History of 'T' Force Activities in 21 Army Group (2024)

Category: T Force

In the closing months of the Second World War in Europe, T Force was assigned the task of securing enemy military, scientific and industrial sites of interest to Allied intelligence. The following history written by the T Force teams after the end of hostilities documents these attempts at capturing Germany's technological secrets.


  • History of 'T' Force Activities in 21 Army Group
  • Appendix 'A' - Staff Organisation and Order of Battle
  • Appendix 'B' - Chief of Staff, HQ 21 Army Group Policy letter on Securing of Special Targets by 'T' Force
  • Appendix 'C' - 'T' Force pass and special authority for 'T' Force guards
  • Appendix 'D' - Details of CIOS Groups
  • Appendix 'E' - 'T' Force activities in Second British Army
  • Appendix 'F' - Story of First Canadian Army 'T' Force
  • Appendix 'G' - Activities of reconnaissance platoon of 5 KINGS during the closing days of the campaign
  • Appendix 'H' - A diary of 'T' Force operations in KIEL

History of 'T' Force Activities in 21 Army Group (1)

T Force were the first Allied troops to enter Kiel harbour. The damaged German cruiser ADMIRAL HIPPER was in dry dock and the ADMIRAL SCHEER was capsized nearby.

It was during early operations in ITALY that there was first considered to be a need for a special force, having as its role the seizing of intelligence targets. Such a force, called 'S' Force, was raised, and entered NAPLES and ROME in order to secure and guard targets in which it was hoped to find operational, technical and scientific intelligence.

Soon after the landings in FRANCE it was decided that much valuable information might be lost during operations in occupied and enemy territory unless special measures were adopted to secure it. At the end of July 1944 a special directive was sent by SHAEF to the Army Groups; this announced the forthcoming issue of special target lists and dossiers, called for plans to be made to deal with the targets in question, and recommended the formation of 'T' (Target) Forces. The idea was that all the agencies interested in the search for intelligence targets should be placed under a 'T' Force commander, who would have the troops at his disposal to seize the targets and guard them.

During operations in FRANCE and BELGIUM no special 'T' Force or 'T' Force staff was brought into being in 21 Army Group. This was due partly to the ever present manpower situation in the Army Group, and partly to a desire to try out 'T' Force activities with existing resources designed for other purposes. A 'T' Force role was allotted, first for ROUEN and then BRUSSELS, to certain engineer, signal and intelligence units, whose normal occupation was deception and camouflage. The staff which normally controlled these units undertook the 'T' Force operations; these were not entirely successful, mainly due to the extreme meagreness and lateness in arrival of information on the targets. The experience was however useful, and lessons learned were passed on to the 'T' Force staff which later came into being.

Soon after HQ 21 Army Group arrived in BRUSSELS, it became apparent that the staff and units mentioned above would have to revert to their primary role; this prevented them from being earmarked for any further 'T' Force operations. It was therefore next considered whether this function should be allotted to the General Staff (Intelligence) Branch; since SHAEF G-2 Division was responsible for ' T' Force activities throughout the Theatre, and since this allocation of responsibilities was reproduced in the AMERICAN Army Groups, such an arrangement at first sight appeared "tidy". It was, however, realised that many aspects of 'T' Force activities would be operational, and many administrative; furthermore, much of the intelligence to be gleaned was of no direct concern to the Army Group, and therefore not to GS(I). The formation of a special staff branch, and subsequently of a special force, appeared therefore to be desirable, but once again the manpower shortage, which figures prominently in the history of 'T' Forces, as in so many other wartime activities of the British nation, ruled this out.

During operations in FRANCE, the Chemical Warfare branch of HQ 21 Army Group had been observed to be very enthusiastic and active in embarking on numerous treasure hunts for evidence of GERMAN chemical warfare activities and intentions. This involved the early examination of laboratories, research institutions and the like. At the same time, although concerned with flame and smoke warfare, this branch, owing to the happy preservation of gas peace, was not fully employed. It was therefore decided, in October 1944, to allot the responsibility for the 'T' Force role to the Brigadier, Chemical Warfare, and give him an additional staff for the purpose. The Brigadier and his GSO1 then became responsible for both T and CW, and a T section of the branch was set up (see Appendix 'A' Figure 1). It may be said at once that this somewhat unnatural union was by no means an ideal arrangement. When operations were in full spate, it was extremely difficult for the Brigadier and his chief staff officer to give full attention to the chemical warfare side of their work, although much of this, particularly advisory work on tactical smoke screens and flame weapons, was at one time or another required. The fact that the organisation was only an "ad hoc" one was however fully appreciated from the first, and the probable attendant difficulties were anticipated and accepted with open eyes.

