We certainly did our best for the customers. As a result of Donald McLachlan's work-during those first weeks he was almost permanently at SHAEF headquarters getting us the latest and fullest operational information-our reports were far more up to the minute and far more detailed than any published elsewhere at that time. One German-speaking reporter, John Kimche of the Evening Standard, discovered that we were getting advance reports. He listened to the Soldatensender and by taking our news without quoting us, laid the foundations of a well deserved reputation for being better informed than his competitors.

Our reports were accurate too-ninety-nine times out of a hundred. The hundredth time came, when we put in some false information at the request of the tactical deception experts to mislead our trusting clients and send them headlong into a trap.

For the past fifteen months Hitler and Goebbels had been seeking to buoy up the German public's waning hopes of victory with allusions to a miracle weapon which was going to change the whole course of the war at one decisive blow. The new weapon was going to punish with a holocaust of destruction the criminal British who had dared to repay war with war and bombing with bombing.

An interesting feature of these allusions to the new V-weapon as it was called-V for Vergeltung, i.e. Retribution-was that they varied in frequency and in ferocity. Over one period the newspapers and the speeches of the party orators would be full of V threats. Then the campaign would die down again and such references as were made to the V-weapon did not speak of its use as imminent. This interesting variation did not escape my colleague Robert Walmsley.

Walmsley's job was, among other things, to analyse German propaganda for any clues it might give to Hitler's strategic intentions.

He had been doing this successfully ever since 1940 when from a careful study of the Goebbels radio and the German newspapers he had managed to deduce that Hitler had called off the invasion of Britain.

What was more-as we discovered when Hitler's secret plans and orders fell into our hands at the end of the war-his guess at the date of Hitler's decision was only forty-eight hours out.

Not only my department found Walmsley's reports invaluable. The Joint Intelligence Committee and the Chiefs of Staff also paid attention to his analysis. They were right to do so. For Walmsley had discovered an important basic principle about the Goebbels propaganda. This was that although the Germans did not mind how much they boasted in their output to foreign countries, they did their best not to promise victories to their own public, unless they were fully confident of being able to bring them about.* (Dick Crossman's most brilliant contribution to `white' propaganda was his exploitation of this Goebbels' caution by getting the B.B.C. to `commit' Hitler to promises of victories he could not bring off.)

Since the summer of 1943 Walmsley's propaganda analysis had been concentrating almost entirely on Goebbels's V-threats and their varying frequency. His section counted, analysed, and weighed the threats. And from the incidence of the threats and their ups and downs Walmsley produced his weekly analysis of how near Goebbels believed the realisation of `retribution' to be.

For months now we had been reading his reports as Bomber Command's raids on V-bomb arsenals in Germany and the launching sites forced postponement after postponement. It was like sitting in a submarine on the bottom of the ocean with the bleep... bleep of the asdic growing now stronger now fainter as the enemy destroyer approached and then drew away again.

But in this D-Day week Walmsley was saying that the Germans were likely to launch their V-bomb as a counterinvasion measure even though they were not ready for a fullscale bombardment.

Reading Walmsley's paper it seemed clear enough to me that the Germans were determined to launch their wonder weapon for political reasons, to shore up their own invasionshattered morale and do what they could to smash ours. That bleep ... bleep ... bleep, had risen to a crescendo.

And then sure enough, there it was. On June the 13th, just a week after D-Day the first German V-weapon crossed the channel coast, flew to London and burst in London's Bethnal Green. On June the i 5th the `Vergeltung' offensive started in earnest. Two hundred buzz-bombs flew in during the first twenty-four hours and it looked as though Hitler had found a wonderful morale booster for his shaken and dispirited troops, even if it was not a war winning weapon. The Soldatensender * The accuracy of Walmsley's theory is also confirmed by this passage from the Diary of Goebbels's Press Chief Rudolf Semmler for June 17, 1944- "Goebbels has personal reasons for being glad the V-weapon has appeared. On March 23, 1943 Hitler had told him, for the first time, of the plans for these weapons.

