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U. S. CONFIDENTIAL
COLONEL ELLIOT ROOSEVELT, AAF
Lt. Col. Palmer Dixon, A-2
The Photo Reconnaissance Wing in North Africa is a combined operation of the RAF, the U.S. Army Air Force, the French Air Force, and the South African Air Force. There are four squadrons of U.S. aircraft, two squadrons of RAF aircraft, one squadron of French aircraft, and one South African squadron.
The work we have done since last November in North Africa has been for three principal agencies: the Air Force, the Ground Force, and the Navy. In addition to those three main classifications, the work is broken down into operational requirements for the Headquarters of the Air Force on overall general intelligence, for the Tactical Air Force, and for the Strategic
U. S. CONFIDENTIAL
Air Force. The operation for the Ground Forces has been divided into the operations for the Allied Force Headquarters on general reconnaissance requirements, the operations on behalf of the armies in the field, and the operations on behalf of the planning staffs. In addition to these requirements for air and ground, we were further charged with producing the Intelligence information required in the Mediterranean and the area from Gibralter to the eastern part of the Adriatic (from Corfu on a line directly down to Tripoli), and all of the information on the position of Axis shipping in the harbors and at sea for the Navy.
The naval requirements during the Tunisian campaign were to cover the major ports of southern France three times per week; the ports along western Italy three times per week; the ports on the Adriatic once per week; the ports in Sardinia four times per week; and the ports in Sicily every day. In addition, until the fall of Tripoli, we had to cover the ports in Tunisia as far as Tripoli every day. As a general over-all requirement, we have always been required to photograph every vessel passed over going to or from a reconnaissance mission. And inasmuch as most of our flying was over water, it was very rare that we did not photograph three or more vessels while on a single flight. As we proceeded in the Tunisian campaign, activity in covering the ports in southern Italy increased. There was also continuous pressure for coverage of the Tunisian ports of Tunis, Bizerte, Sousse, Sfax, and Gabes. During the closing weeks of the Tunisian campaign those ports were photographed twice per day.
In the Sicilian campaign we were required to photograph every day all ports in the entire area for which we were responsible, and twice a day the major ports where the Italian Fleet was located: Spezia, Leghorn, and Genoa, as well as all the ports in Sicily and southern Italy. Cagliari, which is in southern Sardinia, had become less active because of heavy bombardment and had not been used very much. The coverage of most of the Sardinian ports was once per day. Corsica's few ports were rather easy to cover once per day on the regular missions. But even the smaller ports that lay in between the larger shipping centers, where there was little opportunity for any large vessels to enter and which could be used only by coast craft, had to be photographed at least once a week. Ports in southern Italy which could be used in reinforcing Sicily were watched very carefully and were covered as often as once per day.
BuAer Comment: The U.S. Naval Forces, not having photographic reconnaissance of its own during the preparatory period or during the assault against Sicily, were dependent upon the R.A.F. and A.A.F. for photographic coverage of the areas concerned. The interpretation of these photographs and preparation of strategic and tactical maps, annotated and gridded mosaics, beach and terrain studies, land fall perspective sketches and written reports were made by the Photographic Interpretation Unit, Commander Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet and the Photographic interpretation Unit, ComNavNAW.
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The interpretation of the Sicilian beaches and terrain inland to five-ten miles by the Photographic Interpretation Unit, Commander Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet, has been verified by land observers since landing and found to be about one hundred percent (100%) correct in every detail of military consequence.
A few days prior to the day of the Sicilian assault, a despatch from ComNavNAW was sent to all interested U.S. Army Commanders of Battalions and Divisions and to Naval Unit Commanders to the effect that Naval photographic interpreters were available for oral briefing to the commanders, The photographic interpreters were used to good advantage in this respect.
OPERATIONS FOE THE AIE FORCE
The operations for the Air Force were as follows: We were required to photograph all airdromes in the entire area up to the 40th parallel in Eurppe and to 100 miles east of the eastern shore of the Adriatic, including all of airdromes in Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and when the Axis were in North Africa, all Axis airdromes in North Africa. Once per week we were required within a four-hour period to photograph all airdromes within four hours of each other, in order to get a reading on the exact location of the Axis airpower at a given time. The interesting part of all this airdrome coverage is that the Axis strength as shown from aerial photographs never varied more than 6 percent from the Intelligence information available from all other sources on the true strength of the Axis air force. That differential of approximately 6 percent can be explained by the fact that certainly there were aircraft in the air at the time we fiew over, because we were photographing usually during the best daylight hours. Airdrome and harbor coverage, industrial area coverage, communications lines coverages, were all made for the Strategic Air Force to secure target information for bombing raids.
