“…one thing is essential, namely a stout heart.”
A bulletin of tips for escapers and evaders (E&Es) behind enemy lines in Italy was issued from the “N” Section unit of “A” Force C.M.F. (Central Mediterranean Force) in February 1944.
This “most secret” document was evidently intended for agents involved in directly assisting E&Es behind the lines. Agents were to read the document and later use the information in coaching E&Es one-on-one in how to avoid capture and find their way to freedom.
The following three paragraphs from the “I.S.9 History—Organization” post will help to clarify the organization of “A” Force as it evolved during the war.
“In order not to confuse the reader more than is necessary it is explained that M.I.9 [British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9] work in the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations first started early in 1941 and was carried out by ‘A’ Force, commanded by Lt-Col [lieutenant-colonel] (later Brigadier) D.W. CLARKE, CBE. A few months later, ‘N’ Section was set up in Cairo as a separate Section of ‘A’ Force and Major (later Lieut-Col) A.C. SIMONDS, OBE, placed in charge of all M.I.9 duties in the Mediterranean Command.
“On the 1st November 1943 ‘N’ Section ‘A’ Force was divided into EAST and WEST, Lt-Col. A.C. SIMONDS being placed in charge of ‘N’ Section ‘A’ Force (EAST) and S/Ldr [Squadron Leader] (later W/Cdr [wing commander]) E.A. DENNIS, OBE, placed in charge of ‘N’ Section ‘A’ Force (WEST).
“On the 20th August 1944 responsibility for M.I.9 work in the Mediterranean Theatre passed from ‘A’ Force and became the responsibility of G-2 (P/W) AFHQ. ‘N’ Section ‘A’ Force title was changed and became I.S.9 [Intelligence School 9], the initials (ME) and (CMF) indicating (East) and (West) respectively.”
Therefore, “N” Section is essentially synonymous with I.S.9.
I am most grateful to researcher Brian Sims for sharing access to this bulletin from the British National Archives, as well as I.S.9 documents that give the bulletin fuller context.
There is the bulletin in its entirety:
Adv. H.Q. “A” Force
c/o No. 2 District H.Q.
10th February, 1944.
BULLETIN NO. 21
The following are a few hints to Escapers and Evaders in Italy. They are the suggestions of an “A” Force Officer who, out of less than five months service in Italy spent more than three of them behind enemy lines. They are comments by an officer who spent many months with “A” Force patrols operating behind Rommel’s lines in the Western Desert and at one time he escaped from Tortorette Prison Camp after having been taken prisoner.