* Adam Matthew Publications. Imaginative publishers of research collections.
jbanks
News  |  Orders  |  About Us
*
*   A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z  
 

SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE, 1940-1946

Series 1, Special Operations in Western Europe

Part 1: France: The Jedburgh Teams and Operation Overlord, 1944-1945,

Part 2: France: Political and Planning Files, Circuits and Missions, 1940-1947

Part 3: Germany, 1936-1945

Part 4: Holland, 1940-1949

Part 5: Italy, 1941-1948

Extracts from Documents - Part 2

HS 6/308
Record of Conversation of Général de Lattre de Tassigny with Ambassador Winant, 10 November 1943


“In the course of the conversation General de Lattre repeated certain of the remarks that he had made to Admiral Stark on November 9, which are summarised in the record of that conversation. He provided additional information on a number of points, notably:


A. The organisation, strength and program of the French resistance groups.
B. The attitudes and sentiments in France towards Great Britain and the United States.
C. The problem of the role and activity of the French Army in the liberation of France.
D. The relation between the United States Government and the F.C.N.L.”

Page 4 of this document, compiled by Commander T S Kittredge, U.S.N.R., starts with some comments on the Attitude toward Britain:


“12. A number of special groups such as the officers of the French navy, the Vichy officials, the conservative monied class, that had business contacts with Germany, were all inclined to adopt a critical attitude toward England. The long history of conflict between France and England had left traces still reflected in the attitudes of certain groups.

13. The General was convinced however that the great majority of the French population have the greatest admiration for the British resistance, almost single-handed, to German attack in 1940-41. They have the greatest veneration and admiration for British leaders such as Winston Churchill. They have toward him much the same attitude they took toward Clemenceau in 1918. They recognise that the action of Britain in 1940/41 alone made possible the ultimate victory of the Allies…

14. There may be some doubts and hesitation in certain French circles as to the future British policy toward the Continent. The events of 1919/39 are still fresh in French minds. They are therefore not convinced that after victory France can be assured of prompt and effective support from either Britain or the U.S. in maintaining a security system on the Continent. This explains certain tendencies in France to look to Russia for military support against a German effort through a new war to obtain military domination of the Continent.”

Toward the end of this document discussions covered:


D. The relation between the United States Government and the French Committee of National Liberation.


“General de Lattre expressed great surprise and concern at the conflicts that had arisen between General de Gaulle and a number of the more important Gaullist leaders on the one hand, and high officials of the United States Government on the other hand. He believed that this was largely due to reciprocal misunderstandings. He also felt that the various incidents which had arisen had been magnified because of lack of information about France and understandings of the real situation in France on the part of the Americans.

General de Lattre emphatically insisted that the great majority of French people are completely pro-American and have an almost childish faith in the power, wisdom and friendly intentions of President Roosevelt. He was therefore convinced that if the American authorities would now seek a new basis of understanding with the reconstituted committee in Algiers, a complete and friendly co-operation could easily be achieved.

It was clear to the General that the revival now proceeding in France and the restoration of a strong and democratic France would be much hampered if it did not get full understanding and support from the United States. While the French wish to play a maximum part in the liberation and reconstruction of their own country, this would hardly be possible without American support and assistance. He was sure that it was the intention of the President and of the high American military and political leaders to do everything possible to restore France to an important place in the future structure of Europe...”

HS 6/308
Harold Macmillan to Anthony Eden, 28 December 1943


“In the couse of the conversation which, as reported in my despatch No. 170 of today, I had with M. Massigli on the 18th December, he told me that at the meeting of the Committee that morning he had developed a ‘tour d’horizon’ on the general political situation. He had explained his anxiety as to the apparent suspicion in high quarters in Great Britain and the United States of the policy of the Committee. He thought that every effort should be made to dissipate this misunderstanding, and said that he would do his best, but that he must have the support of his colleagues. He felt that there was an unnecessary amount of minor troubles between France and her Allies, which were often allowed to become major items of dispute. This made it more difficult to get settlement of the really important issues. General de Gaulle took all this very badly and considered it a personal attack upon him. The Committee seemed responsive. M. Massigli had the impression that General de Gaulle is getting more and more baffled, and is sometimes very moody and difficult. M. Massigli thinks that this is due to the success with which we have imprisoned him in the chains of constution and collective responsibility, and begged me to let this aspect of affairs be known in London...”

