" The Seventh U-Flotilla St. Nazaire," announced the Atlantiksender, "this afternoon beat the Second Flotilla by three goals to two in their football match at Lorient. The two teams are now celebrating at the Cafe Reunion. Congratulations on an excellent game. Goal scorers were . . ." As we gave their names Frankie Lynder attached to each one of them some little bit of gossip and badinage culled from his files. " Sometimes we would call up a U-boat, which the Admiralty experts told us was likely to have left on a cruise, and play it some `special request' music.
The Radio Petty Officer of U-Luther told me after he had been captured, how much this trick had scared him when we played it on his boat. " We had sailed under all the usual secrecy-strict radio silence and all that," he said, "but we had not been at sea for more than two days when Atlantik calls us up and plays some special music. It's a mighty unpleasant sensation, I can tell you, to feel that you're being watched like that. And that the enemy knows exactly where you are." Which, of course, the enemy did not.
Another little trick which impressed our German listeners was that we announced decorations and honours for U-boat men before the German authorities themselves had done so. How did we manage this? By careful study we had worked out the number of tons which a commander had to sink before Admiral Doenitz conferred on him the appropriate decoration. We knew what the various Commanders were managing to sink. Our files told us the rest. (Stevens successfully applied the same technique to German food rations. Again and again with the help of the experts at the Ministry of Economic Warfare he enabled us to announce a reduction or an increase in German rations before the news had been announced by the German Ministry of Food.) The result of all this was to raise the prestige of the Atlantiksender as a rapid all-seeing purveyor of news to such heights that we were given credit for scoops which we had never in fact brought off.
An illustration of this was the Luftwaffe officer commanding the German Air Force squadrons in the Bay of Biscay area. When he was shot down into the sea and made prisoner he said to his first interrogator-"no good my attempting to keep anything secret from you fellows. You know it all anyhow. The Atlantiksender the other day even broadcast a verbatim report of my top secret conference with the Navy on board a blockade breaker in the Gironde estuary. They told all about it within a few hours of the conference ending. Incredible!" It was incredible too, for it just was not true. What had really happened was that we had learned from the Admiralty that five armed merchant vessels were lying in the Gironde Estuary with steam up. There was a possibility, the Admiralty thought, that the ships would try to break through the British naval cordon and make for Japan. So just to play on the crews' nerves and show them that their secret was a secret no longer we decided to pay them the honour of a special musical serenade.
" And now," said Vicky at her most dulcet, "by special request of the comrade blockade-runners who are getting awfully bored down there in the Gironde Estuary while they await orders to sail, I am going to play a little selection of music from our brave allies in the East, a little foretaste for our comrades of many an Olarenschmaus (Ear feast) to come !"There followed the most cacophonous jumble ofJapanese and Chinese records to be found in the archives of His Master's Voice. A day later we followed this up with more Japanese music and a talk on the difficulties the Luftwaffe were raising about the navy's demands for air cover during the break-out. This was a very reasonable guess in view of what we knew from Air Commodore `Tubby' Grant and his colleagues in Air Intelligence 3 of the number of fighters and reconnaissance aircraft available in the Biscay area.
By one of those helpful coincidences the Luftwaffe commander had gone aboard one of the blockade-runners for a conference with the naval commander of the expedition a little earlier that very afternoon. He had been much irritated by the officious security precautions of the naval men. Sentries with fixed bayonets had been placed outside the wardroom and before the navy men would talk at all they made him read the German equivalent of our Official Secrets Act, sign it, and swear a solemn oath that he would talk with no one about what he learned from them.
As soon as he got back to his quarters at the air base, the Luftwaffe Commandant switched on the Atlantiksender. The first thing he heard was Vicky's Japanese concert, which was followed by the talk on the inability of the LuftwafFe to provide adequate air cover." I laughed and I laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks," he told the British interrogating officer, "there was the Atlantiksender not only revealing Japan as the destination of the trip, but giving a sentence by sentence report of what had been said at this top secret conference behind the closed doors guarded by the sentries with fixed bayonets. It was kolossal. And what a showup for those stuck up navy fellows. But how on earth do you do it? I suppose you had the place miked by your agents."
Admiral Godfrey tried to use the Atlantiksender for deception purposes as well, and many was the ingenious double bluff that was carried out at his suggestion. For it was a reasonable surmise that the German Naval Intelligence men devoted much close study to our broadcasts. For instance, when the Germans came up with a new anti-radar device called `Aphrodite'-a ludicrous-looking rubber balloon released from the U-boat and floated along above the waves with the intention of deflecting the R.A.F.'s electronic rays from the submarine John Godfrey asked us to run a special 'anti-Aphrodite' campaign. The Germans, he calculated, would deduce from this that the Admiralty was worried about `Aphrodite' and would hold on to the balloon device although it was, in fact, worse than useless.
