• History

Lonely Courage

The true story of the SOE heroines who fought to free Nazi-occupied France
Author: Rick Stroud
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1471155676
Category: History
Page: 336
View: 4932
‘A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book – told with tremendous pace and excitement’ William Boyd 'This compelling and complete account of the extraordinarily courageous women of SOE is at turns enthralling, edge-of-smart exciting and also heart-breaking. The way in which they were sent into Nazi-occupied Europe and left to face unspeakable danger remains astonishing and Stroud's book is a reminder and fitting testimony to their immense bravery.' James Holland On 18 June 1940 General de Gaulle broadcast from London to his countrymen in France about the catastrophe that had overtaken their nation – the victory of the invading Germans. He declared ‘Is defeat final? No! . . . the flame of French Resistance must not and will not be extinguished’. The Resistance began almost immediately. At first it was made up of small, disorganised groups working in isolation. But by the time of the liberation in 1944 around 400,000 French citizens, nearly 2 per cent of the population, were involved. The Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Winston Churchill in 1941 saw its role in France as helping the Resistance by recruiting and organising guerrilla fighters; supplying and training them; and then disrupting the invaders by any means necessary. The basic SOE unit was a team of three: a leader, a wireless operator and a courier. These teams operated in Resistance circuits and the agents were given random codenames. The aim of this work was to prepare for the invasion of Europe by Allied forces and the eventual liberation of France. It was soon decided that women would play a vital role. There were 39 female agents recruited from all walks of life, ranging from a London shop assistant to a Polish aristocrat. What linked them was that they knew France well, were fluent in French and were prepared to sacrifice everything to help defeat the enemy. The women trained alongside the men, learning how to disappear into the background, how to operate a radio transmitter and how to kill a man with their bare hands. Once trained they were infiltrated behind the lines by parachute or tiny aircraft that could land in remote fields. Some of the women went on to lead thousands of Resistance fighters, while others were arrested, brutally interrogated and sent to concentration camps where they endured torment and death. Lonely Couragetells their story and sheds light on what life was really like for these brave women who tumbled from the sky.

Lonely Courage


Author: Rick Stroud
Publisher: N.A
ISBN: 9781471155659
Category:
Page: 320
View: 546
'A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book - told with tremendous pace and excitement' William Boyd On 18 June 1940 General de Gaulle broadcast from London to his countrymen in France about the catastrophe that had overtaken their nation - the victory of the invading Germans. He declared 'Is defeat final? No! . . . the flame of French Resistance must not and will not be extinguished'. The Resistance began almost immediately. At first it was made up of small, disorganised groups working in isolation. But by the time of the liberation in 1944 around 400,000 French citizens, nearly 2 per cent of the population, were involved. The Special Operations Executive (SOE) set up by Winston Churchill in 1941 saw its role in France as helping the Resistance by recruiting and organising guerrilla fighters; supplying and training them; and then disrupting the invaders by any means necessary. The basic SOE unit was a team of three: a leader, a wireless operator and a courier. These teams operated in Resistance circuits and the agents were given random codenames. The aim of this work was to prepare for the invasion of Europe by Allied forces and the eventual liberation of France. It was soon decided that women would play a vital role. There were 39 female agents recruited from all walks of life, ranging from a London shop assistant to a Polish aristocrat. What linked them was that they knew France well, were fluent in French and were prepared to sacrifice everything to help defeat the enemy. The women trained alongside the men, learning how to disappear into the background, how to operate a radio transmitter and how to kill a man with their bare hands. Once trained they were infiltrated behind the lines by parachute or tiny aircraft that could land in remote fields. Some of the women went on to lead thousands of Resistance fighters, while others were arrested, brutally interrogated and sent to concentration camps where they endured torment and death. Lonely Courage tells their story and sheds light on what life was really like for these brave women who tumbled from the sky.

    • Biography & Autobiography

A Cool and Lonely Courage

The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France
Author: Susan Ottaway
Publisher: Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316326976
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 336
View: 9525
The incredible true story of British special agents Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne, sisters who risked everything to fight for freedom during the Second World War. When elderly recluse Eileen Nearne died, few suspected that the quiet little old lady was a decorated WWII war hero. Volunteering to serve for British intelligence at age 21, Eileen was posted to Nazi-occupied France to send encoded messages of crucial importance for the Allies, until her capture by the Gestapo. Eileen was not the only agent in her family---her sister Jacqueline was a courier for the French resistance. While Jacqueline narrowly avoided arrest, Eileen was tortured by the Nazis, then sent to the infamous Ravensbrück women's concentration camp. Astonishingly, this resourceful young woman eventually escaped her captors and found her way to the advancing American army. In this amazing true story of triumph and tragedy, Susan Ottaway unveils the secret lives of two sisters who sacrificed themselves to defend their country.