HS 6/309
From an Aide Memoire, dated 28 January 1941, with details on the Savanna Project


“This consists of dropping by parachute two officers and six men for the purpose of ambushing certain pilots and N.C.O.s of the G.A.F. K.G.100 Squadron. The pilots in question are the picked pilots of the G.A.F. who operate on the ‘beam’ and, in fact, are the fire-raisers who precede the night bombing operations. According to information received from the Air Ministry and supported, we understand by the C.A.S., night bombing operations by the G.A.F. are only successful when K.G.100 operate. The pilots in question were old Deutsche Lufthansa personnel; have great knowledge of this country; and the wireless operators who go with them have to undergo very severe and lengthy training in the ‘beam’ technique.

Following on a conversation with Major Morton, de Passy of the de Gaulle Organisation was asked by Mr Cadett whether S.O.2 could obtain the services of two officers and six men out of the de Gaulle personnel.”

De Passy said that final approval for the operation needed to be cleared with General de Gaulle. General Spears asked General de Gaulle who apparently flatly refused to accede to the wishes of S.O.2. The matter was put in the hands of the Prime Minister:


“We would therefore be grateful if at the interview, which we trust the Prime Minister will have with General de Gaulle, he can persuade the General to co-operate by placing his subversive organisation under the direction of S.O.E., on a basis which will, at the same time, preserve its identity, but also lend itself to full co-operation with H.M.G. in respect of the wider strategical and tactical issues of the war.”

HS 6/312
From a memorandum on “The Position of General de Gaulle and ‘Fighting France’ vis-à-vis Resistance in France today”, dated 31 July 1942


“There is little doubt that the political activity that General de Gaulle has shown in recent months has enabled him to get a considerable political following in France. This has been helped by the fact that he appears to be willing to accept any allegiance that may be offered, whatever the conditions demanded; and that he has concentrated on the leaders, without any serious effort to influence the mass of their followers. Notwithstanding, there is evidence that the great body of French opinion is apathetic to his leadership, while a small but active proportion, perhaps commensurate with his genuine following, is actively opposed to him on personal grounds.


At the same time, he has shown increasing disinclination to concern himself with preparing for action in France, which is to be directly concerned with assisting an Allied invasion. His policy appears to be based on the assumption that, when the day comes, he will be able to take over the control of events in France, and that the ‘Armée de l’Armistice’ will either follow him, or will be so over-awed by the resistance groups with which he is in contact that it will be unable to oppose him or them.”

HS 6/319
Note dated 1 October 1943


“I return herewith Reilly’s letter, which is interesting. While the Communist party is at present the most active and is probably still contributing the most to current sabotage (other organisations are closing up to them a bit) it is a considerable exaggeration to say, in the face of 30/40 operations per moon and our D-day plans, that they ‘are the only intact and well organised and really effective element.’ They are by no means intact and suffer grievously from time to time. They are well organised just now, but look like being, from the military point of view, a relatively uncontrolled force on D-day; as you know we are counting on them not at all - directly at least - to implement any of our plans. The return of MARIE CLAIRE, if he is successful, may allow them to be brought into the fold without reserve, and take their share of coordinated and controlled D-day action.”

HS 6/330
From an Appreciation of the Potentialities of French Resistance in Eastern, Central and Southern France, dated 13 June 1944


12. The following are the conclusions which may be drawn from this paper:


a. An opportunity exists now for the employment of resistance on a very large scale and with far-reaching results. This opportunity will not recur. The urgency of the situation precludes the possibility of selecting any single area for experimental development.


b. In many areas of Central and Southern FRANCE fighting is already in progress; some areas are coming under patriot control; considerable interference with the enemy’s communications and some diversion of his military effort has resulted.


c. Although in preliminary planning it was always considered that the support of resistance in these areas would make an excessive demand upon the Allied air effort, the way in which resistance has now crystallized shows that it is possible to support it by means of a comparatively small diversion of an Allied bomber effort.


d. This diversion of air effort might result in virtual patriot control of most of Central and Southern FRANCE with far-reaching strategic possibilities.


e. Failure to support resistance in the manner outlined may have far-reaching political repercussions.

