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Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom)

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1914–29 15 July 1940–

British Army

7 Battalions

United Kingdom

Military intelligence

Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom)

HQ Directorate Intelligence Corps
Chicksands Templer Barracks Maresfield

The Intelligence Corps (Int Corps) is one of the corps of the British Army. It is responsible for gathering, analysing and disseminating military intelligence and also for counter-intelligence and security. The Director of the Intelligence Corps is a brigadier.



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.

First World War

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.

Irish War of Independence

During the Irish War of Independence, Intelligence Corps operatives were used in an unsuccessful battle to defeat the Irish Republican Army. The Cairo Gang were overwhelmingly Intelligence Corps operatives. On Bloody Sunday, 1920, twelve of these agents were assassinated at their lodgings by Michael Collins' Squad. Due to this and similar failures, the Intelligence Corps was disbanded in 1929.

Second World War

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 its operatives to parachute at RAF Ringway, who 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 the Corps officer Lt Col Peter Clayton was one of the four founders of the Special Air Service (SAS). Around 40% of British Army personnel at Bletchley Park were in the Intelligence Corps.

Cold War

The Corps gained its regimental march in 1956, first played at Kneller Hall, the home of the Royal Military School of Music. From August 1957, the Corps first had a permanent cadre of officers; previously all personnel serving in the corps were officers from other parts of the army, on occasional tours. Throughout the Cold War, Intelligence Corps officers and NCOs (with changed insignia) were posted behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany, to join in the intelligence-gathering activities of the British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (Brixmis).

Northern Ireland

Many members of the Intelligence Corps served in Northern Ireland during "the Troubles". Units such as the Military Reaction Force, Special Reconnaissance Unit, Force Research Unit and 14 Intelligence Company contained Corps soldiers and officers.


On 1 February 1985 the corps was officially declared an 'Arm' (combat support) instead of a 'Service' (rear support).

Corps traditions

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 Intelligence Corps cap badge is referred to jokingly as "a rampant pansy resting on its laurels".) Their motto is Manui Dat Cognitio Vires ("Knowledge gives Strength to the Arm"). The corps' quick march is The Rose & Laurel while its slow march is Henry Purcell's Trumpet Tune & Ayre.


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 (DISC) and the Intelligence Corps Museum. DISC was renamed as Joint Intelligence Training Group in January 2015.

Training and promotion

The corps has a particularly high proportion of commissioned officers, many of them commissioned from the ranks, and also a high percentage of female members. Non-commissioned personnel join as an Operator Military Intelligence (OPMI) or Operator Military Intelligence (Linguist) (OPMI(L)). They do basic 14-week military training at either the Army Training Centre, Pirbright, or the Army Training Regiment, Winchester. OPMI soldiers then will complete a 20-week special-to-arm training at Templer Training Delivery Wing, Chicksands, at the end of which they are promoted to Lance Corporal and posted to a battalion.


1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade:

  • 1 Military Intelligence Battalion – Catterick (Regular Army)
  • 5 x MI Companies
  • 2 Military Intelligence (Exploitation) Battalion – Trenchard Lines, Upavon (Regular Army)
  • 6 x MI Companies
  • 3 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – London
  • HQ Company – London
  • 31 MI Company – London
  • 32 MI Company – London
  • 33 MI Company – London
  • 34 MI Company – London
  • 35 MI Company
  • 4 Military Intelligence Battalion – Bulford (Regular Army)
  • 4 x MI Companies
  • Land Intelligence Fusion Centre, Hermitage
  • 5 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – Coulby Newham
  • HQ Company Coulby – Newham
  • 51 MI Company – Edinburgh
  • 52 MI Company – Gateshead
  • 53 MI Company – Leeds
  • 55 MI Company - Nottingham
  • 6 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – Manchester
  • HQ Company – Manchester
  • 61 MI Company – Manchester
  • 62 MI Company – Lisburn
  • 63 MI Company – Stourbridge
  • 7 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – Bristol
  • HQ Company – Bristol
  • 71 MI Company – Bristol
  • 72 MI Company – Southampton
  • 73 MI Company – Thatcham
  • 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade is part of Force Troops Command.

    Notable personnel

  • Category:Intelligence Corps officers
  • References

    Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom) Wikipedia

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