BOMB FALL PLOTS
During bombing raids there are in each bombardment squadron at least two to three aircraft equipped with cameras for taking strike photographs. Those strike photographs are immediately sent to the Photo Reconnaissance Wing for evaluation. Bombfall plots, showing exactly how the runs occurred in relation to the target, and exactly where the bombs fell, are made for the education of bombardiers and pilots. During the five-month period in which this work with bombfall plots has been going on the bombardment score has improved as much as 70 percent in some of the outfits of the Strategic Air Force.
PHOTOGRAPHS AFTER A RAID
As soon as possible after each air raid, as a general rule from two to four hours afterwards, we were required to photograph the target. From these photographs bomb damage assessments were made, to determine whether the target had to be hit again, and if so, when. In the instance of a
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railroad yard, the assessors would arrive at a date when there would probably be sufficient progress towards repair to have it again become operative.
SUPPORTING THE GROUND FORCE
The Tactical Air Force requires very much the same type of reconnaissance. As they are operating directly in support of the Ground Force, however, the work is of much shorter range. The same units which support the ground troops and provide their photography as a general rule carry out the reconnaissance required by the Tactical Air Force.
The units supporting the Ground Forces represent the largest effort we make. These units are required to cover completely the entire area in front of an army, every day, to a depth of approximately 150 miles. Frequent reconnaissance missions are run, in addition, for the purpose of keeping the ground commanders advised as to the movement of all enemy troops, personnel, and equipment behind the front lines.
The location of mine fields is done mainly by photo reconnaissance. The location of artillery emplacements is done by photo reconnaissance. Even though a mine has been camouflaged so successfully that it cannot be detected on approaching it on the ground, it is clearly evident to a good, photo interpreter on photographs taken from 27,000 to 30,000 feet with proper focal length cameras.
WORK FOR PLANNING STAFFS
The staff which planned the Sicilian operation, known as Force l4l, began work in January of this year, when we started flying missions for them. I was asked this morning to make an estimate of how many missions we flew in preparation for the Sicilian operation, and I estimated the number to be approximately 500. We completely mapped the entire 12,000 square miles of Sicily; a mosaic measuring 19½ feet by 12½ feet was produced, to the scale of 1 to 50,000. This work was extremely difficult of accomplishment, because all last winter and spring the main strength of the Axis air force was located in Sicily. Of the 500 missions I would estimate that not more than 1/10 were accomplished without enemy aircraft interception. Areas such as Palermo and Trapani, moreover, and the larger airdromes were very heavily defended by flak installations; by the use of box-type barrages they were accurate with their anti-aircraft fire up to approximately 36,000 feet. The work done for planning staffs is carried on concurrently with work for operational units. All such work done on the invasion of Sicily was performed during the operations on the Tunisian front.
SETTING UP PHOTO RECONNAISSANCE
We were handicapped because the RAF and our Air Force completely failed to realize the part photo reconnaissance plays in support of a ground force or in carrying out an operation of the size of that in North Africa. We were sent there with inadequate equipment. We started with two squadrons
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and a flight of a third squadron. The flight of the third squadron was equipped with B-17 aircraft. Somebody on the staff in Washington had read amazing stories about how the B-17 airplane knocked down more fighters than any other; so it was thought a single B-17 could be sent out to do photo reconnaissance. We had to find out what happens to a B-17 when it's out by itself on a mission; it was a very sad experience. We had inferior aircraft to the 109'a and 190's, and we had a very high rate of loss, our loss in the first three months averaging 30 percent per month. Our operations have improved, and over a nine-month, period we have built up a highly skilled group of pilots who know their business. In the Sicily operation we didn't lose a single aircraft. It is, of course, true that in the conduct of the Sicily operation we were fortunate in not having any air opposition whatsoever. In fact, it was quite a pleasure to fly over Sicily during the invasion because all the Axis aircraft had been driven back at least 200 miles from their former operational bases; it was a great contrast to previous operations during the Tunisian campaign when Sicily was the hot spot to fly over.
