Hinsley’s History

Noël Annan

  • Diplomacy and Intelligence during the Second World War: Essays in Honour of F.H. Hinsley edited by Richard Langhorne
    Cambridge, 329 pp, £27.50, May 1985, ISBN 0 521 26840 0
  • British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. I: 1939-Summer 1941, Vol. II: Mid-1941-Mid-1943, Vol. III, Part I: June 1943-June 1944 by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight
    HMSO, 616 pp, £12.95, September 1979, ISBN 0 11 630933 4

There are at least three books at present being written on Anthony Blunt and the Cambridge Spies. Already the sleuths are nosing out the Fifth Man – the master control, an older don who must have recruited them. In 1977 the Times proclaimed to a sceptical public that he was Donald Beves, the delightful tutor of King’s known to generations of undergraduates who performed on stage in the ADC, the Marlowe or the Musical Society, and whose interest in politics or indeed in ideas was negligible: clearly his bonhomie disguised an Iago. When that identification proved too absurd, the hunt shifted to economists, to Gramsci’s friend Piero Sraffa or – a masterstroke of ingenuity – to another Kingsman, the pre-1914 welfare economist A.C. Pigou, whose lack of interest in ideology and keen interest in young mountaineers was supposedly deliberate cover enabling him to suborn those politically committed to the left. (As will be seen, King’s has a tradition of involvement with the Secret Service: Sir Francis Walsingham ran it for Elizabeth I.) Today the hounds are in pursuit of Andrew Gow, the Classical scholar and art collector who was Blunt’s mentor at Trinity. Gow, who had taught at Eton, devoted part of his life to editing Nicander, a didactic Greek poet who wrote poems on snake-bites, poisons and their remedies – there is surely a whiff here of Bulgarians and umbrellas. Furthermore, did not C.A. Alington, the headmaster of Eton, write of him:

He who thinks
To confound our Eton Sphinx
Might as well be bowling Hobbs lobs.

Sphinx! The very word points to a well-guarded double life.

If, however, this last lead fails there is always that nest of homosexuals and Marxists, the Apostles, to provide the clue to the mystery. Indeed, one Oxford don has advanced the view that the childish secrecy with which that society tries to hide its activities implanted in the minds of some of its members such an obsession that they turned to the trade in which secrecy is essential: spying. How difficult it is for some to conceive of a club which does not seek self-advertisement and whose members don’t wish to be fawned on by clever contemporaries on the make and intent on boasting of being elected to it. The unworldly ideals of the Apostles are characteristically Cambridge. Not that such arguments will cut much ice with the sleuths. As trained journalists they will interpret the affair in class terms. For was not the upper middle class in England before the war itself much like a spy network, a nest of Freemasons whose emblem was not an apron but the old school tie, quick to close ranks if one of its members came under suspicion, a conspiracy against the decent sort of England that Beaverbrook stood for, determined not to permit the cleansing transatlantic wind of the kind McCarthy unleashed in Washington to blow through the corridors of power? Had it not been for this conspiracy against honest journalists, the head of MI5, Hollis himself, would have been unmasked and the Establishment would have crumbled.

Nevertheless the sleuths have had their triumphs. Chapman Pincher is certainly one of the best-informed men in the business and Andrew Boyle identified Blunt. What often sets sleuths off on the wrong trail, however, is the nature of the evidence. Under the Freedom of Information Act in the United States, documents about Russian defectors and what they revealed can now be examined. But the names of anyone not an American are whited out. It was clear that the fourth man had a name five letters long and it was probable that the first letter was a B or a P. Hence the shots in the dark at Beves and Pigou, when actually the name was Blunt. Sleuths are apt to believe that everything a major Soviet defector says is true. For instance, Anatoli Golitsyn came across with an enormous amount of accurate information which enabled Vassall to be convicted. But he also purveyed a lot of rubbish. He declared that the rift between China and the Soviet Union was disinformation and had never taken place. Such was his reputation that even Maurice Oldfield was inclined to credit this as true. Again, sleuths often rely on disaffected members of the secret services who have resigned. Much of the information about the Cambridge spies has come in recent years from three such members of MI5. The disaffected believe that they were right in their interpretation of events, and when their chiefs do not accept their conclusions they sometimes end by imagining that their advice was rejected for sinister reasons. It is interesting that the contention that Roger Hollis was in the Soviet pay had its parallel in America. One famous American counter-intelligence officer became convinced as he worked and reworked the evidence from defectors that the head of the CIA was a Soviet spy.