In view of the fleeting nature of the opportunity and the very far-reaching effect which the adoption of such a policy might have, it is felt that the situation should be fully presented to SHAEF in order that a decision may be made with full knowledge of the possibilities.

RECOMMENDATIONS


13. a. Since air assistance to resistance can only be given at the expense of the strategic bomber effort, the allocation of this effort should only be allotted in direct relation to the contribution by resistance to ‘OVERLORD’. It is recommended that such a direct contribution can be made by diverting 160 sorties for the initial equipment and 275 sorties for the maintenance of groups in paragraph 6 above and shown in BLUE on Map ‘MA’.


b. That the figures given in Appendices ‘A’ and ‘B’ be accepted as the limit beyond which supply will not be authorised in accordance with paragraph 8 above.


c. That very early consideration be given to the provision of the additional lift necessary to supply the forces referred to in paragraph 9 above and shown in RED on Map ‘MA’ - 755 tons initial equipment and 1,180 tons monthly for maintenance.


d. That the day bomber formations selected under a. above be authorised to deal direct with SFHQ for working out detailed arrangements.”

HS 6/381
Joint Report from SOE and SIS on the inter-connection of their contacts with Clandestine Organisations in France. 15 October, 1942.


“1. The Carte organisation is an expressly unofficial group formed in 1940. SOE have been in touch with it since 1941, and during the last six months the contacts have been closer. As a result of this closer connection, we now know the names of some of the individuals who are supporting the Carte organisation, and they are to be found among the high-ranking military authorities in France within the orbit of the French General Staff. As individuals, some of these officers must undoubtedly be aware that Carte has established close relations with British organisations.


2. From what SOE has been told by the Carte organisation, it aims at an interim military dictatorship, and is therefore planning to replace the Vichy Government when an opportunity of overthrowing collaborationist policy arises. Members of the organisation have told SOE that they consider that Darlan is still Public Enemy No. 1 in France, and no co-operation from him at any stage is to be thought of. Both our agents in France who have spoken to the officer whom SOE sent recently to a mission there, and representatives of the Carte organisation now in London, have affirmed that the members of the Vichy Government are unaware of their organisations and plans...”

HS 6/386
E.M.F.F.I. Operations Order No.42, dated 22 August 1944.


“1. INFORMATION


(a) It would appear that the moment has come when the troops of the German Army must lose all hope of winning the war and must, in consequence, be receptive to propaganda which incites them to give up a struggle which holds out no propect of victory.


(b) Propaganda of this type is already being spread in German by the BBC and it is without doubt bearing fruit. It is possible that, by the intelligent distribution of leaflets in German in the eastern department of France, the effect could be heightened and a decisive result accelerated.


(c) It is, therefore, considered that the despatch to the East of France of teams who are capable of printing and distributing leaflets in German might add considerably towards the effective demoralisation of the enemy.


2. INTENTION


Two teams trained in psychological warfare will proceed to France. These teams will each be attached to a maquis in the East of France and they will print, with the aid of portable printing presses, leaflets destined to demoralise the German troops.


3. METHOD


(a) Zone Nord will suggest an organisation to receive one team.


(b) Zone Sud-Est will suggest an organisation to receive the second team.
Responsibility for operation: 6e Bureau.


(c) The 6e Bureau will be responsible for the departure of these teams and for the despatch of their material.


(d) The 6e Bureau will contact Major Brooker, Office of Strategic Services, M.O. Branch, 39 Portman Square, Erie Extension 7341...”

HS 6/423
Report on the Bishop Case, July 1943. Enquiry into BISHOP transmitter and arrest of members of the Carte organisation.


