Sunday, March 6, 2016

Operation Gibbon-secret pigeon service in Belgium-operation order 1942

(c) Crown copyright images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, UK
HS6/92 #01, #100, #105, #106, #107, #108

The translation by linguavox follows the documents.  The translation of Annexe II by P. Franckel follows the operation order.

OPERATION ORDER                                              GIBBON

(a) Departure
Your departure will take place, barring unforeseen circumstances, between 13 and
31 December. See
Annexe ′′A′′ for notes on the airdrop.
(b) Arrlval
You will be airdropped into the region between
Brussels and Nivelles. The exact point will be determined later and you will be notified for approval.
You will have a chance to study the topography and geography of the surrounding countryside.
There will be no reception committee, but you will probably be airdropped at the same time as another agent. You will separate when you leave the drop point.
(c) Stay in Belgium
(i)  Address

 See your mission order on this subject. Your residence will probably be in Brussels.
 (ii) Documents and cover story will be provided to you by the propaganda department. Alternative Belgian and French identity cards are attached hereto for you to sign. They are hidden in your baggage.
(iii) Clothes
You have received all your effects and small equipment. See Annexe “B”.
(iv) Equipment
You will examine and choose the equipment you need. See Annexe “C”.
(d) Return to England
-You will be given a return itinerary by the department of propaganda.

(a) Personal pigeon
You will take a carrier pigeon for release at dawn after you have been airdropped, with a message announcing your arrival. You may keep the pigeon for several days if the circumstances are favourable so that you can send us a more comprehensive message. In that case you will take care to encode the message according to your SWITCH system. This will probably not be possible if you release the pigeon upon arrival, but if the opportunity presents itself it would be far better. For instructions on care and use see Annexe “D”.
(b) Pigeon Service
You need to establish a Pigeon Service between Belgium and England.
(i)  Your mission order tells you how to seek the necessary collaboration to establish the departure point for this service in Belgium.
 (ii)  You have received special instructions on the technical conditions for operating this service.
(iii) Every month, 25 carrier pigeons will be airdropped to you to ensure the service for the following weeks. The pigeons will be dropped in appropriate cardboard containers together with the amount of food necessary for the time the birds can be kept in Belgium.
(iv) The airdrop operations will take place on one of the sites indicated in Annexe “E”. These sites have been chosen as suitable from our perspective. You must reconnoiter these two points and make sure which of the two you prefer to use. If neither of them can be used for any reason, you must reconnoiter other sites in the surrounding area taking into account the technical conditions that you know. As a reminder, these conditions include:
1. Proximity to an important topographical landmark, like a railway or water course and a characteristic feature for air drops, like a wood with a particular shape and which is easy to recognize from maps;
2.           A location sufficiently hidden away from major roads, urban areas or other places where the reception committee would run the risk of being observed;
3.           Ease of approach and dispersal for reception committee personnel; and
4.           if possible, proximity to a farmhouse or barn, for example, where, with the owner’s complicity it would be possible to postpone dispatch of the pigeons for a day or two. This would be in the case if immediate transport might be dangerous or difficult. It would be very useful to look for a hiding place of this sort near the drop area we propose.
(v)  Airdrop periods for the three months after your departure are given in Annexe “F”. Please engrave these dates and times in your memory. For subsequent periods we will send you the dates and times in a coded letter which we will send with the consignments of pigeons.
(vi)  Your reception committee must be ready to operate on the site chosen from the start of the period indicated.
(vii) On the day we think fit, the following BBC message will be broadcast in Belgium at 17.30 B.S.T:
In French: "Voici un message pour Carol.
 Maman se porte bien maintenant etvous embrasse."
In Flemish: "Bericht voor Carol.
Moeder is nu wel en omhelsd U."
Final confirmation that the operation will be attempted that evening will be given in the broadcast at 21.00 B.S.T. by repeating the same message. If this confirmation is not given, you will conclude that the conditions became unfavorable at the last moment. This method will be followed until the operation has been successful.
The above instructions replace those in Chapter V, 3, in your mission order.
(viii) Your reception committee can be very small because the consignment you receive will be small and light. Consequently, you only need to confide in the strict minimum of personnel necessary to help you place the reception lights. They will be arranged as shown in Annexe "G".
(ix) Any changes to the agreements concerning the airdrop operations and the related BBC messages will be notified to you by letter in an airdropped consignment. In cases where this is not possible we will use the other channels of communication agreed between us.
(c) Innocent letters
You have agreed on an innocent letter code with Lieutenant Benn. See Annexe "H". The innocent letters you send to us will be addressed to:
             Agree with Duncan.

You will sign your innocent letters as follows:

If we write to you by the same means, we will sign:

(d) BBC messages

See Annexe II in your mission order.

(e) Hiding place

In case of danger, you must have a “hiding place” where you can hide away for a time.  The hiding place must be far enough away from your area of operation to reduce the risk of detection.  It is useful for us to know where it is so we can get help to you if necessary.  (Let us know as soon as possible after arriving if you can’t give the details to us now.

                   To be communicated after arrival

(f) Map reference points

Normally you will use Michelin maps following the referencing method you have been shown.  However, if you can obtain E.M. maps at 1/40,000th, which are much more precise, you will find them useful.  In that case each time you will have to indicate which series of maps you are referring to.


(a)       You will take 25,000 (in pencil:) 30,000 Belgian francs and 7500 French francs for your needs.  6000 francs are given to you in small denominations (50-100-1000 frs.)  The amount will be camouflaged in a box of talcum powder.
(b)      The identity cards referred to in Chapter I ( c ) (ii) have been camouflaged in a box of talcum powder.
(c)       A list of encrypted names will also be camouflaged in a box of talcum powder.
(d)       The money and the following equipment will be camouflaged in a portable gramophone and in a child’s toy, probably a small boat.
                    1 Leica camera
                    1 packet of photographic paper
                    2 packets of propaganda leaflets
                    1 set of printing plates
                    100x1000 Belgian franc bank notes
                    1 roll around 150 m. x 16 m.m. film

(e) The above objects and your personal luggage will be wrapped in a “Large A”-type parachute container.


Mission C                                               10.10.42
Annexe II
The following messages will be sent on the 2 and 16 of each month for the next 3 months, in the below order, by emission of Radio- Belgium - London, from 9pm
1) I've dined like a Queen.
2) In the name of the office, Bravo.
3) Little cat, Little cat, day is breaking.
4) The lion's tail has struck the Germans.
5) I've soaked my spur in the waters of the waterfall.
6) The goblin is hidden in the straw.

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