This very low price high quality pocket manual is what it claims in the title. It is based on documents and training manuals produced during WWII for use by newly minted spies and covert operatives. It is a worthy addition to a fine series of pocket books from this publisher, priced within the pockets of the young readers but with a quality of text and a multitude of drawings and photographs to appeal to the professional and the dedicated enthusiast. Few books cover such a wide potential readership.
NAME: The Secret Agent’s Pocket Manual 1939-1945
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Dr Stephen Bull
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Spies, intelligence, gadgets, field craft, surveillance, sabotage, covert operations, assassination, WWII, 1939-1945, World War Two Second World War, technology, technique, communications, encryption, codes and ciphers, SOE, OSS
DESCRIPTION: This very low price high quality pocket manual is what it claims in the title. It is based on documents and training manuals produced during WWII for use by newly minted spies and covert operatives. It is a worthy addition to a fine series of pocket books from this publisher, priced within the pockets of the young readers but with a quality of text and a multitude of drawings and photographs to appeal to the professional and the dedicated enthusiast. Few books cover such a wide potential readership.
Spies and covert agents have been part of warfare for millennia, but in 1939 a completely new standard was achieved. By early 1940, Britain stood alone against the German Nazis. Hitler controlled the Atlantic coast of Europe from Norway’s North Cape to the border with Spain. Sweden, Portugal and Switzerland were neutrals and Spain, although officially neutral, was inclined to support Hitler and provided services to the Germans. Britain had both an urgent need to find out what was happening in German controlled territory, and to boost morale by finding ways of attacking Germans and aiding those forming resistance forces against the Germans. Even seventy years later, there is still much that is kept secret, or been lost to history.
In Britain a very efficient counter intelligence service was established that neutralized German efforts to operate inside Britain with covert agents. British agents were inserted into Occupied Europe to act alone successfully, and to work with resistance forces. As the war progressed a mountain of arms was dropped or landed for resistance fighters in preparation for the liberation of Europe with the landings in Italy and Normandy. These covert operatives in enemy territory gathered information, carried out assassinations, sabotaged factories, roads, bridges, tunnels and railways, stole advanced equipment from the enemy and carried out some actions that were large scale rehearsals for full invasion. All of these activities required a completely new scale of equipment and technique development and the use of digital computers to break German code.
Some of the devices seem amusing today, but exploding rats and incendiary cigarettes were deadly serious. Remarkably small radio transceivers were built to enable agents to report back from enemy territory. Old forms of discrete communication such as invisible ink continued to be used. Forgery of documents and identity papers was carried out on an industrial scale. New explosives and explosive devices were developed. Plastic explosive, gammon bombs and sticky bombs were just a few of the range of new explosives available, along with magnetic mines and time pencils to detonate explosives. Unarmed combat was developed and adapted. A number of specialist firearms was developed, to allow covert carrying and near silent operation. To the Welrod assassins’ pistols was added a family of fully automatic weapons to give covert operatives the firepower to stand against fully equipped troops.
This manual is a masterpiece of condensing a huge amount of information into a pocket-sized manual worthy of the covert trade. The many illustrations are first class and a wide readership is likely for an outstanding book in its class.