From: History and Mission of the
Counter Intelligence Corps in WW 2,
Counter Intelligence School, Fort Holabird 1946
OPERATIONS IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN AREAS
NORTH ATLANTIC OPERATIONS. The global nature of World War II made
precautions necessary to keep Germany and her co-partners from seizing
effective jumping-off places off the coasts of America and to prevent them
from extending their influence in bordering lands.
a. In the North Atlantic, three Base Commands were established to
afford additional protection to the rear of the troop concentrations in
Europe and to provide security against the possible seizure by Germany of
the large land areas of Iceland, Newfoundland, and Greenland.
b. The responsibility for the security of Newfoundland rested
mainly with the Canadian military and naval forces, with the exception of
several United States military installations there. The only safeguard in
existence was the report of the natives to the nearest Newfoundland
Ranger, who in turn notified the Alien Registry Bureau. Landings could
easily be affected from the Free-French Islands of Miquelon and St.
Pierre, only ten miles away. In the main, the Counter Intelligence Corps
was concerned with the security of the United States military
installations and with the detection of possible subversive activity.
c. The importance of Greenland to the security of the North
Atlantic was not overlooked by the strategists in their over-all plans.
The Greenland Base Command was established early in 1942 and was composed
of four camps situated in different parts of the country. The importance
of this area lay not only in its strategic position but also in the
Cryolite mining industry there.
d. During the period that civilian contractors and employees were
engaged in the construction of army installations, precautionary measures
were kept in force because of the possibility of sabotage. The possibility
was heightened by the long hours of darkness in winter, an item which
could afford any possible saboteur sufficient cover. Continuous security
checks were necessary because the people, mostly of Danish origin, were
distinctly anti-British and without confidence in the American war effort.
This lack of sympathy was quickly dispelled after the invasion of North
e. These factors made it imperative for the Counter Intelligence
Corps to maintain a constant vigil. Port security was of great importance
because of the accessibility of the fjords. In one instance a United
States Army post located near a fjord was only a few miles from an Eskimo
island village which could easily have been used as a transmission point
for enemy intelligence. Due largely to the activities of the Counter
Intelligence Corps, the enemy found no advantages in this area.
f. Of immediate concern to the security of American troop movements
too was the country of Iceland where the possibility of invasion by
Germany was imminent. Iceland Base Command had a provisional Counter
Intelligence Corps detachment attached to it which functioned until it was
split into five separate detachments on 12 July, 1944.
g. At the inception of the Counter Intelligence Corps in Iceland,
few trained men were available, so permission was obtained to draw men
from units in Iceland and to train them locally. Most of the men so
procured were subsequently sent to the United States as officer
candidates, and some were sent to the active combat zones of continental
Europe. Here, as elsewhere, the problem of personnel procurement remained
h. Counter Intelligence Corps headquarters was located in the
capital city of Reykjavik, and its jurisdiction extended over more than
75,000 civilians. In addition to personnel administration, Headquarters
maintained close contact with all outlying posts, and directed operations
and activities in them. Duties which demanded the attention of the Counter
Intelligence Corps personnel were security control through censorship of
the civilian press and radio, security liaison at airdromes, port
security, and control of the affairs of eighty-nine German nationals.
Crew from scuttled
German ship Kehdingen approaching USCG Cutter
German prisoners -
crew of Kehdingen and members of Weather Party
onboard USCG Cutter Northland - October 1944
In the conduct of these activities commendable work was done by Counter
Intelligence Corps personnel in the interrogation of German prisoners of
war captured in or brought to Iceland. During 1944, Counter Intelligence
Corps agents interrogated 60 Germans captured at or near Greenland by
United States forces there. On 6 and 7 October of that year, 28 Germans
were interrogated after having been captured by the United States Coast
Guard off the coast of Greenland. Of this group 12 were members of a
weather observation party, while the remaining 16 were crewmen of the
scuttled trawler, the Kehdingen. Considerable
information of a military nature was gained during these interrogations,
among them the exact locations of factories manufacturing electrical
systems and radios for the Germans.
j. Experience in this Command showed conclusively that only through
the use of cultivated and trusted informants could specific and detailed
information be obtained placed on the use of informants, For this reason
more emphasis was while the method of “door-to-door” interview, which was
customary in the Zone of the Interior, was discarded. It was difficult to
secure the cooperation of the natives in this method of interview because
of the dislike of Icelanders to give information relative to one of their
compatriots, intelligence would be put regardless of the use to which
such. However, in every instance of enemy landings or the breach of
security, civilians were found eager to notify the Counter Intelligence
Corps for prompt and appropriate action.
k. On the whole the situation in these areas, from an operational
point of view, remained relatively quiet. Some cases of sabotage attempts
and subversion were reported, but none of these constituted any real
threat to the war effort. Continuous liaison was maintained by these
commands with the European Theater of Operations and with interested
Allied intelligence agencies. The situation in the North Atlantic did not
hold the latent possibilities of danger as was the case in the Caribbean