The Secret Operations Executive through its recruitment process and through other connections ended up with a wide range of characters, including many who never spoke about the missions they carried out for the SOE. One of those individuals was none other than Dracula, Count Dooku and Sarumon otherwise known as Christopher Lee. Few people know what it was that Christopher Lee did for the SOE because the actor refused to talk about it. He has mentioned his attachment to the SOE during the war but says that he is forbidden from speaking about any specific operation.
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond was also involved with the SOE. He worked as a liaison between the SOE and the Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral John Godfrey. He often spoke of the people that were involved with the SOE as some of the greatest spies the world had ever seen. He based Bond himself off some of his own experiences, but the likes of M, Q, Miss Moneypenny and Vesper Lynd were based off other members of the SOE. M is reportedly based off Maurice Buckmaster and Vera Atkins was the basis for Miss Moneypenny. Christine Granville was the inspiration for Vesper Lynd and Charles Bovill inspired Q. Duane Hudson and Andrew Croft were reportedly other inspirations for Bond himself.
But famous names were not the only thing that the SOE is now known for. The organization had a number of successes. In 1941 they blew up a power station in Pessac, France which disrupted a U-Boat base that was in Bordeaux. Reinhard Heydrich was killed by a SOE hit squad in 1942 and that same year SOE operatives blew a bridge in Greece that was the transport road for Rommel’s supplies for the Africa front. They also disrupted German communications and logistics in order to help the Allies land on D-Day.
Their biggest success was in 1943 in Norway. The group knew from their intelligence operations that Hitler was depending on a heavy water plant in Norway for developing his own nuclear bomb. The Germans needed heavy water in order to develop nuclear weapons and the Allies were desperate to keep it from them. Prior to the German invasion of Norway, France had worked out an arrangement with the plant to get the heavy water from them for the duration of the war. Once Norway was occupied the Allies were concerned that the Germans would use the plant to get heavy water, and the Germans eventually did restart operations at the plant. This prompted the SOE to act.
So a coordination of efforts between the SOE backed Norwegian resistance movement, SOE operatives and Allied bombers developed to ensure that the Germans never got heavy water to Germany. A sequence of SOE operations from 1940 to 1944 that were aimed at stopping the plant. Operation Grouse, Operation Freshman were both failures that featured SOE trained Norwegian forces.
Operation Gunnerside took place in February 1943 and it was SOE-trained Norwegian commandos who advanced on the facility and destroyed it completely. The efforts were followed by Allied bombing. The facility was so destroyed that the Germans stopped their efforts to produce the heavy water and decided to ferry what little water they had at the plant to Germany. The SOE forces then sunk the ferry that was carrying the heavy water. This operation was considered to be the most successful operation conducted by the SOE.