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Bletchley Park’s Secret Sisters – Psychological Warfare in World War II

John A. Taylor

Paperback - 1-903747-35-X

The title of this publication does not do the content justice. The author presents a much wider view of the wartime involvement of the towns and villages surrounding Bletchley Park than the sub-title suggests. John Taylor is a local historian and writer and has researched this book well to provide the reader with an insight into the range of work carried out in the Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire countryside. The book is of great significance to local people and the growing communities of Aylesbury, Bedford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Northampton and presents wartime facts to embrace a much wider audience interested in the subjects included in the publication.

Though the author focuses attention on the black propaganda activities of the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) undertaken at Aspley Guise, Milton Bryan, and Woburn Abbey he also introduces the wartime work of the Radio Security Services (RSS) and the radio stations at Gowcott, Hockcliffe Potsgrove, Wavendon and Whaddon Hall. By including the airfields of Cranfield, Tempsford, Twinwoods and Wing the author identifies joint operations of the Special Operations Executive, the Secret Intelligence Service, the Royal Air Force, the United States Air Force and aircrews of the British Empire. He also mentions the support given to Governments in exile, particularly the Czech Government based in near-by Aston Abbotts and the radio communications with they maintained with their resistance workers, via the radio station at Hockcliffe.

By homing in on, and amply illustrating, the development of the PWE through photographs, caricatures, diagrams, drawings and reproductions Taylor presents an account of the creation and preparation of the content of black propaganda and it’s transmission over the air waves in the form of pseudo German radio programmes. He highlights the clandestine part played during WW11 by PWE to support other organisations, including Bletchley Park, Government in exile and Special Operations Executive operations. Taylor also introduces the reader to some of the latterly well known personnel and the characters involved in this subterfuge including David Bowes Lyon, Ian Fleming, Hugh Gaitskell and Glenn Miller, to mention just a few.

Slotting wartime events on the timeline, the author provides the perspective by bringing in the failed assassination of Hitler; the damage caused to the BBC’s Bush House during the German air raids on London and the use of the British Double Cross system where agents provided false information about the ‘targeting’ of the German’s unmanned V1 and V2 rockets.

Taylor completes the circle by bringing his book up to the date of writing by presenting memories, tributes and memorials together with images of those ‘forgotten fields’.

Well worth a place on the bookshelf. It is an overview, a reference and a taster on a range of areas from Back Propaganda; Government Code & Cypher School; Radio Security Service; Secret Intelligence Service; Special Operations Executive and more importantly, the parts played by local communities in order to support those activities.

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