A further good reason why a special staff branch was not created was that until operations commenced the work of planning was not likely to provide full employment. This applied even more to the Force itself. It was realised from the outset that it was nut of the question to "tie up" an actual force long before it was actually required; for one thing there was no great mystery about the role, such as would require prolonged special training; for another, the earmarking of units which could continue in their normal occupation, while at the same time studying and planning their future task until such time as they were wanted, was felt to meet the requirement. This is in fact what was ultimately done, with adequate success to justify the measure.

It should not be assumed from this, however, that the future at this stage was clearly seen. It was one thing to concede that only the earmarking of troops was required, but quite another to get units nominated. For some months 'T' Forces in 21 Army Group were little more than an idea on paper, and the Brigadier and his small staff sometimes had the feeling that their organisation was rather the Cinderella of the Army Group. It was certainly not anticipated at this early stage that before operations ended the whole force would be some five thousand strong.

Before making a start on its planning, the new staff made a study of the considerable amount of paper which by this time had been put out on this subject. As a result, and in the absence of any other guidance, the branch concocted a short "raison d'etre" for 'T' Forces, to act as its text for the future; it read as follows:-

"1. The capture of large towns in enemy occupied and enemy territory involves the over-running, or by-passing, of war factories, research and experimental establishments, static military headquarters, government departments and ministries, mines, fuel dumps and the like.

2. All of these will be of value, in varying degrees, to the further prosecution of the war. In particular, the examination by experts of certain installations and documents before their destruction or loss may be of vital importance.

3. On the other hand, few of these targets will be of tactical significance in the course of normal operations. It will, therefore, be uneconomical to burden the armies in the field with the task of locating, securing and guarding such targets.

4. 'T' Forces are, therefore, considered to be required to perform the following tasks:-

(a) Moving in the immediate wake of the assaulting forces.

(b) Locating and securing intact the targets concerned.

(c) Preserving them from destruction, loot, robbery and, if necessary counter attack, until the completion of their examination by teams of experts or until the removal of the essential installations or documents.

(d) In enemy territory, providing armed escorts for the expert investigators."

The planning which was now embarked on was based on what came to be known as the "classic" conception of a 'T' Force operation. This, based on the British experience in ROUEN and BRUSSELS mentioned above, and on American experiences in PARIS and later LUXEMBOURG, was the conception of a staged operation on one specific city or industrial area at a time, undertaken by the total staff and force available. The idea was that when the capture of such an area became imminent, the "earmarked" unit, probably an infantry battalion plus elements of sappers, signals, etc., should be given a staff increment from CW and T, and placed under command of the formation carrying out the operation concerned. For a considerable period, all planning was based on the not unreasonable assumption that at least a number of industrial areas in HOLLAND and GERMANY would be captured by 21 Army Group in this way before an enemy collapse or rout. The early planning was therefore designed to work out the additional requirements for such a role, particularly as regards the provision of communications, and of the facilities required by the enormous "tail" of investigators, interpreters, documents teams, and the like, which it was quickly realised would tie itself on to any and every 'T' Force which ever appeared in the field. As it happened, no British 'T' Force ever worked actually in this manner; nevertheless the administrative planning lent itself to successful adaptation to the highly mobile 'T' Forces which ultimately had to cover the whole area of operations in the course of a few hectic weeks.

