Veteran Stories:
Ernest Hamilton Smith

Army

  • Four members of the 3rd Field Security Section, Canadian Intelligence Corps (CIC), sharing a glass of wine with a French couple, Thaon, France, 20 June 1944.

    Lieut. Frank L. Dubervill / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-133956 Restrictions on use: Nil Copyright: Expired
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"We did seem to keep busy assimilating these reports and trying to make them make sense along with other reports we got. The Dutch underground, for instance, sometimes the information was first class and reliable and others, it was very shaky and amateurish and misleading. So it was important to get the information from the RAF reconnaissance photos."

Transcript

Because I had studied German, I got on a course at Cambridge [University, England], quite a long one, an intelligence course and by the time I got through that, the Canadian Intelligence Corps was looking for four people. And I transferred to it and I was posted to 1st Canadian Corps headquarters and were based somewhere close to Dover [England]. And so D-Day came along on the 6th of June, 1944 and people on the 2nd Canadian Corps headquarters staff moved on D plus 30, which was the 6th of July. So I landed at a port called Arromanches [-les-Bains] in Normandy on the 6th of July, 1944. After I changed my corps from infantry to intelligence, I was on an army headquarters staff and I think mostly we worked on getting intelligence reports about, well, for instance, where a certain units of the German army were located and things like that to establish I guess what they called a line of battle, to find out where the various parts of the German army and France and the Belgian and Holland and so on, where they were located, so that you were trying to find out more about what the enemy was up to. A lot of the information came from the Royal Canadian Air Force. They would make reconnaissances and take pictures, so we would get this kind of information from them. We also got information, and I don’t know whether that was through Bletchley Park [an estate in Buckinghamshire, England, main decryption site of the United Kingdom’s Government Code and Cypher School] or where, of reports from, for instance, Dutch underground people or French underground people about the movements of German troops, where they were located and what they were, like whether an anti-aircraft unit had moved from A to B or things of that nature. We managed to keep busy. We didn’t just sit around. We did seem to keep busy assimilating these reports and trying to make them make sense along with other reports we got. The Dutch underground, for instance, sometimes the information was first class and reliable and others, it was very shaky and amateurish and misleading. So it was important to get the information from the RAF [Royal Air Force] reconnaissance photos. There’d be pretty small team. For instance, Colonel Wright was the top guy, there were a couple of majors and a few captains, not many. No, I would say it would be quite a small team that would be turning out these intelligence reports. We’d receive reports from lower, for instance, let’s say it was 4th Canadian [Armoured] Division, which was tanks, we’d receive a report from their intelligence officer and we’d be passing that up the line and trying to make sense of it to corroborate other information we had about German troop movements and so forth. So the Corps [II Canadian Corps] had a couple of divisions and so we were getting intelligence reports from each division. And we’d try and make an intelligence report, a summary each night. I think it was supposed be done I think by 2:00 in the morning or no, or 12:00 at night, I guess. So we tried to produce an intelligence picture every day and there was usually enough information coming back from various sources to make some kind of a picture and update it every 24 hours.
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