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Chapter XII


81. General

It should be a matter of discipline that other ranks must never discuss subjects relative to naval, military or air work, operations or movements of any kind in the presence or hearing of any stranger whatever, whether in uniform or not, whether on leave or in the theatre of war.

No letters, papers, marked maps, copies of orders, note books, diaries, etc., will be taken by men on occasions when they are liable to capture. All waste papers left behind in billets or camps must be destroyed.

82. Conduct of British prisoners of war

  1. One of the most fruitful sources of intelligence in the field is the information which may be obtained from a prisoner of war. One soldier, uninstructed as regards reticence, may, if he is captured, betray an important projected surprise manoeuvre by his answers to the seemingly innocent questions of an adept interrogator.
  2. Under international law, every prisoner of war is bound to give, if questioned on the subject, his rank, true name and number; if he infringes this rule he is liable to have the advantages given to prisoners of his class curtailed.
  3. The duty of a soldier when captured is therefore to refuse any information to the enemy, except his rank, true name and number. On no account is he to state the unit or formation to which he belongs or which he was accompanying when captured, or to answer any questions about British uniform or badges.
  4. It must be clearly understood that although the right of interrogation is not limited to name, rank, and number, yet a prisoner of war is not bound to answer any other question, and cannot be punished or submitted to any disadvantages for refusing to do so. A prisoner of war cannot be punished for giving false information about his own army.
  5. The safest procedure is to give the information regarding name and rand or number to which the interrogator is entitled and to decline to answer further questions. Attempts to give misleading information may do more harm than good, and may lead to the extraction of true information eventually.
  6. All should be instructed that their obligations as regards reticence do not cease with their actual interrogation. The enemy will probably make arrangements for placing agents as pseudo prisoners for listening to prisoners' conversations when they think that they cannot be overheard. They must therefore be very careful when they speak and to whom they speak; they should hold conversation with no one (British or otherwise) whom they cannot personally identify as a comrade.
  7. They should not forget that, even when speaking to a comrade, their conversation may be overheard by some form of concealed listening apparatus.
  8. At the termination of hostilities a prisoner who has committed treachery or given information to the enemy while a prisoner is liable to severe disciplinary action.

83. Regulations for the contents of correspondence

  1. Allusions to any of the following matters are forbidden at all times in private correspondence during a war, whether relating to naval, military, or air forces or operations:--
    1. Strength, efficiency, morale or organization of our forces, including any comment on the absence or presence in the theatre of war of a unit or formation, or disclosure regarding the formation to which any unit is attached or belongs.
    2. Location or movement of any naval, military or air force units or detachments; arrival or lack of reinforcements.
    3. Armament or equipment of any kind.
    4. Distinguishing signs used for the identification of formations, units, and their transport.
    5. Plans and forecasts or orders for future operations, whether known or merely rumoured or surmised.
    6. Communications--such as the use, condition, or probable extensions of roads, railways, or other transportation facilities, bridging operations, etc.
    7. State of the maintenance services, including any reference to reserves.
    8. Position or description of billets, bivouacs or camps.
    9. Casualties before official publication.
    10. Effect of any action by the enemy. Any remark which might tend, if published, to encourage the enemy, to cause despondency in our own forces or people, or to incite a feeling of hostility among the people in the theatre of war or in neutral countries.
    11. Criticisms and statements calculated to bring into disrepute our forces or those of our allies.
  1. Private correspondence in the field will be in plain language. Codes, ciphers and shorthand will not be permitted. Picture postcards will be suppressed by franking officers if they may in any way disclose the writer's present or past location, or the route by which movements of the writer's unit have taken place. It is not permitted either in the address or text of correspondence to connect the name of a place with that of a unit, or the name of a unit with the designation of an army post office.
  2. It is forbidden to send, or to attempt to send, to unauthorized persons:--
    1. Official documents, including intelligence summaries, orders, reports, maps, etc., or to disclose their contents except in the course of duty.
    2. Any document captured from the enemy, or found in places occupied by the enemy, or found in places occupied by the enemy, and any document containing information about the enemy.
    3. Any official document belonging to the civil authorities in allied or enemy territory.
  3. It is forbidden to despatch to neutral or enemy countries:--
    Photographs or pictorial matter of any kind, from whatever source they may have been obtained.
  4. It is forbidden to communicate to the Press except through the duly authorized channel.
  5. It is forbidden to send through the post photographs or films except those taken under proper authority.
  6. It is forbidden to insert advertisements or letter in any publication inviting correspondence with strangers, or to enter into correspondence with any stranger in response to such advertisements or invitations.
    The greatest caution and reserve are necessary in acknowledging presents from unknown donors, or in replying to trade circulars from unknown merchants and dealers. Replies to circulars from neutral countries are forbidden.
  7. It is forbidden to make use of the civil postal service in a theatre of operations, or to transmit correspondence by the hand of an officer, soldier, or civilian proceeding outside the theatre of operations, except by a recognized military messenger service.

