Sources: Wikipedia, British Army (here)

This is for those who are interested in the military and warfare.

The Intelligence Corps (‘Int Corps’) is a corps of the British Army. The Director of the Intelligence Corps is a brigadier. Its Colonel-in Chief was HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, until his death in April 2021 .

The Intelligence Corps is responsible for gathering, analysing and disseminating military intelligence and also for counter-intelligence and security. Modern military operations are dependent on the provision of highly accurate and timely intelligence. To provide this, analysts are embedded in all parts of the Military to ensure that the Army’s operations are successful. Although it is one of the smallest parts of the Army, the analysts have a monumental impact on decision making straight out of training.

The UK government maintains intelligence agencies within several different government departments. The agencies are responsible for collecting and producing foreign and domestic intelligence, providing military intelligence, performing espionage and counter-espionage. Their intelligence assessments contribute to the conduct of the foreign relations of the UK, maintaining our national security, military planning and law enforcement. The main organisations are the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6), the Security Service (MI5), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and Defence Intelligence (DI).

Intelligence Corps personnel wear a distinctive cypress green beret with a cap badge consisting of a union rose (a red rose with a white centre) between two laurel branches and surmounted by a crown. (According to the late Gavin Lyall, the I-Corps badge is referred to jokingly as “a rampant pansy resting on its laurels”.


In the 19th century, British intelligence work was undertaken by the Intelligence Department of the War Office. An important figure was Sir Charles Wilson, a Royal Engineer who successfully pushed for reform of the War Office’s treatment of topographical work. In the early 1900s intelligence gathering was becoming better understood, to the point where a counter-intelligence organisation (MI5) was formed by the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DoMI) under Captain (later Major-General) Vernon Kell; overseas intelligence gathering began in 1912 by MI6 under Commander (later Captain) Mansfield Smith-Cumming.

Although the first proposals to create an intelligence corps came in 1905, the first Intelligence Corps was formed in August 1914 and originally included only officers and their servants. It left for France on 12 August 1914. The Royal Flying Corps was formed to monitor the ground, and provided aerial photographs for the Corps to analyse.  

The decryption of the Zimmermann Telegram in 1917 was described as the most significant intelligence triumph for Britain during World War I and one of the earliest occasions on which a piece of signals intelligence influenced world events.

On 19 July 1940, a new Intelligence Corps was created by Army Order 112 and has existed since that time. The Army had been unprepared for collecting intelligence for deployment to France, and the only intelligence had been collected by Major Sir Gerald Templer. The Corps trained operatives to parachute at RAF Ringway; some of these were then dropped over France as part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Intelligence Corps officers were involved in forming the highly-effective Long Range Desert Group, and Corps officer Lt Col Peter Clayton was one of the four founders of the Special Air Service (SAS). Around 40 per cent of British Army personnel at Bletchley Park were in the Intelligence Corps.


Their headquarters, formerly at Maresfield, East Sussex, then Templer Barracks at Ashford, Kent, moved in 1997 to the former Royal Air Force station at Chicksands in Bedfordshire along with the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre and the Intelligence Corps Museum, in Campton and Chicksands.

As you would expect, Amazon have an array of books on the subject of British Army Military Intelligence. Nick Van Der Bijl has authored several books on the subject. One such book is British Military Intelligence: Objects from the Military Intelligence Museum which, through a mix of objects, medals, photographs and documents held in the Military Intelligence Museum, tells the story of British military intelligence across the years, moving from its earliest object of the Waterloo medal awarded to the Duke of Wellington’s senior intelligence officer to items recovered from operations in Afghanistan.

Martin Pollins
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