SOE Memoirs and Biographies

Each entry has a highlighted link to Amazon or another relevant web page. Many books are long out of print and some are now pretty rare, so I've noted other available editions and reprints.
Recommended titles have been given a rosetterosette icon


Book cover for Approach March

Approach March: A Venture in Autobiography by Julian Amery (Hutchison, 1973). Amery's autobiography covers his time working with Section D in Belgrade and his part in the 'Concensus II' mission to Albania in 1944.

Book cover for Sons of the Eagle

Sons of The Eagle: A Study in Guerrilla War by Julian Amery (Macmillan, 1948).

image of book The Shadow Man by Geoff Andrews

The Shadow Man by Geoff Andrews (IB Tauris, September 2015). Life of James Klugmann.

Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent by Kathryn Atwood (Chicago Review Press, August 2013). English adaptation of Hervé Larroque's book Pauline, a compilation of interviews with SOE agent Pearl Witherington originally published in 1995.

Book cover for They Also Serve

They Also Serve: An SOE Agent in the WRNS by Dorothy Baden-Powell (Hale, 2004).

Book cover for Spy Princess

Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu (History Press, 2006). See also Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan by Jean Overton Fuller.

Book cover for Out of Night and Fog

Out of Night and Fog: The Story of Major Guy Bieler by Jacqueline Bieler (CEF Books, 2008). Biography of Canadian F Section agent who organised the 'Musician' circuit in Picardy. Written by Bieler's daughter.

Book cover for Secret War Heroes

Secret War Heroes: The Men of Special Operations Executive by Marcus Binney (Hodder and Stoughton, 2005). Short biographies of Gus March-Phillipps (leader of Maid Honor Force), combat training expert Bill Sykes, agents Georges Bégué, Percy Mayer, Denis Rake, Harry Rée and Benjamin Cowburn, and the author's father George Binney.

Book cover for The Women Who Lived for Danger

The Women Who Lived for Danger: The Women Agents of SOE in the Second World War by Marcus Binney (Hodder and Stoughton, 2002). Same format as Secret War Heroes above, covering Violette Szabo, Noor Inayat Khan, Paddy O'Sullivan, Lise de Baissac, Marguerite Knight, Alix d'Unienville, Paola Del Din, Christine Granville, Pearl Witherington and Virginia Hall.

Book cover for Colonel Henri's Story

Colonel Henri's Story: the War Memoirs of Hugo Bleicher, Former German Secret Agent by Hugo Bleicher and Ian Colvin (Kimber, 1954). Bleicher was the Abwehr agent who pursued and captured agents Peter Churchill, Odette Sansom and Henri Frager. The text includes Churchill's, Odette's and Colvin's comments on Bleicher's version of events.

Book cover for Nancy Wake

Nancy Wake by Russell Braddon (History Press, 2009). First published in 1956. See also Nancy Wake's autobiography The White Mouse.

Book cover for Specially Employed

Specially Employed by Maurice Buckmaster (Batchworth Press, 1952). Collection of agents' stories as remembered by the head of the French Section.

Book cover for They Fought Alone

They Fought Alone by Maurice Buckmaster (Odhams Press, 1958). Second volume of Buckmaster's reminiscences. A paperback reprint was released in 2014 by Biteback Publishing.

Book cover for Solitary ConfinementRecommended book rosette

Solitary Confinement by Christopher Burney (Clerke and Cokeran, 1952). Burney's crystal-clear record of the course of his meditations during 562 days in Fresnes prison after capture in August 1942.

Book cover for Amateur Agent

Amateur Agent by Ewan Butler (Harrap, 1963).

Book cover for I Was The Cat

I Was The Cat by Mathilde Carré (Souvenir Press, 1960).

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The Divided Land: An Anglo-Greek Tragedy by Geoffrey Chandler (Michael Russell, 1994). First published by Macmillan in 1959.

Book cover for The Jungle is Neutral

The Jungle Is Neutral by Freddie Spencer Chapman (Lyons Press, 2003). Extraordinary story of survival behind Japanese lines in Malaya. First published by Chatto & Windus in 1949. See also Jungle Soldier by Brian Moynahan.

