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Women of Intelligence: Winning the Second World War with Air Photos [Paperback]

Christine Halsall
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 May 2012
An ornate Victorian manor sat in picturesque surroundings overlooking the River Thames at Medmenham, Buckinghamshire. Perhaps not the first place that springs to mind when considering the top-secret photographic interpretation that helped secure an Allied victory in the Second World War, but this was the headquarters of the Allied Central Interpretation Unit. It was here that air photography from all over enemy-occupied Europe was pored over by photographic interpreters, who sought out intricate details of enemy activity which then influenced virtually every Allied operation of the war. These quick-minded men and women were the ones to find out where the infamous German V-weapons were being constructed, were the first to see the results of the Dambusters’ raid and were sworn to utmost secrecy on everything they viewed. Women made up half of this work force and were, unusually, treated as equals with their male counterparts: the best person for the job, regardless of gender. Here the women of Medmenham, the ‘Women of Intelligence’ from Churchill’s daughter to girls escaping home for the first time, tell the story of their wartime life and work – in their own words.

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Women of Intelligence: Winning the Second World War with Air Photos + Spies In The Sky: The Secret Battle for Aerial Intelligence during World War II + Operation Crossbow: The Untold Story of Photographic Intelligence and the Search for Hitler's V Weapons
Price For All Three: 32.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (1 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752464779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752464770
  • Product Dimensions: 25 x 17 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Christine Halsall has had a lifelong love of history. In 1992 she married a retired Army officer who spent much of his career in Photographic Intelligence (PI). On retirement her and her husband volunteered to work in the Medmenham Collection - the national archive of PI history, based in Buckinghamshire. As Collection Biographer, Christine has interviewed and recorded many Second World War photographic interpreters. She is currently consultant to the BBC for a forthcoming documentary on PI.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOMEN OF INTELLIGENCE by Christine Halsall 6 Jun 2012
By Celia
Format:Paperback
Christine Halsall's WOMEN OF INTELLIGENCE is the first ever study of the secret work carried out by women at RAF Medmenham during the Second World War. Medmenham could be described as the RAF's answer to Bletcheley Park code-breaking centre.
Hidden away in Danesfield House (today a luxury hotel) women like Sarah Oliver the daughter of Winston and Clementine Churchill interpreted the photographs taken by pilots over Germany and German-occupied territories. This work shortened the war and saved lives. Sarah, ever the live wire, married to Vic Oliver, played the piano and kept spirts up. Father, Prime Minister Winston whose official country home Chequers was just down the road would roll up in the official limo. and collect his daughter after work. You will love this book, it is well written, a real entertainment as well as being impeccably researched, and it is packed full of original photographs including a section in colour. Celia.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating read 24 July 2012
By sue
Format:Paperback
this is a really interesting book on a hitherto unknown aspect of women's work during the Second World War.The author skilfully combines a mass of information about the development of photographic interpretation and how essential it was to the war effort with many enjoyable descriptions of life at Danesfield House and the young women who worked there. Like Bletchley Park, the PI unit at Danesfield contained people from many different walks of life and with all kinds of practical skills, and the author narrates how this diverse population became a highly efficient unit with an incredible output of daily information about the enemy. The book includes many reminiscences from the women who worked there and this helps to really bring the story "alive". Well researched and with a very readable style, be warned - once you start this book, you won't be able to put it down until you reach the final page!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A top notch book! 23 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Many decades ago, I fell in love with Constance Babington Smith's wonderful book; "Evidence In Camera". Since then I have
paid a visit to Danesfield House and it's Beautiful surroundings, and it exudes a very creative atmosphere.

Christine Halsall's book picks up on this tread in a magnificent way, a most interesting and readable book.
In my opinion her book is a gem.
Thanks Chritine Halsall for a wonderful book!

//Christer Hedberg
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A really true story 6 May 2013
By Tony Gregory - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As a post war PI who served a short time at RAF Medmenham the insight into the work carried out there under wartime conditions, as detailed by Christine Halsall, is extremely enlightening. Her attention to technical detail coupled with the memoirs of the WAAF personnel made for an interesting read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating slice of history 14 Dec 2012
By Will - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's the story of the women who worked as recon photo analysts in England during WWII. Good if you're interested in the nuts and bolts history of WWII and how the US and Great Britain responded to the threats they faced. It also illustrates how the war opened up opportunities for women who were judged by how well they did their job - where failure could lead directly to the loss of bomber crews on their missions. Finally, it's not just a dry history - it includes the reminiscences of the women themselves, so the reader gets a feel for their lives, both on and off duty.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - Christine Halsall Tells The Medmenham Story Well 9 Dec 2012
By PETER G PARK JR - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent contemporary look back at the amazing US-UK collaboration at Medmenham - every bit as crucial as the UK-US work at Bletchley. The book benefits from new sources.
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