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Special Operations Executive (SOE)

Group  From 22/7/1940  To 15/1/1946

Spies, basically (but see below), working for the UK in WW2. Formed by Churchill and variously known as "Churchill's Secret Army", "The Baker Street Irregulars", the Pythonesque "Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare" or the deliberately dull-sounding "Joint Technical Board" or "Inter-Service Research Bureau". 117 SOE agents did not survive their missions to France. There is a plaque outside St Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge which gives the names of the women SOE agents who died in WW2. Culture 24 gives some detail of the SOE activities around Baker Street.

Parachuted into France the women operatives had a life expectancy of only 6 weeks, due, according to current thinking, to the incompetence of the SOE.

The organisation was officially dissolved on 15 January 1946.

2019: Francis Suttill (who interestingly shares a name with a member of the SOE, 1910 – 1945) contacted us via Facebook to question our use of the word 'spy' to describe members of the SOE rather than 'special agent'. From what he writes he knows much more about this subject than we do so we accept his correction.

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This section lists the memorials where the subject on this page is commemorated:
Special Operations Executive (SOE)

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Free French plaque

Alamy have a photo of the unveiling.

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Noor Inayat Khan bust

The Guardian reports: "the first stand-alone memorial to an Asian woman in th...

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Special Operations Executive (SOE)

See Musee de la Resistance for more information on this plaque (in French).

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Spirit of Resistance

The relief sculpture shows an SOE agent parachuting into occupied territory.

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In this building SOE's Norwegian section planned the Telemark raid to disrupt...

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