Another idea of 'T' Force activities which was well and truly disposed of early in the planning stage was the "private army" conception. It was believed in certain quarters that because the 'T' type of targets were seldom also tactical objectives, and because the retreating enemy might attempt a last minute destruction or removal of the targets, 'T' Forces should operate in the field as semi-independent striking forces, prepared to fight for their targets if necessary, and able on occasions even to launch out ahead of the proper objectives of the fighting troops. Such a type of operation had in fact been carried out in the Mediterranean by a naval technical commando unit, which appeared again in this theatre under the name of 30 Assault Unit RN, subsequently altered to 30 Advanced Unit RN when their martial exuberance had been somewhat modified. The difficulties involved in this plan from the point of view of the local formation commander were at once apparent; a 'T' Force of this nature would simply be a private army appearing on his front and carrying out an operation of a highly individualistic nature, which it would be impossible to co-ordinate with the higher tactical plan. On the other hand, it was obviously undesirable to ask normal combat troops to divert their attention from their proper task, that is to say the seizing of tactical objectives and the annihilation of the enemy. The compromise which was eventually reached was to give to normal formations the task of specifically seizing only targets of the very highest "war winning" priority; as soon as possible after their capture, a 'T' Force unit, under command, was to be called up to take over the guarding of such targets, and also to locate and secure ab initio the remaining targets in the area. This plan when put into effect worked extremely well, and all formations welcomed the arrival of 'T' Force units to relieve them of tiresome commitments which would otherwise have cramped their style, whether in relaxing at the conclusion of an advance or in pressing on to the next objective. It was true that because of this modification 'T' Forces did not have the satisfaction of wresting their targets from the enemy; nevertheless they were invariably on the spot, normally closely behind the armour and ahead of the supporting infantry, to secure targets against the many armed parties of the enemy which remained at large in areas which on the map appeared to be over-run. Furthermore, it so happened that the depredations of the vast class known as displaced persons proved to be a far greater menace to the security of targets than any attempt on the part of the enemy to destroy their contents, the latter indeed came in only as a very bad third in the efficient removal of booty at the hands of our own troops. In addition, in the closing days of the campaign almost all the 'T' Force units came into their own in taking over targets and target areas directly from the defeated Wehrmacht, who in many such areas exceeded them in armed strength by many thousands.

It was decided early in 1945 that the time had arrived to warn the Armies of 21 Army Group what 'T' Forces were and why, and to explain how they were going to work. Accordingly the Chief of Staff issued on 5 January to the four Armies then under command, the letter attached at Appendix 'B'.

Very early in the planning stage it had been decided to issue a special 'T' Force pass to all investigators, in order to establish their credentials with 'T' Force units and guards, and in order to assist in the exclusion from targets of unauthorised visitors. It was realised that many 'T' Force targets would be in extremely desirable buildings, from which guards would find it difficult to keep out not only "pirate" investigators, but also unit and formation commanders looking for headquarters and billets. A special authority, signed personally by the Chief of Staff, was therefore prepared and given to units for the use of all guard commanders; this empowered them to deny entry to anyone, irrespective of rank, who could not produce the proper pass. Copies of both the pass and the authority are attached at Appendix 'C'.

The problem, which in the planning stage (November 1944 - March 1945) confronted the 'T' Force staff almost to the exclusion of all others, was that not only of compiling its target lists, but of obtaining information about the targets. This was needed firstly for assessing the strength of the forces required, and subsequently for briefing them in their role. The list consisted basically of the "Black List" of technical targets, the majority of them weapons development and research centres, put forward by the various American and British Government Departments and Ministries, which formed the membership of the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee. To these, branches of Army Group Headquarters were invited to add their own targets. This proved very welcome, particularly to branches like Military Government, who had many targets they wanted seized intact, but had no troops of their own with which to go for them. It proved quite simple to obtain part of the requisite information, when known at all, on Army Group targets. This was unfortunately by no means the case with those sponsored by CIOS. It appeared that the sponsoring Ministries knew little or nothing about the specific whereabouts and natures of their targets; and that the investigators who would eventually come out would know even less, and surprisingly enough would depend on the 'T' Forces for their briefing. The admirable Inter-Services Topographical Department in OXFORD had a vast amount of information on the majority of the targets but not unnaturally, without further guidance, could not know what was of interest to the sponsors and what to the 'T' Forces. The early dossiers prepared by ISTD at the request of the Target Sub-Division, SHAEF were indeed frequently veritable Baedekers to the targets, but were of singularly little value in suggesting whether a brigade or a platoon was required to seize and guard them.

What was required, of course, was a simple indication in each dossier of the precise parts of the very large plants and installations, which formed so many of the targets, in union it was hoped to discover the enemy's secrets. It proved astonishingly difficult to come by this information, but after a series of interminable discussions with SHAEF, CIOS, ISTD and the target sponsors, a series of simple guides to the various types of targets was evolved, which enabled the research experts in OXFORD to select the appropriate data with the desired discrimination, and produce handy dossiers of a kind which could readily be applied to the briefing of troops. These normally consisted of a marked town plan, a "blow-up" of the relevant aerial photograph, and an indication on the latter of what was the piece de resistance and in which building it was hoped it would be found residing.

