SOE ‘Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare’

Volunteers for British clandestine operations within WWII had many reasons for doing so. It was never for the extra money or the glamour of the work, the extra money was negligible, and there was very little glamour attached to the work; it article-0-1BB708DB000005DC-124_634x549was also too secretive to reveal outside of a very tight knit organisation. Most agents of the Special Operations Executive were square pegs in round holes as far as regular service life was concerned. Potential Agents joined for the love of their country, or to avenge a loved one or a family member. Christine Granville (her cover name, her true name was Krystyna Skarbek) was one such woman  Never-before-seen pictures of SOE agent whose extraordinary courage paved the way for the liberation of France  Christine Granville – the favourite spy of Winston Churchill – worked for years undermining the Nazi regime despite SOE agents having a short life expectancy in the field. As a specialist agent trained in sabotage and destruction, she operated in heavily occupied territory to fight for her country, and her Jewish mother who was killed in a Nazi concentration camp.hs9-612a-enlargeAs a young 14 year old, I read the original true story of a different SOE agent; ‘Carve Her Name With Pride’ by R. J. Minney [published 1956] that tells the amazing story of Violette Szabo, a young woman who joined Britain’s SOE after her French husband was killed in the battle of El Alamein. On her second mission in France, she was caught by the Nazis, tortured, and sent to the women’s concentration camp in Ravensbrück, where she was eventually shot. Her four-year-old daughter, Tania, collected her mother’s posthumous George Cross from the wartime King, King George VI in 1946. Carve_her_name_with_pride_2

The Life That I Have is all that I have, and the life that I have is yours. The love that I have of the life that I have is yours and yours and yours. A sleep I shall have, a rest I shall have, yet death will be but a pause. For the peace of my years in the long green grass will be yours and yours and yours

We will never see their like again. I still have the book, which is typically written in the ‘ever-so-matter-of-fact’ sort of way that you would expect from the 50’s; still a great read.                          Yours Aye.