A full account of SOE operations is unlikely ever to be written because some events were never documented and documents were lost or destroyed at the end of the war. This book is likely to be the best and most comprehensive account possible, being based on the previously unpublished report by a staff officer and former SOE member at the end of the war. Highly Recommended.
NAME: SOE in France 1941-1945
AUTHOR: Major Robert Bourne-Paterson
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, frontline
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, clandestine operations, Special Forces, Resistance, Germans, France, Belgium, Netherlands, intelligence services, spies, saboteurs, disruption. Blocking transport and communications
DESCRIPTION: A full account of SOE operations is unlikely ever to be written because some events were never documented and documents were lost or destroyed at the end of the war. This book is likely to be the best and most comprehensive account possible, being based on the previously unpublished report by a staff officer and former SOE member at the end of the war. Highly Recommended.
The publisher is to be commended for bringing into public access an insightful account of a shadowy organization of which he had been a member. SOE was responsible for significantly shortening the war and may have been responsible for avoiding Allied defeat. It is a story of incredibly brave individuals operating inside Occupied Europe, encouraging, training and directing Resistance Forces and returning vital intelligence to the teams in Britain. It is sad that so much will never be known and there were a number of reasons for this.
The detailed workings and actions of SOE were highly sensitive at the time, but this sensitivity did not cease in 1945. Many of the techniques they developed are still in use today and continue to be very secret. Immediately after WWII, there was also potential damage to British interests if some operations were made public because they would have had an impact on enemies and allies during the changing environment that followed victory in Europe.
SOE operations in France had to fit around the complex French situation where resistance groups were not just fighting the Germans, but preparing to fight each other once France had been liberated. Resistance fighters, and SOE agents, were betrayed to the Germans by other Resistance organizations. Some of the German counter-intelligence and police units were essential to the new West German Government when it formed. These many contentious issues were addressed by destroying any records that had been kept to avoid future embarrassment. There were also a number of situations where SOE had made mistakes and these were buried with the lost records. Major Bourne-Paterson was further hampered by the limited time available to produce his report before SOE was totally closed down and surviving records sealed for a number of decades. His motives for the report are not entirely clear but there are strong suggestions that he wanted to make a survivable record so that the heroes of SOE were never totally forgotten. However, he did not expect his record to ever become available to the public.
This is a fantastic story, told by someone who was part of it. It provides fresh insights and brings to public knowledge some very brave people of SOE and of the French circuits. It contains joy and sorrow, bravery and cowardice. It is inspiring and moving.