The Far Eastern Liaison Office (FELO) was a Second World War Propaganda and Field Intelligence unit set up under the orders of the Allied Land Commander, General Sir Thomas Blamey, on 19 June 1942. FELO became one of four sections of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB) which was established on 6 July 1942 to control and co-ordinate the activities of various intelligence organisations that had been set up after the outbreak of war with Japan.
Far Eastern Liaison Office was a propaganda organisation and was given a non-descriptive cover name to protect its real intelligence purpose. Its objectives were:
- Promoting disaffection, passive resistance and, where possible, active revolt, or guerrilla warfare in enemy occupied countries.
- Hampering the enemy’s war effort by means of sabotage, propaganda and other subversive activities in enemy occupied countries.
- Combating enemy interests and activities by clandestine means.
- Misdirection of the enemy as to Allied military intentions.
While some activity was common to both the Services Reconnaissance Department and FELO the general line of demarcation was that SRD was responsible for sabotage and physical operations while FELO was responsible for propaganda and misdirection.
Specifically the objects of the activities of the FELO were:
- To lower the morale of the enemy forces by all possible means so that their fighting efficiency was impaired
- To mislead the enemy regarding Australia’s military intentions
- To influence subject populations
In its initial stages FELO was under the control of AIB but in September 1942 operational control was transferred to the three Australian Chiefs-of-Staff and the Senior Officer, Netherlands Forces. It was agreed that FELO’s political activities would be controlled by the Minister for External Affairs through the Political Warfare Division of his Department.
The personnel of FELO were formed from the Australian Services, and the Netherlands East Indies Forces Intelligence Service. The organisation, commanded by an executive with its headquarters located in Melbourne with elements stationed in Brisbane, consisted of eight operational sections:
- North Western Area
- Research and Information
- Store Equipment Technical Research
- North Eastern Area
Far from being deskbound professional influencers, FELO operatives performed some of the most hair-raising intelligence operations of the war. Personnel were heavily involved in field operations, often penetrating deep into Japanese-held territory in one or two man teams.
FELO was commanded by CDR J.C.R. Proud RANVR.
Due to the difficulty of deconfliction with other AIB operations, FELO undertook several operations with the Services Reconnaissance Department towards the end of the war.
FELO Field Propaganda Unit Operations
- "O" Mission
- "J" Mission
References[edit | edit source]
- Special Operations Australia From which most of the above text was adapted with permission
- The Story of FELO via Special Operations Australia
- The Mission Reports of M.G. Berrie - FELO
- Official History of Special Operations Australia Volume 1 - Organisation (Copy 1)
- Australian War Memorial