His bluff worked. The Germans, despite the evidence they must have had of Aphrodite's failure, remained faithful to their toy balloon for an unbelievably long time. This technique of publicly discussing German technical devices which the German security officers had said were supersecret was so successful with our U-boat listeners that we started using it in our transmissions to the German Air Force and Army as well. But it was the Admiralty who set the example to the Air Ministry and War Office by releasing the secret technical material to us to make these talks possible. We indulged in learned discussions of `Miicke' and `tti'anze', the latest secret weapons against our Radar, and of `Zaunkonig', the new German torpedo with an automatic homing device.
But, of course, our main concern was with the crewsour constant object being to put them against their officers. We had plenty of opportunities for doing so. For, as the war went on, considerable feeling developed between the old petty officers, veterans of many dangerous cruises, and the young commanders who would be put in charge of a U-boat after having taken part in not more than two or three voyages as a First or Second Officer. It was easy for us to suggest that these young officers, with their hunger for decorations, were the natural enemies of their crews. And Eddy Mander saw to it that our grousing went straight to the petty officer's heart.
What with the appalling death rate among the U-boat crews and its exploitation by the subversive broadcasts of the Atlantiksender that crack in German naval morale which Donald had talked of during our lunch at Frascati's had, by the end of October 1943, become a wide and gaping fact. It was time for us to go a step further. It was time for us to start softening up the German forces in France in preparation for the invasion of Europe. Before we ever reached this stage however, an entirely new set of problems was dumped on my plate. For both Dick Crossman and I had been promoted. Dick was made `Director of Political Warfare against the Enemy and Satellites (white)', and I was appointed `Director of Special Operations against the Enemy and Satellites (`black')'. That meant that I now had overall charge of the `black' assault on Hitler's satellites in addition to that on Germany itself.
Into new barracks hastily erected in the compound of MB marched Intelligence teams, editorial writers, speakers and secretaries from Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, and even Rumania. Our canteen became a tower of Babel, as dark-eyed gypsy beauties from the Balkans flirted with my fair-haired German prisoners over toad-in-the-hole, powdered egg omelettes, spam fritters, soya bean sausages, and the other irresistible delicacies from the repertory of war-time cooks.
The arrival of the Italian and Balkan teams in our midst certainly sharpened up the attack against the German forces. For I was now able to see that our campaigns against the morale of the German occupiers received support from these regions. We, in our turn, were able to pick up some of their campaigns. Fortunately for me, the Englishmen directing the `black' stations of Italy, Hungary and the Balkan countries were all skilled at their job. I knew only very little Italian, and no Hungarian, Bulgarian, or Rumanian. So I would not have been able to give them the kind of editorial help I did with our German output, had it been needed.
The Italians were my first concern. As Mussolini's regime staggered and reeled under demoralising defeats, first in Africa, then in Italy itself, we launched fresh stations and fresh campaigns to hasten its end. The two most important of these were ( I ) `Radio Livorno', an operation designed to help bring about the surrender of the Italian navy, and (2) a counterfeit of the German-sponsored `Radio of the Italian Fascist Republic'. `Radio Livorno' was the name we gave to a station which pretended to be operating on behalf of the Italian `Resistance' from the radio cabin of an Italian warship, lying in the Livorno base. Night after night `Livorno' called the Italian ships at Spezia, Genoa and other North Italian naval stations. In eloquent anti-German invective our speaker-a Maltese officer of the British army-warned his comrades of the Italian navy to be on guard against the Germans. Particularly against German attempts to board and seize their ships. Night after night too, `Livorno' ordered the Italian patriots of the navy to make no move without orders from itself. I waited anxiously for the Germans to launch a counterfeit of our tricky operation. To my relief they failed to do so. The minds of the Abwehr apparently did not work along those lines.
Then, as the time for action approached, we began to let it become clearer and clearer that `Livorno' was negotiating with the allies for the `liberation' of the Italian navy from the Germans. When, at last the great day came and `Livorno' on September the I oth, 1943, gave the order to sail, the Italian ships obediently upped anchor and sailed for Malta, the rendezvous `Livorno' had given them. There they surrendered to Admiral Cunningham and General Eisenhower.
The whole `Livorno' operation had been run in the closest contact with the Admiralty, who told us day by day the rough gist of the messages they would like `Livorno' to put out. It all went off so smoothly and successfully, that I was convinced that the Italian navy chiefs guessed `Livorno' was the voice of Cunningham, and obeyed it as such. But there was one man who did not suspect it. This was our Maltese speaker. Randolph Imozzi was convinced that by his vocal efforts in front of the microphone he and he alone had brought about the surrender of the Italian Navy.
When the surrender was announced, he put on his best uniform and paraded before me in my office, fully expecting me to pin a decoration on his chest. Alas, I had no medals to bestow, only compliments. Of these I gave him a feast. And he deserved it. For never did a man work harder and more enthusiastically. Our counterfeit of the `Radio of the Italian Fascist Republic' required much technical skill. And though its results were nothing like as dramatic and spectacular as those of `Radio Livorno' I reckon we received fair dividends for the effort invested. But even if this counterfeit had been completely without effect, it would still have been worth the work we put into it. For it gave us experience with a new technique which was to prove invaluable when later we came to mount a similar operation against the Germans.
