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.
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