The aids for photo reconnaissance pilots are few and far between whomever they operate more than 150 miles from friendly territory. Within the 150-mile area of Malta over Sicily we were greatly aided by Malta's combination radar and RDF control, which kept us advised of enemy aircraft in our vicinity, so that we weren't continually operating with a swivel neck. It was the only thing that made it possible for us to live up there. But beyond the effective range of the radar equipment we were on our own, and operated completely by eyesight to prevent interception.
The Intelligence information regarding targets for briefing pilets was very scanty until our pictures were interpreted. When we first hit North Africa, and went on missions over Bizerte and Tunis, ve didn't know how much anti-aircraft there was; we didn't know how many airplanes there were, or where the airdromes were; we didn't know what we were running into. But as soon as we had made a sufficient number of photo recon missions over the area, we were able to supply ourselves and all other aviation in that area with complete information as to flak installations and the position of enemy aircraft from day to day.
The enemy, as a general rule, depend on their radar equipment to notify them that we are coming over; and they endeavor to get fighters up to intercept us. We can fool them to a certain extent on their radio-controlled anti-aircraft, by changing altitude and coming in on the target; but the box-type barrage, which operated usually 1000 feet above us to 1000 feet below us, made it possible for them to force us to fly through anti-aircraft fire. That situation necessitated very often more than the usual number of two to three runs, because the aircraft would be thrown around so much by the bursts that the vertical pictures would not come out.
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The picture of hov we operate is rather simple. It's divided into three divisions - the flying end, the processing end, and the interpretation end. No one of these is any good without the other. There are in the United States Army very few trained photo interpreters. We depend to a large extent on the British Army for military interpreters and on the RAF for general interpretation - shipping, airdrome, etc. - and for industrial interpretation. As a matter of fact, we have in North Africa right now twelve qualified interpreters as against several hundred British interpreters. We control all interpreters in our Wing organisation and they are assigned ty us to the various headquarters - to Army Headquarters, Seventh and Eighth Armies in the case of the Sicilian campaign; to each corps headquarters participating in the operation; and to each division. As a division is taken out of action, the interpreters are taken away from it and are placed with the next division occupying the area. The interpreters do not remain at the division or corps or army headquarters; they are assigned to work for a division, or for a corps or for an army; but they work with our field unit supporting the particular operation. The film is flown to an airport and taken immediately to our field plant for processing. Two wet prints are taken off, and the interpreters go to work immediately on the part which is of concern to the headquarters for which they're working. They get their interpretation report out, hand it to the Army liaison officer, who has his own courier service, to deliver it to his headquarters.
In addition to reports on these pictures, it is often necessary for us to produce a large number of prints which are used by the artillery in stereoscopic pairs for directing their fire, and for other purposes. The ground forces also use a large number of mosaics, as map substitutes, and many enlargements. We produced in the month of July a little over 400,000 contact prints, slightly over 50,000 negatives, about 2800 mosaics, and about 14,000 enlargements. Those figures probably don't mean very much, but they represent actually 12½ percent of what were considered legitimate requests from the three main forces operating in the theatre. We have l800 men in the Wing, including 12 RAF WAAF Officers, in order to fill the requirements of the theatre, based on demands, we need approximately 4000 men.
Q U E S T I O N S
Q. Can you tell about how long it required to train a pilot to become a good flyer for photo reconnaissance missions?
QUALIFICATIONS OF PHOTO RECONNAISSANCE FLYER
A. A photo reconnaissance pilot must embody all the training that goes into a bombardment pilot and a bombardier without the use of a bombsight, because in making a photographic run over a target almost the same technique is employed as in making a bombing run over a target. He must also have complete training as a fighter pilot and must be extremely proficient in the use of evasive tactics. Since he does not have guns of any kind on his aircraft,
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the only skill he isn't required to have that fighter and bombardment pilots must have is proficiency in firing a gun. He has to know when to press the button to start his cameras operating. At the time the photographic run is made, at 30,000 feet, the pin point area to be covered is about 1½ inches wide to the eyes.
