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Bletchley Park Air Section Signals Intelligence Support to RAF Bomber Command: Combined Bombing Offensive 1943-1945, with the 8th US Army Air Force [Paperback]

John Stubbington

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Book Description

1 Sep 2007
The book provides an overview of the nature and volume of special intelligence support that was generated at Bletchley Park specifically for RAF Bomber Command and, subsequently, also for the US Army Air Forces during the bombing campaign of 1943-45. The contribution of the Y-Service was absolutely fundamental to any and all of that special intelligence; without that 24-hour radio signals intercept service every day of the year there would have been no special intelligence. The high grade ENIGMA signals were intercepted and recorded by the Y-Service, as an essential prerequisite for the de-coding work done at Bletchley Park. But the Y-Service also intercepted the enemy radio telephony and wireless telegraphy messages; these formed a vital element of the overall special intelligence product that was eventually delivered to the operational users. The contribution of 100 (Bomber Support) Group became equally fundamental to reducing the bomber loss rates that were being sustained by Bomber Command during the night offensives; the operational application of radio countermeasures by 100 Group had been quantified by Bomber Command at the end of the war in 1945 as having saved at least 1000 bomber aircraft and their aircrews. The operational connectivity between Bletchley Park, the Y-Service, Bomber Command and 100 Group is a fascinating picture. This book provides an overview of how this came to be, largely through the dedication, skill, vision and perseverance of a small group of exceptional people; together with the effort of a very large number of support staff who never knew the whole picture , even long after the war ended. The interplay between Intelligence, Operations and Radio Countermeasures was at the very leading edge of the wartime technologies during 1943-1945. It has since become an essential prerequisite for military planning, command and control, intelligence and surveillance. Operations do not now take place without this supporting infrastructure.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Minerva Associates; 1 edition (1 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0955712009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0955712005
  • Product Dimensions: 29.4 x 20.6 x 1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 764,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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I welcome this report as the first thorough account of an aspect of Sigint history that has so far received little attention. Wing Commander Stubbington is, as far as I know, the first writer to understand and describe the role of the Air Section at Bletchley Park. It is gratifying for me that what I recall from my experience in the German Air Section from 1940 to 1945 is broadly confirmed by his research into the records. The original material (messages in Enigma, lower grade codes and radio telephony) intercepted by the Y-Service radio operators has been destroyed. Fortunately, a quantity of the Air Section's output based on this material has survived. These are reports in the BMP series, including those incorporating relevant ULTRA material. Wing Commander Stubbington has brought these reports to light and has investigated what use was made of them in the 1943-45 Combined Bombing Offensive by RAF Bomber Command and the US Army Air Forces. He shows that Bletchley Park and the Y-Service gave a great deal of support to these operations. His description of the nature of that support in both strategic and tactical contexts provides a fascinating insight into the relationship of special intelligence and radio countermeasures. Regarded nowadays as an essential prerequisite for military operations, they were then at the leading edge of operational technologies. --Sir Arthur Bonsall, KCMG, CBE

I enjoyed reading this book which provides a most interesting insight into the operational contribution made by the Government Codes and Ciphers School (Bletchley Park) and the RAF Y-Service to Bomber Command and the Combined Bombing Offensive. Its logical build up of the capabilities of the British, American and German Air forces and their use of signals intelligence material leads to a succinct review of the Combined Bomber Offensive. The author highlights the difficulty posed by the security constraints associated with ULTRA data derived from the decoding of ENIGMA intercepts. At the same time he outlines the major contribution made by the RAF Y-Service intercepts to order of battle information and the understanding of the German Air Force air defence system and tactics. It required the initiative of a small number of dedicated individuals to ensure that information contained in ULTRA and Y-Service reports was fused to provide a more rounded and, eventually, more timely intelligence report to be delivered to operational commanders. Air Intelligence within the Air Ministry was unresponsive and often obstructive. The contribution made with Radio Countermeasures and Mosquito Intruders by No.100 (Bomber Support) Group to the overall bombing campaign was immense and was claimed to have saved 1000 bomber aircraft and their crews. The book shows how RAF Y-Service intercept material was used to develop both jamming and intercept equipment and tactics. The introduction of WINDOW enabled spoofing operations to be conducted with each bomber raid to dilute the effectiveness of the German Air Defence. The use of the Kingsdown Hook-Up provided immediate Y-Service intelligence, from intercepts of German radio traffic, to be immediately combined with ULTRA background material; and thereby enabled bomber routings and tactics to be altered and enhanced the effectiveness of the jamming/spoofing during the raids. One of the conundrums of the bombing campaign was the use of ULTRA material. Sir Arthur Harris was not authorised to have direct access to ULTRA; his Command Intelligence Officer was able to make limited use of ULTRA material in 1943 and was fully briefed into ULTRA in 1944. The 8th United States Army Air Force did not have a similar constraint and forged a close relationship with Bletchley Park and used both ULTRA and RAF Y-Service intercept material to plan its raids and to support their Escort Fighters over Germany. This difference in ULTRA dissemination was in conflict with the principle of linked routeing that was intended to serve two or more Commands operating jointly. The author highlights the problems of target selection during the Combined Bomber Offensive and the use of ULTRA material and photo reconnaissance pictures to assess raid effectiveness. In my view the author has captured the essence of the contribution of Bletchley Park and the RAF Y-Service to bombing operations when he states: The nature and scale of Signals Intelligence and Radio Countermeasures within the Combined Bombing Offensive were at the leading edge of the then current technologies and their operational applications. There were outstanding successes which contributed substantially to the conduct of the Combined Bombing Offensive. In today s world of Network Centric Warfare and with the ever increasing number of intelligence gathering sensors the lessons learnt from the contribution of intelligence to the bombing campaign are still pertinent: A. Timely data fusion and dissemination. B. Understanding the operational users needs. C. Preventing security constraints impacting on the delivery of intelligence reports to operational commanders. --Air Vice Marshal J B Main, CB, OBE, FREng

About the Author

John Stubbington graduated from the RAF Technical College, Henlow, in 1961 as an Engineer Officer. His career became specialised in the fields of Electronic Warfare and Defence Intelligence. At various times he was with the Bomber Command Development Unit; the Electronic Warfare Support Unit; No 51 Squadron as Engineer Officer; Support Command Signals Headquarters; and the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. Intelligence appointments were with the UK MoD Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence (DSTI) and the US Air Force Intelligence Division (FTD) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He retired from the RAF in 1985 and worked for 20 years within the UK Defence Industry, the last 15 years as an independent consultant in Command, Control, Communications, Computing, Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (C4ISTAR). For some of that time he was an International Consultant with Raytheon Intelligence and Information System

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