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Cryptologic Aspects of German Intelligence Activities in South America during World War II
with monitoring foreign press and propaganda
broadcasts, sought an additional fund allotment
of $304,120 for the remainder of fiscal year 1941.
These funds were to be used by the FCC’s National
Defense Organization (NDO) to establish the
Foreign Broadcast Monitoring Service (FBMS),
including the purchase of additional technical
equipment and the hiring of translators and politi-
cal analysts.
The additional appropriation was approved
and the FBMS was established. The FCC appro-
priation request for fiscal year 1942 exceeded the
total fiscal year 1941 request by $300,000. Of this
increase, $150,000 was requested for moderniza-
tion of monitoring equipment, and $150,000 was
requested for additional personnel. In modern
terms such an increase is infinitesimal, but in 1941,
$300,000 represented a sixteen percent increase
in the FCC appropriation.
The British Effort: GC&CS and the RSS (1919-
The British cryptanalytic effort in World War
II was centralized in the Government Code and
Cipher School (GC&CS) which had been estab-
lished by the British government in 1919 to study
foreign cryptosystems and to advise on the security
of British cryptosystems. It was originally made up
of twenty-five officers recruited from the remnants
of the World War I Admiralty and War Office
cryptanalytic sections and was placed adminis-
tratively under the Admiralty. In 1922 GC&CS,
together with the Special Intelligence Service (SIS),
was transferred to the Foreign Office, and in 1923
the head of the SIS was redesignated “Chief of the
Secret Service and Director of GC&CS.”
When GC&CS was established, the War Office
and the Admiralty reserved the right to remove
their personnel at need to man their own SIGINT
centers. By 1935, however, it was realized that the
production of SIGINT was a continuum of pro-
cesses which could not be separated. This, together
with the earlier decisions to centralize peacetime
cryptanalysis, was a strong argument in favor
of maintaining the same organizational structure
in wartime. The Cryptography and Interception
Committee of GC&CS, which included representa-
tives of the three services, had a standing subcom-
mittee, the Y Subcommittee, which coordinated the
services’ radio intercept activities.
During World War II, the British intercept
effort against Axis clandestine communications
was conducted by the Radio Security Service (RSS).
This organization was tasked with identifying and
performing the initial intercept of Axis illicit sta-
tions communicating with Germany. The original
intention was that the intercept organizations of
the various services would assume the burden
of intercept after the nets had been identified by
the RSS. In practice, because of the intercept load
already being carried by the services, the RSS
became the organization responsible for the inter-
cept of Abwehr communications, by far the most
extensive of the illicit nets.
The origins of the RSS extend back to 1928,
when the Committee of Imperial Defence charged
the War Office with the responsibility for creating
an organization for detecting illicit radio transmis-
sions within the British Isles. The original concept
was that such an organization would be directed
and financed by the War Office, with personnel
and equipment provided by the Government Post
Office (GPO). This concept received official appro-
val in 1933.
The normal responsibilities of the GPO with
regard to radio communications were very simi-
lar to those of the FCC in the United States, i.e.,
enforcement of the laws concerning radio opera-
tion; overseeing amateur radio operation; policing
frequency usage; and investigating the causes of
radio interference. In a paper written in 1938 for
MI-5, Lieutenant Colonel Adrian F.H.S. Simpson
pointed out that the GPO’s effort against illicit
transmissions was merely an offshoot of its pri-
mary operations, and any economies achieved
through the use of the GPO would be false ones

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