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Behind Enemy Lines with the SOE (Hardback)

WWII Frontline Books Espionage & the SOE Frontline: WWII Military

By Maj E C R Barker BEM, Michael Kelly
Frontline Books
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 16 pages of colour plates
ISBN: 9781526779748
Published: 12th April 2021

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With his special forces training completed, Sergeant Roland Barker was allocated to Operation Arundel as its radio operator. Led by Captain Martin Smith MC, he was parachuted into the Dolomites in 1944. The team’s brief was to cause havoc in the area around the Italian border and to infiltrate into Austria.

Whilst attempting to evade German forces, Sergeant Barker and Major Bill Smallwood were navigating mountainous terrain when the Major fell injuring himself and thus was unable to move rapidly. Despite their best efforts, both Smallwood and Barker were subsequently captured by pursuing German troops who they were unable to outpace.

Barker provides a vivid account of being ‘interrogated’ by the SS and Gestapo and despite the threats and the terrible conditions, the true nature of their mission was never revealed to the enemy. Having survived these experiences, he was incarcerated in Stalag Luft XVIII in Southern Austria. Ever defiant, Barker escaped by having himself admitted to the camp hospital and made his way into Hungary, from where, as this account of his wartime service reveals, he was eventually repatriated to the UK.

After the war Barker opted to remain in the Army, at which point he took a commission. Promoted to Major, Barker became the Officer Commanding 22 SAS in Malaya. He was killed in a helicopter crash in Malaya in 1953, before he could see through his plan to have his memoir published.

There is so much we still don't know about the amazing exploits of the offiers of the S.O.E. during WWII - this account of the life and career of Major E C R Barker is one story, and is a stark reminder of the dangers they faced and the intense secrecy of their missions and undertakings.

Books Monthly

About Maj E C R Barker BEM

ERNEST CHARLES ROLAND BARKER enlisted as a Boy soldier in 1934, going on to serve in the Western Desert and in Greece in 1941. As a Sergeant in the Royal Corps of Signals, Barker was assigned to the Special Operations Executive and underwent parachute training. After the war Barker opted to remain in the Army, at which point he took a commission. Promoted to Major, Barker became the Officer Commanding 22 SAS in Malaya. He was killed in a helicopter crash in Malaya in 1953, before he could see through his plan to have his memoir published.


About Michael Kelly

MICHAEL KELLY was born in Sheffield. Educated at the University of Hull, he served for twelve years in the Royal Navy before joining the British police and working as a detective in the Regional Crime Squad, Major Crime and Surveillance Units for twenty-five years. After a serious injury on duty, he was retired from the police in 1999. Since then Michael has been a guide and a military historian on the battlefields of the Western Front and Normandy as well as being the author of Hero on the Western Front (Frontline Books)

Perfect Partner

Agent Paterson SOE From Operation Anthropoid to France: The Memoirs of E.H. Van Maurik (Hardback)

Ernest Van Maurik, known to all simply as ‘Van’, joined the illustrious Artists Rifles regiment in the Territorial Army in 1936, but when war broke out he was commissioned into the Wiltshire Regiment. In the summer of 1940 the regiment was posted at Folkstone to defend the South Coast in the event of an invasion, during which time he undertook a course at Hythe Small Arms School and found himself involved with the SOE, the Special Operations Executive. This led to him to Scotland, first to the Commando Training School at Lochailort and then to Arisaig, where he became responsible for helping…

By Ernest Van Maurik

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