Author: Arthur Gwynn-Browne (1904-64)
Review date: 10/12/2023
No of pages:
Publisher: Chatto and Windus
Year of publication: 11/09/2012
FSP (Field Security Personnel) by Arthur Gwynn-Browne (1904-64). An NCO’s description of his and others’ first six months of war January 1 to June 1, 1940. Including a description and definition of his security work.
“Security is mostly taking precautions against the possibility of damage happening to what should be secure. When the first security sections went out to France the precautions they took were if not damaging at least appreciably disruptive. They tested the security of any offices they found. What guards there were they satisfied or evaded, they entered the offices and took away the files and documents typewriters plans maps codes ink pens rubber stamps and the general’s blotting paper. There was a fearful to do. Anyway having done it once was enough. The offices were secure from then on and the generals security minded. They said they would not draw positions of the gun emplacements on their blotting paper any more. Anyway they said so.”Gwynn-Jones mentioned a story – ‘I think it is Maupassant’ – about a cockerel and why it crows at sunrise. It does so the story goes because it can never be sure that if he did not crow, the sun would rise. Security is like that; an insurance, a precaution in case something does (or does not) go wrong. Later describing his work in France he discussed accuracy, as necessary for intelligence gathering and assessing: “In security work anything inaccurate makes such complications that you get to be accurate, that is first you get to be cautious and then you assess your information in varying degrees of reliability and you sift it out, then if it is an opinion you say it is and if it is more than an opinion and you know it you say you know it but only what you do know of it. In this way mostly anything that begins suspicious usually ends not at all suspicious, it is disappointing but in security work it does save complications to be more accurate and not more suspicious.” Written in a modernist style, it was Arthur Gwynn-Browne’s first book, an account of his days in the FSP leading to the Dunkirk evacuation and return to England in June 1940. Published by Chatto and Windus in 1942, it went out of print and was printed by Seren, an imprint of Poetry Wales Press, in 2004.