In what is now an annual tradition I am looking at three different Christmas related pieces of militaria over the festive period. The first of these is a very simple Christmas card from the Intelligence Corps:This card is made of a heavy buff paper with the regiment’s cap badge printed on the front:A piece of green ribbon adds some colour and decoration to the front:Inside is a greeting and the sender has signed it ‘all the best alan xxxx’:The writing in the bottom left corner indicates he was a member of 284 Field Security Section. The 1943 Manual of Field Security outlined their role:
(1) Compiling and using Black and White Lists from information provided from multiple sources including the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Special Operations Executive (SOE), and Ultra. Black Lists were for the arrest of known enemy intelligence operatives and sympathizers / collaborators. White Lists used for the contact with local resistance and friendly persons.
(2) Arrest and Field Interrogation of Black List/high category prisoners (INT CORPS personnel were often selected for language skills) such as the SS, Gestapo, the SD, local Nazi/sympathizers.
(3) Searching of captured enemy HQ/Intelligence offices, etc for valuable intelligence information and translation of documents.
(4) Briefing Division and Brigade intelligence staff officers with information derived from the above.
(5) Key point security and security investigations prior to operational deployment..
The Field Security Sections were a development from the Corps of Military Police’s ‘Field Security Police’. With the formation of the Intelligence Corps (Int Corps) in mid 1940, Field Security Police duties and personnel were transferred from the CMP to the Intelligence Corps.
In the early days training in field security duties was conducted by the CMP at Mytchett, but it subsequently moved to Winchester as the Field Security Training Centre and Depot (via a short period at Sheerness). This centre managed to turn out 77 fully trained sections by December 1940. Maurice Vila was part of 49 Field Security Section:
At the time we arrived in Normandy the battle front in the British Sector was situated somewhere between Bayeux and Caen, about 10 miles south from the coast, and 20 to 30 miles wide in an east/west direction. Our section was in General Montgomery’s 21st Army Group and our particular job was to take care of the security of the area immediately surrounding the little fishing port and village of Port-en-Bessin situated approximately 8 miles west of Arromanches, and where we arrived the following evening at 8pm. We were billeted in the village school and set to work immediately on our field and port security duties which included the oil installations, tanks and pipelines situated outside the village.
Our work brought us into constant touch with the local French authorities and in particular the gendarmerie, and with what remained of the population of the village which had returned after evacuating the vicinity of the coast during the surprise bombardment on D Day. We were especially concerned with the prevention of possible sabotage of the oil installations and other military targets by enemy agents or pro-German elements amongst the local people. Fortunately our work was not made difficult in this connection as the French police and other officials as well as the villagers were usually only too ready to co-operate with us in bringing to our attention any suspicious incident or person whose identity was not known to them.