Books Worth Reading: Most Secret War
(This is the beginning of a series of blog posts on books that aren't as well known, have an odd topic niche and represent the awesomeness of human ingenuity.)
Most Secret War is a book by Reginald Jones about scientific intelligence in the Second World War. One of the inspirations (along with Robert Watson-Watt) for Ian Fleming's James Bond Character Q, Reginald role was to look over incoming intelligence reports for actionable scientific tidbits. This led to serious electronic warfare actions such as the Battle of the Beams where the British attempted to jam the German bomber radio navigation signals, the intercept of the German radar station reports during the Battle of Britain and the, at times comical, corruption of German night fighter radio channels.
He also participated in the planning of the Bruvenal Raid: faced with a new German radar system (Freya), the British decided that the best way to learn how to defeat it was to mount a raid and steal one. One of his claims to fame was being accused (along with a number of people involved with the project) of chemical warfare: in one of the initial deployment of Window (Radar jamming chaff), the foil strips had been painted black with a toxic paint. The strips landed in a pasture and subsequently poisoned the cows that ate them with the forage. That led some of the German propaganda outlets to charge the British with chemical warfare. In many ways, this book documents both the insanity and the ingenuity of human beings in war time.
In his later years Reginald Jones kept on the outskirts of government service. His attitudes to Intelligence was that people should have access to as much of the intelligence as they required which didn't always align with the decreased urgency of post-war Britain and the increase paranoia of the Cold War. He wrote a series of books, including Reflections on Intelligence and lectured often, including to the Royal Canadian Airforce. He passed away in 1997 and in buried in Aberdeenshire.