Q. What are the shortcomings of the United States photo interpreters, both the Army and the Navy? What do you consider the qualifications for photo interpreters?
A. What do I consider the qualifications? The ability accurately to obtain all the desired information on a photograph for which the mission was run. I'll give you a very good example. I had an American-trained Army photo interpreter in the early days of the Tunisian campaign who had been through interpretation school in the United States. He received a photograph of a certain road in Tunisia. On that road there was what looked like a long train of vehicles, and he said it was an armored column moving toward a certain frontal area. That information was phoned in to Army headquarters, and a division was started that night to meet this armored column which was on the move. Well, about six o'clock that night a British RAF interpreter got hold of that print and said, "Hey, there's something wrong here! That is a column of camels - a camel caravan." The word was flashed up to Army headquarters, but by that time the division was on its way and had been moving uselessly against a nonexistent enemy for a period of 7½ hours. That's what I mean by a competent photo interpreter; he must be able to tell exactly what is in the picture; and unless one has had extremely careful schooling, he is apt to say things and express opinions which are not actually true. The photo interpreter who is properly trained never makes a claim unless he is positive. What is needed for photo interpretation training is to take a leaf out of the book of the RAF training course at Mednemham in England, or the training course which has been set up in the Middle East, which is an inter-Service school, British Army and RAF, and you'll find a good interpretation school. As far as the American Navy interpreters are concerned, I don't know, because I've never seen an American Navy interpreter in North Africa; I've never seen any Royal Navy interpreters.
Q. Do you think our faults are due to lack of experience on the part of the United States interpreters - or is there some other catch?
A. I think our program over here has been very poor. The course may be all right. I got an interpreter from the United States here not long ago who for nine months from the time he got out of school until I got hold of him hadn't interpreted a single picture; he hadn't seen a picture in that nine-month period. He was no longer competent -- that is one business which you must stay at day after day to remain proficient. He'd been a mess officer; he'd been through a replacement pool in Oran, and they'd assigned him as a mess officer to some squadron; he hadn't been interpreting, which he had been trained to do, for nine months. So he was of no value to me until I'd put him through, a six-week training course.
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U. S. CONFIDENTIAL
Q. Did you find you had sufficient basic information on naval subjects to give your naval photo interpreters the basic stuff they needed?
A. Our photo interpreters, as I said, for the most part, as far as naval information was concerned were comprised of RAF personnel. Those twelve women officers in the RAF are some of the best experts on naval information there are. They came from Medmenham, and they had a background of three years of work on Axis shipping. Their work is absolutely accurate.
Q. What I meant was, when we introduce new naval types, say, into a theatre, do we provide that information so you can get it right?
Q. How are the strike photographs you spoke of made?
A. Strike photographs are made by one of the waist gunners in the bombardment aircraft who leaves his gun during the bombing run and operates the cameras. These provide a strip of pictures that cover the entire length of the bombing run. He turns the camera off at the end of the bombing run when the bomb bay doors are finally closed. That camera is usually located in the after part of the ship in the camera well.
Q. Has there been any employment of night photography?
A. Yes. We operated on night photography for the first time in the Sicilian campaign. I flew the first three missions over there with B-25's and the first target we were given by the Seventh Army Headquarters, General Patton's Headquarters, was the harbor of Termini, to the east of Palermo, which was suspected by the Tactical Air Force of being used as a reinforcement port at night with small boats. It was definitely determined through the use of night photography that the harbor was not used for that purpose. We were also required to photograph major road junctions, such as the junction at Enna where the main roads crossing Sicily converge - we were required to photograph that in order to observe the movement at night of enemy transports.
Q. Did you find it necessary to use camera heat?
A. Camera heat is essential; it is one of the respects in which American equipment falls down. We have no adequate heating system in our type aircraft to serve our cameras, and also we have a very inadequate heating system for our pilots. Our pilot efficiency was very much lowered because of the extreme cold in which we had to operate.
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U. S. CONFIDENTIAL
Q. What temperature were you getting?
A. Minus thirty, minus forty.
Q. You did not have camera heat then, is that right?
A. We did not have camera heat. We had a heating system, but it was inadequate and actually all that the camera heat turned on full on those cameras did was to raise it from the outside temperature, -30, -40, to maybe -25 to -35.
