Top secret MI5 files of First World War go online

The National Archives is making over 150 top secret MI5 files of organisations and individuals involved in espionage or under surveillance during the period of the First World War available online for the first time.

They contain a wealth of material including interrogation reports, letters, postcards and photos relating to individuals and groups under surveillance. The files that have been digitised were created during the First World War period (1914-1919) but in many cases extend beyond that period, depending on the activities of the individual or organisation.

Dr Stephen Twigge, Records Specialist at The National Archives said: “The files in The National Archives’ collection reveal the importance of the security service in safeguarding the nation during the First World War. Now that we have made the files available online as part of our First World War 100 programme, people across the globe can discover the secret history behind the war for themselves.”

This forms part of The National Archives’ First World War 100 programme of digitised releases and events to mark the centenary. For more on espionage and the First World War, The National Archives will be holding a conference on 28 June, entitled ‘War and peace – Diplomacy, Espionage and the First World War’.

Last year, the National Archives launched the first pages of its newly designed website, improving the experience of customers using new and evolving technology and enabling quicker access into content.

Related reading