Gibraltar Joint Intelligence Centre

The following information has been provided by Gibraltar based military historians Andrew Schembri and Tito Vallejo. Additional content has been provided by Gerard Cumiskey who at the age of 19 was the most junior member of the administration side of the J.I.C. in 1941.

The UK government’s reaction to Felix was the formation of the 128th Liaison Delegation Party, this was a mixture of Army, Navy and RAF personnel assembled at Aldershot Army base in early 1941. In the event of a German invasion of Spain to attack Gibraltar, the mission’s objective was to be the advance liaison party of any British force sent to help Franco resist the Germans. Franco had intimated to the British Ambassador (Sir Samuel Hoare) that he would welcome such help. This original mission objective would over time transform into a broader objective with two major strategic plans, one would be brought into action if the Spanish resisted the Germans, the other if they collaborated. In the former, military attaches would become liaison officers with Spanish armed forces. In the latter, Navy and Army would undertake port destruction and SOE would organise resistance and sabotage. It is the latter which would become more prevalent during 1942 – 1943.

The team that sailed to Gibraltar in 1941 were based in Government House Stables, what is now called Fortress House in Cathedral Square. From that moment the ‘128th Liaison Delegation Party’ title was dropped and the group operated under the name ‘Joint Intelligence Centre’. Overall command was in the hands of Maj. Gen. Mason McFarlane, he would later become H.E. the Governor of Gibraltar.

Maj. Gen. Mason McFarlane with Winston Churchill

The personnel would change over the period 1941 – 1943 with the most noteworthy being Major Edwin Charles Whetmore, some records state that he was responsible for setting up the J.I.C. in 1942, but this is clearly not the case. Unsuccessful in his attempt to join SIS, Whetmore ended up in Gibraltar, where he became Chief of Staff to the temporary Governor Admiral Sir G. Frederick Edwards-Collins and later General Mason Macfarlane’s “personal operation staff officer”. SIS did not want him, having received adverse reports on his behaviour in Gibraltar, where he had interfered “to a serious extent with ‘Y’ and R.S.S. affairs, which were not his legitimate concern” – part of what appeared to be “a considerable programme of Empire building” by Whetmore to “make himself the sole channel for intelligence of the special material and all other types in Gibraltar”.

The following list outlines the personnel in the J.I.C. in 1941.

Navy element

Commander Clark(e) – Head of Centre.
Lt Clark(e) (no relation) – Paymaster.
Lt. Galleagos – Was teaching Spanish, he wrote a book after the war about his S.O.E. missions into Italy and Greece.
A group of sub-lieutenants.
A petty officer and a rating (Communications)
A Royal Marine batman to Commander Clark.

Army element

Major Clark(e) – Somerset Light Infantry.
Captain Keyes – East Surrey Regt.
A Pay Corps Sergeant who worked in Capt. Keyes’ office.
RASC drivers, Royal Signal Corps operators and an elderly Sgt. driver for Maj. Gen. Mason McFarlane.

RAF element

Squadron Leader Vincer
Batman to Squadron Leader Vincer
Aircraftman 1st class Gerard Cumiskey

Other names associated with the J.I.C. are;

PAUL, Rene
SHOERAN, Issac
FLETCHR, Bilong
Naval chart plotters – Sub Lieutenant Eric Seaton, Ron Rees, Den Fisher, Lieutenant William de Garis, Tom Heywood and Reg Bond.

A contingent of The Kent Fortress Royal Engineers travelled out to Gibraltar from Gourock on board HMS Maidstone. They were a specialised unit in the destruction of fuel oil stocks. They had carried out a number of actions in France and the Low Countries (Code Name XD Operations) during 1940. Although based in Northern Ireland. Their C.O. Lt-Col. Brazier was asked to meet with The Governor of Gibraltar in London. Within forty-eight hours a small party left for Gibraltar, they were commanded by Major Paul Baker, with three subalterns, Lieutenants Roy Meyler, Don Terry, and “Shorty” Wells and five NCOs. Their mission was to advise and train the garrison of Gibraltar in the techniques of destroying bulk fuel installations.

On arrival in Gibraltar the party was accommodated in Nissen huts near the frontier. They trained the engineers stationed in Gibraltar and waited for a ship to take them back to the UK. They arrived back in the unit lines four months after leaving.

The operations on the Iberian Peninsular were Code Named XY Operations. The number of troops trained in demolition consisted of the following;

6 – Naval Sub Lieutenants
6 – Royal Engineers Officers
21 – Royal Engineers non-commissioned officers
65 – Untrained Pioneers
145 – Sappers

In April 1941 General Mason-MacFarlane received a Progress Report at a time when 40 members of the Spanish Foreign Legion had been enlisted to assist with the demolition plans. It said among other things;

‘It is estimated that the whole preparations will be completely ready by 20th May. If the operations have to be put into effect before that date then all proposed ports can be undertaken, but with the success plan diminished in accordance with the date.’

‘The RNVR sub-Lieutenants are being taught Spanish. The “thieves” arrived on HMS Fidelity on 20 April. They are in camp near the Independent Coy, and are attached to the R.E section of that Coy for purposes of cover.’

‘Most of the “toys” have also arrived, and have been sorted out into car and lorry loads in a bomb proof shelter. The lorry transport and some more “toys” have yet to come from U.K.’

‘Ali Baba is busy continuing the training of the “thieves” and putting them through a course to improve their physical fitness.’

The workings and operational activities of the J.I.C. can be better understood in the following transcripts of MOST SECRET documents from 1943;

16th May, 1943

13th June, 1943

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