Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Whitby - Camp X
Location: Durham Region N 43° 51.264 W 078° 53.053
On the south side of Boundary Road, in Intrepid Park.
On the shores of Lake Ontario, at the boundary between Whitby and Oshawa, sits one of the most important historical sites from World War II. Now known as Intrepid Park, the Waterfront Trail runs through the property, this 280 acre site was once home to the most secret and vital military bases in Canada. This was once the location of the infamous “Camp X”, the British and allied forces secret espionage and spy school. It also acted as a vital communication link between Britain and the United States, with large communication towers and cutting-edge technology, this was the place where overseas information passed secretly between the allied nations.
In 1940, when the camp first opened, this area was very secluded and remote, and its location along the lake was vital, not only for training spies and special ops soldiers, but for exchanges of intelligence with the U.S., at a time before the United States was officially involved in the war. Agents from the FBI and the Office of Strategic Services (fore-runner of the CIA) secretly attended Camp X.
Camp X officially opened for training on December 6, 1941, the day before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 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. Camp X offered no parades for its graduates and none were ever publicly recognized for their accomplishments.
By the time Special Training School #103 terminated training operations in 1944, up to 2000 students had graduated from the camp.
In 1945, Igor Gouzenko the Soviet Embassy cypher clerk whose defection exposed the Soviet spy threat in North America, was hidden at Camp X along with his family for two years. Prime Minister Mackenzie-King was first advised about the camp’s existence when it was suggested that Gouzenko be hidden there.
This was also the beginnings of the fictional 007 James Bond character. Author Ian Fleming worked at the camp and created his secret-agent stories from the happenings at the camp. After the war he began writing his famous novels, and the franchise was born from the dust of Camp X.
Post-war, the camp was re-named the Oshawa Wireless Station and turned over to the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals as a wireless intercept station, military talk for a spy listening station. The Oshawa Wireless Station continued operations until 1969 when it too closed. All remaining buildings were demolished or relocated elsewhere and the property abandoned. Records pertaining to Camp X were either locked away under the Official Secrets Act or destroyed after WWII.
Now known as Intrepid Park, named after Sir William Stephenson, Director of British Security Co-ordination, and the man responsible for operating this camp.
Today, almost nothing remains at the site, unless you take a closer look. The majority of the buildings at the camp where demolished and bulldozed into Lake Ontario, however you can still see evidence of foundations here and there, and rumour has it that a bunker was sealed and remains hidden under as layer of dirt and vegetation. A large crater on site shows evidence of explosives training, and molten pieces of shrapnel can be found scattered throughout the grounds, if you look carefully. Take a walk along the cobblestone shoreline, and you are sure to find evidence of the camp washed up along the beach, pieces of barbed wire, ceramic from dishes, sometimes a shell casing from firearms training, almost anything is bound to turn up so keep your eyes open. I would suggest taking a peek with a metal-detector as well, you have very good odds of finding all sorts of treasures.
Camp X is remembered by a beautiful memorial on the hill overlooking the grounds, paying tribute to those who trained and lived here, and helped to preserve our freedom.
For a much greater history and excellent website: http://webhome.idirect.com/~lhodgson/camp-x.htm
Marker text: (Both plaques front and back)
ON THIS SITE BRITISH SECURITY
CO-ORDINATION OPERATED SPECIAL
TRAINING SCHOOL No.103 AND HYDRA.
S.T.S. 103 TRAINED ALLIED AGENTS
IN THE TECHNIQUES OF SECRET
WARFARE FOR THE SPECIAL OPERATIONS
EXECUTIVE (S.O.E.) BRANCH OF THE
BRITISH INTELLIGENCE AGENCY.
HYDRA NETWORK COMMUNICATED
VITAL MESSAGES BETWEEN CANADA, THE
UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN.
THIS COMMEMORATION IS DEDICATED
TO THE SERVICE OF THE MEN AND
WOMEN WHO TOOK PART IN THESE
IN MEMORY OF
SIR WILLIAM STEPHENSON
"The Man Called Intrepid"
BORN AT WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA, JANUARY 11, 1896
DIED AT PAGET, BERMUDA, JANUARY 31, 1989
DIRECTOR OF BRITISH SECURITY CO-ORDINATION
In Loving Memory of
22 JUNE 1914 - 2 MAY 2002
CAMP X - HYDRA
Remembered by Family and Friends
Camp X from the air, 1943.