Camp X

  • Camp X
  • S 25-1-1
  • Project-J
  • Special Training School 103
Near Whitby, Ontario in Canada
Camp X Ontario 1943.jpg
Camp X in 1943
Camp X is located in Ontario
Camp X
Camp X
Shown within Ontario
Coordinates43°51′15″N 078°53′06″W / 43°51′15″N 078°53′06″W / 43.85417; -78.88500
Garrison information
Sir William Stephenson, Lt. Col. Arthur Terence Roper-Caldbeck

Camp X was the unofficial name of the secret Special Training School No. 103, a Second World War British paramilitary installation for training covert agents in the methods required for success in clandestine operations.[1] It was located on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario between Whitby and Oshawa in Ontario, Canada. The area is known today as Intrepid Park, after the code name for Sir William Stephenson, Director of British Security Co-ordination (BSC), who established the program to create the training facility.

The facility was jointly operated by the Canadian military, with help from Foreign Affairs and the RCMP but commanded by the BSC; it also had close ties with MI-6.[2] In addition to the training program, the Camp had a communications tower that could send and transmit radio and telegraph communications, called Hydra.[3]

Established December 6, 1941, the training facility closed before the end of 1944; the buildings were removed in 1969 and a monument was erected at the site.[4][5]

Historian Bruce Forsythe summarized the purpose of the facility: "Trainees at the camp learned sabotage techniques, subversion, intelligence gathering, lock picking, explosives training, radio communications, encode/decode, recruiting techniques for partisans, the art of silent killing and unarmed combat." Communication training, including Morse code, was also provided. The camp was so secret that even Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was unaware of its full purpose.[6]


Camp X was established December 6, 1941 by the chief of British Security Co-ordination (BSC), Sir William Stephenson, a Canadian from Winnipeg, Manitoba and a close confidant of Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.[7] The camp was originally designed to link Britain and the US at a time when the US was forbidden by the Neutrality Act to be directly involved in World War II.

On the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor and America's entry into the war, Camp X had opened for the purpose of training Allied agents from the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) intended to be dropped behind enemy lines for clandestine missions as saboteurs and spies.

However, even before the United States entered the war on December 8, 1941, agents from America's intelligence services expressed an interest in sending personnel for training at the soon to be opened Camp X. Agents from the FBI and the OSS (forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA) secretly attended Camp X in early 1942; at least a dozen attended at least some training.[8]

A view of part of the site of Camp X looking toward Lake Ontario.

After Stephenson established the facility and acted as the Camp's first head, the first commandant was Lt. Col. Arthur Terence Roper-Caldbeck.[9] The most notable individual in the Camp's history was Colonel William "Wild Bill" Donovan, war-time head of the OSS, who credited Stephenson with teaching Americans about foreign intelligence gathering.[6] The CIA even named their recruit training facility "The Farm", a nod to the original farm that existed at the Camp X site.[citation needed]

Camp X was jointly operated by the BSC and the Government of Canada.[7] There were several names for the school:[4][5] S 25-1-1 by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Project-J by the Canadian military, and Special Training School No. 103. The latter was set by the Special Operations Executive, administered under the cover of the Ministry of Economic Warfare (MEW) which operated the facility. In 1942 the Commandant of the camp was Lieutenant R. M. Brooker of the British Army.[10]

In addition to operating an excellent document forging facility,[11] Camp X trained numerous Allied covert operatives.[7] An estimate published by the CBC states that "By war's end, between 500 and 2,000 Allied agents had been trained (figures vary) and sent abroad..." behind enemy lines.[12]

Reports indicate that graduates worked as "secret agents, security personnel, intelligence officers, or psychological warfare experts, serving in clandestine operations". Many were captured, tortured, and executed; survivors received no individual recognition for their efforts."[13][8]

The predominant close-combat trainer for the British Special Operations Executive was William E. Fairbairn, called "Dangerous Dan". With instructor Eric A. Sykes, they trained numerous agents for the SOE and OSS. Fairbairn's technique was "Get down in the gutter, and win at all costs … no more playing fair … to kill or be killed."[14] Another group operated Station M for developing and making covert devices for the British Security Co-ordination. Casa Loma in Toronto is often stated as the location of this station, claiming that the book Inside Camp X is the source.[15] In 2015, however, author Lynn Philip Hodgson rejected this in an interview with the Toronto Star. "Nobody knows where Station M was. You won't read where it was in any book."[16] It is more likely, though not certain, that the Casa Loma stables housed the development and production of ASDIC sonar devices for U-boat detection.[17]

The most noteworthy agent was Gustave Biéler, a Montrealer of Swiss origin, who worked with SOE agents and French Resistance in Northern France before the D-Day invasion.[18] "The group destroyed railways, bridges, troop transports and gasoline stores and hampering enemy movement and supplies," according to a CBC report. He was captured and executed by the Nazis in 1944.[19][20]

After the US entered the war, the OSS operated an "assassination and elimination" training program that was dubbed "the school of mayhem and murder" by George Hunter White.[21][22] William Donovan later started similar programs in Maryland and Virginia, as well as in Cairo, Egypt. The Virginia Quantico training center was initially based on Camp X programs.[14][23]

Other Languages
čeština: Tábor X
Deutsch: Camp X