Book cover for Of Their Own Choice

Of Their Own Choice by Peter Churchill (Hodder and Stoughton, 1952). Written in the third person, this is the first of three volumes of Churchill's memoirs.

Book cover for Duel of Wits

Duel of Wits by Peter Churchill (Hodder and Stoughton, 1953).

Book cover for The Spirit in the Cage

The Spirit in the Cage by Peter Churchill (Hodder and Stoughton, 1954).

Book cover for A Greek Experience

A Greek Experience: 1943-48 by Nigel Clive (Michael Russell, 1985). With an introduction by fellow SOE officer Bill Deakin.

book cover of A Very English Hero by Peter J ConradiRecommended book rosette

A Very English Hero: The Making of Frank Thompson by Peter J. Conradi (Bloomsbury, August 2012). Literary biography of SOE liaison officer and poet Frank Thompson, who was killed in Bulgaria in 1944.

Book cover for They Came From the Sky

They Came from the Sky by E.H. Cookridge (Heinemann, 1965). Biographies of F Section agents Harry Rée, Francis Cammaerts and Roger Landes.

image of book Patrick Leigh Fermor by Artemis CooperRecommended book rosette

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure by Artemis Cooper (John Murray, October 2012).

Book cover for No Cloak No DaggerRecommended book rosette

No Cloak, No Dagger by Benjamin Cowburn (Frontline Books, 2009). First published in 1960.

Book cover for A Life Well Lived by Fan Craig

A Life Well-Lived: Diaries of a Fany in the SOE by Fan Craig with Malcolm Greenwood (Bank House Books, 2014).

book cover for Irregular Soldier

Irregular Soldier by M.G.M. Crosby (XB Publications, 1994).

Book cover for Special Operations Europe

Special Operations Europe: Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War by Basil Davidson (Gollancz, 1980).

Book cover for The Embattled Mountain

The Embattled Mountain by F.W.D. Deakin (Faber and Faber, 2011). First published by OUP in 1971.

Book cover for Setting Europe Ablaze

Setting Europe Ablaze by Douglas Dodds-Parker (Springwood, 1983).

Book cover for They Arrived By Moonlight

They Arrived by Moonlight by Captain Jacques Doneux (St Ermin's Press, 2001). A wireless operator for T Section from 1943, Doneux's autobiography describes the strain and the boredom of working undercover in Brussels for five months, followed by an equally difficult return to London via Paris and the Pyrenees. First published by Odhams Press in 1956.

Book cover for War Diary

War Diary by Hugh Dormer (Fisher Press, 1994). First published by Jonathan Cape in 1947.

Book cover for Inside North Pole

Inside North Pole: A secret agent's story by Pieter Dourlein (Kimber, 1953). One of two Dutch agents to survive the Englandspiel, Dourlein and his compatriot Ubbink escaped to England to reveal the truth of SOE's disaster only to face accusations of being German double agents. Considering his ordeals, Dourlein's memoir is modest and forgiving.

Book cover for My Secret Mission

My Secret Mission by Andrew Durovecz (Lugus, 1996). Durovecz was a member of the the ill-fated Operation Windproof team, dropped into Slovakia in 1944. Paperback only, and quite rare.

Book cover for The Shooting Star: The Colourful Life and Times of Denis Rake

The Shooting Star: The Colourful Life and Times of Denis Rake, MC by Geoffrey Elliott (Methuen, 2009). A disappointing biography that leaves many questions unanswered. See also Rake's autobiography, Rake's Progress - The Gay and dramatic adventures of Major Denis Rake MC, below.

