US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

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Andy H
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US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Andy H » 28 May 2002 19:24

In February 2002 records released from the Public records office have highlighted the part played by Colonel Fellers, in unwittingly passing information to the Germans/Rommel about British palns etc in North Africa.

Fellers was the Military attache in Cairo and he was given every help by the British, but Fellers transmitted his reports to Washington using an old cipher code-called 'Black' code for communications to and from overseas embassies, which had been completely compromised. The Italians had broken into the US Embassy in Rome, in 1941 copied the code book and returned it without the Americans knowing anything.

Fellers was eventually sent home in July 1942, shortly after Fellers biggest gaff in giving the Germans full details of the Harpoon convoys to Malta and the resulting losses incurred.

Does anyone have information regarding Fellers career after July 1942?

:D Andy from the Shire

alf
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Bonner Feller post Middle East

Post by alf » 11 Oct 2003 05:34

Colonel Fellers did return to the USA in July 1942. he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for his work in the Middle East.......his citation reads in part "contributed materially to the tactical and deevelopment of our Armed Forces............his reports were models of clarity and accuracy".

In 1943 he was posted to the Pacific War, ending as Brigader General on MacArthurs staff, he died in 1973. He spent some years in US politics on the Conserative side, I am unable to find if he held anmy public office though.

The above is taken from the book "End of the Beginning" From the Siege of Malta to Victory at Alamein. Tim Clayton and Phil Craig

It is amazing how information released into the public domain can change perceptions built up over decades. Rommel legend as a wily tactian must be balanced now by the fact of the wealth of detailed information unwittingly supplied to him by Col Feller. Feller unintentionally provided Rommel with almost daily reports of the strength, weaknesses, tactics, locations of 8th Army forces. The most curious thing is simply that when the US changed their codes in July 1942, Rommel's amazing tactical brillance waned.

The seizing of the US codes by the Italians in 1941 has to be compared as the Axis equivalent of the Allies Engima and Ultra messages. The Americans seem quiet out of embarassment, no wonder it was supressed for two generations. But Feller was NOT to blame in any way for what happened, he provided the reports asked for by his Government in the Codes they gave him.

It was the Germans themselves who let slip they had the US code, Ultra picked up indications of a leak, a British investigation eventually tracked it to Feller, again by German slips, the US Government rapidly changed their codes and shipped Feller home

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Post by Andy H » 11 Oct 2003 13:44

Alf

Many thanks for answering this thread.

As you state, the image of the Fox must now be balanced against the excellent intel he was getting by default by Fellers.

Again thank you

Andy H

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Post by Andreas » 23 Nov 2007 11:52

There is information on this in Behrendt's 'Rommel's Intelligence in the Desert Campaign'. It appears the Germans read Fellers' despatches in a time-critical manner (i.e. quickly enough to influence tactical situations) from autumn 41 (Crusader) to June/July 42. He was known as 'The Good Source' in Axis intelligence circles. Note-taking was forbidden, so all of this is based on personal recollections.

And I fully agree with Andy, Rommel without his intel sources would not have been the same success as he was. Not just Fellers, but also the very impressive work of Nahaufklärungskompanie 621 (3./Nachrichtenbatallion 56), to which Behrendt belonged, until this was mostly captured by 2/13 Australians in July 42 when they were placed too close to the front.

Very good book BTW.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by The_Enigma » 23 Nov 2007 12:32

Ill have to check in the Rommel Papers when i get home tonight but does anyone know if he ever let on in any written material of all the information he had at hand?

Edit: to answer my own question :

British Official history doesnt point fingers but just states things like the German-Italians knew such n such attack was coming etc

Am sure there is a passage in one chapter which states something along the lines of that the German dude in command of the forward units during Brevity wanted to pull back thinking he had been hit by 2 divisions but Rommel was able to quickly click on hey this is only 55 tanks and a handful of men.

Possibly another attempt to mention there was a leak without saying names and without pointing the finger.

I checked out Rommels entry into his diary on and around the events of Brevity i think he just omits anything like the above and says he orderd such n such unit around etc

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Urmel » 26 Dec 2011 12:14

The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by HFK » 27 Dec 2011 09:04

Hello Andy,
We seem to have gotten off the topic, by talking about Gen Rommel. The question was information about Col. Bonners Frank Fellers. He was Military attache in Egypt 1940-1942. Recalled to US and promoted to Brigadier- General, and transferred to MacArthur's staf 1943-1946. Retired in 1946, and died Oct 1973. Evidently he was not blamed by the War Dept. for the leaking messages he transmitted.
Happy New Year, Harry

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Urmel » 14 Mar 2012 16:14

Neither should he have been. It bordered on criminal neglicence in my view to first use, and then not change a code that was in use in both Axis and Allied countries for confidential communications. Whoever made that booboo should have been court-martialled.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by JonS » 15 Mar 2012 02:22

Did Fellers ever know that he was The Good Source?

I wonder how he felt about that.

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 19 Mar 2012 17:40

x2post
Last edited by ChristopherPerrien on 19 Mar 2012 17:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 19 Mar 2012 17:42

JonS wrote:Did Fellers ever know that he was The Good Source?

I wonder how he felt about that.
Probably was mad as hell. :milwink:

From what little I have read, He, beforehand ,warned against using that code for sending the reports in question.

Here is another forum posthttp://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index ... opic=14385
Fellers was later condemned for this information leak. But he had been ordered to use the State Department code over his objections, and had been ordered by Marshall to report in great detail.

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Paul Crowe » 11 Jul 2012 08:23

Fellers was notorious within high Military circles for two reasons:-
[1] He was an Anglophobe of the worst sort, both in conversation with other officers at the war department and in his written reports/assessments to his superiors especially Marshall.
[2] He had grabbed Douglas MacArthur's coat tails as a means of advancement in rank and disliked/hated anybody that MacArthur disliked [including Gen Eisenhower who reciprocated the feeling with interest he had him discharged from the army as soon as he could get away with it.
With regard to the question of did he know about him being a most valuable source of up to date information for Rommel
I think that he almost certainly did; Rommel on more than one occasion state that " his little fellers" [Hastings were very important in giving him "up to date and accurate information" Fellers was chaffed about it in Washington by a British Intelligence officer at a party in September 1942 and responded violently [verbally]. He hated the allegations by some that "He must have known what was happening to his reports as the Germans knew all the British army dispositions, even about quite small troop movements. The British Officer allegedly replied "Methinks the lady doth protest too much!" and asked "Was it true that he had been awarded the Iron Cross?"

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Urmel
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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Urmel » 11 Jul 2012 09:49

Andy H wrote:In February 2002 records released from the Public records office have highlighted the part played by Colonel Fellers, in unwittingly passing information to the Germans/Rommel about British palns etc in North Africa.
By the way Andy, do you have a link to those documents?
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Andy H » 11 Jul 2012 12:14

Urmel wrote:
Andy H wrote:In February 2002 records released from the Public records office have highlighted the part played by Colonel Fellers, in unwittingly passing information to the Germans/Rommel about British palns etc in North Africa.
By the way Andy, do you have a link to those documents?
Hi Mate

From memory I got it from the NA in Kew, but looking on their site today, they only have listings on Document releases going back to 2003, and my post was in regards to files released in 2002 :roll:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/news ... rchive.htm

Regards

Andy H

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Re: US Colonel Bonner F Fellers

Post by Urmel » 11 Jul 2012 15:04

Thanks! I'll email them.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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