Happy Corps Day to the New Zealand Intelligence Corps!

Happy Corps Day to the New Zealand Intelligence Corps!

The National Army Museum Te Mata Toa wants to wish all those in the NZIC (past and present), that strive to penetrate the fog of war to find the truth, a happy Corps Day and to thank you for your service.

Example of WWII Intelligence Section Equipment. Composite from the National Army Museum Te Mata Toa collection: 2006.901 – Map Case; 1984.1308 – Compass; 2020.250.1 – Chinagraph Pencils

To no doubt the pleasure of our “Secret Squirrels”, it was hard to find anything in our collection that directly related to the NZIC. However, there are many examples of the tools of their trade; from escape maps and compass buttons in Prisoner of War camps, to a dog-mounted telephone wire spool for laying communication lines, stories of home-front intelligence gathering with knitters knitting messages into scarves, as well as WWII issued Intelligence Section (“I” Section) equipment, such as what is pictured.

These items are from our collection and show what a soldier in an “I” Section would be equipped with in WWII. It would include a prismatic compass with luminous markings for night work, a map case, small sheets of talc (not pictured), and a supply of chinagraph pencils. This is similar to what New Zealander Geoffrey Duff was given when he became part of an “I” Section based in Italy in WWII. In his book Army Days he recounts his experiences working as a soldier in an “I” Section through diary entries, recollections, and letters home. It is well worth a read if you can get your hands on a copy.

Although the New Zealand Intelligence Corps is officially 36 years young today, it was originally established January 1942 as part of the Territorial Force. With the Territorial Force re-organisation, the NZIC was disbanded in 1947. It was re-established 15 March 1987 as a Regular Force Corps, named the New Zealand Army Intelligence Corps, later dropping “Army” in favour for its original title.

The date was hand-picked to symbolically coincide with the “Ides of March” as a warning about the folly of ignoring timely and accurate intelligence. Roman ruler Julius Caesar ignored the warning from an advisor of impending danger and was subsequently assassinated 15 March 44 BC (on the Ides of March). Although not an “A1” source (pardon the intelligence source reliability pun), Roman writers such as Suetonius, Plutarch, and Cicero reported an Etruscan soothsayer, named Spurinna, warned Caesar about imminent danger on the Ides of March. William Shakespeare then immortalised the date with his quote “Beware the Ides of March!” and the folly of Julius Caesar ignoring the ominous warning with his response “He is a dreamer; let us leave him”.

The soldiers in the NZIC are no “dreamers” or omen soothsayers. Intelligence has been, is, and will continue to be foundational for the success of all military operations and the constantly evolving battle-space. It has played major roles in all conflicts New Zealand has been involved with, and will continue to ensure military success at home and overseas. As such, intelligence operators are not so much 007s, but something far better (and cooler in our opinion). They are highly skilled, knowledgeable, detail-driven men and women with an ability to critically sort through large masses of information to find the actionable intelligence to assist decision-making.

Sun Tzu said in The Art of War that if you know the enemy better than you know yourself, the outcome of the battle has already been decided. Strategy and Intelligence are vital to the success of a battle. Therefore, the unofficial NZIC motto is very apt:

Forewarned is Forearmed – Takatu Kia Mataara