WWII Spy Manual Teaches Lessons in Wilderness Survival

Long before any organization like the CIA or FBI existed, there was England’s Special Operations forces. These specially assigned soldiers had skillsets that were considered to be far superior to those of a regular soldier, and those skillsets were carefully turned into a manual on survival. Needing to train soldiers to spend elongated periods of time outside and behind enemy lines, this manual was as useful during world War II as it is for wilderness survival today.

Spy Manuals Now Being Used for Outdoors Survival

The WWII Spy survival manual came about thanks to the United States’ increasing involvement in World War II during the early 1940s. Realizing the need to have spies deep within the enemy’s entrenchment, the British and US militaries decided that a well thought out manual needed to be put together in order to teach prospective spies how to be self-reliant when spending days and weeks at a time in the wild.

Prior to the Second World War, spying as we know it today was not such a widely practiced art, so the manual existed as a way to teach the knowledge of a few to scores of soldiers. At training camps around the world, manuals were crafted, each having their own area of expertise that was to be learned by incoming spies. What is arguably the best example of one of these manuals came from a US training facility known as Special Training School 103, or more simply as “Camp X.”

Coincidentally, Camp X just so happened to be opened on December 4th, 1942, just two days before the surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Naturally, the camp’s attendance was almost immediately boosted. Despite the fact that less than 800 people were trained at Camp X, the knowledge that was passed down via the training manual served as the groundwork for the Central Intelligence Agencies advanced training that still exists today.

For outdoorsmen, this manual is of particular interest because it was crafted during an era where battlefields were not yet inundated by technology. Back then, being self-reliant and honing the associated skills was all one could rely on to survive in the wilderness. The original manual used to teach spies at Camp X was tuned into a book by Denis Rigden, titled “How to be a Spy.”

An abridged version, however, exists online thanks to the site Identifying Wild. Check it out here.

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