Sir William Stephenson first Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch
Sir William S. Stephenson
Sir William Samuel Stephenson, CC, MC, DFC (23 January 1897 – 31 January 1989)
Sir William Stephenson was the first Colonel Commandant of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch from 1982 – 1985. He played an active role in establishing the Branch.
As a Canadian soldier, airman and spymaster, Stephenson became the senior representative of British intelligence for the Western Hemisphere during the Second World War. The telegraphic address of his office was INTREPID, which was later popularized as his code name. His organization's activities ranged from censoring transatlantic mail, breaking letter codes (which exposed at least one German spy in the United States), forging diplomatic documents, obtaining military codes, protecting against sabotage of Allied factories and training Allied agents, according to the Intrepid Society, a group dedicated to honoring and sustaining Stephenson's memory. Stephenson was also a radio pioneer who helped develop a way of transmitting photographs around the world. But it was his espionage work that garnered the most fame. Some suggest his covert operations in the Second World War were a decisive factor in the Allied victory. Author Ian Fleming has credited Stephenson as being an inspiration for James Bond. In an interview with the Times newspaper in 1962, Fleming said: "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is … William Stephenson.“
Stephenson played a key role in the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in the United States. As Winston Churchill's personal representative to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the war, Stephenson became a close advisor to FDR and suggested he put William J. Donovan in charge of all U.S. intelligence services. Donovan, a good friend of Stephenson, founded the U.S. wartime Office of Strategic Services, which eventually became the CIA. Donovan later said, "Bill Stephenson taught us all we ever knew about foreign intelligence," according to the Intrepid Society. For his extraordinary service to the war effort, he was made a Knight Bachelor by King George VI in the 1945 New Year Honours. In recommending Stephenson for the knighthood, Winston Churchill wrote: "This one is dear to my heart." In November 1946 Stephenson received the Medal for Merit from President Harry S. Truman, at that time the highest U.S. civilian award. He was the first non-American to be so honoured. General "Wild Bill" Donovan presented the medal. The citation paid tribute to Stephenson's "valuable assistance to America in the fields of intelligence and special operations". In his homeland, Stephenson was made a Companion of the Order of Canada on 17 Dec 1979. He died on 31 Jan 1989, in Paget, Bermuda, at age 93.
On 2 May 2000, CIA Executive Director David W. Carey, representing the Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and Deputy Director John A. Gordon, accepted a bronze statuette of Stephenson from the Intrepid Society of Winnipeg, Manitoba. In his remarks, Carey said: Sir William Stephenson played a key role in the creation of the CIA. He realized early on that America needed a strong intelligence organization and lobbied contacts close to President Roosevelt to appoint a U.S. "coordinator" to oversee FBI and military intelligence. He urged that the job be given to William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan, who had recently toured British defences and gained the confidence of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Although Roosevelt didn't establish exactly what Sir William had in mind, the organization created represented a revolutionary step in the history of American intelligence. Donovan's Office of Strategic Services was the first "central" U.S. intelligence service. OSS worked closely with and learned from Sir William and other Canadian and British officials during the war. A little later, these OSS officers formed the core of the CIA. Intrepid may not have technically been the father of CIA, but he's certainly in our lineage someplace.
On 8 August 2008, Stephenson was recognized for his work by Major-General John M. Custer, Commandant of the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps. Custer inducted him as an honorary member of the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, an honour shared by only two other non-Americans.
Canadians played an instrumental part in covert HUMINT, SIGINT and espionage activities. The C Int C assisted in screening of volunteers chosen for service with Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE), and would later participate in training at Camp X near Whitby, Ontario.
On 6 December 1941, Special Training School No. 103 (Camp X) was established on the shore of Lake Ontario, near Oshawa. One of the primary purposes of Camp X was to train agents for deployment behind enemy lines. Famous occupants of Camp X included Roald Dahl (author), Paul Dehn (screenwriter) and J.S. Wilson (Boy Scouts).