84. Field Service postcards

  1. The field service postcard will not as a rule be delayed in transit by the censor staff, provided that:--
    1. In the case of Army Form A 2042, nothing has been added except the address, name of sender, and date of despatch, and of the last communication received, and lines erasing sentences not required.
    2. In the case of Army Form A 2042A, B, or C, they have been used only for the purpose for which they are issued.

The copyright of the field service postcard is vested in the Crown; the use of any imitation of it is an infringement of the copyright.

85. The green envelope

  1. The green envelope (Army form A 3078) is issued to the troops for the transmission of letters relating to private and family matters only. The green envelope will be posted by the sender's unit without franking, but its contents are liable to censorship at the base. The scale of issue of the green envelopes will be determined by the C.-in-C. Their provision will be regarded as a privilege liable to be withdrawn at any time. The existence of these envelopes will not be used as a means to absolve officers from the duties of regimental censorship, or to induce or compel men to send all their letters by them. Any misuse of the envelope or infraction of the regulations for its use will be regarded as a serious offence.

    The green envelope will be used subject to the following regulations:--
    1. The certificate regarding its contents, printed on the face of the envelope, must be signed by the sender.
    2. Green envelopes cannot be registered and should not be used for the transmission of money or valuables.
    3. Writers may enclose up to three of their own letters in ordinary covers in one green envelope. When used for more than one letter the green envelope will be addressed to the deputy chief censor. The covers of the enclosed letters will be left open by the sender.
    The copyright of the green envelope is vested in the Crown; the use of any imitation of it is an infringement of the copyright.
  1. Special arrangements will be made for the censorship of letters in foreign languages, which when they cannot be censored in the writer's unit, will be sent under cover to the deputy chief censor.

86. Addresses

  1. The correct postal address of his unit will be made known to every soldier. No addition to this address will be permitted. In case of doubt regarding the correct military postal address of any unit the local army postal authorities should be consulted. The use of a civil address is forbidden.
  2. Writers' addresses may not be given on postcards, nor is the use of stationery permitted which is headed, embossed, or printed with any matter calculated to disclose the location of the writer or of any unit.
  3. The rules given above for the addresses and subject-matter of correspondence will be applied equally to packages and parcels, whether sent by post or by other agencies. In all cases where such packages are sent otherwise than by the postal service they will be addressed "c/o The Military Forwarding Officer," but in all other respects the addresses will conform to the regulations for postal correspondence.

87. Disposal of private diaries and memoranda

  1. Private diaries kept by men may contain much information of value to the enemy, and their despatch through the post is forbidden. As a result, such diaries are frequently kept by the writers on the person or in kits, where they are liable to capture by the enemy, and are thus a source of danger.
  2. To minimize such risks, private diaries and memoranda will be collected and sent periodically under unit arrangements to the nearest censor officer for transmission to regimental record offices, where they will be stored. Private diaries of units not possessing a regimental record office will be sent for storage to the War Office. Private diaries, before being sent away by units will be enclosed in sealed covers marked:--
    "Private diary of ..............................(Rank, Name, and Unit)"
  3. Units will thus dispose of all private diaries:--
    1. Before going into battle, or into any situations or for any duty which may entail contact with the enemy.
    2. If attack by the enemy is threatened.
    3. In all other cases fortnightly.

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