An examination of the SOE, its accomplishments, and the Canadian connection to the organization.
During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill created the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to conduct acts of sabotage and subversion, and raise secret armies of partisans in German-occupied Europe. With the directive to “set Europe ablaze,” the SOE undertook a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the Nazi Gestapo. An agent’s failure could result in indescribable torture, dispatch to a concentration camp, and, often, a death sentence.
While the SOE’s contribution to the Allied war effort is still debated, and many of its files remain classified, it was a unique wartime creation that reflected innovation, adventure, and a fanatical devotion on the part of its personnel to the Allied cause.
The SOE has an important Canadian connection: Canadians were among its operatives and agents behind enemy lines. Camp X, in Whitby, Ontario, was a special training school that trained agents for overseas duty, and an infamous Canadian codenamed “Intrepid” ran SOE operations in the Americas.
About the author
Colonel Bernd Horn, an experienced Canadian Forces infantry officer, is currently chief of staff of the Land Forces Development and Training System. Dr. Horn is also an adjunct professor of history at the Royal Military College and has authored, co-authored, or edited 28 books. Some of his recent publications are Fortune Favours the Brave and Show No Fear. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.
Other titles by Bernd Horn
The Wrecking Crew
Operation Colossus, 10 February 1941
Shadow Warriors / Les Guerriers de l'Ombre
The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command / Le Commandement des Forces d’Opérations Spéciales du Canada
Canadian Forces in Afghanistan 3-Book Bundle
No Easy Task / No Ordinary Men / No Lack of Courage
No Ordinary Men
Special Operations Forces Missions in Afghanistan
Forced to Change
Crisis and Reform in the Canadian Armed Forces
Of Courage and Determination
The First Special Service Force, "The Devil's Brigade," 1942–44
Doing Canada Proud
The Second Boer War and the Battle of Paardeberg
No Easy Task
Fighting in Afghanistan
Battle Cries in the Wilderness
The Struggle for North America in the Seven Years’ War
From Cold War to New Millennium
The History of The Royal Canadian Regiment, 1953–2008