In the archives of Special Operations Executive lay a report compiled by a staff officer and former member of SOE's F Section, Major Robert Bourne-Paterson, which has never been published before. Because of the highly sensitive nature of the work undertaken by SOE, the history produced by Bourne-Paterson was originally treated as confidential and its circulation was strictly limited to selected personnel. Now, at last, it has been made available to the general public.
Limited, also, was the time available to Bourne-Patterson in compiling his account in 1946 as SOE was being wound up and many documents and records were being weeded from the files. Nevertheless, the paper he wrote provides a fascinating insight into the work of the SOE in France, the country where its operations were most extensive.
Bourne-Paterson wrote his report on SOE no doubt believing that this secret organization would be forgotten and its achievements unrecognized. His aim was simply to leave a permanent account of the activities of the brave men and women who operated in France, where no such record existed.
Little could Bourne-Patterson have realized that SOE would become one of the most celebrated organizations of the Second World War, or that his unique report would one day be published for all to read.
A peacetime solicitor, Major Robert Bourne-Patterson became one of the Special Operation Executive’s planning officers in F Section. His service in this organisation led to his involvement with some of its most famous operatives – individuals such as Violet Szarbo GC, whose will he was a witness to. He is described as being SOE’s ‘first historian’.
"A full account of SOE operations is unlikely ever to be written because some events were never documented and documents were lost or destroyed at the end of the war. This book is likely to be the best and most comprehensive account possible, being based on the previously unpublished report by a staff officer and former SOE member at the end of the war. Highly Recommended."
"Operations of the SOE in France, written by someone who was there and who was personally involved. Extraordinary stories of courage and determination."
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