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Tuesday 5 December 2023

SOE AGENT - book review


The subtitle of the Osprey book SOE Agent is Churchill’s Secret Warriors; text by Terry Crowdy, colour illustrations by Steve Noon. This is number 133 in the Warrior series of Osprey books. There are 62 information-packed pages with many contemporary photographs.

‘Nazi control on the continent was like a virus, intent on infiltrating every level of human existence and perverting it for its own satisfaction’ (p5).  Britain's Minister of Economic Warfare, Hugh Dalton was convinced a new organisation should be created to infiltrate Europe and the ‘new weapons of war would be agitation, strikes, random acts of terror, propaganda and assassination’ – effectively, ‘no holds barred’ (p5).

As early as September 1938 MI6 set up D Section (Sabotage) and the British General Staff formed a research section GS(R) to investigate the possibilities of guerrilla warfare; in May the following year this became Military Intelligence (Research). September 1939 Britain and France declared war on Germany after Hitler invaded Poland.

The book covers the recruitment of SOE agents, their training, and some of their missions, Lysander pickup, coding of messages, and their weapons and types of radio. It is a little treasure-trove for students and writers of that period. Certainly, having recently read Ken Follett’s Jackdaws, I could recognise many salient facts that he used in his narrative.

Related titles in the series are French Resistance Fighter and Resistance Warfare 1940-45; and in the Elite series: Office of Strategic Services (OSS) 1942-45.

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