Intelligence is being exploited more now

A former War Office/Intelligence colleague wrote to Ralph with more behind-the-scenes gossip after the complete reorganisation of British Intelligence.

February 11
War Office
Whitehall
SW

My dear Glyn

Just got your letter dated 2nd Jan, but I think you wrote it 2nd Feb probably! Sorry I missed you in my travels to the Near East with Lord K. They told me you had been “chased away” from Medforce! Your “position finder” system has been used to great advantage not only for fixed WT Stds, but for other “floating aerial bodies”. You will I am sure be glad to hear it has been of such use – only keep to yourself the fact that it has been so useful. Gen Callwell arrived back February 7th from Russia & is now in France – probably going back to Russia in a week or two, he was as you say the most charming of chiefs to serve under, & I miss him very much. He & Wyman were both decorated with “Stanislav’s [instant?] swords” – there is now a real liaison business between the CIGS and Chantilly – Sidney Clive and [Birthie?] de Sauvigny go backwards & forwards every 10 days & there is always one of them here & one at Chantilly working with us so that we each know now what the other is doing. It works well.

Gillman came in to see me today. You would hardly know your way about here now – there have been so many changes. MI2C is very much changed and is a very busy spot with even a lady clerk as assistant to Mr Baker. Cox from GHQ is the 2nd Grade [illegible]. [Fryam?] – Joyce (from British [Arucan?]) – Crichton who was in your regiment – and a youth coming over from France to join the subsection. We have shipped old man Perry off to Salonica. I could not do with his squeaky boots any longer and we thought he would like a change! He is delighted to go. Then I have a section now on the 2nd floor under Steel – which includes Persia, Afghanistan, India, Senussi etc – and the Balkans live in the room next to Thorp & are under him.

Amery is really the head of the Balkan sub-section and Skeff-Smyth works with Steel. It is of course good for the Germans to know that we are going to march up to Vienna through the Balkans! You forgot this in criticizing the “ops” – ! I am having “German forces in the field” sent to Tyrrell & a “Boche” order of battle. Colin Mackenzie has just left here to take charge of a Division again & Bird is DSO. Maurice as you know is DMO & Macdonogh DMC. We still have lots of work but the intelligence part of the show is I hope being exploited a little more than before. Best of luck & kindest regards from my wife.

Yrs ever
Bazil Brierly


Letter from Bazil Brierly to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/6)

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“We are not well prepared for anything but defence”

Former Intelligence boss General Charles Callwell was on his way back from Russia. Fr the diary of Hanbury-Williams, see here.

Grand Hotel & Grand Hotel Royal
Stockholm

31st Jan 1916

My dear Ralph

I got a budget of letters, including two from you, at Petrograd just before leaving, and take the opportunity of a rest here to answer some of them.

I am glad to hear that you are settled in the Intelligence line with Tyrrell and hope that you have not been displaced under the Staff reorganisation which has I presume been carried out. After three weeks absence from England one seems to know nothing. As far as I can make out there is not at present much sign of a serious attack on Egypt, and the sands are running out. K & Maxwell worked themselves into a fidget over it but I never believed that there was danger of a really formidable attempt by the Bocho-Turks – the Boches are too wide awake.

I have had a short but pleasant visit to Russia. They did Ralph Wigram & me tophole and I had much talk with bigwigs and got some things settled. Alexieff the new C of S is a capital man and very easy to deal with. We are on our way back to report & to go to GHQ to Chantilly, and then expect to return and to go through to Japan so as to see the working of the Siberian railway and ginger them up if necessary at Vladivostok; with luck we may manage a visit to the Grand Duke at Tiflis [Tbilisi] en route.

Wigram makes an excellent SO and is a bright, cheery companion – he has abandoned me tonight and I fear the worst. We get many messages for you from the Russian Staff & the Yacht Club. “Mon Dieu – quell applomb [sic] ” said La Guiche of you with a reminiscent sight, but Hanbury Williams referred gloomily to the way AP & you left him in the lurch.

The Germans seem to be beginning a big push on the western front which ought to be good for us and to lose them men whom they cannot afford to lose. It seems to be playing our game as at the moment we are not well prepared for anything but defence – thanks to Salonika and such like.