    • History

Heroines of SOE

Britain's Secret Women in France
Author: Beryl Escott
Publisher: The History Press
ISBN: 0752462458
Category: History
Page: 240
View: 2511
Female spies are often the stuff of legend and myth. Here, for the first time, Beryl Escott tells the true story of the incredible 40 women who worked for Britain's Special Operations Executive during the Second World War. These women came from a variety of backgrounds, from Gillian Gerson a Chilean actress, to the Irish Mary Herbert, recruited for her linguistic skills, through to the famous Odette Samson—the "darling spy." She explores what made them risk their lives, even those with new-born babies, for a cause greater than themselves. She takes us on a journey through their recruitment and training into their undercover operations, as they diced with death and details their often tragic demise from death by injection to being shot in a prisoner of war camps. This is a far from glamorous picture, but a moving and gripping story that needs to be told.

    • History

Shadow Warriors of World War II

The Daring Women of the OSS and SOE
Author: Gordon Thomas,Greg Lewis
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
ISBN: 1613730896
Category: History
Page: 304
View: 2293
In a dramatically different tale of espionage and conspiracy in World War II, Shadow Warriors of World War II unveils the history of the courageous women who volunteered to work behind enemy lines. Sent into Nazi-occupied Europe by the United States' Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and Britain's Special Operations Executive (SOE), these women helped establish a web of resistance groups across the continent. Their heroism, initiative, and resourcefulness contributed to the Allied breakout of the Normandy beachheads and even infiltrated Nazi Germany at the height of the war, into the very heart of Hitler's citadel—Berlin. Young and daring, the female agents accepted that they could be captured, tortured, or killed, but others were always readied to take their place. Women of enormous cunning and strength of will, the Shadow Warriors' stories have remained largely untold until now.

    • History

Kidnap in Crete

The True Story of the Abduction of a Nazi General
Author: Rick Stroud
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
ISBN: 1632861941
Category: History
Page: 304
View: 4775
This is the story of how a small SOE unit led by Patrick Leigh Fermor kidnapped a German general on the Nazi-occupied island of Crete in 1944. For thirty-two days, they were chased across the mountains as they headed for the coast and a rendezvous with a Royal Navy launch waiting to spirit the general to Cairo. Rick Stroud, whose Phantom Army of Alamein won plaudits for its meticulous research and its lightness of touch in the telling, brings these same gifts to bear in this new project. From the adrenalin rush of the kidnapping, to the help provided by the Cretan partisans and people, he explains the overall context of Crete's role in World War II and reveals the devastating consequences of this mission for them all. There have been other accounts, but Kidnap in Crete is the first book to draw on all the sources, notably those in Crete as well as SOE files and the accounts, letters, and private papers of its operatives in London and Edinburgh.

    • History

Flames in the Field

The Story of Four SOE Agents in Occupied France
Author: Rita Kramer
Publisher: CreateSpace
ISBN: 9781453834275
Category: History
Page: 338
View: 2376
The true story of women agents of the secret World War II Special Operations Executive, mandated by Winston Churchill to "set Europe ablaze" by organizing resistance in occupied Europe during the prelude to D Day. Intrigue and heroism, adventure and betrayal figure in this account of British-led efforts to defeat the Nazis in wartime France, based on extensive research in records, documents, letters and memoirs, and the author's interviews with surviving agents and officials. Despite sporadic defeat and betrayal, SOE leaders managed to delay the arrival of German reinforcements to the Normandy beachhead, contributing to the eventual Allied victory. Details of the operations of SOE recounted here remained secret for decades after the war, finally revealing the human cost of the reconnaissance and sabotage efforts that helped to shorten the conflict.

