Learning more of what we knew then

Recently a historian remarked that the only major flaw with the tv history series “The World at War” was that it did not know of the extensive intelligence operations that Britain and the Allies ran.
Much since has been made of our ability to read the Germans’ messages.
Little has been made of about the Germans breaking our spy networks.
BBC 2 tv recently celebrated “Operation Crossbow” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011cr8f – which celebrated ‘how the Allies used 3D photos to thwart the Nazis’ weapons of mass destruction before they could obliterate Britain. [The] film brings together the heroic Spitfire pilots who took the photographs and the brilliant minds of RAF Medmenham that made sense of the jigsaw of clues hidden in the photos.’
Smashing documentary, although it claimed that air reconnaissance was responsible for the discovery of the V-weapons programme.
20130603-074902 PM.jpgLast night, Channel 4 tv broadcast another smashing little drama-documentary about MI19 – yeah, I hadn’t heard of them either – who set up a relatively plush stately home (Trent Park in Middlesex) as a prison camp for captured German generals, having wired the rooms (and even the trees outside) so that operators could hear their conversations and record them.
Oblivious, the German officers gave away secrets, including the V-weapons programme.
And in a sickeningly matter of fact manner, the German prisoners talked about their participation in mass executions of Jews and others. 75,000 at once. One group in which the officer had slept with one of the women in fear of her life, only to presume later that she would have been shot. A pilot who during a gap between sorties went out and executed 1,500 people, with 20 others, using machine guns.
The conversations had been recorded direct to old-style records and those with the references to war crime marked with an A in red crayon on the label.
Enamoured with their breakthroughs in technology and intelligence, MI19 wanted it kept secret and the records were never used as evidence in the Nuremburg war trials. I wonder if some material didn’t get out in some way, but the world was only to find out as the masses of material (30,000 documents?) were released and “discovered” by a German researcher trying to find out about U-boat crews.
Spying on Hitler’s Army: Secret Recordings – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/spying-on-hitlers-army-secret-recordings – also showed the tension between the generals, some of whom were not Nazis.
“The World At War” would indeed have benefited from knowing some of the stories from these documentaries. Main quibble remains that 26 hours of broadcast, it only found 20 minutes for the Battle of Britain and 20 seconds for the Dambusters raid! Their patriotism would now be questioned!
The 70th anniversary of the RAF low-flying Lancaster bouncing bomb raid on the dams of the Ruhr region of Germany has just passed. A celebration was put on by the RAF and broadcast by BBC tv 2; it celebrated the squadron (617), the bomber (the Lancaster) and the photo reconnaissance (unarmed, high altitude, Griffin engine powered Spitfires in their all pale blue livery).
(Meanwhile, ITV 2 broadcast “Evan Almighty”. No, no, I’m sure it was a coincidence.)

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