Document Source: Frontline Intelligence in WW2 – (3) Allied T Forces (Keith Ellison)

During World War Two, the Allies employed specialist task forces (S Forces) in North Africa and Italy which were used to search newly occupied cities and towns for intelligence, strategic, tactical, technical and economic documents, and artifacts. The initial aims had been to collect military intelligence and counter-intelligence, but with the occupation of Rome, these aims had begun to evolve.

When the Allies began to consider operations in Northwest Europe, they realized that technical, economic, and industrial intelligence would be important both for the war against Japan and for the post-war reparations. They, therefore, used the S Force model to create a similar type of intelligence collection unit – the T Force, which was given the job of coordinating the collection of a much wider type of intelligence than that collected in most S Force operations in Italy. On Jul 27, 1944, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) Intelligence Directive No 17 instructed the US 6-AG and 12-AG to establish the T Forces. The description of the T Force given by the US Military History Institute is as follows:

Anglo‑American organization used for intelligence exploitation of scientific and industrial targets, WWII. Its mission: seize, safeguard, and process documents, archives, and materiel of intelligence/counter-intelligence interest. Also, capture designated enemy agents and collaborators. Established by SHAEF, G‑2, and based in the 12-AG HQ, G‑2. The US T Force was modeled on the S-Force of the US 15-AG in Italy, notably in the captures of Rome and Florence. (1) This is not a full definition, however, as it concentrates only on the US 12-AG, while there were T Forces in the US 6-AG and the UK 21-AG areas as well. The definition given by SHAEF was: a military unit for planning the seizure of, and thereafter seizing and holding until examined and final disposition has been decided upon, individuals, installations, documents, etc., termed targets, in captured or reoccupied enemy or Allied cities or geographical districts. (2)


The units involved in the S Force work in Italy had taken on a technical intelligence collection role as well as combat intelligence and counter-espionage as the campaign in Italy progressed. The reason given for this was to assess the war potential of the German economy. In this role, they were guided from Aug 21, 1944, by the work of the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee (CIOS). This was formed to ensure that the intelligence derived from captured enemy material and personnel would be available to both SHAEF and the various interested US and UK government departments. CIOS was responsible for the Combined Chiefs of Staff. CIOS’ functions and responsibilities include: (1) receive, approve, and coordinate all requests of the British and the US governmental departments for the intelligence of military or political significance which became available exclusive of combat intelligence, normal technical intelligence, and counter intelligence. (2) assign priorities to such requests. (3) arrange the preparation of intelligence folders for the preparation of adequate plans and the provision of expert personnel for technical investigations on the spot.

The targets were placed on Black Lists if they were of military interest or on Grey Lists if they were industrial targets. A CIOS Black List for Buildings would usually consist of 9 columns:

– Priority
– Target Number
– Organization or Firm
– Place
– Zone and Map Reference
– Key Personnel
– Remarks
– Reliability of Information
– Reference of Information Source (Ministry or Department). (3)

CIOS had representatives from several US and UK intelligence and military departments and civilian agencies and ministries and was responsible for providing the technical experts to investigate targets in situ. They formed seven Combined Advanced Field Teams (CAFTs), made up of around 70 assessors. The CAFTs were attached to each Army Group, each team specializing in the exploitation of several technical items. Their mission was to assess targets rapidly and call for investigation teams when warranted. The investigation teams in turn reported to the ‘T’ Sub-division of G2 in SHAEF, who indexed, filed, and disseminated the reports as required.

The ‘T’ sub-division (later changed to Intelligence Target (‘T’) Sub-Division) was created by SHAEF in Jul 1944 as the agency responsible for all matters concerning the investigation and exploitation of intelligence objectives or targets. It initially consisted of five US and three UK officers, and thirteen enlisted men and women. Also, within the G2’s Operation Intelligence Sub-division there was a Technical Intelligence Section, which acted as the clearing house for all technical information obtained from the field; controlled the allocation of all captured enemy war materials wanted for technical intelligence purposes; and cleared requests for information from the various allied governments.