After such sleuthing it is a relief to find in this book of essays edited by Richard Langhorne an article on the Cambridge spies by a don, and it is by far the most sensible account so far written. It is the best because Christopher Andrew is a historian at Corpus Christi, Cambridge who has become the leading authority on the Intelligence services. Indeed, a book by him on the Intelligence community is coming out in the autumn. In his piece here he explains how the Cambridge spies were a minor cog in the propaganda machine which that master of propaganda Willi Muenzenberg constructed after the defeat of the German Communists by the Nazis, and he makes the interesting point that, despite Philby’s subsequent boasts of being proud to have been recruited by the KGB, they all believed at the time that they were being recruited by the Comintern, the overt international Communist organisation of the inter-war years. He correctly identifies Burgess as the recruiting sergeant and equally correctly surmises that while all were convinced Communists, for Burgess (and probably for Blunt) recruitment began as a hilarious undergraduate spree. After all, as young men, all they could retail to their Soviet control was gossip. But during the war what had begun as an anti-Fascist charade slid into the systematic passing of information from whatever position of importance each now occupied.

Andrew does not deny that they were able to conceal themselves for so long partly because the old school tie was the best credential of reliability. How could he deny it? ‘Positive vetting’ relies largely on a person’s friends telling the truth about his habits and his character, and many friends who are approached evade their duty. Particularly in 1940 when Blunt got into MI5, the crisis was such that no one had the time to vet new recruits. Andrew does not labour the point, but the very procedures – or lack of procedures – which enabled the Cambridge moles to escape minute examination of their past operated with astonishing success when staff for the most important Intelligence agency in the war were recruited. (And in the early days they were in the main recruited from Cambridge.)

This was the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley. In 1937, when war became likely, its head got Treasury approval to recruit 56 new staff. But how was he to recruit them when he had to conceal the whereabouts of the establishment and what it was to do? He solved that problem by engaging three Kingsmen, F.E. Adcock, Dillwyn Knox and Frank Birch, who had worked in the First World War in Room 40at the Admiralty. They at once recruited ten more Kingsmen as well as other Cambridge dons and some German linguists. The most fertile fields they reaped were those of the Classics and Ancient History, both subjects in which evidence has to be pieced together by drawing inferences from fragmentary materials. Mercifully they also recruited two mathematicians – though they were picked principally for their skill at chess. One of them, another Kingsman, was Alan Turing, who, with Gordon Welchman of Sidney Sussex, was foremost among those who decoded Ultra, encyphered on the Enigma machine, and, perhaps more than any single person, helped to save us from defeat in the battle of the Atlantic. When suddenly Japanese linguists had to be found, and there were none, undergraduates, nearly all of whom had got scholarships in Classics, were recruited. Only nine out of 225 failed the five-month course which was to enable them to translate Japanese signals into English.

Amateur? Irresponsible lack of security? Flagrant abuse of the old boy net? Were there not some fellow-travellers, perhaps even former members of the Party among them? And was not Turing (and a good number of others) homosexual like Blunt and Burgess? Certainly. But their loyalty and dedication to secrecy was such that until Frederick Winter-botham’s book, The Ultra Secret, appeared in 1974 none of the work at Bletchley was ever referred to in the press, and none of those who worked there ever sought to break their obligation to maintain secrecy. It was an agreeable organisation in which to work, much freer from office jealousies than most, since each had his own job. One of the youngest recruits, an undergraduate with an enormous shock of hair, an engaging grin, and an impressive ingenuity which enabled him to interpret what the garbled intercepts meant and to reconstruct the assumptions which governed German strategy, was Harry Hinsley.

After the war, Hinsley returned to Cambridge as a don. Post-war Cambridge was dominated in the humanities, not so much by Leavis, as by Butterfield and Oakeshott, who had founded the Cambridge Journal. Through his famous criticism of rationalism in politics, Oakeshott there questioned the assumptions, motives and achievements of the Labour Government. By this time, too, Butterfield had developed his critique of the historiography of progress. It was not only the Whigs who were wrong, but also the scientists in imagining that the history of their subject was the unfolding of enlightenment and truth. (Quite right to prosecute Galileo – the fellow made erroneous inferences within the scientific cosmology in which he himself believed.) Butterfield taught through paradox. Machiavelli, he said, so far from being the first modern political thinker, argued from obsolete Classical analogies: the real innovator was Guicciardini. Or: all conscious political reforms end up by having consequences which their instigators did not foresee and which would have horrified them if they had foreseen them.