Book cover for Vasili

Vasili: The Lion of Crete by Murray Elliott (Efstathiadis Group, 1992). Life of New Zealander Dudley Churchill Perkins, who was taken prisoner but escaped to join SOE's Force 133 and fought with guerillas on Crete.

image of book I Heard My Country Calling by Sue Elliott

I Heard My Country Calling: Elaine Madden, the Unsung Heroine of SOE (Hardback) by Sue Elliott (History Press, October 2015). Biography of a courier for SOE's Belgian Section, who also featured in Elliott's previous book, The Children Who Fought For Hitler.

image of book Heroines of SOE by Beryl Escott

Heroines of SOE: Britain's secret women in France by Beryl Escott (History Press, October 2012). Sketches of SOE's more well-known female agents, including Nancy Wake, Pearl Witherington, Noor Inayat Khan, Violette Szabo, Mary Herbert and Odette Sansom. Hardback edition was published in 2010.

Book cover for Mission Improbable

Mission Improbable: Salute to the Royal Air Force Women of Special Operations Executive in Wartime France by Beryl Escott (Patrick Stevens, 1991). Short chapters on fifteen WAAF agents sent to France.

Book cover for Rogue Male

Rogue Male: Death and Seduction in World War Two by Roger Field and Geoffrey Gordon-Creed (Coronet, 2011).

Book cover for Hide and Seek

Hide and Seek: The Story of a Wartime Agent by Xan Fielding (Paul Dry Books, August 2013). A reprint of Xan Fielding's second book (published by Secker and Warburg in 1954; reprinted by Mann in 1973) remembering his work for SOE in Crete and with Francis Cammaerts' ‘Jockey’ circuit in south-eastern France. See also his first, The Stronghold: Four Seasons in the White Mountains of Crete.

Book cover for Memories of an SOE Historian

Memories of an SOE Historian by M.R.D. Foot (Pen and Sword, 2008).

Book cover for Six Faces of Courage

Six Faces of Courage by M.R.D. Foot (Pen and Sword, 2003). First published by Eyre Methuen in 1978. Includes sketches of SOE's Harry Peulevé and Victor Gerson.

Book cover for Double Mission

Double Mission: Fighter Pilot and SOE Agent, Manfred Czernin by Norman Franks (William Kimber, 1976).

Book cover for The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith

The Secret War of Charles Fraser-Smith: The 'Q' Gadget Wizard of World War II by Charles Fraser Smith, with Gerald McKnight and Sandy Lesberg (Michael Joseph, 1981).

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Conversations with a Captor by Jean Overton Fuller (Fuller D'Arch Smith, 1973). A prose poem written long after the author's interviews in the 1950s with Ernst Vogt, the SS translator who had interrogated her friend Noor Inayat Khan and many other captured SOE agents at Avenue Foch, and with whom Fuller had developed a close relationship. An oddity.

Book cover for Dericourt: The Chequered Spy

Déricourt: The Chequered Spy by Jean Overton Fuller (Michael Russell Publishing, 1989). Author's examination of double agent Henri Déricourt, developing material from her previous works.

Book cover for Double Webs

Double Webs by Jean Overton Fuller (Putnam, 1958). The first of the Overton Fuller's investigations into Déricourt's dealings with German security services. Revised and republished as Double Agent? by Pan Books in 1961.

Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan by Jean Overton Fuller (East-West Publications, 1988). An extended and updated version of the author's original biography of Noor Inayat Khan, Madeleine, published by Victor Gollancz in 1952.

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The Starr Affair by Jean Overton Fuller (Victor Gollancz, 1954). Supportive account of F Section agent John Starr's conduct as a prisoner of the Sicherheitsdienst at Avenue Foch, based on Starr's own testimony. Published in the US by Little, Brown under the title No. 13, Bob.

Book cover for London Calling North Pole

London Calling North Pole by H.J. Giskes (William Kimber, 1953).

Book cover for Accidental Agent

Accidental Agent by John Goldsmith (Leo Cooper, 1971).

Book cover for SOE Singapore 1941-1942

SOE Singapore 1941 - 1942 by Richard Gough (SNP Editions, 1987).

Book cover for Jungle Diary

Jungle Diary by Duncan Guthrie (Macmillan, 1946). After serving as a Jedburgh in France, Guthrie joined Force 136 and was injured when dropping into Burma in March 1945. He kept a diary while in hiding, and was rescued three months later.

