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To the Victor, the Spoils of War: The Enemy Scientific and Technological Investigators

December 2, 2013

by Bill Alexander

At the end of the Second World War, as in previous wars, the victors reaped the spoils of war. But, unlike previous wars the booty was not just gold, silver and fine art. Modern spoils were found in the technical and scientific wealth of the defeated German state. As death throes wracked the Nazi regime in the spring of 1945, the end of hostilities in Europe accelerated the pillage of the industrial German state. The Americans, British and Soviet Union had already begun to identify and locate material for exploitation. Canada as a major participant in the Allied war effort, scrambled to get a piece of the action before it disappeared behind the veils of state and industrial security.

Dr. Paul Larose, National Research Council, at the I.B. Farben plant in Germany, September 1945. DND photo.

Dr. Paul Larose, National Research Council, at the I.B. Farben plant in Germany, September 1945. DND photo.

In the summer of 1944, Canada had agreed to participate in the Combined Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee (CIOS), an Anglo-American military and civilian group. Organized by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF), CIOS was tasked to:

…ferret out German industrial plant and research establishments in the wake of fast-advancing Allied armies after the June 1944 D-Day landings.  (Koerner)

As the western Allies closed in on Germany during the last months of the war, the search intensified for advanced enemy science and technology. The CIOS investigations were joined by Consolidated Advance Field Teams (CAFT) and ‘T’ (Target) Forces, special British, Canadian, and American military units that followed behind front-line combat troops and located German industrial operations. These were secured for a later, more detailed examination. Despite a Canadian presence in these initiatives, lukewarm interest limited the extent of participation. [1]

 Unidentified member of the ESTI team, September 1945.  DND photo.

Unidentified member of the ESTI team, September 1945. DND photo.

After the German capitulation, the search intensified. The Field Information Agency Technical (FIAT), was established under SHAEF to “co-ordinate, integrate, and direct the activities of the various missions and agencies interested in examining, appraising, and exploiting all information pertaining to the German economy”. This was especially pressing for the Americans who had temporarily occupied key industrial areas in the soon to be Russian zones of occupation. The interests of Canada were obviously not a priority of SHAEF, nor the government of Canada. Canadian participation continued to be of limited scope and without direct instruction or control from the Canadian government.  (Koerner) (SHAEF)

The lack of initiative on the part of the Canadian government to develop a policy and implement a program to identify and obtain scientific and industrial technology for Canada left a deepening feeling of anxiety and frustration in some official circles. Vincent Massey, Canadian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, warned:

Whether we like it or not, a free-for-all is going on; and we must frankly face the alternatives either of joining in the scramble or of being left empty-handed. (Koerner)

The government finally responded in the spring of 1945 by organizing two committees to identify and implement a Canadian program. The first was the Canadian Advisory Targets Committee (CATC), essentially a military organization, formed in March 1945 and focused on military side of scientific and technological information. The second was the Joint Committee on Enemy Science and Technology (JCEST), composed of civilian scientists and military officers. Based in Ottawa it was established in July 1945. The purpose of CJEST was to identify and acquire German technology and scientific data, “including patents, plans, drawings and inventions having possible civilian use.” CATC and JCEST coordinated Canadian activities with CIOS and other related allied organizations. (Secretary of State for External Affairs)

ESTI arm badge yellow flocked on blue felt. Author’s collection.

ESTI arm badge yellow flocked on blue felt. Author’s collection.

Together, CATC and JCEST:

identified targets to be examined in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, drew up detailed lists of specific equipment or factories and plants required by the government or private businesses, and oversaw the work of Canada’s teams of scientific and industrial investigators. (Koerner)

Under this mandate, research teams were despatched to Europe. The first contingent of nine scientists embarked before VE Day and focused their investigations on science and technology of potential military use in the war against Japan. In the summer of 1945, Brigadier F.F. Fulton organized the main contingent of the JCEST team of 45 select Scientific Investigators. By late summer, they were overseas, focusing on civilian research.