Hinsley found this style of thought sympathetic, and although he looks rather to Hume than Oakeshott and does not tie himself in methodological knots as some of Butterfield’s followers have done, he has his own distinctive historiography. Jonathan Steinberg argues in this book that Hinsley believes that men in politics behave as rational beings. To go to war is not an irrational act, nor is nationalism a meaningless emotion. What is more, Hinsley believes that in international relations men have behaved over the centuries in much the same way and been governed by the same principles. He is also an optimist. He takes sovereign states, not international conclaves, to be the best guarantee of peace because their statesmen and advisers are rational beings who understand the implications of nuclear warfare. It is only among the non-nuclear minor powers that war may appeal as a rational way of obtaining one’s ends. On the other hand, his prose style is dialectical and reflects the clash of thesis and antithesis in human affairs: as with Oakeshott’s writings, the meaning is not always on the surface. Few in his field have written more and much of his best work is an extension of that cautious guarded intelligence work in which he was engaged at Bletchley. His first book was on Hitler’s strategy, and his latest – the three volumes with more to come – is the history of British Intelligence in the Second World War.

To get an impression of his abilities one should turn to his collection of essays, Power and the Pursuit of Peace (1963), where his review from the English Historical Review demolishing A.J.P. Taylor’s egregious Origins of the Second World War was reprinted. That was a book which saddened many of those who respect Taylor as the greatest British maestro of the diplomatic and political history of the past hundred and fifty years. The review is notable for the scrupulous way in which Hinsley finds reasons for agreeing with much of Taylor’s argument – though pointing out that the factors Taylor cites as grounds for dismissing the customary account of the origins of the war had been accepted for years by serious historians. But when he comes to Taylor’s main contention – that Hitler never had any precise plans for making war and that each crisis leading up to the fateful attack on Poland was always caused by someone other than Hitler – Hinsley declares that this is to confuse plans with policy and occasion with cause. The profound cause of the war was the imbalance of power in Europe. Each successful coup by Hitler made the imbalance worse, until the point was reached when France and Britain were compelled to stand and fight; after Munich the risk of war became enormous. But Hitler was prepared to take it. The immediate cause was his policy of increasing Germany’s power, like Bismarck, by picking quarrels. While hoping to get what he wanted without war, he was the only statesman willing to provoke a major European conflict if he could get what he wanted no other way.

Hinsley does not limit his interest in the intricacies of policy and politics to the archives. Like Montgomery’s Intelligence chief, Bill Williams, who on returning to Oxford became an éminence, by no means grise, in academic politics, Hinsley became a notable committee man at Cambridge and a natural leader of the bien pensants. As a young fogey he was quick to scotch intemperate proposals for change and to argue that a particular reform was dangerous either because it might expose a flank to government or because its consequences were so uncertain and possibly so far-reaching that to move in that direction would be unwise. He was rated so sound a man that when he was elected Master of St John’s the Council of the Senate invited him, before he had even taken office, to be the next in line for the Vice-Chancellorship; last month he was knighted. What has endeared Hinsley to his colleagues and to the stream of graduate students he has supervised is not so much his capacity for work as the affection, solicitude and good humour he displays towards those who work with him; and this Festschrift containing articles about the Second World War is the tribute paid by some of the many scholars who have learnt from him to analyse international relations.

The essayists do what professional historians often do. Journalists, memoir-writers, retired statesmen and warriors create myths about the past which flatter their contemporaries or conceal truths which national or party pride finds unbearably painful. Then the professional historians descend like a flight of moths and leave these silken myths in shreds. French generals explained their defeat in 1940 by blaming the politicians for their failure to re-arm in the early Thirties. But Bradford Lee shows that the arms they had at their disposal were the product of years of debate about tactics in the field; and though the arms were inadequate, the generals put them in the wrong place. Tanks and anti-tank guns were massed behind the Maginot line: had they been better deployed, the French could have hit the eastern flank of the German breakthrough with a force not all that inferior to that of the German spearhead. Similarly in Italy, Richard Bosworth argues, the duration of Fascist rule is these days an embarrassment to Right and Left. The Right, inspired by Croce, argue that it was a mere parenthesis inspired by a single individual; the Marxists declare that there was always a noble proletarian underground opposed to this imperialist stage in the death of capitalism as predicted by Lenin. Bosworth gives reasons for not accepting that the Italian historians who did not go into exile were all good anti-Fascists at heart. Patrick Salmon rescues the Nuremberg judges and dents the tu quoque Nazi apologists by showing that although the British were intending to invade Norway and had already violated its neutrality at the time when the German invasion got under way, the German admirals had no evidence of this intention. They therefore could not plead that they were trying to forestall the British: in other words, they persuaded Hitler to attack first, as he had done in Poland.