“11. At the end of October, 1942, GAUTHIER’s wireless operator, CELESTIN, was caught transmitting at FEYZEN. A courier named CHRISTIANE was arrested at about the same time. At this time the agent HILAIRE was at GIBRALTAR waiting to go by felucca to the Gulf of Lyons. Instructions for HILAIRE were received from CELESTIN on the 20th October. They were that he should contact Danielle WOOD at 2, rue Ste. Hélène, Lyons. He should ask for JOSEPH, giving the password, ‘Le stock de plomb est-il épuisé?’ It appears that when CELESTIN was arrested he still had on him the text of this message, for a day or two later the French police arrived at No.2, rue Ste. Hélène, and got in by giving this password. They there arrested Danielle WOOD’s fiancé, who had been left in charge of the office during the temporary absence of herself and JOSEPH in MARSEILLES. In the office they found photographs of JOSEPH and his family, and JOSEPH himself was arrested as he came out of the station on his return from MARSEILLES on about the 2nd November. Several other members of the GAUTHIER organisation were arrested in the course of the next few weeks, including GAUTHIER himself, who is said to have been taken at LIMOGES on the 15th November. It seems fairly certain that CELESTIN was D/F’d, since another member of JOSEPH’s group who has since arrived in this country has reported that the police had been searching the neighbourhood of FEYZEN for a wireless transmitter until a few days before CELESTIN was taken.
Further light, or obscurity, is thrown upon the round-up of the GAUTHIER Group by a Berne telegram dated the 2.7.43, passing on a report from HILAIRE to the effect that the following prison sentences had been passed:


JOSEPH ten years hard labour.
MENDELSSOHN (i.e. DANIELLE WOOD’s fiancé) one year and 12,000 francs fine.
CHEF (not known) one year and 12,000 francs fine.
DEDIEU (the real name of a local recruit who was known to the group as BENJAMIN) four years and 12,000 francs fine.
L’ALLEMAND DE CREVOIRIER (unknown) and GAUTHIER ten years’ hard labour, in their absence. (This is the first intimation we have had that L’ALLEMAND and GAUTHIER have escaped).
Mr and Mrs JOURDAN (unknown) are said to have been acquitted.

12. Meanwhile HILAIRE and URBAIN had landed in the Gulf of Lyons. Mercifully, HILAIRE was still at CANNES when news was received of the LYONS arrests. RODOLPHE, who had been been walking closely behind JOSEPH when the latter was arrested at LYONS station, but had himself escaped arrest, went to CANNES and collected HILAIRE, whom he took to AGEN. After staying there for some time HILAIRE settled down in CASTELNAU, where he subsequently got himself appointed as assistant to the mayor and seems still to be fairly well established.

13. URBAIN, who landed with HILAIRE, was the BISHOP wireless operator. His mission was to act as operator for the ROBERT - ALPHONSE organisation above described, taking his orders directly from ALPHONSE, but being ultimately responsible to ROBERT. To begin with his wireless set would not work, and he did not, in fact, come on to the air until 8.1.43. Meanwhile CATALPHA was instructed to try to put URBAIN’s set in order. This seems to have been one reason why CATALPHA remained in the South of France instead of going to PARIS. While his set was out of order, URBAIN worked for EUGENE as well as for ALPHONSE. He assisted the former to bury a large quantity of ammunition…

20. There is thus ample evidence for URBAIN’s arrest. There is also, however, ample room for mistakes…

23. M.I.5. regard it as certain that URBAIN has been acting under German control at least since his message No.16 of 23rd April, and if HILAIRE is to be believed, most of his subsequent traffic has been passed while he himself was actually in prison in TOULOUSE. M.I.5. are also of the opinion that URBAIN may well have been under control from some much earlier date. They rely upon the facts that he took a long time to make contact at all, that he always omitted his security check from his messages, and that his early traffic contained requests for new apparatus and funds. In my opinion, however, no importance whatever should be attached to these indications, since


(a) It is known from various sources that his set was out of order (see opinion of ALPHONSE quoted in para.14) and


(b) The omission of the security check seems to be a common feature of nearly all the country sections’ wireless traffic (on my recent experience I should regard it as much more suspicious if the security check was invariably included). The most suspicious feature of this traffic, to my way of thinking, is the wording of his message No.21, dated the 1st May, which reads:


‘Repeat no contact EUGENE, ALPHONSE, HILAIRE, already stated last messages for them undelivered. As no contact with persons concerned in your No.19 think friends would be useful in any capacity you may think fit. Instruct.’


