News from Bucharest “is invariably all skittles”

Basil Thorold Buckley, the Director of Military Intelligence, told Ralph Glyn that he was suspicious of the veracity of “secret” information passed to the British by the Romanians. Buckley was a cousin of Berkshire peer Lord Radnor.

General Staff
Director of Military Intelligence
War Office
Whitehall
SW

17 Apr. 1916

My dear Glyn

Your request for maps is receiving attention, but I think you have in one case asked for something that does not exist.

We cannot understand the craze which exists (& has always existed) in the MEF Intelligence for news from Bucharest. It is invariably all skittles & we never can rely on it.
Here is a very fair sample of it. I have a similar thing from W Clayton on 24th March by bag to show what rotten stuff. Comes from the Romanian GS [General Staff]. The Germans know jolly well that the RGS pass it on to us. So they feed the RGS up with all sorts of lies.

Critical times in the House of Commons this week. I think LG [Lloyd George] may chuck his place in the Cabinet if the PM does not show he is strong enough to bring in Conscription. Old Leverson paid me a visit yesterday on return from Egypt. I was in an awful fright he would as to be re-employed in MI2C.

Best of luck.
Yrs ever
B T Buckley

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The hell of a job: British intelligence

An Intelligence officer friend of Ralph Glyn wrote to him with another glimpse into the newly reorganised forerunner of MI6.

MI2c
22.ii.16
My dear Glyn

Thank you for yours of the 15th inst. yes, I alone survive of the old MO2c push. Con is back from GHQ in command of MI2c & the staff has been increased to 5 & possibly 6. I have forsaken the Hun for the Austro-Hun: Austria having been combined with Germany at last in this section (I can’t think why it was not done before). Cox has handed Austria over to me wholesale: it is a hopeless task taking over from old Perry. No handbook since 1909 in spite of the 1912 reorganisation. I hope to get out a booklet on the Infantry by end of March, showing present distribution. The whole army works by Battalions in the most complex way & it is the hell of a job.
Meantime we shall send you once a month a distribution & assumed composition of Austro German forces in the various theatres, which should keep you fairly up to date.

At end of March a new edition of “German Army in the field” will also be published, copies of which will be sent to you.

WO news is very prolific in that a complete reorganisation on very (apparently) sound lines has taken place. A tendency however is showing itself to devote too much attention in the highest quarters to masses of detail which really only concern the subsections or the forces in the field, & thereby to neglect the larger issues. I speak however only of the MI Directorate & it is only a personal opinion so “tell it not in Gath & publish it not in Askalon” [a Biblical quotation].

Wigram, having gone with the DMO to Russia, has returned with ‘Stanislavs’ upon his breast; he returns next week to Petrograd & is having the hell of a time. Buckley remains MI1 (Col) but his activities are narrowly restricted to ‘Intelligence’. Between you & me, he seems to have fallen slightly into the background; after so long a sojourn in the limelight it must be very galling to him & I feel very sorry indeed about it.

Look me up next time you’re back in England & we will dine together & prattle of affairs in general.

Goodbye & good luck to you.

Yours ever
G M B Ingram

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/8)

“The Government are now told the truth and they quite like it”

General Callwell reported on the latest changes at the top, with a new sense of realism facing the Government – and absolutely everyone hoping to get rid of Lord Kitchener despite his popularity with the general public.

26 Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

12th November 1915

My dear Ralph,

You are in the thick of things at Mudros. We cannot yet quite make out whether old man K proposes to evacuate Gallipoli or not altogether, but the PM is a fairly downy cove too and I think that we shall get the great man’s intentions out of him. Unless the decision is evacuation there will be a turn-up in the Government as a good many of them were very angry at Monro’s recommendation to clear out not being accepted after he had been sent out with a free hand. By latest news we have frightened the French as to their position up the Vardar valley with the possibility of the Greeks turning nasty and they are inclined to come back out of that, which will be a good thing.

The new plan of a War Council of reasonable dimensions with the sailor-0mean and us properly represented is a great step in advance and the General Staff gets quite a good look in and is listened to. The Government are now told the truth and they quite like it. Archie Murray deserves great credit for pulling things together. I have now got in Bird as Sub-Director in charge of MOI, which takes a lot of work off my hands. Buckley going off with K has been a great nuisance to me as he was my right hand man in many things, but one rubs along somehow and I suppose he will turn up again some time.

We have no idea whether K will return to the War Office. Nobody in it wishes to see him back and I do not think that anybody in the Government does either – even such mighty opposites as “Lulu” and Lloyd George are agreed upon that point. But the Public have implicit belief in him and he may prove a little difficult to definitely shelve.

I hope that you are keeping very fit and are finding adequate outlet for your inexhaustible energy.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Meanwhile Ralph’s proposals for books to be sent from Scotland to the Dardanelles was bearing enthusiastic fruit. (more…)