I hope that you are keeping very fit and find your job congenial. Anyway you are in a good climate for the present. Give my love to Tyrrell, and believe me

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

This is “a war run by a gang of chattering civilians” – but no worse than the French

More secrets are revealed in General Callwell’s latest letter to Ralph Glyn. The general was about to move from overall charge of military intelligence and operations, to a secret mission to our allies in Russia and Japan.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

30th December 1915

My dear Ralph,

I have no idea where you are or what doing, but send this to Egypt, whither I gather Monro and his big staff have gone. Bell wrote the other day and mentioned that he proposed sending you on to Egypt.
Great changes at the WO consequent on Robertson’s taking over CIGS. Poor old man K is in the corner and quite good – does what he is told. My branch has been split in two, operations and intelligence, Maurice becoming DMO and Macdonogh becoming DMI, a post I still hold pending Macdonogh’s arrival. I go off to Russia with Ralph Wigram in a few days and expect to go on to Vladivostok and Japan – Japan as an excuse for going along the Siberian railway to see how it is doing; one cannot get those Russians to bestir themselves and keep things moving on the line although their munitions from America depend entirely upon it. I am delighted to get out of the WO after seventeen months of it.

It has been an awful scandal about the delay in deciding to evacuate Gallipoli. The withdrawal from Suvla and Anzac was a wonderful performance, but no thanks to the Government for that. I dare not hope that the move out of Helles will be a bloodless affair. When the story of the Government’s vacillations comes to be told, the country will realise what it is to have a war run by a gang of chattering civilians who over-ride the decisions of their own War Council. The only thing to be said for them is that they are no worse than the French gang. The French General Staff now, after we have educated them in London and at Chantilly, quite realise the absurdity of the Salonika affair; but Briand and Co dare not clear out for fear of public opinion and of Sarrail.

Archie Murray goes off tomorrow to take up command vice Monro. He did very well indeed as CIGS and we all liked him, but he did not come in on his own terms and backed by the whole Cabinet like Robertson. K’s visit to the Near East was a blessing in disguise in that the government were, during the interval, told the truth about a number of matters – the lack of men amongst other things, and the majority were got to see that we could not get on without compulsion.
I have not heard from you for quite a long time, but hope you are very fit. I see Dulles has got a division – I wish it was a better one. Give him my love if you come across him.

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions”

General Callwell shared some secrets with former assistant Ralph Glyn, now at the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

13th December 1915

My dear Ralph

I am taking time by the forelock to drop you a line as the Bag does not go for a couple of days, but there is such a rush these times that it dies not do to leave anything to the end.

I am afraid the retirement from Suvla and Anzac will prove a costly business and it is deplorable that there was so much delay in deciding after Monro reported at the end of October. As a matter of fact the War Council decided on evacuation on the 23rd ult – while K was out in those parts – and Squiff sent me over to Paris to tell Gallieni and old man Joffre; but the Cabinet overrode the War Council and the decision was not finally taken by the Cabinet till the 7th. It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions.

The French have been very troublesome over Salonika. We and even our Government have been opposed to that affair all along, but the French managed to drag us into it by threatening to regard our refusal as a blow to the entente. Murray and I, backed up by Robertson, went to Chantilly to see old Joffre, but could not get him to change his mind, and then Squiff [Asquith] and three others of the same sort went over and saw the French Government, but it was no good. I went with Squiff and we had quite a gentlemanly trip in specials and Destroyers, but poor old AJB was a terrible wreck after a Destroyer trip. Then, although Gallieni lied to me gallantly about it, the French never sent that infernal fellow Sarrail orders to retire till his position was extremely awkward and in consequence our 10th Division had a very bad time; but they seem to have done well.

All kind of changes are in the air. Johnny French is to be degomme’ at once, Haig taking his place; and there is a good deal of talk about Robertson becoming CIGS – he caries heavier ordnance than Murray. Henry Wilson is very unhappy at Johnny French’s departure and I am not sure what will become of HW. I doubt whether Haig will have him in his present job and he has come to be looked upon as what the soldier detests – a political general.

The Government is rocky and Bonar Law told me the other day that he thought Gallipoli would finish them. He (BL) should have resigned when Carson did. When K was away in the east they all declared that they would not have him back, but he is back and does not look like going although he is much tamer than he was. He said to me plaintively the other day that the Cabinet would not believe anything he told them and now always insisted on a printed paper from the General Staff. It was rather amusing at a War Council the other day while he was out your way. They were squabbling away about everything after the usual fashion when a box was brought in to Squiff and he read out a wire from K, ending up with an announcement that he was coming home. With one voice the whole gang said he must go to Egypt to report and a wire to that effect was drafted on the spot – however he took no notice and came home in spite of them.