It is perhaps not unreasonable to suppose that the last sentence of this message was worded by the Gestapo.

24. The later traffic, on the other hand, seems more consistent with URBAIN’s being free than with his being under control. On the 3rd May he was informed from the UK of EUGENE’s arrest and asked to suggest a safe house or post box and password where he could be contacted by ALPHONSE… he replied that his courier could be found as from May 14th from 11.30 to 12 outside the ‘grand bureau de poste’ at AUCH, and gave a password for ALPHONSE to contact him. On the 14th he reported that his courier was waiting. On the 23rd he said that ALPHONSE’s courier had not yet arrived and asked when he could withdraw his own courier, since he considered it dangerous to keep him there too long. (It was not surprising that ALPHONSE’s courier had not arrived, since on the 8th May BERNE had been asked by telegram to do their utmost to prevent ALPHONSE from keeping the rendezvous. This, of course, was unknown to URBAIN. On the contrary, he had been told on the 16th ‘ALPHONSE instructed to make contact’.) On the 24th the following message was sent to URBAIN:


‘As soon as you get this go to the green pub at usual place. You will find your friends waiting for you with half a million. Cheerio.’


URBAIN replied on the 25th:


‘This makes no sense to me. Have no knowledge of green pub. Explain by return more clearly.’
We replied on the same day:


‘We mean green pub, repeat green pub, where you went often with ANDRE and JACQUES. Go there immediately. ALPHONSE’s courier and half a million waiting for you.’
URBAIN replied the following day that he knew of no green pub nor of ANDRE or JACQUES, to which we replied on the 26th:


‘We mean the green pub in ANDORRA’.


URBAIN answered that he had never been in ANDORRA, and that as he could not make any sense out of our last messages he saw no reason to stay in the Field any longer and would try to get out through Spain.


25. It is said that if URBAIN had not been under control he would immediately have recognised the ‘green pub’ as a reference to the ‘Manchester Arms’ in Baker Street, (which is apparently much used by students recruited by the French section), and would have realised that our messages were an invitation to return at once to England…

26. Whether URBAIN was really under control or not, this case illustrates once more how valuable a really efficient security check could be, and how useless are the security checks at present in use...”

HS 6/440
Interview with Jacques WEIL, May 8 and 9, 1945.


PROSPER Case. Interrogation of returned agents.


“...WEIL again got in touch with the Inspecteur and accused him of fooling. The Inspecteur said he had been instructed by the Germans handling the case to make a rendez-vous at the Café Sport, Porte Maillot, where the girls would be handed over. The rendez-vous was kept by the PROSPER group, but WEIL there saw a police car appearing in the Place Maillot, and sent ROBIN to follow it. ROBIN said it had stopped near and several police had got out and were coming in the direction of the Place Maillot. The party therefore dispersed and the whole affair was called off. The Inspecteur did, however, return the money.

WEIL stated that there was no question of FUHRER having double-crossed them over the affair.

(b) Arrest of PROSPER, DENISE and ARCHAMBAUD WEIL said he had met the three of them the afternoon before the arrests took place, and also the new W/T operator JUSTIN. WEIL proposed that ARCHAMBAUD should come next day to 10 Rue Cambon, where he was going to store a W/T set etc. for JUSTIN. JUSTIN (Cohen) and WEIL went to this rendez-vous the next day at 3pm but no one turned up.

WEIL sent someone to DENISE’s room (Andrée Bonel) at the rue des Petites Écuries, where this person heard that DENISE had not turned up, but that two men had been and taken away her things.

