For years the Imperial War Museum has been collecting, unobtrusively, the recollections not only of members of the conventional armed forces, but of those secret agents who survived and could be persuaded to talk. Roderick Bailey has been through all the relevant records and here assembles with great skill a picture of the Special Operations Executive at work behind several fighting fronts. This was the one of our nine wartime secret services which specialised in subversion and sabotage; it worked the world over. He concentrates on France, Yugoslavia and Greece, the best-known cases, but includes also Norway, where SOE blocked Hitler’s attempt to make an atomic bomb, Italy, where it did wonders in support of the partisans, Poland, where it did what little it could, Albania, on which he recently wrote a good book himself, and Burma, where Karennis armed by SOE killed thousands of retreating Japanese in the War’s closing stages.
He brings out SOE’s abruptness well. Here is Major Brian Dillon, who volunteered from the SAS while on leave in Cairo:
[T]hey said, ‘Do you know anything about Lewes bombs?’ I said, ‘Yes, the SAS used them for blowing up aeroplanes.’ ‘Well, we have a chap in Greece who has access