War Secrets Must Not Be Shared Even With Family

(This article appeared in a 1942 issue of the Marine Corps Chevron. The advice is as true today as it was then.)

The following is another in a series on lip-silence and national security taken from an address by the Chief of the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

There is danger of having faith in your fellow men. But what about the faith you have in your friends and relatives —- in your mother and father, and the girl you are going to marry? Of all Security lessons, this is the hardest to- learn — that Service information must be shared with no one, not even with those you love. Now that is not to say that you must no longer put your trust in these people in whom you may have confided all your life. But you must not share with them secrets that are not yours to impart—secrets that belong to the Navy and to tho Navy alone. It is no good arguing that you have absolute faith in the girl you are going to marry, and that if you cannot trust her, then you cannot trust anyone. That is not the point. She will not have had the advantage of Security instruction such as you have had. She may not properly understand what you are talking about. She may give away information without knowing she has done so. And remember that the first person an enemy agent contacts when he wants to know anything secret is the wife or girl friend of the man who knows that secret. You may feel that your wife or mother has the right to know when you are in danger a right to be told if you know that on a certain date you are sailing in convoy, or are going on a raid from which you may never return. And you may also feel that they have a right to know if this raid is cancelled so that their minds may be set at rest. But this must not happen. The more people who know a secret, the less chance there is of it being kept, keep this quite clear in your minds, because it is the first rule of Security. Once you realize this, you will see that it is not only careless talk that costs lives. Too many people are of the opinion that careless talk is loud-mouthed conversation in public bars to perfect strangers, and that its opposite, careful talk, is a confidential whisper to your wife or sweetheart. But it is talk of any sort that must be stopped, no matter what the precautions that are taken.

Public Domain


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