About this time it was discovered that ISTD had received a rather remarkable direction on what was required, which had resulted in its unfortunate experts working day and night in the months of November and December 1944 on the production of target dossiers for the whole of HOLLAND. A system of priorities, rather more in accordance with the expected trend of operations, was therefore devised, and the production of dossiers was also restricted to the more important of the listed targets. By these means it proved possible to get the appropriate dossiers into the hands of the troops in good time with very few exceptions. Most of them were in fact received by G(T) & CW by the end of March 1945, though to the very end of the campaign there were some exciting races to get some of the dossiers up in time.

In February 1945 it began to be realised that there was going to be extremely little 'T' Force activity this side of the RHINE, and that once the Allies had crossed the RHINE, operations would probably become highly mobile on the whole of the Army Group front, even if a complete collapse of the German forces did not ensue. It was thus that the "classic" conception of a 'T' Force operation referred to above came to be abandoned. The new plan was to place a separate 'T' Force under command of each of the three Armies then in 21 Army Group. It was actually later decided that, outside HANNOVER and those parts of the RUHR which were within the 21 Army Group sphere of operations, NINTH US Army would allot 'T' Force tasks to its normal formations and units. With this exception the plan outlined above was however put into effect.

The essential part of this plan was that the Army 'T' Forces should be capable of being split up into a number of self-contained units which could operate on the various Corps fronts. In order not to place an additional burden on the existing Army staffs it was decided to train two second grade GSOs in CW and T and when the time came allot them to First Canadian and Second British Armies respectively (see Appendix 'A' figure 2).

In February 1945 it was decided that although the Chemical Warfare side of the branch's activities had still only an advisory status, full General Staff status was required on the 'T' side. CW and T therefore became G(T) & CW, and the Brigadier, Chemical Warfare, most of the time wore another hat, which made him BGS 'T' and responsible direct to the Chief of Staff.

Also at this time the first units to be earmarked for a 'T' Force role were selected. The 5th Battalion The Kings Liverpool Regiment was brought forward in February 1945 from the L of C in France and for a brief period was wholly available for 'T' Force training; early in March this battalion was called upon to occupy part of the DUNKIRK perimeter, but was released from its task shortly before the crossing of the RHINE. The next battalion selected was the 1st Battalion The Buckinghamshire Regiment, then the Garrison Battalion for BRUSSELS, which was released from the latter role in the closing days of March 1945. These infantry units were of course not mobile. It appeared highly unlikely that the normal RASC troop carrying resources of the two Armies would ever allow for the permanent allotment of latoons to the two battalions which was obviously desirable. A very happy solution of this problem was however reached and this proved, quite fortuitously, to be the most notable justification for the marriage of "CW" with "T". It was appreciated that once the RHINE was crossed there would be little call for large scale tactical smoke screens, and still less for anti-aircraft screens. The six Pioneer Coys in the Army Group available for this role had a very ample allotment of transport for their proper function; five of them in fact had forty-eight 4 1/2 ton lorries on their establishment with which they towed ESSO generators and brought up smoke stores. It was decided therefore to earmark these units also for 'T' Forces. The plan was at the conclusion of their smoke screening activities to jettison the ESSO generators and put the companies with their lorries and empty trailers under command of the infantry battalions. By this means more than enough transport was made available to lift all the infantry and all the pioneers; the rest of it was therefore earmarked for the carriage of investigators (should cars prove not to be available in sufficient quantity) and for the evacuation of the formidable quantity of German technical paraphernalia which it was expected the investigators would require to have removed from their targets. In addition, the six companies added to 'T' Forces a total of nearly eighteen hundred all ranks.

The next requirement was a sapper element, to make safe the targets for investigators by removing the booby traps which it was expected would be plentifully sewn in the targets by a malicious enemy. Here again normal RE units were likely to be more than fully committed during mobile operations. It proved, however, possible to allot a complete Bomb Disposal Coy to each of the two Army 'T' Forces. It was fortunately decided to train personnel of both these units in safe-breaking; selected NCOs were sent on 'burglary' courses in the United Kingdom, and all the paraphernalia of the cracksman's art was added to the units' G1098; it so happened that scarcely any booby traps were ever encountered, and the bulk of the work of these units was in actual fact opening large numbers of safes in firms, factories, headquarters, and so on, all over NORTH WEST GERMANY.

