Speaker: Dr Kate Vigurs
A unique insight into the Special Operations Executive (SOE) with a focus on the extraordinary women operating behind enemy lines coordinating French resistance networks, illustrating the lives and – in some cases – the fates of these brave agents.
Ranging from housewives to countesses, only thirty-nine women completed the rigorous SOE training programme. They were taught silent killing skills, instinctive shooting methods, and sabotage techniques as well as survival tactics for life in Nazi-occupied France.
This lecture will explore how the women of the organisation’s French (‘F’) section infiltrated behind enemy lines to work as couriers and wireless operators, operating undercover and far beyond the protection of the Geneva Convention. Their life expectancy was short – sometimes a mere six weeks – but these women worked hard and fought hard. They often lived in solitude with no support, travelled hundreds of kilometres carrying vital yet incriminating information, and risked everything to make contact with SOE headquarters over the radio waves.
The talk highlights what SOE was, why it was so important and why women were so instrumental to its work. It explores why they became secret agents, how they were trained and infiltrated, what risks they took, and details of their missions in occupied France. It sheds light on the human element behind the museum’s wealth of Second World War material related to SOE, and on the unalloyed heroism that forms such an important part of our history.
To sign up for this free lecture, go to https://royalarmouries.org/leeds/whats-on/mission-france