This post is third in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Access to the document was courtesy of researcher Brian Sims.
Below is a transcript of a short chapter on methods from the history:
We could deal with this paragraph in the two words “All methods”.
That is just about the way of things, for we used land, sea and air for supply and evacuation. We used our own personnel, Partizans, Italian soldiers and sailors, and Allied Missions in E.O.T. I.S.9 (CMF) were not jealous and everybody and anybody who could help to aid or to evacuate evaders and escapers were used.
Under the headings or paragraphs that follow, more details of how we used these methods will, it is hoped, be gathered by the reader who cares to read this “History” to the end.
Help Given to I.S.9 Work by Others.
It must be confessed at once that the organization of I.S.9 could not have functioned behind the enemy’s lines in ITALY or YUGOSLAVIA with any great measure of success had it not been for the tremendous help afforded to it’s personnel and to the E & Es by a friendly population.
It is true that throughout the whole campaign Fascists in ITALY and in certain areas in YUGOSLAVIA, the Ustachi, were at all times a danger likely to be encountered and often constituted a greater danger to clandestine work than did the Germans. In spite, however, of the activities of these parties the greater majority of natives, and in particular the small farmers, gave all possible help to clandestine operatives and to E & Es.
Such help continued to be given in spite of atrocities, burnings and lootings which took place both by Fascists and Germans as reprisals against the helpers of clandestine operatives and E & Es.
Throughout the long Italian campaign, there were areas, sometimes large, sometimes small, controlled by Partizan bands. In these areas it was comparatively safe for clandestine operatives to work, even in uniform.
In the early days of the campaign these Partizan bands were unco-ordinated and often without good leaders, but even in those days and later when the bands were better organized and often led by, or had attached to them Allied officers, help for I.S.9 Missions and for the E & Es was obtainable. The greatest danger in such areas were the frequent “Rastrellamento”, when Fascists or more often German troops were used to disperse the Partizans and to clean up an area.
During such periods, of course, life for the Missions and for The E & Es became hard and dangerous for, during a “Rastrellamento”, the enemy would shoot everyone he could see whether Partizans, Mission personnel or E & Es and would burn, or take away, all food and cattle likely to be of use to the forces working against him.
The Partizans, however, continued to give wonderful help to I.S.9 Missions and to the E & Es.
Other Allied Organizations.
Other Allied organizations working behind the enemy lines and in particular No. 1 Special Force (British) and O.S.S. [Office of Strategic Services] (American) gave tremendous help to E & Es and their radio sets and reception committees were often placed at the disposal of I.S.9.
A large number of E & Es were collected by these missions and routed to I.S.9 Missions for final evacuation.
In a few cases direct evacuation of the E & Es was made by these Missions but in general such Missions which had collected the E & Es would pass them on to I.S.9.
It should be added, lest the reader considers that such help was all one-sided, that I.S.9 Missions were often able to help the Missions of other organizations and we were always willing and anxious to arrange supply drops to those Missions helping E & Es. It was, however, rigidly laid down that supply drops to these Missions and to Partizans did not contain arms but only food, clothing and medical supplies.
It must also not be forgotten that at the beginning of the Italian campaign a number of officers and O/R [other ranks] ex-P/Ws released from Camps, helped to form Partizan bands and later many became B.L.O. [Branch Liaison Officer] for No. 1 S.F.
Help to I.S.9 was freely given in this side of the lines too by organizations such as S.O.(M) (Special Operations Mediterranean) and it’s sub branches, and I.S.L.D. [Inter-Services Liaison Department] (M.I.6).
The collection and packing of supplies of all kinds to help us in our work would have been impossible without the help and co-operation of S.O.(M), and communication with our Missions behind the enemy’s lines would have been impossible without the help and co-operation of I.S.L.D. These kind friends provided us with W/T sets, undertook the training of our W/T operators and received and sent our signals to the clandestine sets inside.
In connection with this latter help it would be ungracious to comment adversely but, as this “History” has for one of its aims the setting down on paper such details likely to be of use in the future, we would draw our reader’s attention to our comments under “Communications”.
In addition, I.S.L.D. kindly supplied us from time to time with information likely to assist us in our work.
Help too, of course, was given by the Navy and Air Forces but this was rather in the nature of their duty. However, particular interest was shown and help given by these Services to I.S.9 activities, in view of the fact that such help was being given to their own friends and later the same help might be required by themselves.
Thus it will be seen that all individuals and organizations which could help were invited to do so and on the whole magnificent help was obtained from all sources.