Perhaps the best de-mythologiser is Alec Campbell in a fine essay on the Anglo-American policy of unconditional surrender. Here there are two sets of myth-makers. The first set attack the policy as an ill-considered decision which prolonged the war. For did it not dishearten the German officer corps? The generals, recognising that the war was lost after Stalingrad, might have plotted earlier and more effectively to oust Hitler than those who took part in the July 1944 coup. The second set of myth-makers defend the policy by arguing that it was a masterly way of convincing Stalin that the Western powers would not sign a separate peace. Campbell shows that both are wrong. More dove-like terms would not have induced Halder and the General Staff to break their oath to the Führer and the state. Nor could the Allies dangle attractive terms before the German General Staff. At Teheran Roosevelt and Churchill had agreed to compensate a reborn Poland by the cession of Silesia. It is true that Churchill was somewhat miffed by Roosevelt’s announcement of unconditional surrender, because he felt he had not been adequately consulted: but the mood passed. After all, what did ‘fighting to end the power to wage aggressive war’ mean if not the surrender and disbandment of all the German Armed Forces? The truth is that the Allies had no idea what the future of Germany or Japan was to be, except that they were to be ‘re-educated’. In fact, circumstances made a mockery of the policy of unconditional surrender. It could not be applied to Italy. The Japanese, in order to save appalling American losses, were allowed to surrender on condition that the Emperor was not deposed or brought to trial. Nor did it reassure Stalin: the only argument that impressed him was the second front. Campbell concludes in fine Hinsley style: ‘It matters comparatively little what aims statesmen announce or whether they are reasonable or not ... what is needed is ... rivalry among the major powers sufficient to keep each of them applying force to the system ... to ensure that men will neither try to bring about change by force nor try to oppose it by force.’

Not every myth, however, is corrupted by moth and rust. With boundless self-confidence David Reynolds tries to demolish the most potent myth of all: ‘their finest hour’. Churchill claimed that the War Cabinet never considered suing for peace in 1940, nor were terms for surrender ‘even mentioned in our most private conclaves’. Reynolds has no difficulty in showing that several of the old appeasers began talking of negotiations even before Dunkirk. In addition, Dick Stokes and some thirty MPs wanted to seek terms and looked to Lloyd George. The old schemer was delighted to cast himself in the role of peacemaker. ‘I shall wait until Winston is bust,’ he said, and refused to join the Churchill Cabinet. Churchill himself said he would consider restoring Germany’s colonies, but he thought it was ‘most unlikely’ that that would satisfy Herr Hitler. Not then leader of the Conservative Party, he was pitifully weak politically. Did he not, as Denis Smyth shows in another article, agree under pressure from Halifax and Sam Hoare in Madrid to appease Franco and expel from Britain Juan Negrin, the Spanish Republican leader? And was he not stopped from doing so only by his Labour colleagues? We should note the exact words which Churchill used when he exhorted his ministers to put on a bold face in public. They were to show ‘confidence in our ability and inflexible resolve to continue the war till we have broken the will of the enemy to bring all Europe under his domination’. Triumphantly Reynolds adds: ‘No mention here of total victory.’

