A most ungentlemanly way of war : the SOE and the Canadian by Bernd Horn

By Bernd Horn

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

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Edgar Hoover, the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Colonel Bill Donovan, the director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), made him invaluable to British/American relations with regard to SOE operations. Additionally, Canada became the home of SOE Special Training School (STS) 103, commonly known as Camp X, where agents underwent their first phase of training. The school also covertly opened its doors to American FBI and OSS agents prior to the US entry into the war.

SOE planners made a deliberate decision early on to separate the sabotage cells from any creation of a secret army. Although both could be controlled from the United Kingdom, separation would ensure that if one component was compromised, the other would not be affected. This separation was critical since both activities called for completely different qualities and characteristics in both the personnel selected to organize and lead the respective organizations. [25] Initially, the primary focus was sabotage to lessen the economic contribution of the conquered countries to the German war effort.

However, Germany’s invasion of Poland forced the issue, largely due to alliance guarantees. Nonetheless, it appeared that there was little Britain and France could do. On September 1, 1939, the German Army, consisting of 1,250,000 men in 60 divisions, 9 of which were armoured, cut a swath of destruction through Poland. The country fell in less than a month. The use of the aptly titled Blitzkrieg (lightning war) tactic, which combined tanks, armoured vehicles, and close support aircraft, created an impressive offensive capability empowered by surprise, speed, mobility, and destructive power.

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