William Stephenson was born William Samuel Clouston Stanger on 23 January 1897, in Point Douglas, Winnipeg, Manitoba. His mother was from Iceland, and his father was from the Orkney Islands. He was adopted early by an Icelandic family after his parents could no longer care for him, and given his foster parents' name, Stephenson. He left school at a young age and worked as a telegraphist. On January 1916, in the First World War, he volunteered for service in the 101st Overseas Battalion (Winnipeg Light Infantry), Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). He left for England on the S.S. Olympic on 29 June 1916, arriving on 6 July 1916. The 101st Battalion was broken up in England, and he was transferred to the 17th Reserve Battalion in East Sandling, Kent, on 13 July 1916, and then transferred again to the Canadian Engineer Reserve Depot, Shorncliffe, on 18 July 1916. On 4 Aug 1916 he was attached to the Canadian Training Depot Headquarters Sub Staff, Shorncliffe. On 15 Aug 1916 he was appointed Acting Sergeant with Pay of Clerk, and within a week on 19 Aug 1916 he was attached to Headquarters Southern Command. On 1 May 1917 he was promoted to Sergeant with pay of clerk while so employed. One month later, he transferred on command to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) Cadet Wing at Denham Barracks, Buckinghamshire, on 1 June 1917. He was posted to 1 Officer Cadet Wing, Denham, on 18 Jun 1917, and with a month transferred to the School of Military Aeronautics, Oxford, on 13 Jul 1917. His cadet rank was changed to temporary 2Lt on Probation on 16 Aug 1917, according to the London Gazette of 11 Sept 1917. He was later appointed Temporary 2Lt, on probation according to the General List dated 26 Oct 1917, and recorded in the London Gazette on 22 Nov 1917.
On 15 August 1917, Sir William was officially struck off the strength of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and granted a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.
2Lt Stephenson transferred to the Central Flying School at Hendon, on 19 Aug 1917, and then on to No. 47 Training Squadron, Waddington, on 28 Aug 1917. He went on to No. 11 Training Squadron on 23 Sep 1917, where he was appointed Flight Commander on 26 Oct 1917. He was very quickly transferred through a number of units including No. 73 Training Squadron, where he flew Sopwith Camels on 29 Oct 1917, then No. 45 Training Squadron on 20 Nov 1917, then No. 61 Training Squadron on 7 Jan 1918, then to the Scout Pool at Manston on 30 Jan 1918. He was transferred to the Expeditionary Force, No. 73 Squadron flying Sopwith Camels in France on 9 Feb 1918. The RFC merged with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) to form the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 1 Apr 1918.
While flying his Sopwith Camel biplane fighter with No. 73 Squadron, Stephenson flew the Sopwith Camel biplane fighter and scored 12 victories to become a flying ace, before he was shot down and crashed his plane behind enemy lines on 28 July 1918. During the incident Stephenson was injured by fire from a German ace pilot, Justus Grassmann, by friendly fire from a French observer, or by both. In any event, he was subsequently captured by the Germans and held as a prisoner of war until escaping in October 1918. His RAF Service file indicates that he was repatriated from the Officer's Prison Camp, Holzminden, Lower Saxony on 9 December 1918. By the end of the First World War Stephenson had achieved the rank of Captain and earned the Military Cross (MC) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).
Lt W.S. Stephenson in an RAF SPAD VII biplane fighter ca 1918.
He was confirmed in the rank of Lt, RAF on 1 Apr 1918. Engaging in aerial combat flying his Sopwith Camel, he distinguished himself in battle and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) on 10 April 1918. There has been some dispute over exactly how many enemy aircraft were shot down by William Stephenson. Cross and Cockade International, a First World War aviation society, records Stephenson shot down a total of 12 aircraft. However, a French newspaper reported in 1918 that he had shot down eighteen aircraft and two kite balloons. His achievements were acknowledged when he was awarded the he Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on 21 Sep 1918. Shortly before his award, however, Lt Stephenson was, in error, shot down by a French aircraft. He was reported Missing in Action (MIA) on 28 July 1918, and confirmed as a Prisoner of War (PW) on 19 Sep 1918.
His official citation for the MC reads:
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When flying low and observing an open staff car on a road, he attacked it with such success that later it was seen lying in the ditch upside down. During the same flight he caused a stampede amongst some enemy transport horses on a road. Previous to this he had destroyed a hostile scout and a two-seater plane. His work has been of the highest order, and he has shown the greatest courage and energy in engaging every kind of target."
- Military Cross citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 22 June 1919.