That same day WEIL saw GASPARD who told him that ARCHAMBAUD and DENISE had dined with him the previous evening. ARCHAMBAUD had left on his bicycle, and DENISE on foot to catch the last metro. DENISE and ARCHAMBAUD were to meet PROSPER who was coming to Paris from Gisors by the first train the next morning…

WEIL told GASPARD to warn the Gisors people, and later that day GASPARD - so he told WEIL later - had met the people from Gisors, who said that PROSPER had left Gisors in the morning as arranged. He asked these people to warn the Gisors group. For this reason, and assuming that the warning reached George DARLING promptly, it is puzzling that he fell for the German trick of producing a letter signed ‘Prosper’ …
WEIL said a message was sent to the UK through JUSTIN about June 25th, saying PROSPER, DENISE and ARCHAMBAUD had disappeared. Note: this has not been checked with London. It is known that a message came from ACTOR on 2nd July to this effect…

III. Louis FUHRER
WEIL was asked about FUHRER on May 9th 1945, he having seen FUHRER that morning. He said he had no reason to suppose that FUHRER had worked for the Germans either before his arrest or after. There was one point only which he did not feel very happy about, and that was how the faux CLOTHAIRE managed to get the password and to say he had been dropped to a terrain of GUY…

IV. Gilbert DERICOURT
Jacques WEIL said that FUHRER had told him that DERICOURT had been arrested and released a short time before PROSPER’s arrest. He will ask FUHRER to substantiate this story (if he can)...”

HS 6/469
The British Circuits in France
From a report dated London, 30 June 1946


“4. The purpose behind the work of these circuits was the encouragement of sabotage in Occupied Europe. In this respect France presented a special case, since after the events of May and June 1940 only half of the country was actually occupied by the Germans, although in the remainder it was abundantly clear that the Vichy Government was at the mercy of the invader, who could choose his own time to put on pressure.


5. The distinction, however, did involve a difference in so far as the work of S.O.E. was concerned. Whereas in the Occupied zone ‘discreet’ explosions could be countenanced, there could be no such licence in the Unoccupied zone; there, fires might mysteriously light themselves, bearings might run hot, but things must not ‘go bang in the night’.


6. A word that was very popular in the early stages was the word ‘insaisissable’ as applied to sabotage.


7. In fact, in the early stages the objectives put before F. Section organisers were somewhat nebulous: ‘insaisissable’ sabotage, ‘discreet’ bangs, ‘organisation’ of resistance were supremely indefinite terms.


8. The last, in particular, possessed dangers all its own. The British organiser was very carefully trained in matters of security, and he was told that the only secure method was to build up what was known as a ‘circuit’ by a system of small self-contained cells, very much on the method known to be adopted by the Communist Party. The emphasis was on efficiency, security and smallness of numbers.


9. ‘Organising Resistance’, or any similar omnibus term, on the other hand, implies large numbers and centralised organisation. It was tried, by Lucas in Paris in late 1941 and early 1942, by David in Bordeaux in late 1942 and early 1943, and in both cases it brought its own Nemesis. The time was not yet ripe.


10. At the same time the very indefiniteness of the objective in the early period tended to defeat itself. The organiser recruited his men and found himself unaware of what to do with them.


11. And so the system grew up of smaller, more compact circuits with definite limited objectives; something to bite on, and something well within the capacity of the numbers which could be recruited with safety and efficiency.


12. In the early stages the objectives were economic, and targets were chosen for their capacity to impair the industrial effort of occupied France in support of the German economy. Little by little the emphasis shifted and the targets became more and more military. They remained, however, sabotage targets, but the railway line, the telephone cable and the canal had replaced the factory.


13. There were two types of activity which quite definitely formed no part of what it was intended that an F. Section cicuit should perform, and into which, equally, they were pitch-forked by the logic of events in the later stages.