    • History

RAF and the SOE

Special Duty Operations in Europe During World War II
Author: John Barry Grehan
Publisher:
ISBN: 1473894166
Category: History
Page: 336
View: 9212
The Special Operations Executive developed a vast network of agents across Occupied Europe which played a vital role in developing and sustaining Resistance movements that persistently sought to subvert German control of their territories. The culmination of their efforts was seen when the Allied armies landed at Normandy in June 1944, with the SOE and the Resistance causing widespread destruction and disruption behind the German lines. None of this would have been possible had it not been for the Royal Air Force. Not only the RAF supply the SOE, and the movements it led and coordinated, with the thousands of tons of arms and equipment needed to undertake this role, it also delivered and retrieved agents from under the very noses of the enemy. Compiled at the end of the war by the Air Historical Branch of the RAF, this is an extremely detailed and comprehensive account of the RAF’s support for the SOE, and in it we learn of the enormous and complex arrangements undertaken by the Special Duties squadrons as well as showing how the material delivered by these aircraft was used in the field. This account is reproduced here in its entirety, along with a detailed appendix containing the official historical record of Bomber Command aircrews and aircraft engaged in clandestine operations. Taken together, this book represents the most comprehensive account of the RAF’s support for SOE ever published.

    • History

Between Silk and Cyanide


Author: Leo Marks
Publisher: The History Press
ISBN: 0752471600
Category: History
Page: 480
View: 9760
In 1942, with a black-market chicken under his arm, Leo Marks left his father's famous bookshop, 84 Charing Cross Road, and went to war. He was twenty-two and a cryptopgraher of genius. In Between Silk and Cyanide, his critically acclaimed account of his time in SOE, Marks tells how he revolutionised the code-making techniques of the Allies, trained some of the most famous agents dropped into France including Violette Szabo and 'the White Rabbit', and why he wrote haunting verse including his 'The Life that I have' poem. He reveals for the first time the disastrous dimensions of the code war between SOE and the Germans in Holland; how the Germans were fooled into thinking a Secret Army was operating in the Fatherland itself, and how and why he broke General de Gaulle's secret code. Both thrilling and poignant, Marks's book is truly one of the last great Second World War memoirs.

    • History

SOE in France 1941-1945

An Official Account of the Special Operations ExecutiveÕs French Circuits
Author: Robert Bourne-Patterson
Publisher: Frontline Books
ISBN: 1473882036
Category: History
Page: 288
View: 6625
In the archives of the Special Operations Executive lay a report compiled by a staff officer and former member of SOE's French Section, Major Robert Bourne-Patterson, that until recently could not be published. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the work undertaken by the SOE, the paper was treated as confidential and its circulation was strictly limited to selected personnel. Now, at last, it can be made available to the general public. Limited, also, was the time available to Bourne-Patterson in compiling his report in 1946 as the SOE was being wound up and many documents were being ÔweededÕ from the files. Nevertheless, the paper he wrote gives a good picture of the work of the SOE in France, the country where its operations were most extensive. It contains an overview of operations in France by the Special Operations Executive during the Second World War with detailed records of individual circuits from their inception onwards, containing much information concerning individual agents and their contacts, calendars of subversive activity against the Germans and the names and addresses of personnel connected with the circuits who had survived the war. In writing his account, Bourne-Patterson drew heavily on personal interviews and wartime debriefings by agents.

    • History

Castle of the Eagles

Escape from Mussolini's Colditz
Author: Mark Felton
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 1250095867
Category: History
Page: 336
View: 6242
Vincigliata Castle, a menacing medieval fortress set in the beautiful Tuscan hills, has become a very special prisoner of war camp on Benito Mussolini’s personal order. Within are some of the most senior officers of the Allied army, guarded by almost two hundred Italian soldiers and a vicious fascist commando who answers directly to “Il Duce” Mussolini himself. Their unbelievable escape, told by Mark Felton in Castle of the Eagles, is a little-known marvel of World War II. By March 1943, the plan is ready: this extraordinary assemblage of middle-aged POWs has crafted civilian clothes, forged identity papers, gathered rations, and even constructed dummies to place in their beds, all in preparation for the moment they step into the tunnel they have been digging for six months. How they got to this point and what happens after is a story that reads like fiction, supported by an eccentric cast of characters, but is nonetheless true to its core.