(DND Photo, RE19641-2)
Captain William S. Stephenson beside "his rather time-worn" Sopwith Camel (Serial No. D6---), coded B, in 1918. (DND Photo, RE19641-2). This photo is from the book, "Knights of the Air, Canadian Fighter Pilots in the First World War" by LCol David L. Bashow (McArthur & Company, Toronto, 2000). On page 193, David notes, "on 28 August 1918, the final battle on the Somme commenced. Naturally, Allied airpower was extensively involved with this counter-offensive. Captain William S. Stephenson of Winnipeg, a twelve-victory ace who had previously won a Military Cross for "conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty," further distinguished himself through his exploits as a Sopwith Camel pilot with No. 73 Squadron, RAF, being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross". His citation for the DFC reads:
"This officer has shown conspicuous gallantry and skill in attacking enemy troops and transports from low altitudes, causing heavy casualties. His reports, also, have contained valuable and precise information. He has further proved himself a keen antagonist in the air, having, during recent operations, accounted for six enemy aeroplanes."
- Distinguished Flying Cross citation, Supplement to the London Gazette, 21 September 1928.
When he was reported as missing in action, the French newspaper Avion commented: "It appears that on the afternoon of July 28th, Captain Stephenson, decided to make a lone patrol of the line. Regular Scout patrols had been canceled for the day owing to stormy weather. About four miles within the Bosche Lines... one of our reconnaissance machines was being attacked by seven Fokker Biplanes which had been hiding in the dense clouds a few hundred metres above. According to American balloon observers, a British machine of the pattern Stephenson flew suddenly dived out of the clouds and without hesitation attacked the leader of the enemy formation, shooting him down in flames. There followed a terrific battle in which the daring captain made excellent strategic use of the clouds and succeeded in shooting down another German machine, while a third went spinning to the ground out of control." The report then went on to explain that Stephenson was shot down. "France has good reason to cherish the memory of this brilliant young Canadian pilot and to pray that he descended alive."
Stephenson's friend, Tommy Drew-Brook, explained what had happened: "The unfortunate French observer saw this machine out of the corner of his eye, spun his gun and fired a burst into Bill, which killed his engine and put one bullet through his leg. He landed just in front of the German front line, crawled out of his machine, and headed for our lines, but unfortunately a German gunner hit him again in the same leg and that stopped him and resulted in him being captured."
He remained a PW until he was repatriated from the Officer’s Prison Camp at Holzminden, Lower Saxony, on 9 Dec 1918.
While in the prison-camp, Stephenson stole a German tin opener. Stephenson was impressed with performance of the tin opener and told Drew-Brook that he planned to escape from the camp as soon as possible, and he was going to take the can opener with him, and patent it in every country in the world. Drew-Brook later recalled: "He took the can opener with him, and I think he did patent it and I believe was successful in making considerable money out of it."
Returning to the UK, he sailed from Liverpool to Saint John, New Brunswick on the SS Melita, 11-24 Jan 1919, with the destination of his home in Winnipeg. He placed on the list of the Home Establishment, RAF on 3 Feb 1919. On 20 Apr 1919, he was transferred to the Unemployed List in the Rank of Lieutenant, according to the London Gazette of 14 Oct 1919. He was to be Returned to England, effective 9 Nov 1919. (Records researched by Capt. Gord Crossley, MMM, CD, Heritage Officer, 17 Wing Winnipeg)
After the war Stephenson returned to Winnipeg and with a friend Wilf Russell he started a hardware business, one largely inspired by a can opener Stephenson had taken from his PW camp. The business was unsuccessful and he left Canada for England. Stephenson became a wealthy industrialist with business contacts in many countries. On 22 Jul 1924 he married American tobacco heiress, Mary French Simmons, of Springfield, Tennessee.
In 1922 Stephenson started up a new company at 28 South Audley Street. He joined up with T. Thorne Baker, who was carrying out research into photo-telegraphy. Both men began work in developing a machine that could send photos over telephone lines. Stephenson later told Hartford Montgomery Hyde that they developed a "light sensitive device" that increased the rate of transmission. Stephenson realized that if the process was sped up even further, moving pictures could be transmitted. In other words, televison sets.