Book cover for SOE Assignment

SOE Assignment by Donald Hamilton-Hall (Kimber, 1973). Hamilton-Hall helped to set up the Auxiliary Units before joining SOE, where he worked with the training section and later supported operations in Italy and Greece.

Book cover for Venture into Greece

Venture into Greece: With the Guerrillas, 1943-44 by Nicolas Hammond (Kimber, 1983).

Book cover for We Fell Among Greeks

We Fell Among Greeks by Denys Hamson (Ace, 1957). First published by Jonathan Cape in 1946.

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Peter Fleming: A Biography by Duff Hart-Davis (Jonathan Cape, 1974).

Book cover for The Drums of Memory

The Drums of Memory by Stephen Hastings (Pen and Sword, 2001).

Book cover for Skis against the Atom

Skis Against The Atom by Knut Haukelid (William Kimber, 1954).

Book cover for A Life in SecretsRecommended book rosette

A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE by Sarah Helm (Little, Brown, 2005).

book cover for Xavier by Richard Heslop

Xavier by Richard Heslop (Biteback, June 2014). A paperback reprint (first edition was published by Hart-Davis in 1970). Honest and typical memoir by one of F Section's defining and most successful organisers.

Book cover for The Next Moon

The Next Moon: The Remarkable True Story of a British Agent Behind the Lines in Wartime France by André Hue and Ewen Southby-Tailyour (Penguin, 2005). Hue's early adventures are followed by a drawn-out account of his experiences as an agent operating in Brittany after D-Day.

Book cover for That Drug Danger

That Drug Danger by Sir James Hutchison (Montrose Press, 1977). Covers Hutchison’s time as head of SOE's gaullist RF Section, and his inter-Allied mission into France after having undergone plastic surgery.

Image of book Churchill's White Rabbit by Sophie Jackson

Churchill's White Rabbit: The True Story of a Real-life James Bond by Sophie Jackson (History Press, September 2012). A confused and unconvincing biography of SOE agent Forest Yeo-Thomas that does little more than speculate on possible links to Ian Fleming and 007.

Book cover for A Pacifist at War

A Pacifist at War: The Life of Francis Cammaerts by Ray Jenkins (Hutchison, 2009). An intimate biography which goes far beyond the study of Cammaerts' SOE career.

Book cover for Within Two Cloaks

Within Two Cloaks: Missions with SIS and SOE by Philip Johns (Kimber, 1979).

Book cover for The Thorns of Memory

The Thorns of Memory by Peter Kemp (Sinclair-Stevenson, 1990). Covers the author's adventures in the Spanish Civil War, SOE missions to Romania, Poland and the Far East, and his post-war career as a journalist.

image of book Agent Michael Trotobas and SOE in Northern France

Agent Michael Trotobas and SOE in Northern France by Stewart Kent and Nick Nicholas (Pen and Sword, November 2015).

image of book Operation Blunderhead: The Incredible Adventures Of A Double Agent In Nazi-Occupied Europe by David Gordon Kirby

Operation Blunderhead: The Incredible Adventures Of A Double Agent In Nazi-Occupied Europe by David Gordon Kirby (History Press, September 2015). An attempt to unravel the bizarre and fascinating case of Ronald Seth, the only SOE agent to be dropped into Estonia. Clearly written, this is more of a presentation of the evidence than a typical agent biography, and ably demonstrates Seth's formidable talent for merging the real and the imagined.

image of book Messages in Handlebars: the Youngest Resistance Fighter by Kendrick Kirk

Messages in Handlebars: the Youngest Resistance Fighter by Kendrick Kirk (Self published, November 2011). Recollections of Jean-Jacques Auduc, who with his family and other resisters helped the short-lived Sacristan circuit around Le Mans in 1943 (paperback).

Book cover for JacquelineRecommended book rosette

Jacqueline by Stella King (Arms and Armour, 1989). Life of F Section agent Yvonne Rudellat.

