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T-Force was an elite British Army force which operated during the final stages of World War II. Originally used to secure and exploit targets that could provide valuable intelligence of scientific and military value, they were later tasked with seizing Nazi German scientists and businessmen in the aftermath of VE Day. One of its operations was Operation Eclipse, under Tony Hibbert, to seize Kielmarker. The operations of the T-Force were among the largest "exploitation operations" carried out by the allies.

Creation

The Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) under General Eisenhower issued a directive to create T-Forces soon after the Normandy Landings. T-Forces were ordered to "identify, secure, guard and exploit valuable and special information, including documents, equipment and persons of value to the Allied armies". T-Force units were attached to the three army groups on the western front; the Sixth United States Army Group, 21st Army Group and 12th Army Group. The targets of the T-Force were selected and recommended by the Combined Intelligence Objectives Subcommittee (CIOS). T-Force units were lightly armed and highly mobile.

The Ian Fleming Connection

The success of 30 Assault Unit, a unit that had been created by Ian Fleming whilst working in Royal Navy intelligence was a key factor in the decision to create 'Target Force', normally referred to as T-Force. Fleming sat on the committee that selected targets for the unit, helping to create what were known as the 'Black Books' which were issued to officers of the unit. The infantry component of T-Force was formed by the 5th Battalion of the King's Regiment to support 2nd British Army and Bucks Battalion of 1st Ox and Bucks to support the 1st Canadian Army. It was responsible for securing targets of interest to the British military and included nuclear laboratories, gas research centres and rocket scientists. The unit's most notable coup was the advance on the German port of Kielmarker where it captured the research centre where the engines for German rockets, missiles, jet fighters and high speed U Boats had been designed. Ian Fleming used elements of this story in his 1955 James Bond novel Moonraker. The story of T-Force and Fleming's connection to its work remained unknown until revealed in Sean Longden's book on the subject.

Western front

T-Force units accompanied combat units when capturing industrial plants, or arrived soon afterward to take control of them. They had to prevent any looting or sabotaging in the plants, and were responsible for ensuring that key personnel did not escape and no documents were removed. Once the T-Force took control of a plant, CIOS would be informed of it, and investigators were sent there immediately.

A notable achievement of the T-Force was the seizing of Kielmarker on 4 May 1945. Allied troops had been ordered not to move north past Bad Segebergmarker by this time. However, a T-Force group led by Major Tony Hibbert was given permission to advance to Kielmarker and seize the targets there. Not knowing that this permission was given in error, the T-Force moved into Kiel unopposed, and took control of their assigned targets. A strong German force was present in the city, which was reluctant to surrender when asked by the T-Force, until Admiral Karl Dönitz instructed them to do so.

Operations in post war Germany

In post war Germany, T-Force was tasked with carrying out abductions of German scientists and businessmen. One of the objectives of these abductions was to recover military secrets of Nazi Germany. In addition to this, the abductions of the scientists enabled Britain to use their knowledge in building up the British economy after the war, and also prevented the Soviet Union from obtaining their knowledge. The knowledge obtained from businessmen and technicians was used to improve British industries.

References

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