Stephenson and George W. Walton patented a system for transmitting photographic images via wireless that produced £100,000 a year in royalties for the 18-year run of the patent (about $12 million per annum adjusted for inflation in 2010). In addition to his patent royalties, he swiftly diversified into several lucrative industries: radio manufacturing (General Radio Company Limited); aircraft manufacturing (General Aircraft Limited); Pressed Steel Company that manufactured car bodies for the British motor industry; construction and cement as well as Shepperton Studios and Earls Court. Stephenson had a broad base of industrial contacts in Europe, Britain and North America as well as a large group of contacts in the international film industry. Shepperton Studios were the largest film studios in the world outside of Hollywood.
On 28 August 1923, The Manitoba Free Press reported: "Due partly to his efforts and a tremendous advertising campaign, broadcasting was established in England on a highly efficient and comprehensive scale within a few short months and his companies were the first in England to produce a complete range of broadcasting equipment suitable for public use."
As early as April 1936, Stephenson was voluntarily providing confidential information to the British, passing on detailed information to British opposition MP Winston Churchill about how Adolf Hitler's Nazi government was building up its armed forces and hiding military expenditures of £800,000,000. This was a clear violation of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and showed the growing Nazi threat to European and international security; Churchill used Stephenson's information in Parliament to warn against the appeasement policies of the government of Neville Chamberlain.
After the Second World War began (and over the objections of Sir Stewart Menzies, wartime head of British intelligence) now-Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent Sir William to the United States on 21 June 1940, to covertly establish and run British Security Coordination (BSC) in New York City, over a year before U.S. entry into the war.
Stephenson's exploits, wireless traffic abilities, collation skills, and interest in analysis caught the attention of Admiral Sir Reginald Hall, Director of British Naval Intelligence, who became extensively involved in espionage activities. He also led the effort that intercepted and decoded the Zimmerman Telegram, and promoted survival of the small British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) in the post-war period. As a result of contact with Hall, Stephenson became personally involved in a variety of espionage, sabotage and deception operations. He was also heavily involved in TECHINT and SIGINT activities related to German communications and Enigma cipher machines.
The BSC was registered by the State Department as a foreign entity. It operated out of Room 3603 at Rockefeller Center and was officially known as the British Passport Control Office from which it had expanded. BSC acted as more as an administrative headquarters more than an operational one for SIS and the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and was a channel for communications and liaison between US and British security and intelligence organizations. Sir William’s initial directives for BSC were to:
- Investigate enemy activities;
- Institute security measures against sabotage to British property; and
- Organize American public opinion in favour of aid to Britain.
Later this was expanded to include "the assurance of American participation in secret activities throughout the world in the closest possible collaboration with the British". His official title was now British Passport Control Officer. His unofficial mission was to create a secret British intelligence network throughout the western hemisphere, and to operate covertly and broadly on behalf of the British government and the Allies in aid of winning the war.
Major-General William J. Donovan, American head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War. (He is also known as the "Father of American Intelligence" and the "Father of Central Intelligence".)
Sir William was soon a close adviser to Roosevelt, and suggested that he put his good friend William J. "Wild Bill" Donovan in charge of all U.S. intelligence services. Donovan founded the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which in 1947 would become the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As senior representative of British intelligence in the western hemisphere, Sir William was one of the few persons in the hemisphere who were authorized to view raw Ultra transcripts of German Enigma ciphers that had been decrypted at Britain's Bletchley Park facility. He was trusted by Churchill to decide what Ultra information to pass along to various branches of the U.S. and Canadian governments.
While it was still neutral, agreement was made for all trans-Atlantic mail from the U.S. to be routed through the British colony of Bermuda, 640 miles off the North Carolina coast. Airmail carried by both British and American aircraft landed at RAF Darrell's Island and delivered mail to censors of British Imperial Censorship, part of BSC, working in the Princess Hotel. All mail, radio and telegraphic traffic bound for Europe, the U.S. and the Far East was intercepted and analyzed before being routed to their destination with no indication that they had been read. With BSC working closely with the FBI, the censors were responsible for the discovery and arrest of a number of Axis spies in the US.
Under Sir William, BSC directly influenced U.S. media (including newspaper columns by Walter Winchell and Drew Pearson), and media in other hemisphere countries, toward pro-British and anti-Axis views. Once the U.S. had entered the war in Dec. 1941, BSC went on to train U.S. propagandists from the United States Office of War Information in Canada.
