S.O.E. was formed in July, 1940, on Churchill's orders to "Set Europe Ablaze."
With headquarters at 64,
In the Western Highlands of
Airfields at Harrington,
SOE faced three major problems in
1) Confirming that worthwhile resistance movements exist
2) How to maintain contact with these movements
3) How to help these movements actually fight against the Germans
The only way that SOE could overcome these three problems was to get agents on the ground in occupied
This provided SOE with its next problem - suitable candidates to be SOE agents. Once trained, the most common way of getting agents to mainland
By mid-1941, SOE agents were beginning to land in
The work of the SOE became more sophisticated as they became more experienced. The ability of the Lysander to land, allowed SOE to pick-up 'special people' who needed to be de-briefed in
There were several subsidiary SOE headquarters and stations set up to manage operations which were too distant for London to control. SOE's operations in the Middle East and Balkans were controlled from a headquarters in Cairo, which was notorious for infighting and conflicts with other agencies. It finally became known in April 1944 as Special Operations (Mediterranean). A subsidiary headquarters was set up in Italy under the Cairo headquarters to control operations in the Balkans.There was also a station near Algiers, established in late 1942 and codenamed "Massingham", which operated into Southern France.
An SOE station, which was first called the India Mission, was set up in India late in 1940. It subsequently moved to Ceylon and became known as Force 136. A Singapore Mission was unable to overcome official opposition to its attempts to form resistance movements in Malaya before the Japanese overran Singapore. Force 136 took over its surviving staff and operations.
There was also a liaison office in New York, formally titled British Security Coordination, headed by the Canadian businessman Sir William Stephenson. This office also coordinated the work of SIS and MI5 with the American Federal Bureau of Investigation and Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
One of the most vital SOE tools was clandestine radio communications. A special wireless set weighing less than 40 lbs was developed. It looked like an ordinary suitcase. The plan was for every SOE organiser to take to occupied
Its also interesting to note that the inspiration for James Bond came from the ww2 experiences of the producer Ian Fleming, whose own brother was member of SOE.
SOME " GIZZMO'S AND GADGETS " EMPLOYED BY SOE
Fleming, knew both Maurice Buckmaster and Vera Atkins of the SOE French Section and is reputed to have used at least parts of them to create "M", and "Miss Moneypenny" in his James Bond books. In his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, Fleming is said Its to have based the "Vesper Lynd" character on the SOE agent, Christine Granville.
Other agents that Fleming used for his Bond character were Duane Hudson and Andrew Croft. Chief of SOE Technical Branch and later GS Branch MI6, Charles Bovill was represented in the Bond books as 'Q'.
Some SOE operatives not only provided Allied intelligence with vital information, they also became part of World War Two history - the likes of Violette Szabo, Captain Henry Rees, Pearl Witherington, Wing- Commander Yeo Thomas and Odette Sansom are to name but a few.
OF THE 418 SOE AGENTS SENT TO
WE REMEMBER THEM