The British have learned their embarkation security lessons from experience; consequently
their opinions on this subject are not only informed, but should prove of immediate
interest and value to American troops. The following is a condensation of a British
Army training memorandum:
Troops under orders to proceed overseas must be made to understand why secrecy is
essential, and that everyone of them possesses information which, in the hands of
the enemy, might cost their own lives, the lives of thousands of their comrades, and
the success of a major military operation.
Vital matters which must be kept secret from everyone whose official duty does not
require the information are:
a. Port of embarkation.
b. Name of ship, or of other ships in the convoy.
c. Date or time of sailing.
d. Destination or route of convoy.
e. Any particulars concerning His Majesty's Forces or the types and quantities of matériel embarked.
It is equally important not to talk to anyone about these subjects if your
information is based only on guesswork. The guess may be right.
The fact that a unit is shortly to proceed overseas must necessarily be known to
certain people during the preparatory period. Nevertheless, the fewer people who
know, the better. And the less they know, the less the enemy is likely to find out.
Perhaps you suppose that the little you have to tell cannot be important. If you believe
this, you are wrong. As a rule, the enemy discovers vital information only by piecing
together several small items of intelligence, like a jigsaw puzzle. It may be that your
little fact gives sorely needed verification. It may well be that the movement of your
unit is part of a large-scale operational movement, which could fail entirely as a
result of your breach of security.
Although everyone knows that classified information about the movements of troops and
convoys must not be discussed in a public place (or even over the telephone), not
everyone realizes that it is just as dangerous to pass this information along to
relatives and lifelong friends. No doubt you are sure that they will not tell anyone, since
you asked them not to. But YOU were instructed not to tell anyone, and you have
already done so. They may follow your example. After all, they are not in as immediate
physical danger as you are.
"Bowels open, mouth shut" is a very good motto to observe, not only in the Army, but