It was Goebbels himself who presented us with the opportunity for a try-out against the Italians. Otto Skorzeny and his SS commandos had recently rescued Mussolini from his Italian anti-Fascist captors and enabled him to set up a Fascist Republican Government in North Italy. Goebbels immediately provided him with a radio station so that he could continue to inspire the Italian public with his `dynamism'.
This `Fascist Republican Radio' was a short wave affair, transmitted from Munich on two frequencies simultaneously, and broadcasting not continuously, but for half-hour periods. I decided that the doctor was not being sufficiently generous to the Duce and that we should remedy his niggardliness by giving Mussolini a third station with a short wave frequency right alongside the other two.
I suggested to John Skeaping, my British colleague in charge of the Italians, that all we had to do was to pick up the beginning of the Munich-Italians broadcast and relay it over our transmitter; then, at the right moment, to break off the relay and come up with our own announcers and our own stuff; finally when we had said our say, to pick up our Munich friends again and allow them to finish their broadcast over our transmitter.
" How do you think you're going to be able to find the opening for the change-over, and how are you going to be able to blend the two programmes without the fake being obvious to all?" John objected.
But as it turned out the operation did not prove as difficult as all that. For the Munich-Italians played right into our hands. They had divided their speaking programme into three sections, each carefully separated from the other by intermissions of military and patriotic music. All we had to do therefore was to relay the first leg of their programme, then come in with our own music and news when they began the second. The trick was to make sure that the last items of our news and announcements were so worded that we could cut off in mid-paragraph and switch back to the relay when Munich's music introduced the third leg of their programme. Does it sound complicated? It was. But after a fortnight's assiduous rehearsing our Italians were ready to go. And we could not have had better speakers. They were two prisoners of war who, before being called up for the Italian army, had been professional announcers for Radio Italia.
What I hoped to achieve with this operation was that Italian listeners searching for the Duce's station on their dials would tune in to us by mistake as often as they tuned in to the genuine Fascist Republican station. And much to the satisfaction of John and myself, and the Italian announcers and script writer, that was how it did indeed work out.
After only a few days of the operation the Duce's Munich men were indignantly and vehemently denying that they had said the appalling things which monitors all over the world reported them as saying. We got them so tangled up in denials and counter-denials that in the end, Dr. Goebbels decided he must shut down their short wave broadcasts altogether. He gave them time instead on Munich's medium wave radio, to the great indignation of the Bavarians who were furious at losing their own radio entertainment-a fury which we were to exploit to our profit only too soon.*
I am ashamed to say that one of the `mistakeetwhich the Fascist Republican Radio (our edition) perpetrated was to be inexcusably rude and hostile to His Holiness the Pope. The Vatican's protests were carried by Italian newspapers everywhere. Another silly thing the Fascist Republican Radio (our edition) did was to give advance news of the Government's intention to devalue the Lira. This produced a most satisfactory run on that currency. We also publicised an alleged arrangement by which the allies were supposed to have declared a `Mercy Zone' which they had promised not to bomb in order that the inhabitants of the industrial cities of the Italian North could take refuge there and stay alive. We-did so by broadcasting Mussolini's indignant denunciation of unpatriotic Italians who were leaving their work in the cities to take refuge in the `Mercy Zone'.
Of the Balkan operations, there were two that stand out in my memory. One was designed to sabotage the supply of Rumanian oil to Germany. Under the motto `Keep the oil underground, don't let the Germans play havoc with Rumania's one great capital asset' we transmitted week in week out a course of fourteen simple lessons in oil-well sabotage, prepared for me by one of the British oil engineers I had met out in Rumania at the beginning of the war. When the fourteen records had been transmitted, we started them all over again from the beginning.
The simplest of the lessons was-"If you see a valve or a stopcock in the oil fields just give it a turn as you pass." I thought this such an attractive device that, without consulting my engineer friend again, I ran a similar campaign for the Austrian oil fields under the slogan `Gehn ma drahn !'-roughly`Let's take a turn-let's have a dance!'
But when on a visit to Vienna after the war, I asked Mr. Van Sickel, the Canadian pioneer of the Austrian oil industry, whether our campaign had achieved any results in Austria, he hooted with derisive laughter." Give the valves a twist, my boy, is splendid advice for mucking up the Rumanian oil wells. But it won't work here. We have a different system for our oil wells, and there are no stopcocks and valves for you to turn!" The other Balkan operation was Bulgarian. Believe it or not, our Bulgarian team laid on a Freedom Station that was meant to sound like a Bulgarian Freedom Station run by the Germans! Roughly, its line was the same as if a Goebbels Freedom Station claiming to be British had broadcast in English-"Ve Prittischers must help ze Fuhrer lipperate our gountry . . ."
In order to put this one over convincingly, we had to find among the German refugees in Britain two who could speak Bulgarian with a strong German accent. We found them. They were excellent, and-for those who understood Bulgarian wonderfully funny.
I am told that this counterfeit of a counterfeit did a lot to make the Germans in Sofia look ridiculous. Everyone thought them responsible for a clumsy and insulting fake. And well may it have been so. For, as I used to tell my team, the simplest and most effective of all `black' operations is to spit in a man's soup and cry `Heil Hitler!'