The Special Operations Executive (SOE)

SOE plays an important role in my story. My main character, Isabella (codename: Emelie), is employed as one of its agents or operatives. As I started researching the organizations and players during WWII, I was shocked that I had never learned about SOE. This organization (and its operatives) were a group of interesting and quite amazing people. Some operatives were cons/ex-cons with skils SOE needed, and many others were simply people who wanted to help the cause and fight back in any way they could.

The organization was made up of mostly women, which during this time was unheard of–the women of SOE though were true fighters and true heroes.

Winston Churchill ordered the founding of SOE (which started in July, 1940) because he wanted to “set Europe ablaze.” France had fallen to the Third Reich, split between the compliant Vichy government and those in the Resistance still holding out. SOE operatives did everything from sabotage, to radio communication/operations, delivering supplies and weapons, and even fighting alongside Resistance leaders.

If you ever get the chance, please watch the movie Carve Her Name With Pride which is based on the story of Violette Szabo.

This woman was a loving wife and mother, and fiercely brave SOE agent. Others include Pearl Witherington who was so badass that the Nazis put out a $1,000,000 bounty on her, and of course Noor Khan who was the first woman sent into Nazi occupied France to transmit anti-Nazi radio programs and relay covert messages to the Resistance.

The true history of this organization and its members is definitely worth learning and appreciating. To think, my meager research has barely scratched the surface! This definitely provided an interesting setting as I worked on The Tower’s Alchemist, creating my fictional story with an alternate history that included SOE.

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