to appraise the reader of the author's documentation." In addition, Breuer "does not attempt to cover SIGINT or the Alamo Scouts, both major sources of intelligence for General MacArthur.... This is an entertaining book ... but not one for the intelligence officer or researcher."

Warren, Surveillant 4.2, finds Breuer's account "somewhat over dramatic," but concludes that the "excessive drama of the narrative and the almost hagiographic approach to MacArthur detract[] only a little from the interest of the book."

Feuer, A. B. Commando! The M/Z Units Secret War Against Japan. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996.

The Australian M/Z Units of World War II consisted of the M Units, the information-collecting coastwatchers, and the Z Units, the offensively oriented commandos. The author highlights the dangerous work of U.S. and British submarines in supporting the Australian commandos.

Ind, Allison [Col.]. Allied Intelligence Bureau: Our Secret Weapon in the War Against Japan. New York: David McKay, 1958. Spy Ring Pacific: The Story of the Allied Intelligence Bureau In South East Asia. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1958.

Clark comment: The author served as the American deputy to Col. G.C. Roberts, head of AIB and Director of Intelligence of the Australian Army. According to Pforzheimer, this book relates the "combined U.S. and Allied clandestine intelligence collection operations conducted by some of General McArthur's intelligence organizations against the Japanese in the South and Southwest Pacific." This "is one of the few good sources ... on this activity." Constantinides notes that "Ind has overdrawn the relative importance of AIB's contributions to victory"; nevertheless, the book is of "great value because so little has been written about the AIB."

Powell, Alan. War by Stealth: Australians and the Allied Intelligence Bureau, 1942-1945. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996.

For Kruh, Cryptologia 23.3, this is a "remarakable history" that "highlights the incomparable work of the coastwatchers." The work also discusses the codebreaking activities of MacArthur's Central Bureau.

Stahl, Bob. You're No Good to Me Dead: Behind Japanese Lines in the Philippines. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995.

From publisher: "One of the best-kept secrets of World War II is the story of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB), the Pacific theater's equivalent of the OSS. Inserted miles behind enemy lines, AIB agents established intelligence networks and guerrilla armies in advance of invasion, all while living off the land and avoiding enemy patrols. This is one agent's extraordinary account of 15 harrowing months 1,500 miles behind Japanese lines." Crerar, AIJ 16.2/3, sees this as "a compelling memoir, with insights for current and future special operations personnel."

Winter, Barbara. The Intrigue Master: Commander Long and Naval Intelligence in Australia, 1913-1945. Brisbane, Australia: Boolarong Press, 1995.

Clark comment: Commander Rupert Basil Long was effectively the leader of Royal Australian Naval intelligence after 1934; from 1939 until his retirement in 1946, Long held the title of Director, Australian Naval Intelligence.

According to Unsinger, WIR 15.1, "Winter tells the story not only of Commander Long's career but also of the fledgling years of Australian Naval Intelligence." Long's contribution to the lore of intelligence was the development of the coastwatchers, the basis for which was laid in 1921. The coastwatchers later became the foundation stone for the Allied Intelligence Bureau. The author, "who devoted ten years preparing the manuscript, has produced an excellent book."

Bates, NIPQ, Spring 1997, found the book less than easy to read, noting that it "is lengthy, in fine print, with a myriad of facts and much trivia, done in a rather choppy style." Nonetheless, it will be "a treasure trove for researchers." For Cain, I&NS 12.3, Winter provides a "great amount of detail," but fails "to analyse the more important details of the intelligence events."

2. Coastwatchers

Clemens, Martin.

1. Alone on Guadalcanal: A Coastwatcher's Story. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998.

According to Bates, NIPQ 15.2, this book is based on Clemens' diary, but he has "fleshed out his own recollections with extensive research after the fact.... This is a great story. It reads like a novel. It is a must for anyone researching World War II in the Southwest Pacific."

2. Ed., Stephen W. Sears. "A Coastwatcher's Diary." American Heritage 17, no. 2 (1966): 104-110. [Petersen]

Feldt, Eric. The Coast Watchers. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1946. Abridged edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1946.

Pforzheimer: "Feldt was the original organizer and leader of the Coastwatchers."

Feuer, A. B., ed. Coast Watching in the Soloman Islands: The Bougainville Reports, December 1941-July 1943. New York: Praeger, 1992.

From publisher: "The story of the Soloman Island coast watchers, primarily Jack Read and Paul Mason, recounting one of the most successful intelligence operations of World War II, especially at the time of the invasion of Guadalcanal."

Horton, Dick C. Fire Over the Islands: The Coast Watchers of the Solomans. London: Cooper, 1975. [Petersen]

Lord, Walter. Lonely Vigil: Coastwatchers of the Solomons. New York, Viking, 1977. New York: Pocket Books, 1978. [pb]

According to Pforzheimer, the Coastwatchers were "mostly Australians who had worked in the islands before the war, as well as trusted native helpers." This activity, which involved reporting on Japanese ship and aircraft movements, was a unique intelligence operation which "performed an integral part in the battle for Guadalcanal and the other Solomon Islands." The book includes a chapter on the rescue of John F. Kennedy and his crew after the sinking of PT 109. Constantinides says the book is more oriented to the historian than to those with intelligence interests.

Murray, Mary. Hunted: A Coastwatcher's Story. Oxford: Rigby, 1967. Melbourne: Specialty Press, 1967. San Francisco, CA: Tri-Ocean Books, 1967.

This work tells the story of the Papua New Guinea Coastwatchers and specifically Australian Captain Harold J. Murray.

Winter, Barbara. The Intrigue Master: Commander Long and Naval Intelligence in Australia, 1913-1945. Brisbane, Australia: Boolarong Press, 1995.

Clark comment: Commander Rupert Basil Long was effectively the leader of Royal Australian Naval intelligence after 1934; from 1939 until his retirement in 1946, Long held the title of Director, Australian Naval Intelligence. Bates, NIPQ, Spring 1997, found the book less than easy to read, noting that it "is lengthy, in fine print, with a myriad of facts and much trivia, done in a rather choppy style." Nonetheless, it will be "a treasure trove for researchers."

According to Unsinger, WIR 15.1, "Winter tells the story not only of Commander Long's career but also of the fledgling years of Australian Naval Intelligence." Long's contribution to the lore of intelligence was the development of the coastwatchers, the basis for which was laid in 1921. The coastwatchers later became the foundation stone for the Allied Intelligence Bureau. The author, "who devoted ten years preparing the manuscript, has produced an excellent book." For Cain, I&NS 12.3, Winter provides a "great amount of detail," but fails "to analyse the more important details of the intelligence events."

Wright, Malcolm. If I Die: Coastwatching and Guerrilla Warfare behind Japanese Lines. Sydney: Lansdowne Press, 1965. New York: Ginn, 1966.

 

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