Tuesday 18 October 2011

Most Secret War

Just finished reading R.V Jones' autobiographical book "Most Secret War, British Scientific Intelligence 1939 - 1945"...

being an account of his work as leader of the Air Ministry's Scientific Intelligence Section in WW2. In short, the book is a masterpiece and a must-read for anybody remotely interested in some of the technological and scientific tussles between the allies and the Third Reich.

I purchased the book during my last visit to Bletchley Park and there is obligatory mention of the activities of the Code-Breakers in providing the most reliable of data streams for the Scientific Intelligence community in the UK - an "anchor of truth", as the author describes it (p 530).

There is much else to entertain those with radio-related interests - including the detection, understanding, prediction and ultimate jamming of the radio navigation beams by which the Luftwaffe we able to achieve accuracy in their bombing activities and the similar location, interpretation and jamming of the radar systems which allowed German night-fighters to engage Bomber Command missions over Germany. However, beyond these triumphs, it was the author's involvement in the development and deployment of the countermeasure we now call "Chaff" - then inexplicably known as "Window" - which impressed me most.

This is a giant of a book, fully deserving the hyperbolic notices which adorn its paperback cover ("Among the best of all war books", "Every bit as good as a Deighton or Le Carre Yarn").

Yes - this deserves to be read. Unfortunately, in reading it, I found myself admiring Dr Jones' achievements but becoming anything but warm toward him as a person. Perhaps that's a by-product of the determination and single-mindedness that made him so successful in his great work.

What would I give for determination and single-mindedness?

Not a lot!

...-.- de m0xpd


  1. Indeed, a fabulous book.

    I first read this book in the mid 70's and again a few years ago. Just as good a read the second time as the first.

    cheers, Graham ve3gtc

  2. I read it too in the '70s and was completely fascinated by it. My Dad was in the RAF and worked on RADAR. We also lived near TRE->RRE->RSRE one of the research establishments where a lot of the work was done.

    Might have to buy the ebook...