This relentlessly revisionary analysis is rubbish. Reynolds has forgotten to ask himself what it was like to be alive and cognisant in Britain in the summer of 1940. I remember lying on the banks of the Cam and listening to someone later to become a distinguished historian arguing that of course we were defeated. Our army was smashed, and either Hitler would invade in a matter of weeks or the Tories would make peace. What other future was there? All over the country people, when they stopped to think, said things similar to this. Then they put such thoughts out of their mind. They did so because Churchill imposed his will on his colleagues and the nation. No one had the faintest idea how the war was to be won. Reynolds declares that Churchill made the right decision for the wrong reasons. The Chiefs of Staff fed him papers based on two erroneous assumptions: the first that the German war economy had peaked and, bombed and blockaded, would decline; the second that somehow America could be induced to enter the war. These assumptions were certainly erroneous, but the idea that Churchill and his colleagues behaved as they did because they were persuaded by such reasoning is grotesque. Official documents have to be read in the light of official policy. The Chiefs of Staff made foolish optimistic assessments because Churchill’s policy left them with no other choice. What other alternative had they, unless they were to admit defeat? Churchill was indomitable but he was not a mad fanatic like Hitler in 1945, moving non-existent divisions about on the chessboard of his mind. No one in his senses could talk of ‘total victory’ in those days. How could Churchill not at times ‘speak privately about the possibility of a negotiated peace’? If he was to talk to his colleagues, that alternative was bound to come up. Nothing could be more erroneous than to picture Churchill as weighing all possibilities and, on the strength of mistaken strategic appreciations, gently coming down on the side of continuing the war. In his memoirs Churchill may have indulged in hyperbole: but the hyperbole was in spirit true.

This unwillingness to get inside the mind of human beings and determination to see everything in ‘rational’ terms may have been encouraged by the guidelines which Hinsley gave himself in writing his history of British Intelligence. No living being appears in its pages. Nearly all wear the masks of their offices, or are still more impenetrably disguised as committees, organisations and fighting units. Pas de monstres et pas de héros is the recipe he takes from Flaubert. People say the work is unreadable. That is untrue. The style is lucid and easy. You have, I admit, to be a military historian or to have been involved in operational intelligence at a level not lower than army group to read every page, but it is a remarkable account of what Intelligence from all sources reported and what use was made of it in Whitehall and in the field, the ocean and the air. Much of it is concerned with the effect the reports of the Joint Intelligence Committee and its staff had upon Allied strategy. But Hinsley does not allude to the ferocious disputes that raged within this anonymous body which was responsible for advising the Chiefs of Staff and hence the Prime Minister about German strategy and capabilities.

The Joint Intelligence Committee resembled the gods contemplating Valhalla in Rheingold. The gold of intelligence from the Rhine was beaten into shape by the Nibelungens in Nibelheim-Bletchley. Each wanted to use the gold to enhance his power and impose his will on the other gods. The Ministry of Economic Warfare was Froh, determined to make everyone happy by predicting that with a few more bombs or embargoes German oil supplies or its ball-bearing or synthetic rubber industry would collapse. The Air Ministry was Donner, declaring that with a few more thumps from its bomber hammer Giant Germany would be smashed. The Admiralty was the beautiful Freia, demanding more gold from Nibelheim to liberate her from the giant-like grip of the U-boats. But in joint operations, the Royal Navy, serene in the knowledge that German Naval resistance would be negligible, asked only to be left in peace by her fellow gods, the other two armed services, whom she dubbed the Royal Advertising Force and the Evacuees. The chairman of the JIC, its quick-witted Loge, was Bill Cavendish-Bentinck of the Foreign Office. As a young man in the British delegation to the Lausanne Conference he had been told by Harold Nicolson to wire the Swiss frontier to apprehend a valet who was suspected of decamping with all Lord Curzon’s trousers (‘Don’t say trousers, say quelques effets’); and in old age he has become the Duke of Portland. In those days he wore his clothes with an air of unparalleled elegance, and his imperturbable good temper and gift for sapient drafting enabled him to reconcile the conflicting opinions of his colleagues. For Loge’s most difficult task was to weld into an artefact the individual interpretations which each Service put on Intelligence, so that the Prime Minister and Chiefs of Staff did not receive five conflicting views. In this respect his most delicate mission was to bring into submission the fifth member of the JIC – the ugliest of those who possessed the gold.

This was the Alberich of Intelligence, the War Office, whose representatives were scorned and upbraided by the gods for their shameful conduct in interpreting intelligence in a consistently pessimistic and sometimes untruthful way. When it seemed clear to the gods that Hitler had abandoned his plan to invade Britain, and that it was therefore safe to send more troops to the Middle East, Alberich protested that despite the evidence, Hitler could yet change his mind. When British sinkings of ships in the Mediterranean made Rommel signal Germany that supplies of fuel and ammunition were down to two days, Alberich would doubt whether this impaired Rommel’s ability to fight. When the Russians were decimating German divisions in the east, Alberich would argue that Hitler might still release divisions from that front to oppose Overlord. At times Alberich, having signed a JIC paper, would put on his Tarnhelm, transform himself into a toad and sneak off to tell his master Wotan that he did not really hold the views expressed in the paper and that things were much worse than they seemed. Why did the War Office assume this hideous shape? And why did Wotan listen to Alberich?

