First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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Intelligence and Spies

Latest hand-picked First World War news. See also: See also 'Red Baron: Flying Ace', 'WW1 Tanks', 'WWI Code Talkers', 'Vintage Posters'.

Documentary film "Gallipoli from Above" exposes forgotten role of British spy Clarence Palmer
He was the Gallipoli spy who might have ended WW1 countless lives earlier. Like Ian Fleming's James Bond, Clarence Palmer was urbane, multilingual, self-reliant, knowledgeable about weaponry and a Royal Naval officer. Yet as a new documentary reveals, Palmer's role at Gallipoli remains a great unsolved mystery. "Gallipoli From Above: The Untold Story" is based on Australian military intelligence officer Hugh Dolan's controversial 2010 book, 36 Days. But the film - using historic footage, modern graphics, and unexplored Turkish reports - comes to a vastly different conclusion: The initial Anzac landings were an outstanding success.
(smh.com.au)

CIA recipe for invisible ink among newly released WWI-era documents
So you want to open sealed envelopes without getting caught? Here's the secret, according to one of the six oldest classified documents in possession of the CIA: "Mix 5 drams copper acetol arsenate. 3 ounces acetone and add 1 pint amyl alcohol (fusil-oil). Heat in water bath — steam rising will dissolve the sealing material of its mucilage, wax or oil (Do not inhale fumes)." Nearly a century after it was written, the formula was released by the CIA as part of a cache of six WWI-era documents. The documents - from 1917 and 1918 - predate the agency itself by decades.
(washingtonpost.com)

Femme Fatale: A Biography of Mata Hari by Pat Shipman
As World War I becomes a fading memory, the name Mata Hari conjures up the sinister image of a seductive spy who betrayed the allied cause. In reality Mata Hari, born Margaretha Zelle, was the first of the 20th century's female superstars. By the time she was executed by the French in 1917, she was perhaps the most famous non-royal. She was not much of a spy, and she did her espionage for France. The Germans did try to recruit her, and she took advance money from a German lover; and spent it, scamming the Germans. She liked men in uniform, and married Captain MacLeod of the Dutch colonial army. She gave him no end of grief with her spending and affairs.
(washingtontimes)

New book on the biography of Mata Hari to be featured on the BBC
Mata Hari was the prototype of the beautiful female who uses sexual allure to gain access to secrets. In 1917 she was arrested, tried, and executed for espionage. It was charged that the dark-eyed siren was responsible for the deaths of at least 50,000 gallant French soldiers. She had been the mistress of many senior Allied officers, even the French Minister of War. But was she guilty of espionage? And what propelled Margaretha Zelle to transform herself into Mata Hari? In a biography, "Femme Fatal; Love, Lies and the Unknown Life of Mata Hari," Pat Shipman addresses Mata Hari's guilt and motivation with new evidence.
(psu)

Treasure hunt for WW1 code book -- military espionage history
What brought David Kahn to Estonia's 14th-largest island Osmussaar is perhaps the most famous code book of military espionage history. Russian warships coming from ports in Finland fired on the German cruiser the Magdeburg in the early part of the First World War on the 26th of August, 1914 in the waters off Osmussaar. From the deck of the destroyed ship, the enemy was able to snatch the code book of the Imperial Navy.
(hs)

WW1's secret weapon: How PoWs gave away Somme plans
Military historian Christopher Duffy found records how Germans questioned prisoners of war: A friendly chat helped to elicit crucial information from British soldiers. Captain Gilbert Nobbs was plied with a bottle of wine and the conversation turned to British public opinion, the military contribution of the Dominions and government's tolerance of strikes. Lieutenant Harvey was convinced he had never given away any secrets, yet from him the Germans learnt of reinforcements for the 48th Division, heavy losses among the Australians at Pozieres, and the officers' estimates of losses in the opening phase of the Battle of the Somme.
(guardian)

History of Intelligence: British Expeditionary Force 1917-1919
R.J. Drake, Lieut. Colonel, General Staff. 5 May 1919: The Secret Service was organised into two offices under GHQ, the one situated at Folkestone, the other in London. Both operated through Holland and maintained their own system of head-men, couriers, passeurs and agents. They were not only in actual competition with each other, but also with parallel systems controlled by the War Office and our Allies. The competition between services was unhealthy and is apt to lead to the downfall of one or other of the many systems. It is unfair to the agents, and in some cases led to their destruction, owing to the jealousies of the higher subordinates...
(byu-edu)

Female Intelligence - Women and Espionage in the WWI
This engaging and intelligent study of women in espionage adds to our understanding of the experience of women during the First World War and of the legacy of their work, both mythic and real. Proctor carefully explores why the image of the female "spy seductress"—notably the iconic Mata Hari—has endured and uncovers the largely unknown history of this pivotal generation of women intelligence workers. Using personal accounts, letters, official documents and newspaper reports, Female Intelligence interrogates different, and apparently contradictory, constructions of gender in the competing spheres of espionage activity.
(h-net)

Women make better spies - As long as they forget sex
Female spies, if not "oversexed", are more effective secret agents than men, according to an internal MI5 history. Women obtain more information when resisting the temptation to sleep with the enemy. "However, it is important to stress that I am no believer in what may be described as Mata-Hari methods -- the exotic dancer who obtained secrets by sleeping with army officers in WW1. I am convinced that more information has been obtained by women agents by keeping out of the arms of the man, than was ever obtained by sinking too willingly into them."
(guardian)


See also

'Red Baron: Flying Ace'

'WW1 Tanks'

'WWI Code Talkers'

'Vintage Posters'.