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"Security in the British Indian Army" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on security in the British army during WWII was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 29, July 15, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


The following instructions in military security come from British sources and are intended for the guidance of the "Unit Security Officer" of the British forces operating in India. Especially charged with the problems of security are the "Field Security Sections" and the "Unit Security Officers," discussed below.

*          *          *

a. General

Security is the name given to our countermeasures against the enemy's secret attack by espionage, sabotage, propaganda, and Fifth Column activities. The enemy espionage service is trying to obtain information about all military matters. Enemy saboteurs are holding up our war effort by damaging war materials, derailing trains and tampering with gasoline supplies. The enemy propaganda aims at undermining morale.

Security measures will neutralize such attempts. Security is only possible if it becomes the personal daily concern of every member of the forces, from the Commander-in-Chief to the private, and of every civilian.

b. Field Security Sections

In all activated corps and divisions there are Field Security Sections on the scale of one per corps and one per division, and such sections as the situation demands at Army Corps HQ, GHQ, on lines of communication, base areas and ports. Part of the personnel are linguists, and all are specially trained in security work.

(1) Composition

There are three types of sections, all-Indian, composite (Indian and British) and all-British. [The all-British would probably be met with an all-British division, and a composite or all-Indian in the Indian divisions or special organizations.] The all-Indian sections consist of a lieutenant [probably native], two "Viceroy's commissioned officers" [corresponding to our warrant officer, and of two grades], two sergeants, four corporals, six lance-corporals, and two privates. The composite sections consist of a lieutenant, one warrant officer, a sergeant, two corporals, two lance-corporals, all British; a native sergeant, British sections include one officer--captain or lieutenant, two warrant officers, two sergeants, four corporals, six lance-corporals, and a private. In each of the above groups, the privates are orderlies or chauffeurs. All sections have a 1 1/2-ton truck and are completely mobile and self-contained.

(2) Duties

The duties of the Field Security Section are to advise and instruct in all security matters, to provide specialists for putting security measures into operation and to conduct security investigations, and to cooperate with civil police in counter-espionage. The sections work under the direction of the Intelligence Staffs of the units to which they are attached.

Field Security personnel are not concerned with the discipline of troops. They are concerned with the maintenance of good security. All ranks should be encouraged to look on them as friends and advisers, whose criticism, when made, is intended to be constructive only. They are NOT police or spies. There are at ports, in addition, specialized Security Sections who work under the local Military Port Security Officer. These are directed by Military Intelligence Directorate of GHQ and are mainly concerned with counter-espionage control. NOTE: All-British Field Security Sections raised and trained in the United Kingdom are part of the Intelligence Corps.

When the Indian Intelligence Corps becomes fully organized, all Field Service personnel will be accordingly transferred to it. Members of Field Security Sections raised and trained in India are mainly drawn from the units to which they will eventually be assigned.

c. Unit Security Officers

In every unit or installation, one officer will be appointed as "unit security officer." His duties, as such, are in addition to his other duties. His role is an important one for he is charged with the training of the individual, which is the foundation of good security.

It is his duty to ensure that security measures are properly applied within his own unit. His responsibility as far as concerns civilians, other than those employed in his own unit, is limited to close liaison with the civil authorities. He will also act as an intelligent observer and reliable reporter of suspicious incidents.

He must at all times maintain close relations with the Field Security Personnel in his unit or area. He must not, however, carry out any investigation work except under express instruction from the higher command. It is possible that this particular case is already under investigation, and that independent investigation will only cause confusion.

d. Military Security

(1) Security of Information

Surprise is a most potent factor in war. It is of supreme importance that we deny the enemy information from which he may judge of our condition or guess our intentions.

This can be done by using common sense and imagination to prevent military information of any kind coming to the knowledge of unauthorized persons and so, eventually, to the enemy. It is the rule of the closed office and the closed mouth--in a word, security discipline.

Every soldier should be made to understand that a breach of security is not merely an offense against an arbitrary military code, but a crime against his comrades and his country's life.

The knowledge of an enemy's armed forces, dispositions, and intentions is usually gained by the piecing together of many disjointed and often apparently quite valueless scraps of information. No piece of information can, therefore, be regarded so trivial as not to require safeguarding.

Information which is of particular interest to the enemy includes the following:

Our intentions and plans for the conduct of the war by land, sea and air.

