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SECRET HISTORY

WWII Interrogation British Style SOPHIE JACKSON steps back in time to examine interrogation techniques used by two senior British officers in World War Two, the dark locations where prisoners were sometimes subjected to appalling treatment, and the infamous ‘London Cage’ ntil the 20th century, interrogation of enemy prisoners was a low priority. In 1939 everything changed as Europe prepared herself for another massive conflict. The intelligence services of Britain started to put into place a network of communications and espionage, but interrogation of enemy prisoners and spies lagged behind. Only in 1940 did Britain create a specific interrogation division which rapidly became renowned both to the Allies and to the enemy.

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between special camps, such as Camp 020 and the London Cage. The majority of interrogators were unnamed individuals who took their secrets to the grave. Hardly any have been remembered by modern generations despite their contribution to the war effort. However, two names do stand out, both for their skill and the controversy they caused. Colonel Robin ‘Tin-Eye’ Stephens commanded Camp 020 and later the British CSDIC (Combined Services Detailed Interrogation camp) in Bad Nenndorf, Germany. He was known for his stern stance against torture, though later events in Germany stained his reputation.

MEN OF POWER There were hundreds of men and women working within the interrogation divisions, split

In contrast there was Colonel Alexander Scotland who commanded the London Cage in Kensington Palace Gardens. The Cage became infamous for

Colonel Robin ‘Tin-Eye’ Stephens reports of torture, degradation and humiliation. It was a truly ‘secret’ camp, kept even off the official Red Cross lists (until one guard developed a conscience and tipped off the organisation to its existence). Scotland and Stephens detested each other. Scotland was officially banned from Camp 020 after he allegedly struck a prisoner he was interrogating. He had been a guest at the camp and Stephens was so furious to have his own rules ignored by an officer that he later went on to resist all further requests for outside interrogators to visit 020. The resentment between the two men ran deeper than just policy. Stephens was a career soldier born in 1900, who had spent years in the Indian political service going from a magistrate to an assistant judge-advocate-general. His entry into the secret service had been simple; as part of the ‘old-boys-network’ via his army and India connections he merely had to express an interest. He found his way into MI5 on 9 September 1939. For Scotland this was a sore point. He had begun his adult life as a grocer working in Africa. He developed a comradeship with the local German forces that would serve him well; even doing a little spying. But when World War One broke out he was turned down (much to his disbelief) by British Intelligence and eventually only got in by ‘name-dropping’. Still, he proved himself skilled

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EYE SPY INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE 79 2012

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WWII Interrogation British Style