    • Biography & Autobiography

The Spy Who Loved

The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville
Author: Clare Mulley
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 1250030331
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 448
View: 8067
The Untold Story of Britain's First Female Special Agent of World War II In June 1952, a woman was murdered by an obsessed colleague in a hotel in the South Kensington district of London. Her name was Christine Granville. That she died young was perhaps unsurprising; that she had survived the Second World War was remarkable. The daughter of a feckless Polish aristocrat and his wealthy Jewish wife, Granville would become one of Britain's most daring and highly decorated special agents. Having fled to Britain on the outbreak of war, she was recruited by the intelligence services and took on mission after mission. She skied over the hazardous High Tatras into occupied Poland, served in Egypt and North Africa, and was later parachuted behind enemy lines into France, where an agent's life expectancy was only six weeks. Her courage, quick wit, and determination won her release from arrest more than once, and saved the lives of several fellow officers—including one of her many lovers—just hours before their execution by the Gestapo. More importantly, the intelligence she gathered in her espionage was a significant contribution to the Allied war effort, and she was awarded the George Medal, the OBE, and the Croix de Guerre. Granville exercised a mesmeric power on those who knew her. In The Spy Who Loved, acclaimed biographer Clare Mulley tells the extraordinary history of this charismatic, difficult, fearless, and altogether extraordinary woman.

    • History

Last Hope Island

Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War
Author: Lynne Olson
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 0812997360
Category: History
Page: 576
View: 7599
A groundbreaking account of how Britain became the base of operations for the exiled leaders of Europe in their desperate struggle to reclaim their continent from Hitler, from the New York Times bestselling author of Citizens of London and Those Angry Days When the Nazi blitzkrieg rolled over continental Europe in the early days of World War II, the city of London became a refuge for the governments and armed forces of six occupied nations who escaped there to continue the fight. So, too, did General Charles de Gaulle, the self-appointed representative of free France. As the only European democracy still holding out against Hitler, Britain became known to occupied countries as “Last Hope Island.” Getting there, one young emigré declared, was “like getting to heaven.” In this epic, character-driven narrative, acclaimed historian Lynne Olson takes us back to those perilous days when the British and their European guests joined forces to combat the mightiest military force in history. Here we meet the courageous King Haakon of Norway, whose distinctive “H7” monogram became a symbol of his country’s resistance to Nazi rule, and his fiery Dutch counterpart, Queen Wilhelmina, whose antifascist radio broadcasts rallied the spirits of her defeated people. Here, too, is the Earl of Suffolk, a swashbuckling British aristocrat whose rescue of two nuclear physicists from France helped make the Manhattan Project possible. Last Hope Island also recounts some of the Europeans’ heretofore unsung exploits that helped tilt the balance against the Axis: the crucial efforts of Polish pilots during the Battle of Britain; the vital role played by French and Polish code breakers in cracking the Germans’ reputedly indecipherable Enigma code; and the flood of top-secret intelligence about German operations—gathered by spies throughout occupied Europe—that helped ensure the success of the 1944 Allied invasion. A fascinating companion to Citizens of London, Olson’s bestselling chronicle of the Anglo-American alliance, Last Hope Island recalls with vivid humanity that brief moment in time when the peoples of Europe stood together in their effort to roll back the tide of conquest and restore order to a broken continent. Advance praise for Last Hope Island “A rip-roaring saga of hairbreadth escape, espionage, and resistance during World War II, Lynne Olson’s Last Hope Island salvages the forgotten stories of a collection of heroic souls from seven countries overrun by Hitler who find refuge in Churchill’s London and then seek payback in ways large and small. In thrilling fashion, Olson shows us that hell hath no fury like a small country scorned.”—Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Dead Wake “Lynne Olson is a master storyteller, and she brings her great gifts to this riveting narrative of the resistance to Hitler’s war machine. You will be thrilled and moved—and enraged, saddened, and shocked—by the courage and steadfastness, human waste and stupidity, carelessness and nobility, of an epic struggle. Last Hope Island is a smashing good tale.”—Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Being Nixon “A powerful and surprising account of how figures from Nazi-occupied Europe found Great Britain an essential shield and sword in the struggle against Hitler. This is a wonderful work of history, told in Olson’s trademark style.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion

    • Biography & Autobiography

I Heard My Country Calling

Elaine Madden, the Unsung Heroine of SOE
Author: Sue Elliott
Publisher: The History Press
ISBN: 0750966491
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 256
View: 4432
The remarkable true story of SOE heroine Elaine Madden, told for the first timeAfter a tragic childhood among the Great War cemeteries of Flanders fields, a troubled young woman searches for love and meaning in war-ravaged Europe. Elaine Madden's quest takes her from occupied Belgium through the chaos of Dunkirk, where she flees disguised as a British soldier, into the London Blitz, where she finally begins to discover herself. Recruited to T Section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a "fast courier," she is parachuted back to the country of her birth to undertake a top secret political mission and help speed its liberation from Nazi oppression. Elaine Madden never claimed to be a heroine, but her story proves otherwise. Its centerpiece—war service as one of only two women SOE agents parachuted into enemy-occupied Belgium—is just one episode in an extraordinary real-life drama of highs and lows, love, loss, and betrayal. Relayed to the author in the final years of her life, Elaine's true story of courage and humor in testing times is more intriguing, more compelling than fiction.