On Feb 17, 1945, the ‘T’ Sub-division became part of the SHAEF G2 Special Sections Sub-division, which was principally concerned with the coordination, supervision, and facilitation of the investigation of intelligence targets in Germany by authorized Allied agencies, and served as the SHAEF executive agency for CIOS. (4) The T Sub-division also acquired a field element, the 6800 T Force, which was about 1700 people strong by Apr 1945 and, with the later addition of the GOLDCUP ministerial control parties (see below), had more than 2000. During May and June 1945, the force was able to deploy about 1000 investigators into the field. Planning for the T Forces was eventually devolved to Army Groups, while the ‘T’ Sub-Division concentrated on planning the T Forces for Berlin and Kiel.


Outside of major target cities, the task of locating and searching high-priority objectives, (such as communication nodes, centers of civil administration and headquarters of German occupation forces, and those of organizations sympathetic to the German cause) fell normally to the US Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and the British Field Security Sections (FSS). For instance, the CIC was ordered on D Day to locate, seize, and place under guard all important communications centers and to take charge of civilian traffic control. The FSS/CIC detachments were often assisted by local French resistance groups, which helped the detachments to advance quickly. The US 4-ID CIC entered the first major counter-intelligence target, Cherbourg, on Jun 27, 1944. Documents captured in this city were so voluminous that they were turned over to the US VII Corps Order-of-Battle Team for evaluation and dissemination. (5)


There were, however, several other specialist intelligence collecting units operating outside of the larger target cities which later operated in the liberation of Paris under the umbrella of the T Force. As the OSS War Diary explains, the T Forces were organized by the Supreme Commander to prevent the independent acquisition of documents and other target objectives by uncoordinated American and British government agencies. For this reason, SHAEF policy and the policy of each of the Army Groups dictated that for the duration of the period in which a T Force was operating in a specific target area, no other Allied military or government agency concurrently would be engaged in seizing, holding or examining targets, unless clearance for doing so had been obtained from the T Force Commander in advance. (6)

The British Naval Intelligence Department (NID) controlled its collection unit. Originally name the Intelligence Assault Unit, it was soon renamed 30 Commando, and before operations in Northwest Europe renamed again to 30 AU (RN) – Assault Unit or Advance Unit, depending upon the source. The 30 AU had been operational since 1943 in commando-type raids on intelligence targets in North Africa and Italy. In December 1944 the unit was tasked with searching out intelligence targets in Germany. In Jan 1945, the main body of the 30 AU was moved to the continent in readiness for operations.

Another specialist unit was the Alsos Mission, seeking nuclear scientists, paperwork, and raw materials associated with the German Nuclear Weapons Program. The Mission was recalled from Italy to London to form part of an expanded group under Col Boris Pash, preparing for D Day. On Aug 4, the US 8-ID cleared Rennes as the first Alsos target. Their operation provided useful information on target scientists. The Alsos Mission then moved to join the T Force elements in Rambouillet on Aug 24, preparing to enter Paris. It was normal for such units to work under the T Force during the occupation of large city targets, or else obtain permission from the T Force commander to operate separately. Outside of major target cities, they would concentrate on their missions.


The first deployment of the T Force was the liberation of Paris, mainly using the US 12-AG elements. It was to move into the city within a few hours of the end of fighting and so needed to be a self-contained mobile force with sufficient combat troops to guard buildings; remove mines, booby traps, and explosives; man a detention center; and provide physical security for intelligence personnel. It consisted of 1805 men in total, 1057 of whom were combat troops (including 77 from the 30 AU and 80 from the French Special Service Unit). 548 members came from various branches of 10 allied intelligence agencies, including 63 from teams sent by the Combined Intelligence Priorities Committee and 18 from the Alsos Mission. They entered Paris at 2200 on Aug 25, August 1944. (7)

