It really does sound like the greatest work of fiction combining the spy hero with the super villain at the home of the world’s greatest detective but this might be one case where the truth is greater than the fiction. On July 22nd, 1940 a secret organization was formed under the guidance of Winston Churchill that combined the espionage and sabotage operations of three organizations (Department EH, Department D and MI(R) ) to create the Special Operations Executive.
The Special Operations Executive had two main goals, they were to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in the areas of Europe that were under the control of the Axis powers and they were also to raise civilian resistance groups that would then wage guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. For being a substantial organization and one that was supported by Winston Churchill, they operated out of a very small headquarters. The SOE inhabited just a few family flats on Baker Street, but from their humble location they were able to recruit a large number of operatives. Eventually the organization grew to include 13,000 operatives and they either supported or supplied another 1,000,000 operatives worldwide.
The SOE also were very lax in their recruitment standards as opposed to other intelligence organizations or even the military. They would recruit homosexuals (who were believed to be a security risk) and criminals. They highly prized anyone with dual citizenship or was a solider or citizen from a country under occupation because they were better suited for raising a civilian resistance in their home country. The SOE also recruited women and was one of the first organizations to ever put women in combat positions, training more than 3,000 women in weapons and unarmed combat. Because of their location, purpose and their recruitment tactics the SOE earned the nickname “The Baker Street Irregulars.”
While the SOE had support from the people and were successful in some of their missions, they were often at odds with Britain’s military and intelligence services. The Secret Intelligence Service felt that the operations carried out by the SOE were not only dangerous and “bogus” but they compromised some of the intelligence gathering efforts of the SIS. The military only grudgingly lent planes to the organization believing that the missions carried out by the SOE were clandestine and “unethical.”
So what does the Secret Operations Executive have to do with Count Dooku and James Bond? Read on to Find out!