MI9
Overview
 
MI9, the British Military Intelligence Section 9, was a department of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Directorate of Military Intelligence
Directorate of Military Intelligence
The Directorate of Military Intelligence was a department of the British War Office.Over its lifetime the Directorate underwent a number of organisational changes, absorbing and shedding sections over time.- History :...

, part of the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it was charged with aiding resistance fighters
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 in enemy occupied territory and recovering Allied troops who found themselves behind enemy lines (for example, aircrew who had been shot down and soldiers stranded after the Battle of Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

). It also communicated with British prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 and sent them advice and equipment.

MI9 officially came into being on the 23rd December 1939 led by an ex-infantry major, Norman Crockatt.
Encyclopedia
MI9, the British Military Intelligence Section 9, was a department of the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Directorate of Military Intelligence
Directorate of Military Intelligence
The Directorate of Military Intelligence was a department of the British War Office.Over its lifetime the Directorate underwent a number of organisational changes, absorbing and shedding sections over time.- History :...

, part of the War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it was charged with aiding resistance fighters
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

 in enemy occupied territory and recovering Allied troops who found themselves behind enemy lines (for example, aircrew who had been shot down and soldiers stranded after the Battle of Dunkirk
Battle of Dunkirk
The Battle of Dunkirk was a battle in the Second World War between the Allies and Germany. A part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation of British and allied forces in Europe from 26 May–4 June 1940.After the Phoney War, the Battle of...

). It also communicated with British prisoners of war
Prisoner of war
A prisoner of war or enemy prisoner of war is a person, whether civilian or combatant, who is held in custody by an enemy power during or immediately after an armed conflict...

 and sent them advice and equipment.

MI9 officially came into being on the 23rd December 1939 led by an ex-infantry major, Norman Crockatt. In December 1941 MI9a became a separate department, MI19
MI19
MI19 was a division of the British Directorate of Military Intelligence, part of the War Office. In World War II it was responsible for obtaining information from enemy prisoners of war.It was originally created in December 1940 as MI9a, a sub-section of MI9...

. At first MI9 was located in Room 424 of the Metropole Hotel, Northumberland Avenue
Northumberland Avenue
Northumberland Avenue is a London street, running from Trafalgar Square in the west to The Embankment in the east. The avenue was built on the site of Northumberland House, the London home of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland....

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. It received little financial support and was under staffed due to the power struggles and personality clashes with MI6 (whose assistant-head was Colonel Sir Claude Dansey
Claude Dansey
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Claude Edward Marjoribanks Dansey , also known as Colonel Z, Haywood, Uncle Claude, and codenamed Z, was the assistant chief of the Secret Intelligence Service known as ACSS, of the British intelligence agency commonly known as MI6...

, known as ACSS) and other outfits such as SOE
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive was a World War II organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis powers and to instruct and aid local...

 and PWE
Political Warfare Executive
During World War II, the Political Warfare Executive was a British clandestine body created to produce and disseminate both white and black propaganda, with the aim of damaging enemy morale and sustaining the morale of the Occupied countries....

. With limited space at the Metropole, a floor was also taken at the requisitioned Great Central Hotel, opposite Marylebone station where WWII evaders were questioned about their journey home. Later MI9 moved to Wilton Park
Wilton Park
Wilton Park is an executive agency of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is a non-profit-making organisation holding discussions on global security and prosperity....

, Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield
Beaconsfield is a market town and civil parish operating as a town council within the South Bucks district in Buckinghamshire, England. It lies northwest of Charing Cross in Central London, and south-east of the county town of Aylesbury...

.

The name MI9 was used in BBC television's former fictional series M.I. High.

'A' Force

'A' Force was a special services unit created in 1940 by the British commander-in-chief for the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, General Sir Archibald Wavell. Its role was to organise by every available means the deception of the enemy high command and the mission of its 'N' section, to train soldiers in the arts of escape and evasion, providing them with any help they might need. From September of 1941 until the end of the war it was led by Lieutenant Colonel "Tony" Simonds. It preceded MI9 in the Middle East theatre of war but was essentially subsumed by the latter upon the establishment of MI9's Middle East section in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 by Lieutenant Colonel (later Brigadier) Dudley Clarke
Dudley Clarke
Dudley Wrangel Clarke, CBE, CB was a Brigadier in the British Army who was behind several deception operations during the Second World War and who founded the British Army's Commando force. He was born at Ladysmith, Natal, and educated at Charterhouse School...

.

Escape aids

MI9 manufactured various escape aids that they sent to prisoner of war (POW) camps. Many of them were based on the ideas of Christopher Hutton
Christopher Hutton
Christopher William Clayton Hutton , called 'Clutty' and also known as Christopher Clayton-Hutton, was an intelligence officer who worked for MI9, a subsection of British Military Intelligence...

