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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Allies at War? Britain and the 'Southern African Front' in the Second World War
Author:Furlong, Patrick
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic terms:South Africa
Great Britain
Subjects:intelligence services
World War II
international relations
Military, Defense and Arms
History and Exploration
Politics and Government
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582470509464896
Abstract:During World War II, South Africa's Smuts government was painfully aware of its limited defence capacity, notably in intelligence, while deep internal divisions hampered fighting subversion and German espionage with its own resources. This posed serious challenges for Britain, especially its often bitterly divided intelligence-related agencies, in helping to respond to potentially serious threats to the Allied war effort. Gradual opening of long-restricted British records allows initial exploration of how agencies such as the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Secret Intelligence Service (MI6 or SIS), and Security Service (MI5) responded to the 'Southern African front'. Focusing on the British perspective, this paper looks at the tensions between rival British agencies and those between the British and the South Africans. The British agencies not only jealously guarded their territory, but also differed over assessment of raw intelligence about enemy activity, the appropriateness of covert operations, and offending South African Union or neighbouring governments' sensibilities. British involvement was also shaped by differing views of the nature and seriousness of Axis and pro-Axis activity, and of the competence and political reliability of the Smuts government and its security forces. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]