In World War Two an ornate Victorian mansion, overlooking the River Thames at Medmenham, in Buckinghamshire, was the Headquarters of the Allied Central Interpretation Unit. It was here that the air photography, obtained by reconnaissance aircraft flying over the whole of enemy and occupied Europe, was analysed by Photographic Interpreters: the Intelligence produced from their reports influenced virtually every Allied operation planned and carried out during the war. An analytical mind, curiosity, the ability to search for clues and recognise the unusual were essential qualities for the Interpreters and found in men and women from scientific and artistic backgrounds. They included a daughter of Winston Churchill. Women made up half of the work force, as every aspect of enemy activity was watched and analysed. Now the women of Medmenham, the ‘Women of Intelligence’, tell the story of their wartime life and work – in their own words.
About the author
Christine Halsall has had a lifelong love of history. In 1992 she married a retired Army officer who spent much of his career in Photographic Intelligence (PI). On retirement her and her husband volunteered to work in the Medmenham Collection – the national archive of PI history, based in Buckinghamshire. As Collection Biographer, Christine has interviewed and recorded many Second World War photographic interpreters. She is currently consultant to the BBC for a forthcoming documentary on PI.
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