Unit History: Joint Services School for Linguists
The Joint Services School for Linguists (JSSL) was founded in 1951 by the Armed Services to provide language training, principally in Russian, and largely to selected cons undergoing National Service. The school closed with the ending of conion in 1960, after which the Services made their own provisions.
The founding of the school was prompted by the need to provide greater numbers of interpreters, intelligence and signals intelligence officers due to the Cold War, and the Korean War which had started the previous year. Russian tutors tended to be a mixture of White Russian emigres and carefully vetted Soviet defectors.
JSSL was initially based at 3 sites near Bodmin (Army), Coulsdon Camp near Caterham (Navy) and Salisbury Villas in Cambridge (RAF). A mess for all the officers involved was located in Sussex Square in London in a building which had formerly been used by the School of Oriental and African Studies for teaching Japanese and Chinese. In 1956 the sites were amalgamated at a former Royal Naval Air Station (HMS Jackdaw) at Crail in Fifeshire which had paid off in April 1947, to be replaced by the boys training establishment HMS Bruce (1947 - 1949).
An estimate of the number of students, who passed through during the 9 years of its existence, would be between 5,000 and 7,000. The Soviet spy Geoffrey Prime was a graduate of JSSL at Crail.
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