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By Bernd Horn

An exam of the designated Operations government (SOE), its accomplishments, and the Canadian connection to the organization.

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Additional info for A most ungentlemanly way of war : the SOE and the Canadian connection

Example text

As a result, British recruiters tapped into the multicultural mosaic that was Canada. In fact, Canadians became the first non-British personnel to be selected for the highly secret SOE operations in the war. Canadians of Yugoslav, Italian, Hungarian, Romanian, and Bulgarian heritage were actively sought. French Canadians were recruited for their language proficiency, as were Chinese and Japanese Canadians. With the racial, linguistic, and cultural attributes and skills in place, it was only a matter of training the techniques of sabotage, subversion, and, ultimately, killing.

Instead, he insisted on lashing out at the Germans and forcing them to relinquish at least some of the initiative. One means he actively pressed for was the ability to sabotage and subvert the German war effort and industry. He understood that the vast occupied territories and populations the Germans controlled represented their Achilles heel. Churchill believed if he could create an organization that could conduct sabotage, subversion, and assemble secret armies in the German-controlled areas, he could cut into the effectiveness of the enemy’s war effort and force them to redirect military personnel and resources to the internal threat.

However, although Dalton had secured autonomous control over the SOE, there was still a degree of oversight and coordination. Integral to this was the SO 2 Executive Committee, later named the SOE Council, which consisted of the heads of the various government and military branches. It met once or twice a week for the lifespan of SOE. Getting the organization up and running was only one of the challenges. Although initially there was a desperate appeal to the idea of subversion, sabotage, and guerrilla warfare as a means to defeat Germany, once the initial shock of the fall of France dissipated and the looming spectre of an invasion drifted away, senior military commanders quickly distanced themselves from the idea that irregular warfare would win the day.

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