All during this period attention was also being paid to the many problems which would be involved by the arrival of large armies of investigators. Eventually a 'T' Force Investigators' Transit Camp was formed, entirely from personnel held in RHUs without any establishment to justify it, and by the end of March this was ready to compete with up to one hundred investigators passing through at any one time. A pool of staff cars was also obtained, and for these the Pioneer Coys provided drivers. The infantry battalions also planned to run camps for unknown quantities of investigators.

With the exception of a number of miscellaneous bodies, such as document teams and interpreters, and of course the investigators themselves, the 'T' Forces were now complete, that is to say, all earmarked and aware of their forthcoming role. The complete organisation was now as shown at Appendix 'A' Figure 2. A third infantry battalion was finally added at short notice for operations in WEST HOLLAND at the time of the enemy surrender.

Apart from the administrative problem of the investigators was the question of how they should work. Originally it was thought that the 'T' Forces, having seized what they believed to be one of the targets on their list, would report on its condition and, if this appeared to justify expert attention, the appropriate team of specialists would be flown out from the United Kingdom to visit it. Once again however this idea had to die with the classic conception of a 'T' Force operation; now that 'T' Forces were not going to sit for some weeks in one large city while the next operation was "being planned, but were going to move rapidly from target to target over a wide area, it was obviously impossible for guard detachments to be committed to every target which might or might not justify further investigation. Similarly by this means many targets not on the official lists might be overlooked since clearly the 'T' Forces were not competent to identify them. All through the planning period it was continually pointed out that the 'T' Forces were only dumb soldiery who could only be expected to guard what they were told to guard and do nothing more. Nor were the staff of G(T) and CW any more competent in this matter. Unless experts were at their elbows it was likely that the whole scheme would misfire. Eventually a plan was devised which became the most important single factor contributing to the success of operations. This was the formation of what was known as Consolidated Advance Field Teams, consisting of experts whose job was to undertake a quick preliminary evaluation of the targets as quickly as possible after their capture. For this purpose the various items of interest on the CIOS target list were grouped into seven cognate groups (shown at Appendix 'D'), and for each of these groups a Consolidated Advance Field Team (CAFT) was formed. It was clearly impossible for the team members to be anything like experts on all the subjects so grouped, but their overall knowledge in their own and associated spheres was such that they were able adequately to assess the value of the targets uncovered, and recommend the calling forward of an appropriate team to investigate in detail the specific interests revealed. Furthermore, they were thus competent to advise the 'T' Forces on the necessity or otherwise of retaining guards on the listed targets; what was even more important, they were able to identify valuable "opportunity" targets and thus recommend their guarding. This system not only avoided wasting the slender resources of the Forces, but also saved the necessity of marshalling on the Continent large numbers of specialists from the United Kingdom or the United States of America, who were thus able virtually to remain at their desks and drawing boards until required for a specific task, instead of having to kick their heels in rear areas while waiting for suitable outlets for their energy and talents to be revealed. There is no question that had it not been for this scheme the 'T' Force units would have been bogged down very early in the campaign, guarding all the targets on the list which they were able to locate and which were obviously not merely heaps of rubble; as it happened the speed of the advance made it frequently necessary for their resources to be husbanded with the utmost circ*mspection and their strength to be gathered anew, as group after group of targets was over-run.

The CAFTs were so organised that they could be broken down into suitable teams for working with each Army 'T' Force. The leader of each group remained with G(T) & CW at Army Headquarters, and was responsible for co-ordinating the work of his team and for advising the staff, on the strength of reports and signals received, on the calling forward of specialists. He had a deputy leader with each Army. The individual members were known as assessors, and the be-all and end-all of their work was the preparation of target assessment reports for the guidance of the specialists whose summoning they recommended.

Soon after the crossing of the RHINE the general trend of operations for the ensuing weeks following the rapid break-out from the bridgehead became clear, and the inter-army boundary was re-drawn accordingly. This gave Second British Army the bulk of the targets on the Army Group front, and as operations proceeded fresh revisions of the boundary gave less and less targets to First Canadian Army, apart from those to be found in HOLLAND. As a result of this the whole scheme for an approximately equal division of the 'T' Force units between the two Armies shown at Appendix 'A' Figure 2, had to be scrapped on the very eve of their move forward into their respective Army areas.The new development is shown at Appendix 'A' Figure 3, which also shows the third infantry battalion, the 30th Battalion, The Royal Berkshire Regiment which joined 'T' Forces on the eve of VE day for operations under First Canadian Army in HOLLAND.