14. Firstly they were not ‘Intelligence’ circuits. They were there for action, and the passing of Intelligence was a waste of time and - more valuable still - of vital wireless space. Besides, the collection of information was in other hands. The outstanding series of Intelligence reports which came out of Bordeaux in mid-1943 and from Le Havre in early 1944 are magnificent exceptions which prove the rule. At a still later stage, just before the Normandy landings, S.H.A.E.F. being dissatisfied with the amount of Intelligence actually available, asked that S.O.E. organisers be instructed to report back all items of military intelligence. This was firmly resisted by S.O.E. where it was realised that radio operators in the Field were already working almost beyond endurance; a compromise was reached and S.O.E. organisers were asked to report back a specified number of major types of Intelligence.


15. The copious reports on V.1 sites by the Farmer circuit [see HS 6/585] and the Mitchell circuit, and the tactical Intelligence by Verger just behind the battle near Thury Harcourt are good instances of what was accomplished in this new sphere. Pedlar also, by his speedy reporting of Von Kluge’s new Headquarters near Verzy, caused a further and rapid dislocation of that harassed General’s plans.


16. Secondly, the F. Section circuits were sabotage circuits, and not designed for guerilla warfare and still less for open warfare. The original intention had been that the British circuits should occupy themselves exclusively with sabotage, while the French paid special attention to the ‘Insurrection Générale’, but inevitably as time went on the British circuits, by their experience and their excellent communications took their part in the guerilla phase. This phase remained, of course, essentialy a French one, the British role being that of co-operation with the French organisations, a task of which the British officers involved acquitted themselves with almost ambassadorial distinction.

Why ‘British’?
17. A word is perhaps needed to explain the existence of ‘British’ as opposed to ‘French’ circuits in the Field. The difference is one of Control and Organisation, since quite clearly the working members of both types of circuit were French.


18. S.O.E. was already in existence when General de Gaulle raised the Free French banner in June 1940, and a section had already been formed for the organisation of subversive activity in France. This was already active in the Field by the time the Free French Organisation was sufficiently developed to undertake similar activities in mid-1941.


19. Inevitably, as soon as this point was reached, the Free French claimed the exclusive right to control subversive activity in France, but for various reasons (in particular, unfortunate experiences of French lack of security, as in the abortive Dakar operation) it was decided to maintain the ‘British’ circuits side by side with, but entirely distinct from, those controlled by the Free French, S.O.E. providing a liaison service with Free French Headquarters, and acting as universal provider of facilities for training, transport and supply.


20. This arrangement continued until D-Day, when ‘British’ and ‘French’ circuits merged in the F.F.I. under the command of General Koenig working through E.M.F.F.I. (État-Major des Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur), a joint Franco-Anglo-American Headquarters staff in London…


22. Another advantage lay in the fact that the British organisation had no Politics and was able to concentrate on its objective, the expulsion of the enemy, without the political distractions which tended to assail all purely French Resistance movements. The personnel of the British circuits was extremely varied, running right across French society without distinction of class and type, and the lack of political bias in the officers sent out to control those circuits enabled Frenchmen of widely differing backgrounds to co-operate wholeheartedly in the liberation of their country, conscious of the fact that there was no political afterthought in the circuits’ activities…

24. By the combination of all these factors it is certain that the British organisation was the more efficient in the clandestine period… There was, and still is, a deep and abiding jealousy of the F. Section or Buckmaster circuits, and a deep interest in the doings of everyone connected with them both on the part of the Deuxième Bureau and also on the part of the Communists. The Communists, in particular, suspect the Amicale, ‘Libre Résistance’, 3 Rue Marivaux, Pais (Secretary Marcel Taurent-Singer), which has been formed of ex-members of the ‘Réseau Buckmaster’, of being a body of pronouncedly Rightist tendencies and a danger to themselves. In so far as its existence tends to disprove the Communist assertion of a quasi monopoly of Resistance activity, they are undoubtedly correct…


30. F. Section in all sent 393 officers to France. 119 of these were arrested or killed by the Germans. Of those arrested only seventeen came back.”

<back

 
 
 

* * *
   
* * *

* *© 2019 Adam Matthew Digital Ltd. All Rights Reserved.