Book cover for Knights of the Floating Silk

Knights Of The Floating Silk by George Langelaan (Hutchinson, 1959). Autobiography by a former New York Times journalist and one of the first SOE agents to arrive in France. He was captured but escaped from prison and into Spain in 1942. Now better remembered for his post-war short story 'The Fly'.

Book cover for Watch for Me by Moonlight

Watch for Me by Moonlight by Evelyn Le Chêne (Methuen, 1973). Life of F Section organiser Robert Boiteux-Burdett.

Book cover for Special Operations Executed

Special Operations Executed: in Serbia and Italy by Michael Lees (Kimber, 1986).

Book cover for Rossano

Rossano: Valley in Flames by Gordon Lett (Frontline, 2011). First published by Hodder & Stoughton in 1955.

Book cover for Bid the Soldiers Shoot by John Lodwick

Bid The Soldiers Shoot by John Lodwick (Heinemann, 1958). Lodwick's account of his war years. His SOE service only amounted to a failed sabotage mission in France, but he became a noted novelist after the war. His non-fiction books also included The Filibusters: The Story of the Special Boat Service.

Book cover for Behind Enemy Lines

Behind Enemy Lines: The Autobiography of Britains Most Decorated War Hero by Sir Tommy Macpherson with Richard Bath (Mainstream Publishing, 2010).

Book cover for From Cloak to Dagger

From Cloak to Dagger: Special Operations Executive Agent in Italy, 1943-45 by Charles Macintosh (William Kimber, 1982). Macintosh was operations officer with No.1 Special Force in Italy and supported the partisans in the battle for Florence in August 1944. The remainder of the book follows the progress of later tactical missions and concentrates on operational detail.

Book cover for Eastern Approaches

Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Maclean (Penguin, 2009). First published by Jonathan Cape in 1949.

Book cover for From the Red Army to SOE

From the Red Army to SOE by L.H. Manderstam (Kimber, 1986).

Book cover for The Life That I Have

The Life That I Have by Leo Marks and Elena Gaussen Marks (Souvenir Press, 1999). The poem code written by Leo Marks for Violette Szabo, printed as a gift book with illustrations by Marks' wife.

Book cover for Between Silk and Cyanide

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War 1941-45 by Leo Marks (History Press, 2007). Bestselling autobiography by SOE's cryptographer. First published by HarperCollins in 1998.

Book cover for The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit by Bruce Marshall (Cassell, 2000). The story of F.F.E. Yeo-Thomas GC. First published by Evans Brothers in 1952. See also Mark Seaman's Bravest of the Brave.

Book cover for Christine

Christine: SOE Agent and Churchill's Favourite Spy by Madeleine Masson (Virago, 2005). Life of agent Christine Granville (born Krystyna Skarbek), a Polish countess whose intrepid wartime career included working for Francis Cammaerts' 'Jockey' circuit. First published by Hamish Hamilton in 1975.

Book cover for MaquisRecommended book rosette

Maquis: The French Resistance at War by George Millar (Dovecote Press, 2013). Published only a few months after completing his mission as head of the 'Chancellor' circuit around Besançon, Millar's novel-like memoir is as much an intimate study of the resisters he worked with as a record of his own actions. First published by Heinemann in 1945.

Book cover for Road to Resistance

Road to Resistance: An Autobiography by George Millar (The Bodley Head, 1979).

Carve Her Name with Pride by R.J. Minney (Pen and Sword, June 2012). Paperback reprint of biography of celebrated female agent Violette Szabó GC. First published by George Newnes in 1956.

Book cover Ill Met by Moonlight

Ill Met By Moonlight by W. Stanley Moss (Cassell, March 2014). The story of the kidnap of General Kreipe by Moss and Patrick Leigh Fermor on Crete in 1944. First published by Harrap in 1950.

Book cover for A War of Shadows

A War of Shadows by W. Stanley Moss (Bene Factum, April 2014). Follow up to Ill Met by Moonlight (see above). First published by Boardman in 1952.

