Medmenham: Anglo-American Photographic Intelligence in the Second World War

  • Paul Stewart

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The role of photographic intelligence during the Second World War at Royal Air Force (RAF) Medmenham and its predecessor at Wembley is investigated in this thesis. The development from 1939 to 1945 of photographic reconnaissance and photographic interpretation is examined. The growth of the Central Interpretation Unit (CIU) at Medmenham and its change to the Allied Central Interpretation Unit (ACIU) in 1944, with the arrival of a significant American influx is investigated. Medmenham is compared with Bletchley Park using an organisational lens to reveal similarities and differences in the growth and development of these two centralised intelligence organisations.

The thesis then explores four case studies: Operation Sealion, the Nazi planned invasion of Britain in 1940, Operation Millennium, the first 1,000 bomber raid of the war in 1942, Operation Chastise, the Ruhr dams raid in 1943 and Operation Epsom, the first large scale operation after D-Day to capture Caen in June 1944.

The primary methodology employed is a detailed examination of the photographic interpretation reports produced by Wembley and Medmenham during the operations. The core of the methodology used in this thesis, is an individual examination of every photographic interpretation report produced for each of the case studies.

The thesis provides an innovative interpretation of the role and importance of photographic intelligence during the Second World War. It therefore makes an original contribution to intelligence history.
Date of AwardJul 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJim Beach (Supervisor), Paul Jackson (Supervisor) & Claire Hubbard-Hall (Supervisor)


  • Medmenham
  • photographic intelligence interpretation
  • ACIU
  • CIU

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