Blog : Enigma

The British Intelligence Connection

The British Intelligence Connection

Los Angeles

Another one of the other more fascinating responses that I got to my letter of introduction was from a friend here in Los Angeles whose grandfather’s best friend was Sir William Samuel Stephenson CC MC DFC (January 23, 1897 – January 31, 1989).

He was a fascinating character. Here’s part of what Wikipedia has to say:

“A Canadian who fought in W.W.I with the Canadian Army Engineers, then transferred to the British Royal Flying Corps in 1917, after learning to fly while he was recovering from being gassed in 1916. Stephenson flew the British Sopwith Camel fighter biplane and scored twelve victories before he was shot down and captured by the Germans on July 28, 1918.”

The entry goes on to say that in the lead up to Second World War, he became a wealthy industrialist and

“As early as April 1936 Stephenson was voluntarily providing confidential information to the British, passing on detailed information to British opposition MP Winston Churchill about how Hitler’s Nazi government was building up its armed forces and hiding military expenditures of eight hundred million pounds sterling. This was a clear violation of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles and showed the growing Nazi threat to European and international security; Churchill used Stephenson’s information in Parliament to warn against the appeasement polices of the government of Neville Chamberlain.”

After the Second World War began Winston Churchill sent Stephenson to the United States on 21 June 1940 to covertly establish and run the British Security Coordination (BSC) in New York City, more than a year prior to the US entering the war.

The BSC office headquartered in room 3603 in Rockefeller Center became an umbrella organisation that by the end of the war represented the British intelligence agencies MI5, MI6 (SIS or Secret Intelligence Service), SOE (Special Operations Executive) and PWE (Political Warfare Executive) throughout North America, South America and the Caribbean.

In his role as the senior representative of British intelligence in the western hemisphere Stephenson was one of the few people in the hemisphere authorised to view raw Ultra transcripts from the British Bletchley Park code-breaking of German Enigma ciphers.

He was trusted by Churchill to decide what Ultra information to pass along to various branches of the US and Canadian governments.”