Osprey's study of Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents during World War II (1939-1945). On average an SOE agent would be dead within three months of being dropped in the field. Terry Crowdy tells the extraordinary story of these agents, some of whom were women as young as 22, following them through their experiences beginning with their recruitment and unorthodox training methods, particularly the unarmed combat training provided by the notorious Fairburn and Sykes partnership. As well as detailing these controversial techniques, the training chapter also covers the tough physical training course and parachute training that all recruits had to endure before being sent into occupied Europe.
Crowdy also examines the SOE's unique system of codes, which included each agent composing their own poem as well as using quotations from famous pieces of literature to convey secret messages, and explores the strengths and weaknesses of this system. Full-color artwork and photographs show the innovative equipment, including the S-Phones and Eureka sets, which allowed the agent to communicate directly with pilots and other agents. Lastly, the book recounts the incredible combat missions of the SOE agents, including operations in the field with Yugoslav and Greek partisans, as well as sabotage missions ranging from blowing up bridges to the raising of full-scale partisan armies as they attempted to fulfill Churchill's directive to set Occupied Europe ablaze.
"SOE Agent: Churchill's Secret Warriors is a wonderful book documenting the selection and preparation of Special Operations Executive personnel for field work. It is also a great complement to other books on the topic of actual SOE missions all around Europe, as it provides clues on why agents conducted their missions in the manners they did." -C Peter Chen, World War II Database (January 2009) "This book tells how [agents] were recruited, how they were trained, how they were clothed, the weapons that they used, and the tactics they used. It tells of life behind the lines and the stories of many who survived the war, either by returning to the UK or in German concentration camps. These people were frequently not wearing uniforms so were treated as spies when caught. It also tells of the considerable in-fighting between various branches of the British government over who would control these assets. This is all enhanced by a superb choice of photographs as well as the artwork of illustrator Steve Noon... A book that I found to be an enthralling read." -Scott Van Aken, modelingmadness.com (March 2009)