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HQ1 Polindep

26 JULY 2017 | ARTICLES
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Offline langley

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HQ1 Polindep
« on: October 24, 2011, 04:03:28 AM »
Please can anyone help me? I have only just found this site and am a novice  in this area. My father who is a WW2 veteran is researching his father's  part in WW2 & I am attempting to help him.
My grandfather served with PWB in Algiers, Rome & Florence around 1943-45. We know he headed a unit with several other foreign speakers, his addresses were 1 BNAF & CMF. Who was he employed by & where would any of his records be located? I would be grateful for any information. Thank you.

Offline der Chef

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2011, 11:37:12 AM »
Welcome Langley.
What was your father's nationality, British, U.S. or Commonwealth?

PWB was the Psychological Warfare Branch of Allied Forces HQ. It was set up for Operation Torch in North Africa and continued working in the Middle East and Italy until the end of the war.

The original archives of PWB/AFHQ are held in the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew, Surrey. There are probably dulpilicates in the U.S. National Archives (NARA) at College Park, Maryland.

You should be able to obtain a copy of your father's service record from the relevant authorities depending on his nationality. WWII U.S. veterans can obtain copies of the service records from NARA. British veterans can apply to the Ministry of Defence but it's a long wait in the latter case.

Lee
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Offline langley

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2011, 09:01:30 AM »
Thanks for that info Lee.
It is actually my grandfather that was in PWB. He was British but of German extraction & spoke fluent German. I will pass this onto my Dad. My Dad was also in the Intelligence Corps in Italy & later in Austria.
I believe my Dad has tried to get his father's records but was told he was a civilian not Army. I have a picture of him in 'khaki' but not really a uniform, although Dad says he was classed as an officer. Who knows? we will go on trying.
Thanks again.
Caroline

Offline der Chef

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2011, 11:12:12 AM »
Caroline, he could well have been a civilian. PWB was mostly formed out of civilian personnel. The British came from the Political Warfare Executive or the Ministry of Information. The Americans from the Office of War Information and Office of Strategic Services.

If you send me your grandfather's name either by email or PM, I'll let you know if I have any information on him. I've been slowly cataloging WWII psywarriors with a view to having a database on PsyWar.Org.

Best wishes,

Lee
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Offline langley

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2011, 03:14:11 AM »
Hi Lee, My grandfather was Alman Robert John Oswald - usually known as A R John Oswald. We think he headed  his unit with other  nationality speakers. I am most grateful for your help.

Caroline

Offline der Chef

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2011, 02:21:24 AM »
Hi Caroline,

I've had a good look from my files but cannot find any information on AR John Oswald unfortunately.
In a day or two I will try to post the official report/history of PWB/AFHQ. I've been meaning to add it to the website for sometime. It won't mention Oswald but will give a background to what PWB were doing in North Africa and Italy and beyond.

Lee
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Offline langley

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2011, 06:51:27 AM »
Many thanks for that Lee, I will look forward to reading your post.
My Dad tells me that one of his father's 'employees' was a 'noble German lady whose husband was an officer in the German Army' unfortunately he has no name!
Regards
Caroline

Offline der Chef

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2011, 08:53:12 AM »
What's been confusing me here is that I have not come across the "Polindep" abbreviation before. This obviously stands for "Political Intelligence Department" which itself causes more confusion.

PWB/AFHQ was created out of both British and American civilian propaganda organisations. U.S. staff came from the Office of War Information and Office of Strategic Services. British staff came from the Political Warfare Executive and Ministry of Information.

The Political Warfare Executive (PWE) often used the cover name of "Political Intelligence Department". There really was a Foreign Office department known as the Political Intelligence Department which also supplied staff to PWE. However, this was always abbreviated as PID and was a purely civilian organisation.

PWB/AFHQ was a military organisation and did contain a political intelligence section. And I suspect that in this case "polindep" is referring to this subsection of PWB/AFHQ.

(A few files are available at the National Archives which contain political intelligence reports created by PWB/AFHQ but nothing that I can find about the organisation of this subsection.)

This is what the final report on PWB/AFHQ has to say about its political intelligence section:

"In brief, headquarters of PWB included an Administrative Section, a Planning Board, a Political Intelligence Section and an Operations Section. Each included Americans and British, military and civilian; and because of the shortage of personnel there were many who doubled in function.

"...The Intelligence and Operations heads were civilians from OSS and OWI, respectively.

"The need for a well-organized Intelligence Section became at once apparent. It was the source of much of the material upon which the propaganda output through the Operations Section was based. Its function was of critical importance during the tense Darlan-Giraud phase.

"Monitoring was also an important factor in the intelligence function. With improvised commercial receivers provided from British sources, and with inexperienced personnel, the monitoring section turned out daily digests of enemy broadcasts, providing the service for AFHQ as well as for background for propaganda and counter-propaganda output. It was not until the Federal Communications Commission provided an expert to organize this function, in January, 1943, that it was properly manned and equipped. The Army was unable to provide personnel for this work in its initial phases.

"The Operations Section was responsible for the implementation and control of the various propaganda media, which included Radio, Press, Leaflets, Cinema and Displays."


There was also an independent "Political Intelligence Centre" in the Middle East (Its war diaries are available at the National Archives as well as some of its archives). I don't know how this fits into the equation or whether it had any connection with PWB/AFHQ or PWE or the real PID.

Told you it was confusing! ;)

Lee
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Offline der Chef

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Re: HQ1 Polindep
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2011, 12:56:25 AM »
After further research, I'm now responsibly certain that POLINDEP was the mail box for PWE's Middle East missions. Therefore it does stand for "Political Intelligence Department", i.e. PWE's cover name.

PWB/AFHQ's mail box was usually APO 512.
Lee
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