Accounts of various aspects of 'T' Force operations have been written by a number of fluent pens. No clearer picture of operations can be given than is contained in some of these, which are therefore attached in the form of Appendices as follows:-

Appendix 'E' - An eloquent narrative of 'T' Force activities in Second British Army, written by the GS02 who was attached to Army Headquarters.

Appendix 'F' - A somewhat light-hearted but colourful story of First Canadian Army 'T' Force, told by the Adjutant of 1 BUCKS.

Appendix 'G' - A more detailed account of the activities of the reconnaissance platoon of the 5 KINGS, during the exciting closing days of the campaign, written by the platoon commander.

Appendix 'H' - A diary of 'T' Force operations in KIEL by the commander of one of the two companies of 5 KINGS, which for two days were the sole British troops in the city, "holding" it in the face of something like forty thousand armed GERMANS until the arrival of the somewhat surprised forces in whose wake the 'T' Force should correctly have moved.

As is apparent from these histories, the method of operation of the 'T' Forces, which had been planned as described above, was, with few exceptions put into effect. The basis for planning an individual 'T' Force operation was an up-to-the-minute knowledge of the corps tasks. 'T' Force detachments were then allotted to the corps in ratio to the size and number of targets in the area concerned. Branches of the corps staff were advised of targets being taken on, and asked to arrange exploitation of targets in which they were interested. Liaison was then carried out with the divisional staffs to ensure their having complete knowledge of operations in their area, and they were briefed concerning their responsibilities towards 'T' Force targets. Arrangements were also made for local administration and accommodation of 'T' Force detachments while in the divisional area. All the above was carried out by the GSO2 working from Army Headquarters.

'T' Force detachments moved into the divisional area in order to be immediately available to move forward and take over targets. Close liaison was maintained to ensure that any changes in the divisional task were taken into consideration. Liaison was made with brigades and units as necessary when the operation became imminent.

The method of taking over targets differed according to circ*mstances. Priorities at times forced the use of small 'T' Force reconnaissance parties being phased in early and the remainder of the forces being guided in later. At other times when priorities did not enter, the 'T' Force detachments went direct from their assembly area within the division. After location and assessment of original targets the areas were scoured for targets of opportunity by both 'T' Force and assessors.

The method of target exploitation varied according to the agency which had submitted the target. In the case of CIOS targets, the CAFT assessors gave their decision on the value of the target. In many cases, targets were maintained until investigators called forward from the United Kingdom advised that targets were of no further interest. In the case of targets submitted by branches of Headquarters, 21 Army Group, such signals targets as repeater stations were handed over to divisional or corps signals, Civil Affairs/Military Government detachments took over local government records, banks, etc at the earliest opportunity, our guards being maintained on request.

Apart from the main problem of getting detachments to their targets as quickly as possible after they were uncovered by the advance, the chief worry of 'T' Force commanders was the administration of their widely scattered forces. It will be appreciated that they were faced with an administrative headache of a unique order, since the battalions, with the other units under command, became increasingly scattered as operations progressed; their areas of responsibility were limited, of course, by none other than the boundaries of the Army under which they were working. In spite of this, it was decided that the placing of sub-units and detachments of 'T' Forces completely under administrative command of the brigades with whom they were working would prove far too much of a nuisance. An example of the outcome of this decision was that no sub-unit of Second Army 'T' Force ever had to make demands on a formation petrol point, designed to meet only the needs of its own field units, since petrol vehicles of 5 KINGS travelled all over the huge Army area to prevent this happening. Many an administrative matter which in normal circ*mstances presented no difficulty at all, such as the distribution of mail or the dispatch of personnel on leave, suddenly developed into a very considerable problem when applied to a force based on a battalion dispersed over many thousand square miles. Both the commanders, however, had foreseen these difficulties and prepared for them accordingly, and in no instance did the administrative machinery of 'T' Forces ever seriously break down.

