By Howard F Brown
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7 In France, prior to the German attack, the BEF command Intelligence staffs were able to use what little time they had and actually analyse what they required from any potential prisoners, now that some form of unified, cooperating intelligence structure was in place in Whitehall. It was for this reason that Major Scotland was summoned. Although Major Scotland’s stay in France seemed all too brief, he had set in motion a system for dealing with the administration of interrogating prisoners of war that has remained, virtually unchanged, to this day.
Just as quickly as the meeting had started, so it finished. Hitler just rose and left. At the door, however, he stopped and turned. ‘You are an ingenious man, Schottland. 24 By the beginning of 1940, Scotland was accepting ‘more or less gracefully the idea that I was militarily unemployable’. Then, one early March morning, Scotland received a message that was to change his life for the next ten years or so: One day a telephone call from the War Office demanded my prompt attendance for an interview.
He sailed through the language proficiency tests and then faced yet another board of senior officers. When asked what he knew about the German Army, Scotland was able to tell them that he had actually served in it! Within weeks, he found himself called forward for ‘Special Duties in France’ with the rank of Second Lieutenant. Scotland was ordered to report to General Headquarters in France where his first task was to question some three thousand prisoners being held outside Le Havre. Army Intelligence was worried that the Germans had developed a system of rehabilitation that allowed them to return their wounded to the front line more quickly than the British or French.
43rd Infantry Division by Howard F Brown