The Wotan in this opera was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Alan Brooke, the only master of strategy among the Chiefs of Staff, the only person who fully grasped in all its detail the relation of fighting forces to logistics: the man who more than any member of the Combined Chiefs of Staff ensured that the Western Allies did not suffer appalling defeats. Like Wotan in The Ring, Brooke was pursued by a spouse who would launch into interminable tirades of reproach in the War Cabinet and produce counter-plans destructive of the principle dearest to his heart: the concentration of force and the refusal to disperse the Army on seductive side-shows. For the Prime Minister resembled Fricka in the relentless pertinacity of his ill-judged schemes and complaints. Why, if Intelligence showed that our 37 divisions were being opposed by a mere 17 German divisions, did we not sweep forward? Why were thousands of vehicles encumbering the bridgehead when what was needed in it was men? When the Ultra traffic decyphered at Bletchley showed the German Army at its wits’ end to obtain reinforcements and supplies, and when the RAF and American Air Force had swept the Luftwaffe from the skies, why did the War Office try to argue that too favourable an interpretation was being put upon the intelligence reports?

Brooke’s instinctive pessimism was wise. He was wise to oppose a second front in 1943 and to refuse to draw the ‘logical’ inferences from favourable intelligence for two reasons. As Commander in Chief, Hitler refused to behave ‘rationally’. Tactical withdrawals were scarcely ever permitted, and from Stalingrad onwards numbers of divisions surrounded and outflanked on the Russian front were put in the bag when by a timely retreat they could have escaped. He lost 32 divisions on the Leningrad front by refusing to retreat. Of course Hinsley would reply that the meaning of ‘rationally’ depends on your assumptions; and as Hitler’s assumption was to fight to the end, bring Germany down in flames and play the last act of the Götterdämmerung in which he was acting, he can be said to have succeeded. After all, the Russians suffered 350,000 casualties in the battle for Berlin.

The second reason is more troubling. The German Army was commanded by an evil man and the country governed by a repulsive and corrupt regime. SS divisions committed atrocities on the battlefield and there were units among Germany’s fighting forces which would obey orders to do the same. Yet the German Army was at once the bravest, most efficient and most adventurous fighting force that had been seen since Napoleon’s days. It fought against appalling odds with a professional skill unmatched by any of its opponents. After 1942 it had little air support. Man for man, unit for unit, the Germans fought better than their enemies. Brooke and Montgomery in their hearts knew this – or at any rate they knew their own lack of skilled professional commanders from brigade upwards. They also knew that British troops were not well trained. They knew they were commanding a citizen army with little experience of battle and armed in some cases with inferior weapons. British manpower, unlike that of its allies, was so stretched that casualties could not be replaced and by the autumn of 1944 divisions were being cannibalised. For all the valour of élite units such as Lovat’s commando or the Guards, the German Army was superior in tactics and skills and as indifferent to death as their fathers in the 1914-18 war. Time and again the Germans were surprised that the Anglo-American troops were slow to exploit success when they had such enormous superiority in fire power. On all ‘rational’ grounds the German Army should have broken months before it did. One of the myths of war is that those who fight in a just cause will fight better than those led by rapacious tyrants. We are understandably slow to admit that the German Armed Forces, which Intelligence often showed to be in desperate straits, could, when all seemed lost, turn and fight off their opponents with incomparable professional skill and courage.

Among the contributions to Langhorne’s book is an interesting essay by Ronald Zweig on the use Intelligence was put to for political purposes. It shows how the Palestine administration inflated the estimates of the Jewish armed strength there in order to get the Government to step up operations against the Jews. The information boomeranged because Churchill used it as an excuse to tear up the 1939 White Paper and reintroduce the policy of partition. But the political use to which Intelligence was put during the war ought to be considered more widely – and by Hinsley. How far did each Service, or individual commanders in the field, interpret Intelligence, or even doctor it, to further their own ends or provide themselves with excuses? There is more than a suspicion that Harris at Bomber Command did so. Will Sir Harry Hinsley indulge his readers by giving them, if not within his official history then in a personal assessment, an account of the main protagonists who processed and used Intelligence during the war and how he judges their performance? There is no need to portray them as heroes or monsters. But they were human beings and behaved as such.