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Extra resources for American Intelligence in War-time London: The Story of the OSS (Cass Series--Studies in Intelligence)

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65 So much for Eden’s January argument about the FO lacking the machinery or personnel to control SOE. 68 That had only come about, of course, because MEW was disbanded, and actual SOE activities were winding down. Further movement on the question of intelligence centralization progressed only after Churchill’s departure from the Premiership, and Clement Attlee’s succession. 69 Attlee had thus initiated within a month of taking office a course of action designed to integrate intelligence activities, all in response to a single ad hoc report from the Chairman of the JIC, later supported by a report from a committee established under Sir Findlater Stewart to study the entire intelligence establishment.

The Ministry of Defence was Eden’s preferred home for SOE, ‘with day to day control by the Chiefs of Staff in consultation with [Eden himself] only in respect of policy’. The Foreign Secretary conceded that SOE— SIS relations had ‘never been easy’, but he remained unconvinced that amalgamation was the solution. The two services’ roles were distinct, while SIS was a small, professional ‘service of long standing’ and proven capacity; SOE was conversely ‘a large, loose organisation improvised to meet war needs’ (one official, the future Lord Gladwyn, described the FO as ‘quite unduly suspicious of SOE’ despite its ‘war-winning potentialities’ if it were ‘intelligently used’).

In a meeting of the Defence Committee on 2 August, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Alan Brooke, strongly pointed out in the PM’s presence that ‘a closer relationship was required not only between SOE and the Chiefs of Staff but also between SOE and SIS. ’ Brooke went on to stress that it ‘was wrong that this important information should reach the Chiefs of Staff in this way. They should have received it from SOE themselves. ’ In response, THE PRIME MINISTER emphasised the immense value to the war effort of stimulating resistance amongst the people of Europe.

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