The organic composition of the T Force staff included eight officers and three enlisted men. Col Francis P. Tompkins was in charge while Lt Col Harold C Lyon his Executive Officer. The Counter-Intelligence Branch (CIB), 12-AG provided four additional officers as reinforcements, under Col T. J. Sands, GSC, Deputy Commander. A Document Section was located in the HQ at the Petit Palais under Lt Vandemaele of the S2 Section. The original aim had been to handle documents in situ by sealing off the target buildings, but insufficient guard forces lead to the documents being transported by the attacking teams. When the attacking team was composed of specialists, documents of particular interest were kept in their custody and S2 Section notified other interested agencies. If the attacking team was a regular Target Team, the documents were delivered to the Document Section. When the building targets which had been sealed under the original plan were to be unsealed, the Document Section visited the buildings, examined all documents and removed those of interest, and delivered them to the garage at 19 Avenue Foch. The documents were handed to CIB, G2, Communications Zone on Sept 6, and later transported to 72 Avenue Foch under the custody of the SHAEF Documents Section.

A Civilian Interrogation Center was initially located at the Petit Palais but later moved to 19 Avenue Foch. Between Aug and Sept 1944, the Center processed 243 people, 62 of whom were target cases. 44 were transferred to the French authorities, 20 to the POW cage, eight were evacuated to the UK, and seven were released to the T Force Special Counter-Intelligence Unit (SCIU) for further exploitation. (8)

The T Force operation covered 896 targets (382 buildings and 514 persons). Action on all but 54 buildings was achieved before the T Force was withdrawn. About 12% of the personality targets were detained and processed through the T Force interrogation Center. 181 additional arrests were made. According to a subsequent report, important items of intelligence derived from the operation included a prisoner with information on and key for an exceedingly rare cipher system, a rare set of maps of Indo-China, a German map disclosing the plan of mining, demolitions and booby-trapping at Dunkerque, plus other maps and finds of technical intelligence interest. (9)

There were 15 numbered Target Teams consisting of a target team commander, an interpreter where necessary, a French representative, CIC personnel, an NCO, and three or four enlisted men from the headquarters company. These were augmented later by people from the special intelligence agencies which organized and operated special field teams or collating agencies. The numbered Target Teams each had their assigned geographical areas. Representatives of special intelligence agencies with T Force functioned as special teams to investigate targets of particular interest to their agencies.


1. T Force/S Force – a Bibliography of MHI Sources, USAMHI Ref Branch, Jan 88, Jun 92
2. War Diary, X-2 Branch, OSS London, England, Vol 1, Book II, Oct-Dec 1944, Commanding Officer, OSS Accessions S91, Microfilm Ref M1623, Roll 10 of 10 rolls, Target 8. Also, “T Forces, Present Position of OSS Relative to,” report by Maj C Brooks Peters, USMCR, Plans, and Operations Staff, HQ & HQ Detachment, OSS, ETOUSA (Main), dated 11 January 1945, RG226/Entry 115/Box 52/Folder 3/Item 29
3. RG331/Box 138
4. Report of the General Board, US Forces, European Theater, on Organisation and Operation of the Theater Intelligence Services in the European Theater of Operations, provided by the US Army Military History Institute
5. Counter Intelligence Corps History and Mission in World War II, by the Counter Intelligence Corps School, Fort Holabird, Baltimore (undated), 40
6. War Diary, X-2 Branch, OSS London, England, Vol 1, Book II, Jan-Mar 1945, Commanding Officer, OSS Accessions S91, Microfilm Ref M1623, Roll 10 of 10 rolls, Target 8. Also, “T Forces, Present Position of OSS Relative to,” report by Maj C Brooks Peters, USMCR, Plans, and Operations Staff, HQ & HQ Detachment, OSS, ETOUSA (Main), dated 11 January 1945, RG226/Entry 115/Box 52/Folder 3/Item 29
7. America’s Secret Army, by I Sayer and D Botting, 146
8. HQ T Force 12 AG Draft “T Force Report on Target ‘PARIS’”, dated October 1944, RG331/Box 53
9. G2 Section (Pts V-VII) 12th Army Group Report of Operations (Final After Action Report), Vol IV, from US Army Military History Institute


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