Q. No film breakage?
A. We have had film breakage, yes. About 9 percent of all our American missions, which were otherwise successfully flown, were unsuccessful because of camera failure. And on the same number of missions with the RAF equipment, the RAF had lesa than 1/10 of 1 percent failures on account of their cameras.
LANDING BEACH RECONNAISSANCE
Q. Any special missions for landing beach reconnaissance?
A. Yes, sir. All of the beach areas were flown vertically. I would say that the Western and Eastern Task Force Landing areas were vertically flown for the three weeks previous to the actual assault, and there was not a day when they weren't flown twice. And we flew oblique runs from approximately 100 to 150 feet of not only those areas but of numerous other beach areas, in order to provide deception as to just where we were going. The oblique missions are known in our jargon as "dicing" missions, and are not the nicest kind of job. In the Pantelleria show, we were required, the day before the task force was due to shove off, to go in and photograph the jetties and the harbor from within the harbor at 150 feet off the water. That was a requirement of the Navy's.
Q. Whose responsibility was it to draw sketches of beaches, and so forth, and present the desired information graphically?
A. Drawing sketches? Sketches are not a requirement of ours. When the use of the photograph stopped, our responsibility stopped. The sketches are provided by Intelligence agencies. We do the model making, or a certain amount of it. The models for the Sicilian campaign were made, half over here in Washington and half in London. We did a few ourselves down there, but very few. Moat of ours were done for the paratroopers.
Q. Were the camera upkeep personnel the same as those that operated the camera?
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A. No. You see, a pilot operates his own cameras in the F5A or P-38 type, and in the Mosquito the navigator operates the cameras. The only times people responsible for the upkeep of the cameras actually fly are in the use of the B-25's on night missions, and then we have enlisted photographers to operate the cameras.
Q. That might account for the great difference then between the results, because in the Solomons and in Alaska, the same people are operating the cameras as do the upkeep. They're operating without heat and they're having good results, consistent results, with the American cameras. That's where that heat -- you said they raised about five or ten degrees ...
A. That is, in large part, a fault of the aircraft heating system, the amount of heat you can pull off your generators.
Q. You spoke of these requests for certain coverage from various headquarters, and said you could cover only about 12 percent of those - who reconciled these requests?
A. The requests were reconciled by a priorities board which consisted of representatives of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. That Board passed on all the requests that came in, and determined the priority of the jobs to be done.
Q. Were the officers who did the interpretation for ground forces primarily those who had had ground force experience previously - that is, infantry or artillery officers?
A. The interpretation officers who worked on ground military interpretation? Yes. For the most part they are officers who are familiar with certain specialties. The officers who specialize on artillery emplacements are former artillery officers. Although they all have a wide general background which is applicable to all photo interpretation, the military interpreters are for the most part drawn from the Army officers in the field units.
INTERVIEW WITH LT. COLONEL PALMER DIXOW
THEATER INTELLIGENCE - NAAFThere is a crying need for more practical experience on the part of those who come out in the theatre. Harrisburg, insofar as it goes, is very satisfactory, but the jump between Harrisburg and the theatre is much too great. Officers are not of any particular use to their squadrons or to whatever headquarters they are attached until they have had experience in the theatre itself. So a particular need at the moment is more experience.
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Another need is a greater knowledge of recognition of enemy aircraft, enemy tanks, and enemy shipping. Even when the S-2's know this, they do not keep rubbing it into the pilots themselves. That, of course, is where it becomes a matter of life or death for a pilot can easily lose his life, or keep it, by knowing the difference between the various aircraft in the theatre.
Additional intelligence training for officers who arrive in the NAAF theatre is very necessary indeed. At present a two weeks' indoctrination course is being given in Algiers but this ia not enough. The particular kind of bombing and the particular kind of bombs used in the theatre should be taken up by the newly arrived intelligences officers. Also, the economic value of the targets in that particular theatre is very important. Most of the intelligence officers we had at first did not have this background at all; but we have found that the pilots who knew the economic value of particular targets carried out their missions more successfully and with more enthusiasm than others not so thoroughly briefed.
