Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom)

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Intelligence Corps
Intelligence Corps UK Badge.png
Badge of the Intelligence Corps
19 July 1940 – present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
RoleMilitary intelligence
Size7 Battalions
HQ Directorate Intelligence CorpsChicksands
Nickname(s)Int Corps
Motto(s)Manui Dat Cognitio Vires
Knowledge gives strength to the arm
BeretCypress green
March"Rose & Laurel" (quick)
Purcell’s "Trumpet Tune and Ayre" (slow)
Colonel-in-ChiefThe Princess Royal
Colonel CommandantGeneral Sir Nick Houghton
Tactical Recognition FlashIntelligence Corps TRF.svg

The Intelligence Corps (Int Corps) is a 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.[1]

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.[2]


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.[3] The Royal Flying Corps was formed to monitor the ground, and provided aerial photographs for the Corps to analyse.[4]

During the Irish War of Independence, Intelligence Corps operatives were used to monitor the Irish Republican Army. Following the war the Intelligence Corps was gradually scaled down and disbanded entirely in 1929; intelligence matters were left to individual unit officers.[5][6][7]

Second World War[edit]

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 operatives to parachute at RAF Ringway; some of these 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 Corps officer Lt Col Peter Clayton was one of the four founders of the Special Air Service (SAS). Around 40 per cent of British Army personnel at Bletchley Park were in the Intelligence Corps.[8]

The Combined Allied Intelligence Corps as it was known in Malta, began recruiting in 1940 following Italy’s entry into the war on the side of Germany.[9] Among its many responsibilities in the Mediterranean Theatre were debriefing and interrogation of high-ranking prisoners of war in East Africa following Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia (“Eldoret” P.O.W. Camp no. 365 being one example), counter-intelligence operations following Operation Husky the Allied invasion of Sicily in August 1943, and implementation of the Allied Screening Commission.[9] The Commission was established by Field-Marshal Sir Harold Alexander a few days after the fall of Rome in June 1944 to identify and reimburse Italian civilians who had assisted Allied escapees.[10]

Cold War[edit]

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).[11]

Northern Ireland[edit]

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.[12]


On 1 February 1985 the corps was officially declared an 'Arm' (combat support) instead of a 'Service' (rear support).[8]

Corps traditions[edit]

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.[13] Due to the colour of the beret, Intelligence Corps personnel are often referred to as 'Green Slime', or simply 'Slime' by fellow soldiers.[14]


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).[13] DISC was renamed as Joint Intelligence Training Group in January 2015.[15]

The Intelligence Corps Museum was created in 1969,[16] and later renamed as the Military Intelligence Museum, now also at Chicksands. As a working military base, the Museum can be visited by appointment only.[17]

Training and promotion[edit]

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.[18] 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.[19]

Chicksands camp

Current units[edit]

All battalions of the Intelligence Corps fall under 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade of the 6th (UK) Division.[20] Below are the current units of the corps.[21][22]

Notable personnel[edit]


  1. ^ "Major General Sir Charles William Wilson, 1836-1905". Palestine Exploration Fund. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  2. ^ "The spymaster who was stranger than fiction". The Independent. 29 October 1999. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  3. ^ Clayton 1996, p. 18-20.
  4. ^ "History of the Intelligence Corps, p. 3" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Intelligence Corps | National Army Museum".
  6. ^ "History of the Intelligence Corps".
  7. ^ "The Intelligence Corps". Mil Intel Museum.
  8. ^ a b History of the Intelligence Corps, p. 4
  9. ^ a b Recorded interview with Captain “C.M.” (Rtd) of the Combined Allied Intelligence Corps (1941–1946) at Sliema, Malta on 7 November 2012
  10. ^ Roger Absalom (2005) Allied escapers and the contadini in occupied Italy (1943 – 5), Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 10:4, 413-425, DOI: 10.1080/13545710500314603
  11. ^ Gibson 2012, p. 57
  12. ^ "PREM 16/154: Defensive Brief D - Meeting between the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach, 5 April 1974 "Army Plain Clothes Patrols in Northern Ireland"" (PDF). The National Archives. London. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 February 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  13. ^ a b History of the Intelligence Corps, p. 5
  14. ^ "Military Slang and Acronyms". Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  15. ^ "Bedfordshire - Joint Intelligence Training Group Chicksands". Sanctuary (44): 74. 2015. ISSN 0959-4132.
  16. ^ "Intelligence Corps Display". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  17. ^ "Military Intelligence Museum". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  18. ^ "ATC Pirbright". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Intelligence Corps opportunities". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  20. ^ a b Reserve Forces Review 2030: Unlocking the reserves' potential to strengthen a resilient and global Britain (PDF). London, United Kingdom: Ministry of Defence. 2021.
  21. ^ "Information regarding Companies and sub-units of the Royal Military Police and Intelligence Corps under Army 2020" (PDF). Publishing Service, United Kingdom Government. 12 June 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ a b "Intelligence Corps Battalions". Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Information regarding locations of Army Reserve units" (PDF). What do they know?. 6 July 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "1 MILITARY INTELLIGENCE BATTALION". British Army. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  25. ^ "Military Bases: City of York". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  26. ^ "1 Military Intelligence Battalion support high readiness formations, such as 16 Air Assault Brigade". Twitter. 12 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  27. ^ "2 Military Intelligence (Exploitation) Battalion". British Army. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  28. ^ "3 Military Intelligence". Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  29. ^ "4 Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion". British Army. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  30. ^ Ministry, of Defence (July 2013). "Transforming the British Army an Update" (PDF). United Kingdom Parliamentary Publishings. Retrieved 28 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. ^ "4 Military Intelligence". Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  32. ^ British Army Newsletter | Summer 2020 | Issue 5 | In Front.
  33. ^ a b c "FOI(A) regarding Combat Service Support unit pairings" (PDF). What do they know?. 16 April 2021. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  34. ^ "6 Military Intelligence". Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  35. ^ "Army Reserve Centre, Lord Street, Douglas, Isle of Man IM1 1LE". British Army Reserve Centres. Retrieved 4 October 2021.
  36. ^ "Google Earth". Retrieved 11 November 2021.

External links and further reading[edit]

Preceded by Order of Precedence Succeeded by