Secret Operations of World War II

Secret Operations of World War II

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How were agents recruited for secret operations in World War II? How did they fare once dropped behind enemy lines? How effective were resistance movements? And how brutal were the reprisals? Ranging from the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the German Abwehr to resistance movements across Europe, Secret Operations of World War II is a fascinating account of the major special ops organisations and underground cells in the conflict. Examining recruitment, training, equipment and deployment of operatives, the book not only reveals the ingenious steps taken to select suitable agents, disguise weapons and gather intelligence, but also follows the fortunes of particular agents after their operations were launched. From such well known cases as the SOE and Norwegian agents sabotaging Norwegian hydroelectric plants to the less explored territory of Soviet partisans, from the Abwehr's rescue of Mussolini to the French Maquis, from the Polish Home Army to OSS operations in the Pacific, the book explores a wide range of secret organisations and their intelligence gathering, sabotage and reconnaissance missions. Illustrated with 120 black-&-white and colour photographs, artworks and maps, Secret Operations of World War II is an authoritative and novel perspective on some of the most outlandish episodes of the conflict.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 186 x 244 x 22mm | 888g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 120 photos and artworks; 120 Illustrations, unspecified
  • 1782746323
  • 9781782746324
  • 2,553,613

Table of contents

Special Operations Executive (SOE)
Recruitment and training; equipment, ciphers and radios; Operations, including Operation Jedburgh, the first significant joint operation with US OSS; Agents such as Odette Sansom, Christine Granville, Noor Inayat Khan, Nancy Wake and Violette Szabo, as well as Patrick Leigh Fermor in the kidnap of Heinrich Kreipe.
Force 136 active in south-east Asia.

Office of Strategic Service (OSS)
William Donovan establishing the OSS, recruiting agents from all walks of life, developing armaments, intelligence gathering.
The OSS Research & Development successfully adapted Allied weapons and espionage equipment, and producing its own line of novel spy tools and gadgets, including silenced pistols, lightweight sub-machine guns, "Beano" grenades that exploded upon impact, and explosives disguised as lumps of coal.
Operations: Operation Jedburgh,
Pacific Theatre operations: OSS played a major role in training Kuomintang troops in China and Burma, and recruited Kachin and other indigenous irregular forces for sabotage as well as guides for Allied forces in Burma fighting the Japanese Army.

French Forces of the Interior Sabotage
Joint operations with SOE agents Betrayals. Reprisals

Sabotage and assassination - Between June and September 1944, 95 railroad bridges, 285 locomotives, 1,365 wagons and 17 tunnels were all blown up by the Belgian resistance
Intelligence gathering
Resistance to the Holocaust
Helping Allied soldiers on escape routes

Underground groups produced forged ration cards and counterfeit money, collected intelligence, published underground papers. They also sabotaged phone lines and railways, produced maps, and distributed food and goods. Housing Jews, attacking Dutch fascists and German forces.

Armia Krajowa (Home Army), Bataliony Chlopskie (Peasants' Battalions), NSZ (National Armed Forces) and other organisations.
Uprisings: Zamosc, Vilnius, Lwow, Warsaw

Operation Anthropoid, in collaboration with the SOE, the assassination of SS- Reinhard Heydrich in Prague

Borgerlige Partisaner (BOPA) (Civil Partisans) and other groups. Responsible for sabotaging railway lines. Also, saving almost all of Denmark's Jews in 1943.

Operation Gunnerside, sabotaging hydroelectric plants in Norway to stop Germans acquiring heavy water. Operation Archery. Secret assistance from Sweden: 1944, some 7,000-8,000 men had been secretly trained in Sweden.
Saboteurs Max Manus and Gunnar Sonsteby destroying Nazi ships

Partisans. By August 1944, the number of partisans had grown to 100,000. Carla Capponi.

National Liberation Front (EAM) and Greek People's Liberation Army (ELAS) Operation Harling - 1942 destruction of the Gorgopotamos viaduct in central Greece by the EAM, ELAS and SOE.
Yugoslav Partisans

12. USSR
Operation Concerto, 1943: an operation of partisan formations against the railroad communications intended to disrupt the German reinforcements and supplies for the Battle of the Dnieper and on the direction of the Soviet offensive in the Smolensk direction.

Operation Eiche - Otto Skorzeny's 1943 Gran Sasso Raid, which saw a team of German commandos rescue of none other than Benito Mussolini.
Operation Greif - Skorzeny's operation during the Battle of the Bulge in which German soldiers disguised as Americans, destroying ammunition dumps, misdirecting troops and changing road signs.
Duquesne Spy Ring - active in the US until uncovered in summer 1941. With 33 convicted members, it remains the largest spy ring detected in the US.


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About Alexander Stilwell

Alexander Stilwell is an experienced writer and editor who has worked for several leading publishers, primarily in the fields of military history, politics and international affairs. He has also worked for Jane's Information Group and is the author of several books. He served for six years in the British Territorial Army.
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