Of particular note, Sir William worked without salary He hired hundreds of people, mostly Canadian women, to staff his organization and covered much of the expense out of his own pocket. His employees included secretive communications genius Benjamin deForest "Pat" Bayly and future advertising wizard David Ogilvy. Sir William employed Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, codenamed CYNTHIA, to seduce Vichy French officials into giving up Enigma ciphers and secrets from their Washington embassy. At the height of the war, Bayly, a University of Toronto professor from Moose Jaw, created the Rockex, the fast secure communications system that would eventually be relied on by all the Allies.
(IWM Photo, A4811)
Sir William S. Stephenson, in the grey pants, dark suit jacket at left, on board HMS Prince of Wales along with Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during their meeting in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, on 17 Aug 1941.
Stephenson participated in re-establishing a working relationship between the British SIS and American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and established the British Security Co-ordination (BSC) HQ in New York as a base to conduct secret warfare operations from. The BSC eventually included the SOE, SIS, Security Executive, MI-5, and an extensive intelligence-communications web. Bermuda Station was established as a satellite base for various BSC communication-interception activities.
Major-General William J. Donovan, wartime chief of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) presenting the American Medal for Merit to Sir William S. Stephenson, Director of British Security Coordination in the Western hemisphere from 1940-45. Looking on during the ceremony in Sir Williams' suite at the Dorset Hotel are (left to right) Colonel Edward G. Buxton, assistant director of OSS; Robert Sherwood, noted playwright, and Lady Mary F. Stephenson.
Many years later he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, awarded on 17 December 1979. He was invested on 5 February 1980, with the following citation:
This "Quiet Canadian" from Winnipeg earned early renown as a pilot in the First World War and became an inventor and industrialist before he was thirty. He played a key role in the Second World War when, amongst other notable achievements, he organized and directed so daring and successful an espionage network that it is credited with playing an important part in the Allied Victory. He was, indeed, "A Man Called Intrepid". Subsequently, Sir William lent his formidable talents to extensive industrial enterprises in Canada and beyond. In recognition of his extraordinary achievements.
After the war, Stephenson lived at the Princess Hotel for a time before buying his own home in Bermuda. For his extraordinary service to the war effort, he was made a Knight Bachelor by King George VI in the 1945 New Year Honours. In recommending Sir William for the knighthood, Winston Churchill wrote: "This one is dear to my heart."
In November 1946 Sir William Stephenson received the Medal for Merit from President Harry S. Truman, at that time the highest U.S. Medal that could be awarded to a civilian. He was the first non-American to be so honoured. General "Wild Bill" Donovan presented the medal. The citation paid tribute to Stephenson's "valuable assistance to America in the fields of intelligence and special operations". The "Quiet Canadian" was finally recognized by his native land long after the War. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada on 17 December 1979, and invested in the Order on 5 February 1980.
On 2 May 2000, CIA Executive Director David W. Carey, representing Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and Deputy Director John A. Gordon, accepted from the Intrepid Society of Winnipeg, Manitoba, a bronze statuette of Stephenson. In his remarks, Carey said:
“Sir William Stephenson played a key role in the creation of the CIA. He realized early on that America needed a strong intelligence organization and lobbied contacts close to President Roosevelt to appoint a U.S. coordinator to oversee FBI and military intelligence. He urged that the job be given to William J. Wild Bill Donovan, who had recently toured British defences and gained the confidence of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Although Roosevelt didn't establish exactly what Sir William had in mind, the organization created represented a revolutionary step in the history of American intelligence. Donovan's Office of Strategic Services was the first central U.S. intelligence service. OSS worked closely with, and learned from, Sir William and other Canadian and British officials during the war. A little later, these OSS officers formed the core of the CIA. Intrepid may not have technically been the father of CIA, but he's certainly in our lineage someplace.
On 8 August 2008, Sir William was recognized for his work by Major General John M. Custer, Commandant of the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps. Custer inducted him as an honorary member of the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, an honour shared by only two other non-Americans.
