WW2 CIOS and BIOS Military Intelligence Reports on German Wartime Technology and Research

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Germany's advanced wartime technology

By the final months of the 1939-1945 second world war, it had become clear to the British and American authorities that the German wartime advances in many military fields - including rockets, guided missiles, jet aircraft, synthetic fuels, supersonics and infra-red applications - had been enormous.

German technology in these areas was so much ahead of the Western Allies that they “had no choice but to seize those weapons, find the scientists, uncover their research, and put them to work before someone else did”.

To be clear, “before someone else” in this context meant “before the Russians”.

The Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee (CIOS)

The joint Anglo/American Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee, or CIOS, was therefore established in July 1944 to operate under SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) and uncover the secrets of Germany's advanced technologies.

The function of CIOS was to provide teams of military and civilian scientists and engineers to act alongside T-Force, a fast-moving non-combatant British Army unit, to secure and investigate newly liberated or captured factories, research establishments and other targets of military interest; in short, to gather intelligence on those target sites by whatever means possible.

This included the inspection and, where possible, removal of all aspects of the technology - prototypes, documents and working drawings, to interview scientists and other personnel, and to issue reports on their findings.

These CIOS reports were issued in duplicated typewritten format for controlled circulation to appropriate groups with relevant security clearance within the allied intelligence community.

The reports were each about 10 x 7.5 inches, 25 x 19 cms, stapled in card covers, although they varied greatly in number of pages and number and type of illustrations depending on many factors including the subject area being covered and the size or importance of the target site.

The Black List of Targets for investigation

To prioritize targets, CIOS operated a Black List consisting of some 33 general target Items (i.e. categories) for immediate or urgent investigation.

Examples of these Black List categories are: Item 1 Radar … Item 4 Rockets … Item 5 Jet propulsion … 9 Vehicles … 22 Miscellaneous chemicals ... 24 Medical … 25 Aircraft … 27 Instruments and equipment … 31 Machinery and mechanical equipment

Each report's front cover showed its Black List ITEM number and a unique FILE number.

Reports classified as Secret, Restricted or Confidential extremely rare

Some of the early reports were classified as Secret, Restricted or Confidential with each copy marked on the cover and with its own unique additional security number in the top right corner similar to the one shown at the top of this blog.

Examples of these numbered classified reports are seldom found and command a heavy price premium because of their genuine rarity.

The majority of reports which appear for sale today were issued without such classification - or, in cases when initially classified, also issued de-classified.

The classified and numbered reports carried solely the CIOS name as publisher; the unclassified or de-classified reports were issued jointly by CIOS/HMSO with around half of them also being made available after the war to a wider audience - see next section.

Number of different CIOS reports produced

The CIOS file reference system shows that a total of some 1,090 reports were produced by them between August 1944, the date of their first report (FILE I-1 Radar and Controlled Missiles), and mid-1945 when CIOS was disbanded.

During this period, reports on a large range of German military and technological subject areas including aviation, jets, missiles, rocketry, fuel, oil, gas, weapons, armour, medicine, chemicals, coal, electrical and mechanical engineering, medicine, radar, shipbuilding, communications and transport were issued.

The 1948 HMSO publication Reports on German and Japanese Industry Published up to and Including March 31st 1948 provides details of the CIOS titles and file numbers of 590 of those 1,090 which were then (in 1948) available for purchase or for inspection at 80 libraries and Chambers of Commerce across Britain.

No comprehensive listing is known to exist today in the public domain of the titles of the "missing" 500 reports omitted from the 1948 publication. However, this is hardly surprising as many of those missing would have contained information in technological areas too sensitive for wider release.

Most copies destroyed or discarded; present-day rarity of the survivors

After 70 years, it's impossible to know how many copies of any individual CIOS intelligence documents were produced. The best estimates are that most of the early reports with sensitive military content had a print-run of between 50 and 350. Some of those reports which were released for a wider distribution because of their commercial as opposed to military content may have been produced in somewhat greater numbers, perhaps 400 - 600.

However, whatever the number produced, it is certain that within a very few years of the end of the war in 1945 the vast majority of the printed copies of CIOS reports had either been withdrawn on security grounds or discarded as having served their original purpose.

Most of the few which survived were stored away in libraries or archives to be virtually forgotten; surprisingly few - seldom more than three or four of any individual title - are listed in official records as being held by major national, academic and specialist libraries worldwide.

Post-war intelligence, 1945-47

After the disbanding of SHAEF - and therefore CIOS - at the end of the war in mid-1945 and the consequent restructuring of intelligence gathering in Germany, two new agencies, the British Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee (BIOS) and its US equivalent the Field Information Agency Technical (FIAT), took over the rôle previously held by CIOS.

From then on both BIOS and FIAT reported increasingly on areas of commercial, as opposed to military, interest with many reports given wider, although still controlled and limited, circulation within the industrial  community. Some 1,300 post-war BIOS and 1,000 FIAT reports are also listed in the 1948 HMSO publication mentioned earlier.

Although important reports were issued by the post-war British BIOS and US FIAT agencies, the CIOS reports are of special note in being original WW2 intelligence documents containing information from a period when hostilities were continuing.

Part of the evolutionary history of  MI6 and the CIA

Interestingly, whilst the wartime joint Anglo/American CIOS, and the post-war British BIOS and US FIAT, were short-lived, their acronyms now largely forgotten, both of those agencies live on today under more familiar names. BIOS was subsumed into MI6; FIAT merged with other US intelligence agencies in 1947 to form the CIA.

These documents, in addition to their historical importance in their own right, can therefore be regarded as being early forms of MI6 and CIA reports.

BIOS reports now appear for sale in greater numbers than the wartime CIOS reports although many are still difficult to find and are very collectable.

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Original WW2 military planning and intelligence documents


This posting is also available as a PDF;  click here to download