World War II

The British Services

Special Operations Executive


Chandler, Geoffrey. The Divided Land. An Anglo–Greek Tragedy. London: Macmillan 1959. Rev. ed. London: Michael Russell, 1994.

The author was with SOE in Greece.

Chartres, John. Training of World War Two Secret Agents in Cheshire. Altrincham, UK: J. Chartres, 1991. [pb] Bowdon, UK: Bowdon History Society, 1992.

Churchill, Peter.

1. Of Their Own Choice: Captain Peter Churchill's Own Account of His First Secret Mission to Wartime France. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1952.

2. Duel of Wits. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1953. New York: Putnam, 1955. Morley, UK: Elmfield Press, 1974.

3. The Spirit in the Cage. New York: Putnam, 1955. London: Corgi, 1956. [pb] Morley, UK: Elmfield Press, 1974.

Cookridge, E.H.

1. Inside SOE: The Story of Special Operations in Western Europe 1940-45. London: Arthur Barker, 1966. Abbreviated U.S. ed. Set Europe Ablaze: The Inside Story of Special Operations Executive: Churchill's Daring Plan to Defeat Germany through Sabotage, Espionage, & Subversion. New York: Crowell, 1967. Mettez l’Europe à feu: organisation et action du SOE en Europe occidentale, 1940-1945. Paris: Fayard, 1968.

Bross, Studies 11.2 (Spring 1967), finds that while the author has a propensity for "tabloidese," he does provide "an appreciation of the ingenuity, persistence, and determination" that distinguished SOE's "motley assortment" of personnel. In dealing with SOE activities in France, Cookridge focuses almost exclusively on "F" Section, omitting references to "RF" Section and thereby missing "some of the most exciting episodes of the French Resistance." The reviewer concludes by questioning the usefulness of this work.

2. They Came from the Sky. London: Heinemann, 1965. New York: Crowell, 1967. London: Corgi, 1976. [pb]

https://www.kirkusreviews.com notes that this book is about three SOE officers: "Harry Ree (cover name, Henri), Francis Cammaerts (Roger), and Roger Landes (Aristide). Each of these British officers was parachuted into a different section of France during World War II.... All three lived to tell the tale to the author."

Cornioley, Pearl Witherington.

1. Ed., Kathryn J. Atwood. Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a WWII Special Agent. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2013.

This is the author's memoir of service with SOE in France.

2. "Pauline." Lamotte-Beuvron: Imprimerie Autrive, 1996.

This is the French version, published previously, of the above memoir. Foot, I&NS 12.4, notes that this series of talks between "an Englishwoman far beyond the ordinary" and a French journalist certainly does not constitute an autobiography; nor does it substitute for a full-fledged biography. Nevertheless, Pearl Witherington Cornioley does describe her 18 months of field work with SOE in France. She was part of Maurice Southgate's "Stationer" circuit and, after Southgate's capture by the Germans, ran her own small resistance circuit.

3. See also, Carole Seymour-Jones, She Landed by Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington; "the real Charlotte Gray" (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013).

Peake, Studies 59.1 (Mar. 2015), finds that this work provides "much greater detail" than Cornioley's memoir, including "a great deal about [her] operational life in the resistance." Additionally, "there is more context on the conduct of the war as it affected the resistance."

Cornish, Paul. "Weapons and Equipment of the Special Operations Executive." In Special Operations Executive: A New Instrument of War, ed. Mark Seaman, 22-32. London: Routledge, 2005.

Cottell, John E., and Arthur Gordon. Code-Name Badger: The True Life Story of a British Secret Agent. New York: Morrow, 1990.

Cowburn, Benjamin. No Cloak, No Dagger. London: Adventurers Club, 1955. No Cloak, No Dagger: Allied Spycraft in Occupied France. Barnsley: Frontline Books, 2009.

From publisher: "The memoir of SOE agent Benjamin Cowburn is rightly regarded as a classic of wartime literature.... Cowburn explains the methods of special agents who were dropped into France during the war and the ways that agents would set about establishing secure networks with the French Resistance."

Crowdy, Terry. Illus., Steve Noon. SOE Agent: Churchill's Secret Warriors. Botley: Osprey, 2008.

Frm publisher: The author follows SOE agents "through their experiences beginning with their recruitment and unorthodox training methods, particularly the unarmed combat training[,]... the tough physical training course and parachute training.... Full-color artwork and photographs show the innovative equipment, including the S-Phones and Eureka sets, which allowed the agent to communicate directly with pilots and other agents."

Croft, Andrew. A Talent for Adventure. [UK]: Self Publishing Association, 1991.

Cruickshank, Charles G.

Neville Wylie, "Introduction: Special Operations Executive -- New Approaches and Perspectives," Intelligence and National Security 20, no.1 (Mar. 2005), comments that these two "more 'popular' official histories of SOE ... are generally considered disappointing."

1. SOE in the Far East. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

According to Rasor, The China-Burma-India Campaign, 1931-1945 (1998), p. 140, this is the "official history of British clandestine operations in China, India, Burma, Indochina, Malaya, Thailand, and Indonesia; included psychological warfare and freeing POWs." Seaman, I&NS 20.1 (Mar. 2005), 33, calls this "official" history "a worthy, if workmanlike, book."

2. SOE in Scandinavia. London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Foot, I&NS 21, judges this work to be "disappointing reading." The author "has hardly used any books in Scandinavian languages. This has shut him off from a mass of relevant material, ... and necessarily makes his account incomplete." Norwegian historian Olaf Riste, Times (London), 10 Jun. 1986 [cited in Seaman, I&NS 20.1 (Mar. 2005), 35], described this work as "a haphazard collection of cloak and dagger stories that are often seriously at varience with the painstakingly researched studies already available."

Cunningham, Cyril. Beaulieu: The Finishing School for Secret Agents, 1941-1945. London: Leo Cooper, 1998. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword, 2005.

According to Foot, I&NS 13.2, this book "describes the training schools round Beaulieu Manor, Hampshire, in which SOE tried to explain to its impending agents what a clandestine existence in Nazi-occupied Europe was going to be like.... [It] is a most welcome addition to the literature on SOE." West, IJI&C 12.1, comments that the author "has collected dozens of colorful, tall (and some not so tall) tales to produce a very worthwhile history of SOE's five years in Hampshire."

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