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Section D for Destruction (Hardback)

Forerunner of SOE and Auxiliary Units

Military > Post-WWII Warfare Military > Weaponry

By Malcolm Atkin
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 258
Illustrations: 20 illustrations
ISBN: 9781473892606
Published: 10th January 2018



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UPDATED EDITION of the ground-breaking 2017 publication that offered the first comprehensive account of the work of Section D of the Secret Intelligence Service.

When Neville Chamberlain made his famous ‘Peace in Our Time’ statement in 1938, he may not have been aware that a new section of the Secret Intelligence Service, Section D, was already making plans to mount a political and sabotage war against Nazi Germany.This new form of warfare encompassed bribery, black propaganda and sabotage by agents described as having no morals or scruples. It disregarded the conventions of neutrality and was prepared to hit the Nazi state wherever it could do most damage.

A scientific section was established to develop new types of weapons, and membership was extended beyond the traditional public-school ‘old boy network’ of British intelligence to work with German and Austrian resistance groups – socialists, trade unionists, Catholics and Jews.Section D’s plans ranged from leaflet campaigns in Germany, the sabotage of railways, factories and ports through to plans to block the River Danube by blowing up a mountain and an attempt to introduce foot and mouth disease into German cattle herds. Some aspects of the story are reminiscent of a Childers or Buchan novel – but they are true!

The work of Section D prepared the way for the creation of resistance organisations in occupied Western Europe and was the forerunner of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). It also paved the way for the Auxiliary Units guerrilla force in Britain. As such, Section D represents a key stage in the development of irregular warfare.

It is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of irregular warfare and the early efforts to resist Nazi Germany.

Read the Full Review Here

Medieval Sword School

'Section D for Destruction. forerunner of SOE' describers the Secret Intelligence Service's (SIS) romp across Europe in the two years prior to the outbreak of war in 1939. An in-depth insight on how it bribed, sabotaged and created false news in anticipation of war with Nazi Germany. While the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain promised 'Peace in our time' SIS D section developed contacts with neutral European intelligence services. Plans were prepared for resistance movements in occupied countries, and in country houses around Britain, SIS selected British business executives to attend secret briefings on how to interrupt trade with Germany.

In the brief interlude before the outbreak of war in1939, and with the assistance of the French 2ieme and 3ieme Bureau's, Czech, Norwegian and Dutch intelligence service, SIS officers created weapon dumps to arm civilian resistance fighters in Nazi occupied countries. It liaised with the Jewish Haganah and before the outbreak of war had placed undercover officers in every country in Europe. By 1940 the SIS had wireless sets operating from German territory and from all over the continent.

On 19 November 1939 in the Dutch/German border town of Venlo, German agents kidnapped two British SIS officers. In Amsterdam SIS officers persuaded diamond merchants to hand for safe keeping in Britain, £1,250,000 worth of industrial diamonds. Against a background of street fighting, Jewish diamond merchants arrived at the offices of J. K. Smit, and threw their bags of industrial diamonds into a pillow cover. Later, with an armed Dutch soldier for protection, the officers returned to the destroyer HMS Walpole waiting at the dockside, carrying in a pillow sack to London, the largest stock of industrial diamonds on the continent.

While creating arms dumps for potential civilian resistance fighters behind German lines, a similar policy for resistance fighters in the UK, when the Germany invaded, Britain, met with objections from authorities including the War Office and Whitehall who considered it ungentlemanly! Malcolm Atkin's book is a must read, describing a no holds barred fight against the Nazis. An insight into the key stage into the history of irregular warfare.

Richard Gough, Author and military historian.

This is a well-written and very readable volume that is likely to become the authoritative work on its subject.

NZ Crown Mines
 Malcolm Atkin

About Malcolm Atkin

Malcolm Atkin is a former head of the Historic Environment and Archaeology Service for Worcestershire. After becoming a leading authority on the English Civil War, he has more recently made a special study of home defence and the development of British intelligence during the Second World War. His many publications include Cromwell's Crowning Mercy: The Battle of Worcester, The Civil War in Evesham: A Storm of Fire and Leaden Hail, Worcestershire under Arms, Worcester 1651, Fighting Nazi Occupation: British Resistance 1939-1945, Myth and Reality: The Second World War Auxiliary Units, Section D for Destruction: Forerunner of SOE, To the Last Man: The Home Guard in War and Popular Culture and Pioneers of Irregular Warfare: Secrets of the Military Intelligence Research Department in the Second World War.

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