Skip to content

bob hereward wake: updated 20 Feb 2018

Required reading:


On 27 December 1900 Robert Frederick Bird Wake was born in the family home at Moonee Ponds.

In later life he some times used the sayings taken from Sun Zi’s The Art of War, one of his favourites was:

Intelligent rulers and wise generals use the cleverest men as spies. The spy is a necessity for the army. Upon him the movement of the army depends. (P32)

Bob Wake’s repeated questioning of conventional wisdom and challenge of exisiting practises was not something that he had worked out for himself, it was something which he had been taught to respect and value at Essendon High School. (P33)

During the 20’s, Wake spent much of his free time surfing at Bondi, and joined the local surf lifesaving club.

Bondi 1920

Bondi 1920


Australian security organisations.

AIB: Allied Intelligence Bureau, established in July 1942 to control and co-ordinate all Allied intelligence organisations operating in the SWPA during WW2.

ASIO: became operational in April 1949 with Mr Justice Reed as DG and Bob Wake as operational director for B1 and B2.

B1: the counter-subversion service of ASIO.

B2: the counter-espionage service of ASIO.

CIC: Counter Intelligence Corps, the US Army’s counter-espionage service during WW2, which worked closely with Bob Wake when he was in charge of internal security with the CSS.

CSS: Commonwealth Security Service; became operational in March 1941.

CIS: Commonwealth Investigation Service, formed in 1946 to replace the CSS.

KGB: The Encyclopaedia Britannica claimed the KGB managed to penetrate all ‘major’ intelligence services except the CIA.

NAOU: Northern Australia Observer Unit, also known as the Nackeroos was formed to work behind enemy lines in northern Australia.

SIGINT: Signals Intelligence. The worldwide network of communication specialists who listened to other nations coded transmissions and tried to break their codes.

SIB: Special Intelligence Bureau, a WW2 Australian code-breaking operation that started shortly after SIGINT specialist RAN Commander Eric Nave returned to Australia in 1940. Nave was trained by the GC&CS and worked on the China Station and Singapore, Nave was believed to be involved in code-breaking activities with the Japanese.

WWF: the Waterside Workers Federation. An important part of Bob Wake‘s responsibilities during WW2 was to make sure that the port of Brisbane, then one of the busiest ports in the world, remained open and maintained efficiency.


Bob Wake’s resume.

Early twenties: Wake was attached to the District Intelligence Office at HMA Naval Establisments Garden Island (Sydney). Part of his duties consisted of reporting on visiting ships, shipping lanes, ports and overseas dry dock facilities, as well as watching the IWW, the Communist sympathisers who eventually formed the Communist Party of Australia. He eventually joined the New Guard movement as an undercover agent where he proved to be a convincing deceiver (P50).

In 1933, Wake, with the assistance of the NSW police force and in particular CIB Inspector Longfield Lloyd, found the  Emden ship’s bell which had been stolen and buried in a field by a German national. Longfield Lloyd was later to become head of the CSS.

The record clearly showed that Bob Wake had been running agents since the mid-thirties when he joined the Commonwealth Investigation Branch and took over its Brisbane office. (P17)

Bob Wake‘s work with ASIO represented the last two years of his thirty-year career, (P17)

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Misca #

    Pete – Have you done a summary as to why this guy is even of interest? Did I miss it? (I’ve been away for a bit.). I know JS had lots of info on this and I looked into quite a bit of it but a bit of context would help.

    Also – If Wake is in any way connected to Lake Boga – I have a bit to share…

    February 14, 2018
    • Misca …. I”m primarily looking at Wake’s visit to the NT and a possible meeting with Bill Stanner of the Nackeroos … Bob Wake’s reputation as an experienced and senior agent for more than one of Australia’s security agencies, particularly when the baton changed hands to the newly formed ASIO in 1948 may well mean he was looking for likely lads up there to recruit for his work on Allied shipping from Brisbane and Sydney ports. He is mentioned in the book as having run agents within Australia.
      There’s no Lake Boga in the book’s index and I’d treat every word Sanders has ever written about anything with deep suspicion.
      I’m also transcribing Boxall’s service record, line by line, Byron mentioned a gap in his records and if it’s there I’ll find it.

      February 14, 2018
  2. Misca, much has been written about Bob Wake and well ahead of JS ramblings. There is a great book written by Wakes son as Pete points out plus there are a number of books from the Northern Territory that discuss the activities of The Nackeroos.

    Wake got himself a name as a racist for declaring his mistrust of the Aboriginal community based upon their sheltering Japanese POWs and perhaps infiltrators. We definitely have him in the Northern Territory at the right time and may have him in FNQ t the right time to have met up with and recruited AB. More work to be done on this as you might guess.

    Wake was involved heavily with the internment camps and that is yet another reason to take a much closer look.

    Pete, I will dig out the NT ebooks and post a link. There is also a maritime museum up North that has records of Water Transport.

    February 15, 2018
  3. Misca #

    Ok. I spent quite a bit of time on Wakes but will have to go back and refresh my memory…

    Pete – I was the one who mentioned/asked about Lake Boga a while back, not JS.

    February 16, 2018
    • Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of JS, a place where all you have to do is think it was your idea and then it becomes reality 🙂 No Offence JS.

      February 16, 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s