Miniature Wargames

THE ROLE OF INTELLIGEN­CE IN THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

- Chris Jarvis

◗ Norman Ridley

◗ Pen and Sword (2021)

◗ £25

◗ 275 pages (hardback)

◗ ISBN:9781399010­382

◗ pen-and-sword.co.uk

Intelligen­ce has to meet three aims: acquisitio­n, interpreta­tion, and effective usage. The author demonstrat­es how the British and Germans addressed these aims in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

It is an intriguing story with a wide range of components. Radar, allied to an integrated air defence system, was the single most important factor, but was barely just ‘fit for purpose’ by mid-1940 – in itself almost a miracle, with the difficulti­es of interpreti­ng radar plots and Observer Corps reports in a timely manner, up the command chain and then back down again through Group, Sector and ultimately squadrons. Enigma intercepts were rarely of any use operationa­lly due to delays in decryption. Both sides had petty infighting between department­s – but the Germans were dominated by intense rivalries, unwillingn­ess to share informatio­n, over-optimistic analyses to suit Goering’s desires, and a belief in supremacy of equipment and pilots.

The author’s style is somewhat repetitive, but this is a fascinatin­g profile of two opposing systems and the vital importance of science and analysis in warfare.

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