World War II

The British Services

Special Operations Executive

Wylie, Neville, ed. "Special Issue on Special Operaitons Executive -- New Approaches and Perspectives." Intelligence and National Security 20, no 1 (Mar. 2005): Entire issue.

1. Neville Wylie, "Introduction," 1-11.

"Time and familiarity with the SOE archive has ... promoted a more nuanced, complex and 'contextualized' understanding of the organization and its activities.... The essays in this collection depict an organization capable of operating in a wide variety of different contexts."

2. Duncan Stuart, "'Of Historical Interest Only': The Origins and Vicissitudes of the SOE Archives," 14-26.

The author was SOE Advisor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office until the final releases of SOE documents to the PRO in 2002. He notes that the archivist who organized the files in the early 1970s estimated that 87 percent of SOE's files had been destroyed between 1945 and 1950.

3. Mark Seaman, "A Glass Half Full -- Some Thoughts on the Evolution of the Study of the Special Operations Executive," 27-43.

Serious students of SOE must "ply a difficult course through a sea of patchy paperwork and a host of personal accounts of uncertain accuracy." The author comments on "official" histories and records releases.

4. T.C. Wales, "The 'Massingham' Mission and the Secret 'Special Relationship': Cooperation and Rivalry between the Anglo-American Clandestine Services in French North Africa, November 1942-May 1943," 44-71.

Located west of Algiers, "'Massingham' served as the main command, communication, supply and training centre for [joint SOE and OSS] clandestine operations into southwestern Europe after the North African TORCH landings in November 1942.... The near total integration ... was the result of a determined effort by a few individuals."

5. Roderick K. Bailey, "Communist in SOE: Explaining James Klugmann's Recruitment and Retention," 72-97.

"Klugmann worked on the headquarters staff" of SOE's Yugoslav Section "from February 1942 until August 1944.... He was also a passionate and proactive British communist.... The preparedness of MI5 and SOE to clear him for secret work..., underlines their lack of concern about the theoretical threat to SOE's integrity that dedicated communists like Klugmann could pose."

6. Neville Wylie, "Ungentlemanly Warriors or Unreliable Diplomats? Special Operations Executive and 'Irregular Political Activities' in Europe," 98-120.

"SOE's experience in political activities over the course of the war lacked consistency and coherence.... The government's refusal to maintain SOE in business after the war was symptomatic of its reluctance to accept that 'irregular political activities' had a place in British peacetime foreign relations in the middle of the twentieth century."

7. Saul Kelly, "A Succession of Crises: SOE in the Middle East, 1940-45," 121-146. And in The Politics and Strategy of Clandestine War: Special Operations Executive, 1940-1946, ed. Neville Wylie, 130-153. London: Routledge, 2007.

The focus here is on "SOE's operations in the geographic region" of the Middle East, rather than coverage of the full slate of SOE Middle East's responsibilities, which included the Balkans. SOE "never managed to overcome the endemic suspicion by British military, political and diplomatic officials of its activities." Nevertheless, "SOE could claim some successes in the Middle East."

8. Kent Fedorowich, "'Toughs and Thugs': The Mazzini Society and Political Warfare amongst Italian POWs in India, 1941-43." Intelligence and National Security 20, no 1 (Mar. 2005): 147-172. And in The Politics and Strategy of Clandestine War: Special Operations Executive, 1940-1946, ed. Neville Wylie, 154-176. London: Routledge, 2007.

The author looks at "British attempts to forge a Free Italy movement between 1941 and 1943." He focuses on efforts by, first, SOE and, later, PWE to recruit "Italo-Americans for clandestine political warfare work in the fight against fascist Italy."

9. David A. Messenger, "'Against the Grain': Special Operations Executive in Spain, 1941-45," 173-190.

In an intelligence-gathering role, "particularly as it related to economic intelligence, SOE in Spain did achieve some success and carved out a limited role for itself in assisting Britain to realize some of its aims in wartime Spain."

10. Christopher J. Murphy, "SOE's Foreign Currency Transactions," 191-208.

The author suggests that examination of SOE only through a geographical, country perspective is likely to miss such contributions by SOE to the war effort as the currency dealings of the Finance Directorate (D/Fin).

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