Another thing which a great many Intelligence officers don't know is the background of the pilots and the crews in their own squadrons. The morale in squadrons where the Intelligence officer really knows his men has been very much higher than in the squadrons where the Intelligence officer has not gone into the past and personal history of his pilots and crews. It is not only of great use from the point of view of the pilots themselves and their crews, but when an individual has done a good job the Intelligence officer is in a position to go to the Public Relations Officer and personally see that credit is given much more quickly and with much more fairness and promptness. That is one of the things that so far has been rather neglected and which makes a great deal of difference to the morale of the squadrons involved.
We have now about twenty prisoner of war interrogators in the theatre, and I would say the British have probably fifteen. Comparatively few speak Italian; however, those coming in now have that background and, I think, there will be enough for present needs. They too did not have any practical experience. Two months ago we tried an experiment in sending six of our interrogators to the Middle East Interrogator School near Cairo. Those officers have taken a course where they were able to practice on real prisoners of war and the results vere excellent. They are now considered by the Britiah as well as by our own people as being the most efficient interrogators we have. Since the rush is over and we have the numbers of interrogators we need in the NAAF theatre, we can afford to give longer training to fewer men; hence the value of the British school in the Middle East.
Photo intelligence at the beginning of the compaign was not sufficiently well provided for. It is one of our largest sources of information today, if not the largest, and from it we get the position and numbers of enemy fighters and bombers on enemy airdromes, targets, damage assessment after missions flown, by the Northwest African Air Force, and last but not least information regarding enemy shipping movements. We did not have enough planes specially constructed to carry out all the photographic reconnaissance missions required in the North African theatre.
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I should like to take up the need for special intelligence officers for the higher headquarters. An intelligence team in a headquarters, such aa Mediterranean Air Command, consists of two experts on air order of battle -- two experts who do nothing but follow enemy ships, two Intelligence officers who do nothing at all but digest the results of the previous day's information, co-relating it with the present known order of battle. There is one technical Intelligence officer who goes through the results of any findings or examinations of captured or destroyed planes or materiel to see if there is anything new. There is one capture Intelligence officer who goes through all the material which comes through from CSDIC (Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Center), which is a combination of Army, Navy and Air, United States and British, and in which the French are allowed to participate. Into this center come all prisoners of any importance. Daily reports are made and sent to G-2, Navy Intelligence, and to the Intelligence headquarters of the Mediterranean Air Command, which in turn send out such information where it will be moat useful.
The duty of the Mediterranean Air Command Intelligence is to collect ağd send down to the lower commands any information that is useful to them. These lower commands consist of the Northwest African Air Force, Malta and the Middle East. Their duty is to provide the commanders and commander in chief with any information necessary for the carrying on of the war and it is the duty of the Mediterranean Air Command Intelligence to work with the Navy in providing targets which both the Navy and the combined air forces will attack.
The sources of information include reports of enemy activities and casualties, air activity, photographic and visual reconnaissance, reports and photographs from units of results of attacks on enemy objectives; combat reports from units, enemy signal organization and traffic, prisoner of war interrogation; civilian captured documents, hostile and neutral press and broadcast and examination of captured aircraft and enemy equipment. Every effort is made to make use of all sources of information.
We have received much reliable information from our own agents. From the point of view of the M.A.C. Intelligence, we try very hard indeed not to use or rely too much on any one particular source of information but try to combine all into a co-related whole.
Q. To what extend do the A-2's and Intelligence officers of higher echelons go on missions; accompany missions over enemy territory?
A. Not much, sir. As a matter of fact, I would say General Doolittle and General Spaatz and some of the higher people who shouldn't be doing it were going on many more missions than some of the S-2's. Colonel Young, the A-2 for the Stategic Air Force, has been on at least half a dozen, but I would say by and large that they mostly stay home. They have a lot of other duties, such as censorship, counter-intelligence, and various other things that keep the average officer pretty close to the ground. I would
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say that it is not the usual thing for them to go, although in some cases they do. Colonel Childers, I think, went on half a dosen or so and Colonel McDonald has been out on one or two. They are not encouraged to do it. The British are definitely now putting their foot down because they feel that intelligence officers are supposed to know too much and they should not be going over enemy lines. In fact, some of the important ones are forbidden to do it.
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