Historical Perspectives

The Gordon-Bernard-Tan Group
Three Amateur Spies and the Intelligence Organization They Created in Occupied WWII Indochina

Bob Bergin

[A] group with which the OSS worked in Indo China was the Gordon-Bernard-Tan Group (GBT). It was organized in early 1942 by a group of employees of a U.S. oil firm in Indochina.

It was a Terry and the Pirates operation in a Terry and the Pirates world, and it was very effective in its time and place.  Arguably, it was the most successful Allied intelligence collection operation in World War II Asia.

When the Imperial Japanese Army invaded French Indochina in September 1940, all contact between the French colony and the Allied presence in neighboring China and elsewhere was cut off. The British, Chinese and Free French desperately needed intelligence on the Japanese occupiers, as did the Americans when they were drawn into the Asian war. But there was no intelligence coming out of Indochina, where the practical difficulties of establishing intelligence mechanisms in a new environment were compounded by the complex political situation.

While the Allied intelligence services grappled with the problem, three amateurs created a highly effective intelligence collection mechanism that would become the chief source of intelligence on the Japanese and their activities in French Indochina.

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Posted: Mar 27, 2019 06:53 AM
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2019 06:53 AM