Book cover for Jungle Soldier

Jungle Soldier: The True Story of Freddy Spencer Chapman by Brian Moynahan (Quercus, 2009). See also Chapman's own account of his experiences in Malaya, The Jungle is Neutral.

Book cover for Report on Experience

Report on Experience by John Mulgan (Frontline, 2009). Reprint, introduced by M.R.D. Foot. Mulgan's New Zealand roots bring an strong sense of objectivity and detachment to his writing, especially in his views of British civilian and military life before and during the war. His record of serving with SOE in Greece is mostly anecdotal, but no less interesting for that. Originally published by OUP in 1947.

image of book The Spy Who LovedRecommended book rosette

The Spy Who Loved: The secrets and lives of Christine Granville by Clare Mulley (Pan Macmillan, April 2013). A fuller and better informed biography than Madeleine Masson's Christine. Hardback edition was released in 2012.

Book cover for Sweet is War

Sweet is War by Malcolm Munthe (Duckworth, 1954).

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Greek Entanglement by E.C.W. Myers (Hart-Davis, 1955). Myers' experiences of working with the Greek resistance during 1942-44 and his attack on the Gorgopotamos viaduct.

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The Spark and The Flame by Flemming Muus (trans. Varinka Muus and J. F. Burke) (Museum Press, 1956).

Book cover for Black Lysander

Black Lysander by John Nesbitt-Dufort (Whydown Books, 2003). Autobiography by one of the early Special Duties pilots, who successfully flew the first pick-up operation in and out of Occupied France in 1941. First published by Jarrolds in 1973.

Book cover for Aristide

Aristide: Warlord of the Resistance by David Nicolson (Leo Cooper, 1994). Life of F Section agent Roger Landes, who organised the 'Scientist' and 'Actor' circuits in Bordeaux.

Book cover for The Elusive Madame G

The Elusive Madame G: A Life of Christine Granville by Ron Nowicki (Createspace, 2014).

Book cover for Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have

Violette Szabo: The Life That I Have by Susan Ottaway (Leo Cooper, 2002). See also R.J. Minney's Carve Her Name with Pride, and Tania Szabó's Young, Brave and Beautiful.

Book cover for The Black Scalpel

The Black Scalpel: A Surgeon with SOE by Geoffrey Parker (Kimber, 1968).

Book cover for Wolves at the Door

The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy by Judith Pearson (Lyons Press, 2009). Life of Virginia Hall.

Book cover for Spirit of Resistance

Spirit of Resistance: The Life of SOE Agent Harry Peulevé by Nigel Perrin (Pen and Sword, 2014).

Book cover for The Bandits of Cisterna

The Bandits of Cisterna by William Pickering (Leo Cooper, 1991).

Book cover for Four in the Shadows

Four in the Shadows: A True Story of Espionage in Occupied France by Eric Piquet-Wicks (Jarrolds, 1957). Dramatised accounts of four major resistance figures: Jean Moulin, Pierre Brossolette, Henri Labit and Fred Scamaroni. Piquet-Wicks was the first head of RF Section and he gives some brief autobiographical notes in the prologue.

Book cover for The Giraffe Has A Long NeckRecommended book rosette

The Giraffe Has a Long Neck by Jacques Poirier (Pen and Sword, 1995). Poirier's autobiography covers his childhood and early resistance involvement with Harry Peulevé to becoming the organiser of his own 'Digger' circuit and liberator of the Corrèze in 1944.

Book cover for Operation Autonomous

Operation Autonomous: With SOE in Wartime Roumania by Ivor Porter (Chatto & Windus, 1989). Mainly political history by the wireless operator of the Autonomous mission that parachuted into Romania in December 1943. Porter and his two companions were captured immediately but released after the overthrow of dictator Antonescu the following year.

Book cover for The Cretan Runner

The Cretan Runner by George Psychoundakis (Penguin, 2009). First published by John Murray in 1955.