Means whereby any enemy operations have been frustrated.

The order of battle, movements, locations, and morale of our forces. The names, characteristics, and particulars of our commanders and their staffs.

Developments in all forms of armament, equipment, and training.

Administrative arrangements, such as locations of bases, supply depots, distribution centers, and key industrial plants. Details regarding sources and systems of supply of all kinds.

Any reference to spies or suspicious persons in our hands, whether awaiting trial or already disposed of.

Sailing dates, routes, and destinations of all types of shipping.

Losses in men and materiel.

Details of enemy attacks, whether by sea or air.

The situation in regard to manpower, recruiting, economic resources, and civilian morale.

Local subversive political movements.

Our information regarding the enemy.

The main sources of leakage of information may be summarized as:

Insufficient precautions to prevent unauthorized persons from obtaining access to offices, HQ, and other military establishments. All persons, whether in uniform or not, and of whatever rank, must be made to establish their identity unless personally known to the guard. Over-caution is excusable, lack of caution is criminal.

Carelessness in classification and safeguarding of documents, marked maps, ciphers, codes, etc. Omission to burn drafts, carbons, unnecessary copies of orders, etc. Omission to carry out a systematic search of all vacated premises, including officers' quarters, when moving. Omission to collect daily and burn under supervision all secret waste paper. Carelessness in carrying secret documents on the person in trains or in cars at all times and particularly when in contact with the enemy. Disclosure of the existence of secret documents. Even laundry tickets and theater stubs or old letters may sometimes give valuable information to the enemy.

Disclosing official information of future operations, moves, etc., to anyone not directly concerned with such information.

Capture by the enemy, and loss, of personal diaries. All personnel must realize that these are documents which are certain to contain matters of interest to the enemy, and must be safeguarded.

A fruitful source of information to an enemy intelligence staff is the examination of our prisoners of war. All personnel must, therefore, be thoroughly instructed as to their conduct if they have the misfortune to be captured. A prisoner must give his correct name, rank, and serial number and nothing else. The most difficult man to interrogate is the one who is determined to maintain a polite but strictly military attitude towards the interrogator, viz., "You are a soldier. I am a soldier. I have my orders and I must obey them."

Reticence under interrogation must be followed by reticence among fellow prisoners; it is certain that there will be "stool pigeons" dressed in British and Indian uniforms to overhear conversation. Microphones may also be used. It is absolutely forbidden for prisoners to broadcast. Unless incapacitated by wounds, it is the duty of a soldier taken prisoner to attempt to escape. The first 24 hours after capture usually present the most favorable opportunities.

(2) Security of Materiel

As far as military security is concerned, this is mainly a question of providing physical safeguards, and of siting dumps, vehicle parks, etc., with an eye to protection against sabotage. The dispersal of dumped materiel into small lots to limit the effects of enemy air attack frequently makes physical safeguarding difficult, but such dispersal also localizes the effects of an act of sabotage. The only time at which a potential saboteur is likely to come into the open is when he is making his reconnaissance. For this reason the strictest security of identity papers, both of civilians and members of the uniformed services, is absolutely necessary wherever anti-sabotage guards are mounted. No person of whatever rank should be allowed to approach the materiel or the point being guarded unless it is necessary for him to do so in the course of his duty and then only after identification. It is also the duty of Unit Security Officers to advise, on track discipline, vehicle concealment and camouflage affecting safety from air observation and attack.

(3) Security of Personnel

Lying propaganda, rumors, doubt and treason are weeds that flourish in rank soil, but cannot take root in a healthy one. The cultivation of resolute cheerfulness, sane thinking, and high morale is an invincible defense. Rumor must be traced and the persons who start and pass on rumor must be punished. Listening to enemy radio propaganda should be ridiculed and discouraged. It should be impressed upon all ranks that it is their duty at all times to discourage and counter- act unfounded gossip or statements likely to cause alarm or despondency, whether made by members of the armed forces or civilians, in public or in private. Security officers are reminded that troops going on leave and off duty are their best propagandists if properly trained and instructed.

(4) Security of Operations and Training

This is the particular application of all security measures to ensure the secrecy of particular operations or training. These are frequently coupled with active measures to deceive and mislead the enemy which are usually the subject of special instructions from the higher command. The responsibility of unit security officers is to see that these are carried out to the smallest detail.


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