    • Biography & Autobiography

She Landed By Moonlight

The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: The 'Real Charlotte Gray'
Author: Carole Seymour-Jones
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
ISBN: 1444724630
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 432
View: 5842
On the night of the 22 September 1943 Pearl Witherington, a twenty-nine-year-old British secretary and agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), was parachuted from a Halifax bomber into Occupied France. Like Sebastian Faulks' heroine, Charlotte Gray, Pearl had a dual mission: to fight for her beloved, broken France and to find her lost love. Pearl's lover was a Parisian parfumier turned soldier, Henri Cornioley, who had been taken prisoner while serving in the French Logistics Corps and subsequently escaped from his German POW camp. Agent Pearl Witherington's wartime record is unique and heroic. As the only woman agent in the history of SOEs in France to have run a network, she became a fearless and legendary guerrilla leader organising, arming and training 3,800 Resistance fighters. Probably the greatest female organiser of armed maquisards in France, the woman whom her young troops called 'Ma Mère', Pearl lit the fires of Resistance in Central France so that Churchill's famous order to 'set Europe ablaze', which had brought SOE into being, finally came to pass. Pearl's story takes us from her harsh, impoverished childhood in Paris, to the lonely forests and farmhouses of the Loir-et-Cher where she would become a true 'warrior queen'. Shortly before Pearl's death in 2008, the Queen presented her with a CBE in Paris. While male agents and Special Force Jedburghs received the DSO or Military Cross, an ungrateful country had forgotten Pearl. She had been offered a civilian decoration in 1945 which she refused, saying 'There was nothing civil about what I did.' But what pleased her most was to receive her Parachute Wings, for which she had waited over 60 years. Two RAF officers travelled to her old people's home and she was finally able to pin the coveted wings on her lapel. Pearl died in February 2008 aged 93.

    • Biography & Autobiography

Young, Brave and Beautiful

The Missions of Special Operations Executive Agent Lieutenant Violette Szabô, George Cross, Croix de Guerre avec Étoile de Bronze
Author: Tania Szabó
Publisher: The History Press
ISBN: 0750964723
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 384
View: 3718
SOE agent Violette Szabo was the daughter of an English father and French mother, and widow of a French army officer killed in action in North Africa in 1942. On her second mission she was captured by the Germans, interrogated and tortured, and deported to Germany, where she was eventually executed at Ravensbrück concentration camp. The bare bones of her story say nothing of the sabotage, gun battles, betrayal. Violette was the second woman ever to be awarded the George Cross, and she was immortalized in the film Carve her Name with Pride. What marks out this book is the simple, extraordinary fact is that is written by her daughter, Tania: she would have been two years old when she last saw her mother, the woman fellow agent Odette Churchill called "the bravest of us all."

    • World War, 1939-1945

Nancy Wake

A Biography of Our Greatest War Heroine, 1912-2011
Author: Peter FitzSimons
Publisher: N.A
ISBN: 9780732295257
Category: World War, 1939-1945
Page: 390
View: 1317
The number one bestselling biography of our greatest war heroine - over 84,000 copies sold in its first two formats. In the early 1930s, Nancy Wake was a young woman enjoying a bohemian life in Paris. By the end of the Second World War, she was the Gestapo's most wanted person. As a naive, young journalist, Nancy Wake witnessed a horrific scene of Nazi violence in a Viennese street. From that moment, she declared that she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazis. What began as a courier job here and there became a highly successful escape network for Allied soldiers, perfectly camouflaged by Nancy's high-society life in Marseille. Her network was soon so successful - and so notorious - that she was forced to flee France to escape the Gestapo, who had dubbed her the white mouse for her knack of slipping through its traps. But Nancy was a passionate enemy of the Nazis and refused to stay away. Supplying weapons and training members of a powerful underground fighting force, organising Allied parachute drops, cycling four hundred kilometres across a mountain range to find a new transmitting radio - nothing seemed too difficult in her fight against the Nazis.Peter FitzSimons reveals Nancy Wake's compelling story, a tale of an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things.

