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Special Operations Executive

The Special Operations Executive, the SOE, was an organisation founded by Winston Churchill in July of 1940, as a mechanism for conducting warfare by other means than direct military engagement, e.g. to encourage and facilitate espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines, and also as a focal point for the formation of a vestigial resistance movement in Britain itself in the possible event of an Axis invasion. Known also as Churchill's Secret Army, cognizance of their existence was not made available to the public at large until many years after the cessation of hostilities.

Head of the SOE was Colonel Colin Gubbins[?]. The head of the French section of the SOE was Maurice Buckmaster[?].

The headquarters of SOE were at 64, Baker Street, London[?]. Another important London base was Aston House[?], where weapons and tactics research was conducted.

The principal training centre of the SOE was at Wanborough Manor, Guildford.

The SOE were highly dependent upon the security of coded transmissions, and Leo Marks, an SOE cryptographer, was responsible for the development of better codes to replace the insecure poem codes.

SOE were particularly active in the following countries: France, the Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Greece, Poland, Czechoslovakia.

SOE was dissolved officially in 1946, and much of its sphere of influence reverted to the Special Intelligence Service[?], the SIS.

Amongst SOE's agents can be numbered:

Other famous SOE agents include:

A history of the Special Operations Executive has been published:

The Secret History of SOE - Special Operations Executive 1940-1945, (BPR Publications, 2000), Professor William Mackenzie. ISBN 0953615189

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