The intricate system of having British intelligence find and turn numerous Nazi agents prior to the Normandy landings is not well known. The man responsible for running this vast network of spies was Thomas Argyll Robertson nicknamed ‘Tar’. He knew better than anyone else in British intelligence how to spot a lie and therefore a spy. He was accompanied by John Masterman throughout the Second World War, both men are renowned for having turned more Nazi agents into doubles or cut-outs from which both American and British intelligence defeated the Third Reich.
It all began with the fall of France and Germany’s need for sound intelligence on London. It quickly sent several agents over to London with both agent codebooks and wireless sets. All such agents were discovered and turned! The initial wave of captured agents were joined by ‘walk-ins’ who volunteered their services as ‘doubles’, agents for the Allied cause. It was the walk-ins that provided both Masterman and Robertson with their greatest opportunities against Hitler.
Both men created what was termed ‘the Twenty Committee, so called because a double cross in Roman numerals looked like a double X or 20. This department was responsible for coordinating interdepartmental tasks of running numerous agents smoothly and simultaneously. By means of the ‘Twenty Committee’, double cross ran most if not all of the German espionage system that was aimed at the Allies. They kept the Germans off balance, making them drain resources or effort in drawing attention to areas not keen.
The XX or doubles were in no doubt fearless men and women. We have Johnny Jebsen alias ‘Artist’, Lily Sergeyev alias ‘Treasure’, Juan Pujol Garcia alias ‘Garbo’, Elvira Chaudoir alias ‘The Bronx’ and Dusko Popov alias ‘Tricycle’.
Operation Fortitude, the Allied effort to deflect attention away from the Allied spot landing in Normandy was complicated by the capture of ‘Artist’, Johnny Jebsen. Throughout the XX system each double knew that he/she would not be rescued.
‘Double Cross’ by Ben Macintyre and ‘Agent Garbo’ by Stephan Talty reveal the strength of character needed to overcome tyranny, for the collective contribution each double made to the Allied cause is invaluable.
The single most significant contribution to the Allied effort in opening up a second ‘western’ front turned to a cartographer named General Albert Coady Wedemeyer (1897-1989.) General Wedemeyer was from an upper middle-class family in Omaha, Nebraska. Always fascinated by European history and the grand strategy of Empire, he was inexorably drawn to the life of a soldier and attended West Point graduating in 1919. He saw Germany throughout the end of the First World War even attending the German armies prestigious general staff school ‘kriegsakademie’, where he learned of the German blitzkrieg alongside future enemies. Wedemery’s interest in summarizing German tactics and organization brought him to the attention of George C. Marshall who assigned Wedemeyer to the War Plans Division tasked with reducing American mobilization requirements to a SINGLE DOCUMENT. In the summer of the 1941 he was called upon by Roosevelt to deliver a quick lecture-blueprint on how to defeat Nazi Germany.
He completed the study of his lecture in 90 days, all of it down to a single document. He laid out the American critical politico-military industrial assumptions for the looming conflict, correctly identifying America’s adversaries and where the main fighting would occur. Wedemeyer took into account the industrial capacity needed to feed the war machines of China, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States including how much material could be spare to the Allies. He envisioned hitting the Third Reich will 9 million soldiers, enough for the domestic war effort back home. Wedemeyer’s single page document was called the ‘Victory Plan’.
He specifically called for an invasion of Europe in 1943, before Germany could strengthen her defenses. This would bring him into conflict with Winston Churchill.
We must remember, the Germans are a land based power, the Allies are Naval. Churchill wished to strangle Germany by coming up from Italy, the soft underbelly of Europe along with joining Soviet hands in Constantinople. Churchill envisioned a noose ever tightening upon stretched Axis war lines.
The White House was where Wedemeyer’s ‘Victory Plan’ would conflict with Churchill’s plan to strangle a land based power through prolonged bombardment, naval blockade, propaganda, the conquest of the Mediterranean, on offensive throughout north Italy and the Balkans. Needless to say, a looming conflict was brewing between Churchill and Wedemeyer.
In 1942, Roosevelt assembled General Wedemeyer to lecture Stalin and Churchill. In effect giving a rebuttal to British War aims.
Churchill beat Wedemeyer, if only because the Americans needed wholehearted Allied coalition support. It is believed that Churchill got his pound of flesh in having General Wedemeyer sent off to obscure China-Burma-India theatre for having incited Churchill’s anger on being contradicted by a mid-level American official.
Marshall thought very highly of Wedemeyer having him serve under Mountbatten and Chiang Kai-shek. His analytical skills were used to the benefit of American foreign policy in postwar China in 1948 and the Berlin blockade.
Historians like John Keegan noted that Albert C. Wedemeyer was the most farsighted intellectual military mind America ever produced. Yes, he was sacrificed on the high altar of Allied harmony. But American won anyway!
“Keep From All Thoughtful Men: How U.S. Economists Won World War II” by Jim Lacey & “General Albert c. Wedemeyer” by John J. McLaughlin.