    • History

Village of Secrets

Defying the Nazis in Vichy France
Author: Caroline Moorehead
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 0062202499
Category: History
Page: 400
View: 5102
From the author of the New York Times bestseller A Train in Winter comes the absorbing story of a French village that helped save thousands hunted by the Gestapo during World War II—told in full for the first time. Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village of scattered houses high in the mountains of the Ardèche, one of the most remote and inaccessible parts of Eastern France. During the Second World War, the inhabitants of this tiny mountain village and its parishes saved thousands wanted by the Gestapo: resisters, freemasons, communists, OSS and SOE agents, and Jews. Many of those they protected were orphaned children and babies whose parents had been deported to concentration camps. With unprecedented access to newly opened archives in France, Britain, and Germany, and interviews with some of the villagers from the period who are still alive, Caroline Moorehead paints an inspiring portrait of courage and determination: of what was accomplished when a small group of people banded together to oppose their Nazi occupiers. A thrilling and atmospheric tale of silence and complicity, Village of Secrets reveals how every one of the inhabitants of Chambon remained silent in a country infamous for collaboration. Yet it is also a story about mythmaking, and the fallibility of memory. A major contribution to WWII history, illustrated with black-and-white photos, Village of Secrets sets the record straight about the events in Chambon, and pays tribute to a group of heroic individuals, most of them women, for whom saving others became more important than their own lives.

    • Biography & Autobiography

Shadows in the Fog

The True Story of Major Suttill and the Prosper French Resistance Network
Author: Francis J Suttill
Publisher: The History Press
ISBN: 075095762X
Category: Biography & Autobiography
Page: 160
View: 4934
In May 1940, Francis Suttill was commissioned into the East Surrey regiment of the British Army. He was later recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), and after being trained during the summer of 1942, Suttill was chosen to create a new resistance network in northern France, based in Paris, with the operational name Physician. His code name was Prosper, and his assumed identity was François Desprées. The circuit of agents grew fast until June 1943, when the Gestapo discovered letters, instructions, crystal sets, and addresses in a car, and false ID papers in an apartment. Over the next three months, more then 80 agents died or were killed, mostly in concentration camps. Major Suttill DSO would be killed in Sachsenhausen in May 1945. Rumors of betrayal by MI6, even of the involvement of Winston Churchill, have abounded ever since. For the first time, Major Suttill's son tells the whole story of the tragedy, basing his meticulous research on primary sources.

    • History

The Women Who Lived for Danger

The Agents of the Special Operations Executive
Author: Marcus Binney
Publisher: William Morrow
ISBN: 9780060540876
Category: History
Page: 400
View: 7450
The Special Operations Executive was formed by Winston Churchill in 1940 to "set Europe ablaze." In the SOE women were trained to handle guns and explosives, work undercover, endure interrogation by the Gestapo, and use complex codes. In The Women Who Lived for Danger, acclaimed historian Marcus Binney recounts the story of ten remarkable women who were dropped in occupied territories to work as secret agents. Once they were behind enemy lines, theirs was the most dangerous war of all, as they led apparently normal civilian lives while in constant danger of arrest. They organized dropping grounds for arms and explosives destined for the Resistance, helped operate escape lines for airmen who had been shot down over Europe, and provided Allied Command with vital intelligence. SOE women agents came from all walks of life: from the dazzling Polish Countess Krystyna Skarbek (alias Christine Granville) and the American Virginia Hall, who was from a rich Baltimore family, to Marguerite Knight, a secretary in Walthamstow. Petite Lisa de Baissac lived next to Gestapo headquarters in Poitiers playing the part of a quiet widow, while twenty-year-old student Paola Del Din was sent to find a way through the German front line in Florence. Hot-tempered Paddy O'Sullivan deflected a German officer from examining her suitcase by making a date with him, and Alix d'Unienville feigned madness when captured. The stories of these women agents -- some famous, some virtually unknown -- are told with the help of extensive new archive material. Their exploits form a new chapter of heroism in the history of warfare matched only by their determination, resourcefulness, and ability to stay cool in the face of extreme danger.