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May 30 , 2010

SOE Manual: How to be an Agent in Occupied Europe


The actual course given to all secret agents in SOE before working behind enemy lines. It includes everything you needed to know to go undercover – from documents, cover stories and how to live off the land to how to get through an interrogation. The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a secret British World War II organisation formed in 1940 to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements. In late 1942, SOE was asked to increase the number of agents to aid the invasion of mainland Europe. Part of agent training was ‘tradecraft’ – the practical details on how to be a clandestine agent behind enemy lines – which every agent had to attend at various bases centred around Beaulie in Hampshire. The course was a set of lectures and this book contains the actual text of those lectures which were discovered in the National Archives this year. It is not only a fascinating insight into the workings of one of the Second World Wars most famous and secretive organisations, but is also a reminder of the huge danger anyone being dropped behind enemy lines had to face.

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