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Accidental Agent (Hardback)

Behind Enemy Lines with the French Resistance

WWII Military Biography Espionage & the SOE

By John Goldsmith
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781473887817
Published: 18th October 2016



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John Goldsmith’s wartime exploits are all the more remarkable considering that at first his services were consistently refused due to his being over 30. Not easily deterred he eventually became a tank driving instructor in the ranks.

In 1942 accidental circumstances saw his recruitment into Buckmaster’s F Section of the Special Operations Executive. His faultless French and upbringing in Paris were to prove invaluable. Commissioned overnight and after intensive training he was parachuted into France for the first of his three missions.

His adventures included crossing the Pyrenees, sabotage, forming his own circuits, being captured by the Gestapo, a daring escape and black-marketeering. In 1944, now a Major, he was advisor to the Maquis in the Mont Ventoux area where they fought the Germans in pitched battles and won.

Although this refreshingly modest account does not admit to it, Goldsmith’s extraordinary war is best summed up by his DSO, MC, three Croix de Guerre and Legion d’honneur.

Accidental Agent is as thrilling an account of war behind enemy lines as has ever been written. The author’s descriptions of his experiences and the many colourful characters he came across are a joy to read.

As featured in

WWII History magazine, October 2017

A fascinating story that will appeal to both horse lovers and those who love a good spy story.

Horse & Countryside, February 2017

What a fantastic book, fit for anyone's bookshelf in pride of place; get a copy as soon as you can.

Read the full review here.


First published in 1971 by Leo Cooper, this is a most welcome new edition of an extraordinary story. It tells the wartime story of a racing training who volunteered to fight in WWII.
A thrilling tale that has all the suspense and excitement of a novel. Very Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.


About John Goldsmith

John Goldsmith was brought up and educated in Paris. An accomplished horseman and professional polo player, he rode as an amateur and became a trainer moving to England in 1932.

When racing was banned in 1940, Goldsmith’s attempts to join up were rebatted but as this memoir vividly reveals his talents were eventually recognized and put to devastating effect with F Section SOE.

Goldsmith resumed training racehorses in 1946 and in 1971 he became trainer to the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. Tragically he died from Leukaemia on New Year’s Day 1972. John was married three times and had two daughters, Gaie and Gisele, with his second wife, Tiny, who died in 1952. He married Edna in 1959. This book is republished with the full cooperation of Edna, Gaie and Gisele.

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