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Cryptologic Aspects of German Intelligence Activities in South America during World War II
After that, neither his nor de Bardeleban’s pres-
ence would be required. Sterling and Fly had the
impression that de Bardeleban wanted to return to
the United States because of family problems, and
ordered him to return home in March 1943. A cable
from de Bardeleban on 30 March and a follow-
up letter sent the next day, however, contained a
request that he remain in Chile on an accompanied
tour. He also asked about the possibility of a pay
increase and an in-grade pay raise for serving in a
foreign assignment. His request was turned down
on 5 April.
Argentina–More Nazis
Despite Norman’s and Sterling’s reservations
on sending de Bardeleban abroad again, he and
Francis M. McDermott left for Buenos Aires on
4 July 1943. Unfortunately, there was a revolu-
tion in Argentina that day which resulted in the
installation of a thoroughly anti-U.S. government.
Consequently, there were difficulties in accom-
plishing the mission.
The clandestine net in Argentina consisted
of several terminals, each of which could employ
several frequencies and shift among them with
ease. This net operated in a country thickly popu-
lated with pro-Nazi Germans. The Abwehr, which
initially controlled the net, had seen others of its
nets in South America closed down by U.S. and
local governmental action and wanted to avoid a
repeat in Argentina. It appeared that the Abwehr
would stop at nothing to guarantee maintenance of
their last channel of rapid communication between
Argentina and the Fatherland. As a consequence of
these circumstances, and the fact that there were
large numbers of Argentine nationals working in
the U.S. embassy, security was a major problem.
Although the original concept of AIS stations was
that they would work overtly training local person-
nel, the station in Buenos Aires appears to have
been covert from the start. De Bardeleban and
McDermott worked only with the first secretary of
the embassy, Hugh Milliard, and one vice consul,
Clifton English. Milliard was kept fully aware of
all activities and results, but retained no copies of
any paperwork shown to him. English appears to
have been in charge of administrative details, such
as travel pay, per diem, housing, etc., for the team.
The attaché staffs could not be used for support
purposes as they were in other South American
countries. The naval attaché’s office was considered
to be particularly insecure, as most of the personnel
had been employed by the Argentine shipping com-
panies in peacetime. The problem with the military
attaché’s office was it was not connected with secu-
rity. Since the AIS was under Army control, the
military attaché, Colonel John Lang, assumed that
the Argentine DF station was to be under his con-
trol. Lang also believed that any tip coming from
his office should be investigated thoroughly. Once
administrative channels had been made clear, how-
From this shed at Quilpe, a small town 18
miles east of Valparaiso, a German spy ring
in Chile operated a radio transmitter with
callsign PYL to send information to the
Abwehr radio station in Hamburg.

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