Special Operations Executive (SOE) officially formed on 22 July 1940, at the instigation of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as a single organisation to conduct espionage, subversion, sabotage, and reconnaissance. He directed Hugh Dalton, the Minister of Economic Warfare and newly appointed with the political responsibility for SOE, to "Go and set Europe ablaze".
SOE recruited agents from all classes, backgrounds and occupations, and provided rigorous training that included map reading, demolitions, weapons, Morse code, fieldcraft, and close combat.
In 1942, realising they were missing a trick, SOE began recruiting women as field agents. They trained alongside the men, (often being used as an example to spur the men on), and were deployed behind enemy lines as wireless operators ("pianists"), couriers, and circuit organisers. SOE sent 39 women into France alone, and all but 13 of these amazing women came back.
Their stories are nothing short of heroic.
As a European capital that was both neutral and a port city, during WW2 Lisbon quickly became a centre for intrigue, with exiled aristocrats, diplomats, businessmen, artists, smugglers, refugees and, of course, operatives, all obsessively watching (and often plotting against) each other, all under the watchful eye of António de Oliveira Salazar and his state police, the PVDE.
On top of that, espionage rings operated out of Lisbon's port, wolfram/tungsten was smuggled out of Portugal, and up until the '70s, a "secret" passageway connected Rossio Station to the hotel next door, potentially facilitating a few dodgy meetings.
Lisbon was the perfect backdrop for City of Spies.
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