3 December 1916 – Intelligence

More that two years into the war, the Army has finally set up a specific intelligence corps for the RFC. Experience from the recent offensive on the Somme has made it clear that a lot of the information being collected by aircraft was not being used as Army units were overwhelmed by the mass of data.

Major-General Trenchard proposed in October 1916, that Intelligence Sections should be established in certain squadrons and wings where the Intelligence Officer could be in intimate touch with the flying and photographic personnel. Earlier French experience has shown that there is a distinct advantage to intelligence officers living with the flying officers as this provides the opportunities for question and discussion. This woulalso allow all information is rapidly collated, interpreted, and communicated to the relevant units.

The proposal has now been approved and was embodied in instructions issued to all Armies. Major-General Hugh Trenchard would have preferred that the intelligence units were part of the Royal Flying Corps, but Army HQ ruled that they must remain under the Army Intelligence Chief. The new Branch Intelligence Sections wI’ll have an officer at the head-quarters of each corps squadron and of each army wing. Their duties will include:

(i) To interrogate every observer and ensure that full advantage be taken of such information as he might possess

(ii) To disseminate to all concerned with the least possible delay information obtained by the Royal Flying Corps which required immediate action

(iii) To examine and, where necessary, to mark all photographs and to issue both photographs and sketch maps illustrating the photographs.

Even though the intelligence officers are under the army intelligence corps they are also under the direct orders of the officer commanding the wing or squadron who can, if required disseminate information directly to the relaxant units without going through HQ, to minimise delay.

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