Special Branch
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Special Branch : The History: 1883 - 2006

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Initially tasked with combatting the threat of Irish republican terrorists in the reign of Queen Victoria, the Metropolitan Police Special Branch went on to play a major role in the defence of the realm for over 120 years.Over time, 'the Branch', as it came to be known, assumed a much wider role, and was held responsible for monitoring the activities of anarchists, Bolsheviks and even the suffragettes. Later, it became the executive arm of MI5 in dealing with espionage cases, as (much to their frustration) the Security Service had no power to arrest potential spies. As the war against terrorism became more intense in the latter half of the twentieth century, Special Branch worked closely with the Anti-Terrorist Branch in tackling this new threat.Packed with accounts of extraordinary missions, life-saving acts of bravery and high-risk intelligence-gathering, Special Branch offers the first complete history of this unique, but now defunct, service, which was subsumed into the Counter-Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police in 2006.Special Branch veterans Ray Wilson and Ian Adams have brought this long and distinguished history to life with the help of recollections from former colleagues, as well as their own experiences of life in the Branch.
In doing so, they have also illuminated the underlying friction marring its relations with the Security Service - without doubt a factor in its eventual demise.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 402 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 40mm | 703g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1849549109
  • 9781849549103
  • 40,375

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ix Preface by Lord Peter Imbert CVO, QPM, DL xi Heads of Special Branch from 1883 to 2006 xiii Introduction xv Chapter One: Fenian Terrorism 1 Chapter Two: Anarchists and Bolsheviks 39 Chapter Three: The Suffragette Movement 55 Chapter Four: Establishment 67 Chapter Five: Protection 73 Chapter Six: Naturalisation and Port Controls 83 Chapter Seven: German Espionage and Subversive Pacifism in Great Britain 87 Chapter Eight: The Rise and Fall of the Directorate of Intelligence 97 Chapter Nine: The Secret Service Committee 1925 107 Chapter Ten: The Irish Troubles 1919-23 115 Chapter Eleven: The Communist Threat 131 Chapter Twelve: The Reds in the Special Branch Bed 149 Chapter Thirteen: Sedition, the Invergordon Mutiny and Elias versus Passmore 157 Chapter Fourteen: The Business of Informing: Henri Le Caron,William Foster Watson and the Morning Post 165 Chapter Fifteen: Fascism 171 Chapter Sixteen: The 1939-40 IRA Bombing Campaign 181 Chapter Seventeen: Soviet Espionage in the 1930s 207Chapter Eighteen: The War Years 217Chapter Nineteen: The Return of Peace 225 Chapter Twenty: The Spying Season 237 Chapter Twenty-One: Demonstrations and Public Order 247 Chapter Twenty-Two: New Challenges 257 Chapter Twenty-Three: A New Wave of IRA Terror in England 267 Chapter Twenty-Four: The Diversity of Special Branch Work 295 Chapter Twenty-Five: A Very Stressful Period 321 Chapter Twenty-Six: Non-Irish Activities 347 Chapter Twenty-Seven: Protection 367 Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Perennial Irish Problem and Transfer of the Lead Role against the IRA to the Security Service 375 Bibliography 393 Index 401
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About Ray Wilson

Ray Wilson joined the Metropolitan Police Force in 1953 and served until 1984. He joined Special Branch in 1956 and remained in that department until he retired. He lives in Surrey.Ian Adams joined Special Branch in 1957 and gained wide experience of security investigations, port duty and protection, including that of government ministers. He died in May 2014.
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