Forgotten Voices of the Secret War by Roderick Bailey

Forgotten Voices of the Secret War

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'The Gestapo kept me three days in this interrogation house. They especially wanted to know what I did after my escape, and precise things on the organisation of the SOE. And just for fun I suspect, because I had really not much to tell them, they pulled one of my toenails out...' - Robert Sheppard, SOE agent

The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a secret British organisation created early in the Second World War to encourage resistance and carry out sabotage behind enemy lines: in Winston Churchill's famous phrase, to 'set Europe ablaze'.

Drawing on the vast resources of the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive and featuring a mass of previously unpublished personal testimonies, Forgotten Voices of the Secret War is the definitive oral history of a remarkable organisation, showing how in the face of extreme danger and personal risk this select band of men and women helped tilt the conflict in the Allies' favour.

As the Second World War unfolds, we hear the voices of secret agents and HQ staff, of diplomats, aircrew and naval personnel. We learn of parachute drops into enemy territory, of code names and cover stories, of capture and torture by the Gestapo, of nerve-wracking sabotage missions, and of guerrilla fighting alongside groups as varied as the French resistance, partisans in Yugoslavia and tribes in the Burmese jungle. Throughout, lives hang constantly in the balance as seemingly ordinary people summon extraordinary reserves of daring and endurance.

Forgotten Voices of the Secret War is both an incredible account of a unique clandestine force and a fitting testament to the efforts and sacrifices of a dedicated group of courageous men and women.