In 1997, a new public library built in Winnipeg was named for him, after a vote was held to choose the name of the new library. The artist Leo Mol donated a miniature of his statue of Sir William to the library. On 24 July 1999, The Princess Royal unveiled, Leo Mol's life-sized bronze statue of Sir William in military aviator uniform near the Provincial Legislature in Winnipeg. The monument is dedicated to his memory and achievements. On 15 November 2009, Water Avenue in downtown Winnipeg was renamed William Stephenson Way. Whitby, Ontario, has a street named for Stephenson, which connects with streets named Intrepid and Overlord. In 2004 Sir William Stephenson Public School was opened in Whitby. In Oshawa, Ontario, Branch 637 of the Royal Canadian Legion is named for Sir William. Intrepid Park, honouring Sir William’s code name was established near Oshawa, Ontario. This park is located in the vicinity of what was formerly Camp X. A historic plaque erected at the park reads as follows:
"On this site British Security Co-ordination operated Special Training School No. 103 and Hydra. S.T.S. 103 trained Allied agents in the techniques of secret warfare for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) branch of the British Intelligence Service. Hydra Network communicated vital messages between Canada, the United States and Great Britain. This commemoration is dedicated to the service of the men and women who took part in these operations. In Memory of Sir William Stephenson 'The Man Called Intrepid' Born at Winnipeg, Manitoba, January 11, 1896. Died at Paget, Bermuda, January 31, 1989. Director of British Security Co-ordination. 1941-1946."
To conclude, the Canadian Military Intelligence Association has been in the forefront of honouring the wartime achievements and legacy of our first Colonel Commandant. A portrait of Sir William was refurbished and donated to the Sir William Stephenson Building housing JTF-X in Kingston. In 2020, the Association donated $5000.00 to the design and construction of a life-size statue of Sir William in the Whitby town square. Finally, the Association designed and funded a plaque honouring the Canadian contribution to the Special Operations Executive (to which Sir William was connected with the establishment of Camp X) now proudly displayed in the Sir William Stephenson Building in Kingston.
British Security Co-ordination (1940-1945)
Camp X, near Whitby, Ontario was the site of a British Security Co-ordination special training school.
Not the least of Sir William's contributions to the war effort was the setting up by BSC of Camp X, the unofficial name of the secret Special Training School Number103, a Second World War paramilitary installation for training covert agents in the methods required for success in clandestine operations. Located in Whitby, Ontario, this was the first such training school in North America. Estimates vary, but between 500 plus British, Canadian and American covert operators were trained there from 1941 to 1945. Note that December 2021 marked the 80th Anniversary of Camp X. Artifacts from the Camp are now displayed in the 2 Intelligence Company Museum at Casa Loma in Toronto.
Reports indicate that Camp X graduates worked as "secret agents, security personnel, intelligence officers, or psychological warfare experts, serving in clandestine operations". Many were captured, tortured, and executed; survivors received no individual recognition for their efforts. Camp X graduates operated in Europe (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Balkans) as well as in Africa, Australia, India and the Pacific. They may have included Ian Fleming, future author of the James Bond books. It has been said that the fictional Goldfinger's raid on Fort Knox was inspired by a Stephenson plan (never carried out) to steal $2,883,000,000 in Vichy French gold reserves from the French Caribbean colony of Martinique.
BSC purchased a ten-kilowatt transmitter from Philadelphia radio station WCAU and installed it at Camp X. By mid-1944, “Hydra” (as the Camp X transmitter was known) was transmitting 30,000 and receiving 9,000 message groups daily — much of the secret Allied intelligence traffic across the Atlantic.
Plaques honouring British Security Co-ordination and Sir William Stephenson on the site of the former Camp X, Whitby, Ontario. British Security Coordination insignia, 1940-1945.
Within Camp X, documents were faked at Station M and communication with agents around the world was achieved through Hydra. Camp X also served as a secure area where agents could be trained and equipped, and guerrilla devices tested.
Canadian SOE agents Frank Pickersgill, John Kenneth Macalister, and Roméo Sabourin were executed by the Nazis on 14 September 1944.
Memorial plaque at Buchenwald, Germany.
Seven Canadian officers who took part in SOE missions before and after D-Day arrive back in Halifax in December 1944. The second person from the right in the rear row of the group photo is Capt d'Artois. (DND). Capt Guy d'Artois is also shown with his wife Sonya Butt. They were married in Scotland before being parachuted separately into France to help with the resistance. Major Gustave (Guy) Bieler at the top right was also captured and executed by the Germans during the war.