Intelligence Corps (United Kingdom)

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Intelligence Corps
Int corps badge 6cm.jpg
Badge of the Intelligence Corps
Active 1914–29
15 July 1940–
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Role Military intelligence
Size 7 Battalions
HQ Directorate Intelligence Corps Chicksands
Templer Barracks
Nickname(s) Int Corps
Motto(s) Manui Dat Cognitio Vires
Knowledge gives strength to the arm
Beret Cypress green
March Rose & Laurel (quick)
Purcell’s Trumpet Tune and Ayre (slow)
Colonel-in-Chief HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG, KT, OM, GBE, AC, QSO, PC
Colonel Commandant General Sir Nick Houghton
Tactical Recognition Flash Intelligence 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]

First World War

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]

Irish War of Independence

During the Irish War of Independence, Intelligence Corps operatives were used in an unsuccessful battle to defeat the Irish Republican Army. The Cairo Gang were overwhelmingly Intelligence Corps operatives. On Bloody Sunday, 1920, twelve of these agents were assassinated at their lodgings by Michael Collins' Squad. Due to this and similar failures, the Intelligence Corps was disbanded in 1929.[4]

Second World War

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 its operatives to parachute at RAF Ringway, who 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 the Corps officer Lt Col Peter Clayton was one of the four founders of the Special Air Service (SAS). Around 40% of British Army personnel at Bletchley Park were in the Intelligence Corps.[5]

Cold War

The Corps gained its regimental march in 1956, first played at Kneller Hall, the home of the Royal Military School of Music. From August 1957, the Corps first had a permanent cadre of officers; previously all personnel serving in the corps were officers from other parts of the army, on occasional tours. 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).[6]

Northern Ireland

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.[7]


On 1 February 1985 the corps was officially declared an 'Arm' (combat support) instead of a 'Service' (rear support).[5]

Corps traditions

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.[8] Due to the colour of the beret, Intelligence Corps personnel are often referred to as 'Green Slime' by fellow soldiers.[9]


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) and the Intelligence Corps Museum.[8] DISC was renamed as Joint Intelligence Training Group in January 2015.[10]

Training and promotion

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.[11] 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.[12]

Chicksands camp


1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade:

  • 1 Military Intelligence Battalion – Catterick (Regular Army)
    • 5 x MI Companies
  • 2 Military Intelligence (Exploitation) Battalion – Trenchard Lines, Upavon (Regular Army)[13]
    • 6 x MI Companies
  • 3 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – London
    • HQ Company – London
    • 31 MI Company – London
    • 32 MI Company – London
    • 33 MI Company – London
    • 34 MI Company – London
    • 35 MI Company
  • 4 Military Intelligence Battalion – Bulford (Regular Army) - supports 3rd UK Division[14]
    • Headquarter Company
    • 3 x Multi-Functional Military Intelligence (MFMI) Companies
    • Operations Support Military Intelligence Company
    • Land Intelligence Fusion Centre, Hermitage
  • 5 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – Coulby Newham
  • 6 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – Manchester
    • HQ Company – Manchester
    • 61 MI Company – Manchester
    • 62 MI Company – Lisburn
    • 63 MI Company – Stourbridge
  • 7 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteer) – Bristol

1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade is part of Force Troops Command.

Notable personnel


  1. ^ "Major General Sir Charles William Wilson, 1836-1905". Palestine Exploration Fund. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
  2. ^ "The spymaster who was stranger than fiction". The Independent. 29 October 1999. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  3. ^ Clayton 1996, p. 18-20.
  4. ^ a b "History of the Intelligence Corps, p. 3" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b History of the Intelligence Corps, p. 4
  6. ^ Gibson 2012, p. 57
  7. ^ "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. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  8. ^ a b History of the Intelligence Corps, p. 5
  9. ^ "Military Slang and Acronyms". Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  10. ^ "Bedfordshire - Joint Intelligence Training Group Chicksands". Sanctuary (PDF)|format= requires |url= (help) (44): 74. 2015. ISSN 0959-4132.
  11. ^ "ATC Pirbright". Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  12. ^ "Intelligence Corps opportunities". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  13. ^ "2 Military Intelligence (Exploitation) Battalion". British Army. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  14. ^ "4 Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion". British Army. Retrieved 23 August 2018.

External links and further reading

  • Official website
  • Intelligence Corps Association
  • 3 MI Bn (V) – London
  • 5 MI Bn (V) – Coulby Newham
  • Military Intelligence Museum
  • The Intelligence Corps in the Second World War The Services 1930 – 1956 at
  • Clayton, Anthony (1996). Forearmed: History of the Intelligence Corps. Brassey's (UK) Ltd. ISBN 978-0080377018.
  • Gibson, Steve (2012). Live and Let Spy: Brixmis the Last Cold War Mission. The History Press, Stroud, Glos. ISBN 978-0-7524-6580-7.
Preceded by
Royal Army Dental Corps
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Royal Army Physical Training Corps
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