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Section D for Destruction (ePub)

Forerunner of SOE

Modern Warfare Weaponry Military

By Malcolm Atkin
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 9.9 MB (.epub)
Pages: 258
Illustrations: 20
ISBN: 9781473892620
eBook Released: 13th February 2018


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When Neville Chamberlain made his famous Peace in Our Time statement in 1938, after the Munich Agreement with Hitler, he may, or may not, have been aware that the new Section D of the Secret Intelligence Service was already making plans to mount an all-out political and sabotage war against Nazi Germany. This was a new form of warfare, encompassing bribery, black propaganda and sabotage by agents described as having no morals or scruples. To the horror of many, it disregarded the conventions of neutrality and was prepared to hit the Nazi state wherever it could do most damage. Malcolm Atkin reveals how Section Ds struggle to build a European wide anti-Nazi resistance movement was met with widespread suspicion from government, to the extent of a systematic destruction of its reputation. It was, however, a key pioneer of irregular warfare that led to the formation of the famous Special Operations Executive (SOE). His study is the first in-depth account of it to be published since the release of previously secret documents to the National Archives.

'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 head of the Historic Environment and Archaeology Service for Worcestershire, and he is one of the leading authorities on the English Civil Wars. His publications include Cromwell's Crowning Mercy: the Battle of Worcester and The Civil War in Evesham: A Storm of Fire and Leaden Hail.

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