. Hutton proved so popular that he built himself a secret underground bunker in the middle of a field where he could work in peace.

Hutton made compasses that were hidden inside pens or tunic buttons. He used left-hand threads so that, if the Germans discovered them and the searcher tried to screw them open, they would just tighten. He printed maps on silk
Silk
Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

, so they would not rustle, and disguised them as handkerchiefs, hiding them inside canned goods. For aircrew he designed special boots with detachable leggings, that could quickly be converted to look like civilian shoes, and hollow heels, that contained packets of dried food. Some of the spare uniforms that were sent to prisoners could be easily converted into civilian suits. Officer prisoners inside Colditz Castle
Colditz Castle
Colditz Castle is a Renaissance castle in the town of Colditz near Leipzig, Dresden, and Chemnitz in the state of Saxony in Germany. Used as a workhouse for the indigent and a mental institution for over 100 years, it gained international fame as a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II for...

 requested and received a complete floor plan of the castle.

Hutton also designed an escaper's knife: a strong blade, a screwdriver, three saws, a lockpick, a forcing tool and a wire cutter.

MI9 used the advice of master stage-magician Jasper Maskelyne
Jasper Maskelyne
Jasper Maskelyne was a British stage magician in the 1930s and 1940s. He was one of an established family of stage magicians, the son of Nevil Maskelyne and a grandson of John Nevil Maskelyne. He could also trace his ancestry to the royal astronomer Nevil Maskelyne...

 to design hiding places for escape aids: tools disguised in a cricket bat, a saw blade inside a comb, maps in the backs of books and on playing cards and inside gramophone records, board-game sets that concealed money.

Forged German identity cards, ration coupons and travel warrants were also smuggled into POW camps by MI9.

MI9 sent the tools in parcels in the name of various, usually nonexistent, charity
Charitable organization
A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization . It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A charitable organization is a type of non-profit organization (NPO). It differs from other types of NPOs in that it centers on philanthropic goals A...

 organizations. They did not use Red Cross parcels lest they violate the Geneva Convention and to avoid the guards restricting access to them. MI9 relied upon their parcels either not being searched by the Germans or ensuring that the prisoners (warned by a message) could remove the contraband before they were searched. In time the German guards learned to expect and find the escape aids. Pat Reid describes in his book the story of a package of records that was sent to Colditz prisoners in the Second World War. One soldier took his out of the package and tripped. It smashed on the floor to reveal money and forged identity cards. Unfortunately, everyone else took to smashing their records hoping that they would find some escape items inside, destroying their actual records with nothing to be found inside.

MI9 tricks are still in use today. Author and former SAS
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 soldier Andy McNab
Andy McNab
Sergeant ‘Andy McNab’ DCM MM is the pseudonym of an English novelist and former SAS operative and soldier.McNab came into public prominence in 1993, when he published his account of the failed Special Air Service patrol, Bravo Two Zero for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in...

 describes several in his fictional book "Firewall".

Notable members

  • Michael Bentine
    Michael Bentine
    Michael Bentine CBE was a British comedian, comic actor and founding member of the Goons. A Peruvian Briton by heritage as a result of his father's nationality, In 1971 Bentine received the Order of Merit of Peru because of his fund-raising work for the 1970 Great Peruvian...

  • Airey Neave
    Airey Neave
    Airey Middleton Sheffield Neave DSO, OBE, MC was a British soldier, barrister and politician.During World War II, Neave was one of the few servicemen to escape from the German prisoner-of-war camp Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle...

  • Christopher Hutton
    Christopher Hutton
    Christopher William Clayton Hutton , called 'Clutty' and also known as Christopher Clayton-Hutton, was an intelligence officer who worked for MI9, a subsection of British Military Intelligence...

  • James Langley
    James Langley
    James Maydon "Jimmy" Langley MBE MC was an officer in the British Army, who served during World War II. Wounded and captured at the battle of Dunkirk, he later returned to Britain and served in MI9.-Biography:...


See also

  • British Army Aid Group
    British Army Aid Group
    The British Army Aid Group was a para-military organisation for British and allied forces in Southern China during the Second World War. The BAAG was officially classified in the British Army's order of battle as a MI9 unit that was responsible for assisting prisoners of war to escape from the...

  • Edgard Potier
    Edgard Potier
    Dominique Edgard Antoine Potier was a Belgian airforce officer during World War II who participated in a combat rescue program known as Mission Martin in Belgium and the Possum Line in France...

  • MI numbers
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