At his request Speer had sent him regular information about the progress being made with them. ... For a year now Goebbels has been promising the coming retaliation in articles and speeches.... One month after another passed without the weapon appearing, and Goebbels's prestige fell lower and lower. . . . Now he feels he has been rehabilitated. He has turned out right. He has triumphed. . . ." and Nachrichten were asked to go into the counter-attack. We had discovered from prisoners that the German army nickname for the V.I was strangely similar to the name the Londoners had given it. London called it the 'Doodle-bug', the German soldiers called it `Der Dodel'. We therefore also called it `Der Dodel' when the corporal launched into our first attack on the new morale booster.

His attack took the form of three questions. "What has the weapon achieved in its first attack? What can one realistically expect of it? Does the new weapon provide a solution for our most urgent military problems?"

To the first he answered: "We don't know and we cannot know because our reconnaissance aircraft are unable to reach England. And if they do reach England they cannot get back." On the second, his comment was that whether the Dodel hit an object that was militarily worth while was purely a matter of luck, because owing to the absence of any observation it was impossible to correct the range and direction of this missile which in any case had a high factor of deviation (Streuung). And then he got to his third point-"Can the Dodel solve our most urgent military problem-can it stop the Anglo-American supplies from being delivered across the channel? The Navy and the Luftwaffe have been unable to do so. Can the Dodel do it?" And again his answer delivered in the style of a staff officer frankly assessing the military situation was, "No, it cannot."

The B.B.C. under Crossman's directive took the exactly opposite line. Instead of playing the Buzz Bomb down, as we were doing, they played it up and pretended to respect its effectiveness. Crossman's intention was that the Dodel should as a result cause all the greater disappointment when it failed to produce a result. But for us as `critical Germans' the Soldatensender line was right and a useful antiphony to the white.

So we repeated the same themes in other talks on the Dodel and in news items. And then when I felt these themes had been successfully planted, we went a step further and attacked the Dodel as a miserable waste of precious fuel. Fuel which we claimed could have been more profitably used for Rommel's petrol-starved armour and transport or for fuelling the fighters of the Luftwaffe. `Da fliegt der Sprit!' was the disgusted comment we tried to suggest to our German soldier listeners, as they I watched the Dodel fly through the air-'there goes our fuel!' The 'Gen. d. Mot'-a cabalistic German army term designating the general commanding the Motorised Units-so the Soldatensender reported in its news bulletins, had written a ,I memorandum on the Dodel for the OKW. And in this memorandum the Gen. d. Mot estimated that the Dodel was using as much fuel in a day as too Panther tanks, 5o bombers, or i oo fighters.

" . . . Shooting these Dodels would have been good fun at some other period of the war when there was still plenty of fuel . . ." commented Halkett, taking his turn as the military expert, "but to perish at the front now for lack of fuel only in order that these fellows can shoot some Dodels into the air for the satisfaction of the propaganda wallahs-I ask you! . . . But that is exactly the way certain people in the Fiihrer headquarters imagine a war should be conducted. `All right,' they say, `when there are no real weapons, then you must rely on the Fuhrer s will to victory, and his Weltanschaung and to hell with the Grenadier at the front. . . ." ,

As usual we illustrated the same theme with news items. Among other Dodel items, we reported that Albert Speer, the Armaments Chief, had complained that the factory space, manpower and material he had been forced to allot for production of the Dodel would have been better used in producing fighter planes and tanks.

That item, as far as we were aware, was just a plausible invention. We had no intelligence backing it up. But in 1946 when Speer was sitting in the prison at Nuremberg waiting to be tried as a war criminal he said:

" Of course I was always against the Dodel. It was a damned waste of fuel and of technical resources that should have gone into more worth-while weapons. Fighters for instance. . . ." Was this a coincidence? Had Albert Speer really protested to the Fiihrer about the Dodel? Or had he listened to the Soldatensender and allowed `our poison', as Goebbels called it, to seep into his subconscious?

I hope that some day soon Speer will be released from the prison at Spandau. Then he must tell us!

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Our reports were accurate too-ninety-nine times out of a hundred. The hundredth time came, when we put in some false information at the request of the tactical deception experts to mislead our trusting clients and send them headlong into a trap.


Copyright The Sefton Delmer Estate August 1962 The Valley Farm, Lamarsh, near Bures, Suffolk.