It was inevitable in such operations, conducted at such a tempo but with no previous experience on which to build, that mistakes were made and difficulties arose which had not been foreseen. One particular set of difficulties had been foreseen by the staff only too clearly, and had been unceasingly pointed out during the planning period, but with little effect; this was the provision of administrative requirements for the investigators. Assessors and investigators arrived in the field, many of them straight from civilian life, expecting apparently not only a chain of hotels in which to live, but also unlimited supplies of transport, clerical facilities, interpreters and the like. "The Army will provide all that for you" was apparently the comforting slogan with which the hapless and deluded investigator was put in his aeroplane in ENGLAND. 'T' Forces indeed ran to the best of their ability a series of investigators' messes, but these were frequently and inevitably rather rough and ready, and a considerable strain on unit resources until it became possible to employ German labour. A small pool of transport had been provided, but this was always far from adequate, even when implemented with the load-carrying vehicles in which many a disgruntled investigator was bumped along the cratered and rutted roads of GERMANY. A small number of interpreters had been obtained from Army Group resources, but once again these were never enough to meet all the demands made on them, and of course they were useless, never having been intended for the purpose, at competing with the abstruse technicalities of the scientists and technologists. Lastly, the existing clerical staffs of G(T) & CW and of the units, struggled day and night with the typing of the target assessment reports which poured in in ever increasing quantities; but frequently the unfortunate assessors, after a weary day grinding to and from their targets in a 15-cwt truck or worse, had to sit down before the typewriters they had brought back with them from the targets and hammer out their reports with two fingers.

These unsatisfactory conditions had, of course, been anticipated and requests made for the provision of extra resources, particularly on the clerical side. The Army did what it could, but it should never have been called on to provide clerks and technical interpreters. Ideally, of course, pools of these, and pools of transport too, should have been found from the resources of the agencies sponsoring investigators, and assembled on the Continent before operations started.

Another unfortunate occurrence was the frequent duplication of investigation. "In theory", writes one of the CAFT group leaders,

"all investigation of targets for all three services and both countries (British Commonwealth and USA) was to have been done through CIOS, but in practice various services ran semi-piratical expeditions to targets. These 'Witches' as they came to be called (because they flew over our heads on their broomsticks) were a constant nuisance as signals for them were constantly being received, with no possibility of passing them on. Visitors to a target found everything of interest (or in some cases half the things of interest) removed, thus causing a great waste of time and temper, and a tendency to 'rush' targets so as to get to the next one before the other fellow also appeared. A further cause of duplication was that investigators tended to fly home from the target area without letting G(T) & CW know what they had found. If it is desired to prevent this sort of thing in any future operations of this nature, the only way is to arrest and expel all teams not passing through proper channels."

It does not come within the compass of this paper to enumerate the results of 'T' Force operations in 21 Army Group, in terms of the enemy secrets which were thereby revealed. They are described in the greatest detail in a thousand technical reports, which are available to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. The more spectacular weapons which GERMANY was developing have been described in the Press with the usual inaccuracies, - many of which curiously enough have reduced rather than exaggerated some of their more remarkable characteristics. Suffice it here to say that, although the Germans have been considerably more eager to disclose many of their secrets than was ever expected, nevertheless it has been universally agreed that without 'T' Forces a great amount of invaluable information would irretrievably have been lost.

In conclusion, one result of 'T' Force activities should be mentioned here, which in many ways was the most memorable. They provided the most striking and happy occasions for Anglo American co-operation. Almost as many Americans as British were numbered among the investigators working in 21 Army Group, and CAFT group leaders, team leaders and members were selected on grounds of suitability without the slightest account being taken of nationality. Americans and British carried out their research in these teams together with the happiest of results. In addition to this, the important 'T' Force operations in the city of HANNOVER were carried out with great success by two companies of 1 BUCKS, detached from Second British Army and operating fully under command of Ninth US Army. All these occasions for co-operation between the two nations gave special significance to the remark once made by the commander of one of the American 'T' Forces to his British opposite number: "Notwithstanding our common language, we Americans and Britishers often think differently, finding the language only a delusion of true understanding. In our case it was different, for in our common problems I felt that we and our staffs reached the truest understanding and mutual appreciation."

[Source: TNA FO 1031/49, transcribed by www.arcre.com]

History of 'T' Force Activities in 21 Army Group (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Last Updated:

Views: 6264

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Foster Heidenreich CPA

Birthday: 1995-01-14

Address: 55021 Usha Garden, North Larisa, DE 19209

Phone: +6812240846623

Job: Corporate Healthcare Strategist

Hobby: Singing, Listening to music, Rafting, LARPing, Gardening, Quilting, Rappelling

Introduction: My name is Foster Heidenreich CPA, I am a delightful, quaint, glorious, quaint, faithful, enchanting, fine person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.