The Tizard Mission

The Tizard Mission

The Top-Secret Operation That Changed the Course of World War II Alone Against Germany, Britain Gave America Its Most Astonishing Secrets

August 1940. For many – certainly for Winston Churchill – Britain’s finest hour. Yet also the moment of her greatest vulnerability. France has fallen, the British Army rescued from Dunkirk is virtually without arms. A Nazi invasion looks inevitable. Britain stands alone, her manufacturing base on its knees.

Yet Britain has one major armament in her locker – a series of devices, systems and techniques that top British scientists have forged from the cauldron of 12 months at war.

And even as Britain reeled under the onslaught of the Battle of Britain, a secret mission designed to turn the tide of the war was getting underway. Led by Sir Henry Tizard, a team of scientists and engineers were about to board a transatlantic liner. They carried with them a box containing Britain’s most valuable technological secrets. They were on their way to the United States. To give them away.

After months spent trying to negotiate a technology swap, Tizard’s mission was a last, desperate, effort to persuade America to put its manufacturing might behind the British war-effort. It was to be turning point in the technological war, giving Britain the weapons she desperately needed, and arming the US for a new kind of war. It would save Britain and lay the ground-work for much of the USA’s post-war economic dominance. In The Tizard Mission, Stephen Phelps throws light on a still little-known story, and who gained most from this giveaway that helped create the world we now live in.


One of this book’s many attractions is its emphasis on the importance of inter-relationships among social, political, and technical worlds in bringing ideas to reality. [The Wall Street Journal]

An erudite, literate, and thoroughly absorbing piece of WWII history. [American Library Association’s Booklist]