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Wiles, Peter John de la Fosse, 1919-1997

Memoir

• Michael Kaser

Extract relating to military intelligence work:

At the outbreak of the Second World War he took a commission in the Royal Artillery, but not before he gained a distinction in Honour Moderations in Michaelmas Term 1939.

A combination of his evident talents and German, French, and Russian from school soon marked him out for attachment to the Intelligence Corps. Already a Captain by the time of Alamein, he monitored enemy radio voice commnications (‘Y’ service) from forward positions in the Western Desert. General Montgomery’s Chief of Intelligence, Sir Edgar Williams, later confirmed their value to the Eighth Army and noted that the corresponding top secret Ultra signal intercepts were used essentially as confirmation. He was twice mentioned in dispatches, but he and his senior signals officer proved incompatible and reasons were found to return him to Woolwich. His slow return route passed through Algiers and awaiting transport to England he worked in Sigint there and was able to solve at sight a German cipher problem which had perplexed the resident decoders. His last war-service posting was at Bletchley, in high intellectual Oxbridge company.

As his war service drew to a close, while still at Bletchley, he married in March 1945 a childhood friend, Elizabeth Coppin.


(See: List of humanities scholars who worked in military intelligence in the Second World War)


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