I hope that you are fixed up and getting on well with your RNAS affairs. As Helles is not to be evacuated I suppose that the bulk of Sykes’ commando will remain where it is although there will be plenty of work for airmen in Egypt shortly. I am writing to Bell before the Bag goes and also to Birdwood.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

Senior French army delegation “jabbering French like monkeys and wasting our time”

Ralph Glyn’s mentor General Charles Callwell was not very impressed with our French allies.

War Office
Whitehall
SW

20/10/15

My dear Ralph

I thank you very much for your letter and for your useful notes. I will see what I can do with regard to improving the communication between you and this part of the world. I have already spoken frequently about this to Brade. I shall also suggest that there should be some system of liason between you and Salonika and Athens, organising a main base at Alexandria for both the Medforce and the Salonika force under Ellison may perhaps improve matters.

I have just come back from a visit to France and I would much liked to have had you with me as on the last occasion. Archie Murray and I went to see General Joffre at Chantilly about this Macedonian affair and when we got through we found he was starting the same evening for this country to talk matters over with our Government. The nett result of it all is that we are let in for sending additional troops to Salonika and for undertaking what looks to me like a serious campaign. The French idea was to snap up the troops from the Dardanelles and to pop them down at Salonika, but I think I succeeded in choking them off this and they now realise that the force for these new operations must come from France. All this, as you will understand, gives us a lot of work here at present, especially as Joffre and his party have been here to-day; the party jabbering French like monkeys and wasting our time. However, they have all gone off this evening and been got rid of.

The question of the Arabs is extraordinarily important and we are taking it up here very thoroughly. It is a matter that Lord K fully understands and is much interested in, but the Arabs are opening their mouths rather wide and the question of Syria is to some extent involved, which brings us against the French. Were it not for them we could fix them up in no time.

No time for more.

Yours sincerely
Chas E Callwell

PS I hope you are very fit, and think you should go to Salonika now and help there unless you are required at Mudros. I will mention this to Bell in my next letter.

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“The funny little Frenchmen are depressed and are dissatisfied with us”

Ralph Glyn was on his way back from the Dardanelles when he got a letter from his boss at the War Office, delivered at the British Embassy in Athens. It included some inside information regarding high level politics.

War Office
3rd July 1915

My dear Ralph

I do not know when you may be expected at Athens on your way back, but posts take such an unconscionable time to get to the Near East that one has to get off long before the flag falls. You may not be for Athens at all if you commandeer a Dreadnought.

If there is anything you want to wire about from Athens or Rome, Cunninghame and Lamb have the T cipher, but I do not suppose that you will be needing electric communication with us. We shall be glad to get your reports in advance of yourself, if there is a bag coming right through while you are falling out to Bologna. Lord K has already asked whether you are on your way back and pretended to be quite surprised when I said you could not possibly be at Imbros yet.

Great “pow wows” here. Johnny F[isher?] and Robertson and H Wilson all over, and there was a full cabinet meeting yesterday – 22 of them, or is it 25? – to discuss military operations of the future with these distinguished warriors. Truly we are no military nation. But better relations have been established and Johnny F is I hear now quite amenable and good. Next week there is to be a further palaver, Squiff and AJB and goodness knows who besides journeying over to Calais to meet Joffre and Millerand and perhaps Poincarre [sic] – I can see Joffre disburdening himself of his inner consciousness in such a galley.

I was lunching with Fisher yesterday and he told me, what is good, that the King is going to make a trip across and to see a lot of the French army; that will be very useful because the funny little Frenchmen are depressed and are dissatisfied with us, not altogether without some justification. The Russian debacle has I think come on them with much more of a surprise than on us; your friend La Guiche always insisted that the Russians were much better off for munitions than they made out; they probably tell him very little, but the result is gloom at Chantilly and in Paris. By the way should you be a few hours in Paris you might look up Le Roy Lewis our new Military Attache who is extremely useful and gets on remarkably well with the Frenchmen.

I have written to Delme Radcliffe about your going to Bologna and told him you would wire on in advance. I think that a visit from you straight from the Dardanelles should be welcome to Cadorna and Co. No doubt Montanari whom we met in Paris will be on hand at GHQ. You will see Lamb and I daresay will hear grumbles as to Delme Radcliffe, who is not fortified by a very attractive personality and has put Lamb’s nose out of joint much as Hanbury Williams has put Knox’s; DM is furnished with the toughest of integiments [sic] and thanks to this gets along.

AP has been in here this morning. He strives hard but unsuccessfully to conceal that he finds me a very indifferent substitute for yourself in regard to telling him how the land lies. But I comforted him with the intelligence that you would soon be back – always assuming that you obeyed your instructions.

Sincerely yours

Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Charles E Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)