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Eight Hours From England by Anthony Quayle (Doubleday, 1946). Rare.

image of book South West Secret Agents by Laura Quigley

South West Secret Agents by Laura Quigley (History Press, September 2014).

Book cover for Rake's Progress

Rake's Progress - The Gay and dramatic adventures of Major Denis Rake MC by Denis Rake (Leslie Frewin, 1968). See also Shooting Star by Geoffrey Elliott.

image of book Tales from the Special Forces Club by Sean Rayment

Tales from the Special Forces Club by Sean Rayment (William Collins, February 2014). Tale-tellers include Jedburghs Harry Verlander and John Sharp, Beaulieu staff member Noreen Riols and Special Duties pilot Leonard Ratcliff. Hardback published in 2013.

image of book Blown by Jamie Reid

Blown by Jamie Reid (Racing Post Books, September 2015). Life of racehorse trainer and SOE agent John Goldsmith, who undertook three missions to Occupied France.

image of book The Secret Ministry of Ag. & Fish: My Life in Churchill's Secret Army by Noreen Riols

The Secret Ministry of Ag. & Fish: My Life in Churchill's Secret Army by Noreen Riols (Pan, May 2014). Recollections of a former F Section staff member who helped to train SOE's agents at the Beaulieu estate.

Book cover for Full Moon to France

Full Moon to France by Devereaux Rochester (HarperCollins, 1977). Jaunty, sometimes manic memoir by the American courier for Richard Heslop's 'Marksman' circuit.

Book cover for Child Of My Love

Child Of My Love by Sue Ryder (Harvill Press, 1997). Autobiography of the charity worker who was inspired by the bravery of the SOE agents she met before they left for Occupied Europe. First published in 1986, and partly based on And the Morrow is Theirs: The Autobiography of Sue Ryder published by Burleigh Press in 1975.

War Journey by Cynthia Sadler (Artemis, 2003). Life of F Section agent Lilian Rolfe.

Book cover for The Grand Prix Saboteurs

The Grand Prix Saboteurs: The Grand Prix Drivers Who Became British Secret Agents During World War II by Joe Saward (Morienval Press, 2006). The stories of Charles Grover-Williams, Robert Benoist and Jean-Pierre Wimille, who were all recruited by F Section and operated the 'Chestnut' circuit near Paris. Only Wimille survived the war.

Book cover for Bravest of the BraveRecommended book rosette

Bravest of the Brave: The True Story of Wing Commander Tommy Yeo-Thomas by Mark Seaman (Michael O'Mara, 1997). Written with the help of Yeo-Thomas's partner Barbara, this is a more thorough and trustworthy account than Bruce Marshall's The White Rabbit.

Special Forces Commander: The Life and Wars of Peter Wand-Tetley MC by Michael Scott (Pen and Sword, 2011). Wand-Tetley's SOE career was spent working with Greek partisans in the Peloponnese during 1943/44.

Hannah Senesh: Her Life and Diary by Hannah Senesh (Jewish Lights, 2008). Senesh parachuted into Yugoslavia in March 1944 and was executed in Budapest eight months later, having been arrested at the Hungarian border. Aside from her diary, the book also contains her letters and poems along with contributions from her mother and fellow SOE agents.

Book cover for A Spy Has No Friends

A Spy Has No Friends by Ronald Seth (Headline Review, 2008). Seth's intriguing account of capture in Estonia and his efforts to survive by posing as a double agent for German Intelligence, which contradicts the report he gave to MI5 on his return to England. First published by Andre Deutsch in 1952. Seth subsequently wrote many books on spies, travel, the Occult, and ‐ under the name of Robert Chartham ‐ sex education.

She Landed By Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: The Real Charlotte Gray by Carole Seymour-Jones (Hodder & Stoughton, January 2014). A romantically overwrought biography, often reliant on corny reconstructions and wooden dialogue.

Albanian Assignment by David Smiley (Chatto & Windus, 1984). A fairly brief and modest account of the author's experiences with Billy McLean and Julian Amery in Albania, which includes some criticism of SOE's political decisions. He also gives some details of post-war training of Albanian insurgents in Malta.

