British
Security Coordination (BSC) was a covert organization set up in New York City
by the British Secret
Intelligence Service (MI6)
in May 1940 upon the authorization of Prime Minister Winston Churchill. When Winston Churchill became prime minister
in May 1940, he realized immediately that he had to achieve one thing in order
to ensure that Britain was not defeated by Hitler’s Germany. He had to enlist
the US as Britain’s ally. With the US alongside Britain, Hitler would be
defeated. After the fall of France in June 1940, Britain’s position became even
weaker, it was assumed that British surrender was simply a matter of time.
Churchill’s task, as he himself saw it, was clear, and so British Security
Coordination came into being. The office, which was established for intelligence and propaganda services, was headed by Canadian
industrialist William Stephenson. Its purpose was to investigate enemy
activities, prevent sabotage against British interests in the Americas, and mobilize
pro-British opinion in the Americas. In the BSC office plans were drawn up and
agents were instructed to put them into effect. It was agreed to seek out all
existing pro-British interventionist organizations, to subsidize them where
necessary and to assist them in every way possible. It was counter-propaganda
in the strictest sense of the word. BSC’s media influenced coverage in
newspapers such as the Herald Tribune, the New York Post and the Baltimore Sun.
BSC ran its own radio station, WRUL, and a press agency, the Overseas News
Agency (ONA), feeding stories to the media. BSC invented a game called
“Vik”, described as “a fascinating new pastime for lovers of
democracy”. They printed booklets described up to 500 ways of harassing
and annoying Nazi sympathizers. Players of Vik were encouraged to ring up their
targets at all hours of the night and hang up, dead rats could be put in water
tanks and much more horrendous things. Stephenson coordinated all British
overseas espionage activities in the Western Hemisphere, recruited agents,
established a secret base in Canada to train agents for missions behind enemy
lines, and functioned as liaison between the BSC and the U.S. government until
the Office
of Strategic Services (OSS)
assumed responsibility for U.S. intelligence in 1942. Stephenson himself
financed many of the BSC’s operations. BSC also sourced a transmitter for it to
communicate with the UK which was operated under the codename “Hydra” at Camp X, BSC’s Special Training School No. 103, a Second
World War paramilitary installation in Whitby,
Ontario for
training covert agents in the methods of “secret warfare”. The Hydra
station was established in May 1942 by engineer Benjamin
deForest Bayly. Camp
X had been established in December 1941 by Stephenson to train Allied agents in
methods of clandestine operations, many graduates would be dropped behind enemy
lines in Europe by SOE. In 1999 (more than 50 years after the end of the war),
Stephenson authored a book, The Secret History of British Intelligence in the
Americas, 1940–1945.

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