The Scientific Investigators continued their work into the fall, with their mission accomplishments being highlighted by a press conference held at the Chateau Laurier in December, 1945. The record is unclear after that date, but it appears some Scientific Investigators continued research until the spring of 1946, when the repatriation of the Canadian army removed logistic support. Any remaining ESTI returned to Canada at that time. (Koerner)

ESTI Insignia

Due to the conditions in Germany and the nature of the work, the decision was made to send the team under the control of the army. The investigators were each issued two battledress uniforms and personal kit to facilitate their work. These stores, while military in nature, were to be charged to the Ministry of Munitions and Supply, while the army supplied logistical support for the contingent. To clearly identify the team, unique insignia were designed and issued. A general list metal CANADA cap badge was worn on the standard pattern khaki beret.  Each scientist under the authority of the JCEST was issued four CANADA nationality titles plus a pair of SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATOR shoulder epaulet slip-on badges and two arm patches, EST I. (Enemy Science and Technology Investigator). (E.B. Wilson) (Canadian Army Photo 57239/N) (Department of Reconstruction File 7-BF-1 (s)) (Canadian Army Photo 57239/N) (E.B. Wilson)

The CANADA nationality titles were the standard worsted pattern issued to all Canadian army personnel, buff coloured embroidery on khaki worsted wool backing. The SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATOR shoulder badges were made as a slip-on, black printed on a heavy tan coloured cotton drill material. Records indicate 128 pairs were initially obtained from the Travers Apron Ltd of Ottawa, with an additional 100 pairs in a second order in September of 1945.  (R.McColm)

SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATOR slip-on, printed on heavy cotton drill. Author’s collection.

SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATOR slip-on, printed on heavy cotton drill. Author’s collection.

The shoulder patch used the abbreviation EST I, for Enemy Science and Technology Investigator. Made using the flocked technique, it consisted of a maple leaf sprayed in yellow on a circular blue felt base. The leaf was enclosed in a near full circle with a tablet at the bottom of the circle bearing yellow lettering E. S. T. I. At least two hundred of these titles were obtained from Unique Products Co. Toronto. (R.McColm) These insignia identified the members of CJEST as they performed their investigations over the summer and fall of 1945.


Burgess F.A. Lt.-Col. for Brig. F.F.Fulton, Canadian Advisroy Targets Committee. “CIOS INVESTIGATORS: UNIFORMS and EQUIPMENT.” Letter. March 28, 1945. LAC RG24 Vol 10040.

Canadian Army Photo. “Photo 57239/N.” 1945.

Department of Reconstruction File 7-BF-1 (s). “Backgrounder EST I Press Conference.” LAC RG 25 Volume 5713 File 7-BF-1 (s), 14 December 1945.

E.B. Wilson, Brigadier. “Clothing and Equipment for Cdn Scientists Memo.” Ottawa: LAC RG 24 Vol 10049 File 13 / Cloth /4 /13, 14 August 1945.

Koerner, Steven J. “Technology Transfer from Germany to Canada After 1945.” Comparative Technology Transfer and Society (Volume 2, Number 1, April 2004. ): pp 99-124.

R.McColm, Colonel. “Badges Shoulder Printed Scientific Investigator Badges Emb. Colored EST I Letter.” Ottawa: LAC Badges Cdn Active Service Force RG 24 Series A Vol 2184 File Hq 54-27-60-3 Vol. 7, 25 September 1945.

Secretary of State for External Affairs. “Telegram No 1632.” LAC RG 25 Volume 5713 File 7-BF-1 (5), 16 July 1945.

SHAEF, Advance Headquarters. “Establishment of Field Information Agency Technical (FIAT) of G-2 Supreme Headquarters AEF.” LAC RG 25 Volume 5713 File 7-BF-1 (5), 31 May 1945.

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One Comment
  1. J.Garnier permalink

    A little short……..but really interesting bit of history,well done.

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