• The development of MI5 1909-1918

      Northcott, Christopher Barry (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2005-06)
      The 1909-1918 era can be regarded as the formative years of MIS, as it developed from a small counter-espionage bureau into an established security intelligence agency. MIS had two main roles during this period; counter-espionage, and advising the War Office on how to deal with the police and the civilian population, particularly aliens. Most of the existing literature tends to focus on the development of MIS as a whole and pays little attention to the six individual branches that constituted MIS by the armistice. Recently released MIS documents in The National Archives (rnA) make it possible to examine MIS at the micro level and set out the intimate workings of its six branches. The study examines the evolution of MIS from its formation in October 1909 to the end of the First World War in November 1918, paying particular attention to three questions. First, what did a map of the structure of the MIS organisation look like and "how" did it develop during these years? Secondly, "why" did it develop as it did? Thirdly, "how effective" was MI5 throughout this period? MIS began as a one-man affair in 1909, tasked with the limited remit of ascertaining the extent of Gemlan espionage in Britain and an uncertain future. By the armistice MIS's role had expanded considerably and it had begun to develop into an established security intelligence agency, with 844 personnel spread over six branches covering the investigation of espionage, prevention, records, ports and travellers, overseas, and alien workers. This study suggests that the main driver of these developments, if one key factor can be singled out, was the changing perception of the nature of the threat posed by German espionage. However, because some within official circles equated all forms of opposition to Government policy with support for Germany, increasing attention also began to be paid to the possibility that industrial umest, pacifists and others who opposed the Government might actually be being directed by a German "hidden hand". From 1917 onwards MIS's development was driven by a conviction that it had defeated German espionage, such that Germany had switched its efforts to promoting Bolshevism and other forms of umest in order to undermine British society. However, MIS's activities were restricted to investigating if there was really any enemy influence behind such things, while Special Branch was to focus on labour unrest generally. This study makes an original and useful contribution to knowledge in three noteworthy respects. First, it sets out probably the most detailed description of MI5's organisational structure available. Secondly, it poses the stimulating question of "how to measure" the effectiveness of a counter-espionage agency? Thirdly, it suggests that, contrary to claims that Vemon Kell was an "empire builder" who wanted a greater role in labour intelligence, Kell felt it appropriate that MIS's activities should be restricted to the investigation of cases of peace propaganda and sedition that arose from enemy activities and did not actually want MIS to assume a broader role in labour intelligence at that time.
    • The discipline and morale of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders 1914-18, with particular reference to Irish units

      Bowman, Timothy (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 1999-03)
      During the Great War many European armies (most notably the Russian) collapsed due to major disciplinary problems. However, the British Expeditionary Force avoided these problems up until the Armistice of November 1918. This thesis examines how the discipline and morale of the RE.F. survived the war, by using a case-study of the Irish regiments. In 1914 with Ireland on the brink of a civil war, serious questions had been raised relating to the loyalty of the Irish regiments, particularly in the aftermath of the Curragh Incident. Indeed, intelligence reports prepared for Irish Command suggested that some reserve units would defect en masse to the U.V.F. if hostilities broke out in Ireland. As the Great War progressed, the rise of Sinn Fein produced further concern about the loyalty of Irish troops, seen most vividly in the decisions not to reform the 16th. (Irish) Division following the German Spring Offensive of 1918 and to remove Irish reserve units from Ireland in 1917-18. Nevertheless, a detailed study of courts martial (studied comprehensively in a database project) recently released by the P.R.O., demonstrates that many of the fears relating to Irish troops were groundless. Certainly Irish courts martial rates tended to be high, however, these figures were inflated by cases of drunkenness and absence, not disobedience. Likewise, while a number of mutinies did occur in Irish regiments during the war, this study has revealed that mutinies were much more common in the B.E.F. as a whole, than has been previously believed. This study has also considered the discipline and morale problems caused by the rapid expansion of the British army in 1914 and the appointment of many officers, especially in the 36th. (Ulster) Division, on the basis of their political allegiances rather than professional knowledge. Nevertheless, in general it appears that the discipline and morale of the Irish units in the B.E.F. was very good. Incidents of indiscipline appear to have been caused by the practical problems facing units during training and on active service rather than by the growth of the Sinn Fein movement in Ireland.