Report from No. 24 by Gunnar Sonsteby (Barricade Books, 2005). Memoir by one of Norway's most celebrated and decorated Norwegian agents. First published by Lyle Stewart in 1965.

Odette: World War Two's Darling Spy by Penny Starns (History Press, 2009). Biography of agent Odette Sansom.

Opportunity Knocks Once by Sir Campbell Stuart (Collins, 1952). Only one short and reticent chapter addresses his propaganda work relating to SOE.

Baker Street Irregular by Bickham Sweet-Escott (Methuen, 1965). Important memoir by an SOE staff officer who served SOE in many roles, in London, Cairo, Washington and the Far East. Now rare, and deserves a reprint.

image of book Young, Brave and Beautiful by Tania Szabo

Young, Brave and Beautiful by Tania Szabo (History Press, July 2015). Tania Szabo's biography of her mother, Violette Szabo. First published in 2007.

Force 136: Story of a WWII resistance fighter by Tan Chong Tee (Asiapic, 1995).

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No Banners by Jack Thomas (WH Allen, 1955). Popular biography of brothers Henry and Alfred Newton,who were captured in 1943 and survived interrogation by Klaus Barbie and fifteen months in Buchenwald.

Odette by Jerrard Tickell (Headline Review, 2008). The first biography of Odette Sansom, published by Chapman & Hall in 1949.

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When Men and Mountains Meet by H.W. Tilman (CUP, 1946).

Who Lived To See The Day - France In Arms 1940-45 by Philippe de Vomécourt (Hutchinson, 1961). Self-assured and sometimes caustic memoir by one of SOE's early French organisers. Published in the US under the title An Army of Amateurs.

The White Mouse: The Autobiography of the Woman the Gestapo called The White Mouse by Nancy Wake (Macmillan, 1986). Wake's no-nonsense autobiography, published thirty years after Russell Braddon's Nancy Wake. Includes a couple of brief chapters on her post-war life, and the unsuccessful attempts to film her story.

image of book The Women Who Spied for Britain by Robyn Walker

The Women Who Spied for Britain: Female Secret Agents of the Second World War by Robyn Walker (Amberley, February 2014). Familiar potted biographies of seven of SOE's best‐known agents, similar in style to Beryl Escott's more comprehensive The Heroines of SOE. Ironically a (muddled) chapter on Mathilde Carré – the only woman spy featured in the book – looks out of place.

Book cover for Moondrop to Gascony

Moondrop to Gascony by Anne-Marie Walters (Moho Books, 2009). Walters parachuted into south-western France in January 1944 as a courier for George Starr's 'Wheelwright' circuit. First published by Macmillan in 1946 and won the John Llewelyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1947.

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Greek Assignments: SOE 1943 - 1948 by Michael Ward (Lycabettus Press 1992).

Pinstripe saboteur by Charles Wighton (Odhams Press, 1959). Charles Wighton was the pen name of Jacques Weil, who worked with F Section's 'Robin' circuit. This biography of his former boss, Jean Worms, is mixed up with Weil's own story, resulting in an often fictional mess. Foreword by Peter Churchill.

Foreign Fields: The Story of an SOE Operative by Peter Wilkinson (I B Tauris, 2002). Autobiography by one of SOE's founding members, who served as a staff officer in Crete and North Africa, and dropped into Yugoslavia as part of Operation Clowder in 1943. A lot of detail taken from Wilkinson's wartime diaries. First published in 1997.

Gubbins and SOE by Peter Wilkinson and Joan Bright Astley (Pen and Sword, 2010). A very well-informed and regarded biography of SOE head Colin Gubbins, which crams in a lot of detailed SOE history. First published in 1993.

Pierre Lalande: Special Agent by Guido Zembsch-Schreve (Leo Cooper, 1996). Swiss-born DF Section agent who ran the 'Pierre-Jacques' escape line and survived Buchenwald and the infamous V-2 factory at Dora.

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©2009-16 Nigel Perrin